How to read more Japanese in a month than you usually read in year!

It's February. Do you know what that means? It's the end of the first tadoku session!

If you're learning Japanese and don't know tadoku then good job reading this post :D

多読 tadoku is roughly translated as 'extensive reading'. I have the feeling tadoku was a Japanese idea first as it appears on this website (It's pretty easy to read - give it a try!) and the name is Japanese :D

On the page it has the following introduction.

(this is a very gung-ho translation :D)
What's tadoku?

Tadoku is reading easy foreign language books, starting with picture books, reading a massive amount.

Then the site goes on to list some rules, some of the rules have sub rules I'm just going to whack a selection down.


Here's some translations with my commentary.

  • Don't use a dictionary! - They're boring and slow you down!
  • Skip the parts you don't know! - You'll know it someday just not today.
  • If you don't think the book fits you, get rid of it - reading should be easy!
  • Read masses of easy books.

Good rules! Good idea!

But that is not all Tadkou is. Not in the Western world - there's a site called Read more or die. This sites holds a tadoku competition a few times a year for a period of one month. It works via twitter, everyone registers and then they can tweet how many pages they've read. At the end of the month it's totaled up and the winner wins improve reading ability and internet bragging rights :D

My Japanese learning twitter account is @jBalaam. Here is my twittering history:

jBalaam @jBalaam
@tadokubot 60 #manga
28 Jan jBalaam @jBalaam
@tadokubot 20 #manga
28 Jan jBalaam @jBalaam…    -> Japanese Rage Comics check it out!
24 Jan jBalaam @jBalaam
@tadokubot 18 #manga
23 Jan jBalaam @jBalaam
@tadokubot 25 #manga

Not gripping viewing but it shows my reading progress. The number is the number of pages and the hash tag the medium (#book #manga #subs etc). This January I read the first Harry Potter book and understood it reasonably well - I don't know where I'd put my understanding percentage though! 60% maybe 70%. I read along with the audiobook because it makes it easier.

I've tried reading Harry Potter a few times but the tadoku challenge gave me the push to actually finish the book :D One of the side benefits is I can pick up the book and turn to any page and understand what's going on pretty quickly even without audio! After I finished the book, though, I petered out a bit, I didn't set up what I was going to read next and so flailed without a goal. If you're doing the challenge be prepared set goals! Get all your material ready! I ended up reading some of the Full Metal Alchemist manga.

One of the other takeaways is don't worry about failing. Failing actually makes things easier. How many times have I tried to read through Harry Potter - numerous! The first chapter is very familiar to me. I have listened to the audio a lot too; I think I can repeat the first few lines from memory :D  Each time I failed I was making it easier for when I tried again!

Full Metal Alchemist wasn't particularly new to me either as I watched the raw anime and I tried reading some of the manga before so I'd at least learnt 鋼の錬金術師!


  1. Take part in tadoku
  2. Prepare your material ahead of time
  3. Don't worry about failing - it helps!
  4. Use audio if you can't don't worry if you can't
  5. Read books you find easy (I didn't really follow this one but my heart was in the right place :))

In the end I came 35th out a 100. Not too bad. I read 397.3 pages - another few manga pages and I would have done 400. I think I said I was aiming for 1500 - well there's always next time!

Tadoku announcements aren't very well publicised I find the Reviewing the Kanji forums usually have an announcement. You'd think the site itself would be a good place to go but it only announced the competition the day before it started! Not really enough time to prepare!

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