Why I Love the Amazon Kindle for Japanese

I thought long and hard about buying an Amazon Kindle for studying Japanese. Like five years kind of long and hard. And as with most life enigmas, it came down to a simple question: Why spend hundreds of dollars on a giant phone that doesn’t even work as a phone? Not to mention you could just buy an actual book for ten bucks.

Although to be fair, most of my enigmas are more along the lines of Why’m I waking up on a park bench? or What happened to the Filipino girl I bought all those cocktails for? But anyway, I finally broke down and bought a Kindle, and holy balls, if you want to learn Japanese, it’s the greatest thing ever. So at least that’s one problem solved.

Of course, if you don’t want to learn Japanese, eh, I guess you could still read English books, if cable TV hadn’t made them obsolete back in the ’90’s.

Now, I don’t do a lot of tech product recommendations, probably because I only hate two things and technology’s one of them. All I want electronics to do is get out of the way so I can watch movies, find the nearest curry house, or Skype a random girl in Gunma prefecture. I don’t want to read the manual, write code, or encase myself in tinfoil. Ken Seeroi ain’t trying to walk around all Tin Woodsman during rainy season.

Thankfully, anti-tech is where the Kindle shines. (Well, that and a dark room.) Because its singular purpose is to pretend it’s a book, without any extra bullshit. And in that, it’s close to the perfect product.

Why the Amazon Kindle for Japanese is Better than a Book

The Kindle isn’t just better than a book for reading Japanese—-it’s waaaay better. To understand why, you have to grasp what makes the language so hard.

Kindle PaperwhiteEvafuckinthin. The grammar, particles, hiragana, katakana, slang,  dozen different dialects, and above all—let’s not kid ourselves—kanji. Japanese is a bunch of sticks, none of which make any sense. How can 会, 逢,  遭, and 遇 all sound and mean the same? What kind of sick nation would do that?

Sorry, rhetorical question. So then the Japanese in their great wisdom decided to remedy their native language by making sure all recent words abandon kanji entirely. Instead, they chose to co-opt the world’s second most screwed-up language, English. The result being that today’s Japanese is thoroughly jumbled with thousands of English loan-words—only, oh yeah, they forgot to use actual letters, so now everything looks like it was written by a chicken.

Enter the Amazon Kindle for Japanese

Whatever, all I wanted the Kindle to do was provide the ability to look up kanji easily. That alone would make it worth its solid-gold price tag. And amazingly enough, it works brilliantly. It’s undoubtedly the best money I’ve spent since deciding to learn Japanese, which, granted, was a terrible decision. But hey, if you’re gonna smoke crack, might as well nut up and buy a decent pipe.

Because here’s how fun it is to read a paper book in Japanese: First, you’ll need Coke bottle-strength reading glasses. Japanese people delight in making everything hard and apparently think it’s hilarious to print books in 8-point font. Next, you’ll need a smartphone for a dictionary app or Google Translate to look up the kanji. Then stop on every page and search for all the kanji you don’t know and write each reading and definition into the margin. You’ll need a pen too.

The Kindle takes one look at your miserable paper book and says Suck that. Just tap the unfamiliar kanji and up pops a definition, in Japanese or English. Now you’re covering a dozen pages in the time it used to take to read one, plus reading real Japanese books for adults. No one’s more surprised by this than me. But that’s only because no one actually cares whether you, I, or anyone can read Japanese or not. Oh, it’s a very rewarding language.

Which Amazon Kindle

Since the only thing higher than technology on the List of Stuff Ken Seeroi Hates is spending money, I first tried to use the Kindle app on my phone, on the PC, and the browser-based version. Which of course involved more technology, so then I was really unhappy. Plus, all of them kind of suck.

Finally I thought, why not buy an actual Kindle? I’m kind of slow to come to conclusions, I know. So then the question was, which Kindle? The Kindle Kindle OasisOasis had a picture of a girl in a bathtub, so that was an easy decision. You may want to note, however, that it turns out she’s not included. My life’s a constant series of disappointments.

Reading Japanese on the Amazon Kindle

On the plus side, the spillover effect from all that reading has been significant. Somehow, getting accustomed to consuming more Japanese faster reprogrammed my brain to be more willing to tackle billboards, road signs, and threatening letters from the local government. I’ve been reading Japanese for years, but always slowly and painfully. The moment I saw a wall of text, there was an instant revulsion, a feeling of “Ah jeez, we’re gonna be here a while.” Now I find myself more naturally reading without second-guessing; not as smoothly as English, but better.

Finally, here’s a rundown of the pros and cons:

Advantages of the Amazon Kindle

  1. Thinner and lighter than any book. People in train stations will hand you thicker pamphlets. There’s something kind of amazing about being able to carry a stack of books in your bag
  2. Waterproof (Kindle Oasis). Because civilization affords no higher pleasure than floating in a hot bath with a book and cold beer
  3. The kanji lookup works about 94% as well as Rikaichan or Yomichan (which help you read Japanese in a browser). You don’t have the control of a mouse, and the Kindle dictionaries are a bit meh, but the overall experience is good. You can read, lookup, and keep going with hardly a pause. It’s an order of magnitude faster than reading a paper book with an electronic dictionary or smartphone
  4. The battery lasts a really long time, at least a week or more with heavy usage
  5. You can see the Kindle perfectly in any lighting condition. It’s not at all like a cell phone. Somehow it magically adjusts from a sunny hammock to a dark bedroom
  6. Adjustable type size. Forget those 100-yen shop reading glasses, although they do look cool
  7. Downloading books is a snap. It literally takes about ten seconds to buy a book
  8. No distracting bullshit. You can set it up so all you see is Book. No date and time, no page numbers, no calendar or games or porn. Yeah, welcome to the 21st century, where the most exiting feature of a product is what it can’t do

Amazon Kindle Disadvantages

  1. The cover (at least the one I have) detaches a bit too readily, threatening to launch the Kindle into every toilet it sees
  2. It’s kind of expensive. Not as much as an iPhone, but a whole lot more than a bunch of books
  3. The Kindle Oasis is made of metal, so it’s cold in the winter. Avoid touching it with your tongue
  4. But the real downside comes if you don’t live in Japan. Because to buy books from Amazon Japan, you have to live here, or lie and convince Jeff Bezos that you do. And you absolutely need an Amazon Japan account, because the range of Japanese books available through other nations’ Amazon stores is miserable. There are various sites that propose ways of getting around this, but it sounds dodgy and a bit of pain in the butt. Probably easier just to move to Japan

Who the Amazon Kindle is Not For

  • Beginners in Japanese. It’s probably a good idea to learn the basic sentence structure and a bit of vocabulary before launching into reading
  • People who want to learn conversational Japanese, or just enough Japanese to get by
  • People too lazy to read. Amazon makes a neat book, but it’s not gonna to read itself

Who the Amazon Kindle is For

  • Intermediate- and advanced-level Japanese learners. Anybody feeling stuck who doesn’t think their Japanese ability is progressing. Reading is what you need
  • People serious about actually learning the language. Learning to read Japanese is hard. Anybody who says it’s easy is lying. The Kindle will help you. It doesn’t lie
  • Minimalists and folks trying to reduce the amount of stuff they carry

I love my Kindle, and could go on for days about this, but you get the idea. If you’ve got questions, or actually own one, hit me up in the comments. And if I don’t get back to you right away, rest assured it’s because I’m in the tub with a book and a beer, waiting for that girl from the ad to show up. Can’t wait to show her how well I can read.

70 Replies to “Why I Love the Amazon Kindle for Japanese”

  1. Do the perks of the Japanese Kindle work with the English Kidle? If I upload a book in Japanese will I be able to look up Kanji like a Japanese Kindle?

    1. I believe so. The Kindle is the same, regardless of where you buy it. The only difference is in the books you can purchase, based upon national copyright laws. So all you need to do is download a Japanese-English dictionary and you’re in business.

      1. Hey, terrific! Has anyone tried and verified this?

        And has anyone got a suggestion on how to organize their Kindle library in a more easily navigable way? Even with folders it seems like it is designed to make it hard to find older books so you give up and buy more. I am just about to resort to making a list of my purchases on paper.

        Hope Kindle gives you a nice kickback for this review, Ken.

  2. Nice change of pace with this article, far less consumption of beer than expected.

    I have an old fourth generation Kindle (circa 2011) that I paid ~50 USD for back then. I got mine for my commute to work which was nearly all underground so I needed something offline. I had the same experience as you except the backlight, touch screen, and waterproofing had yet to be invented – but it did only cost one-sixth of the price.

    My favourite part is you can highlight a section of text to save the quote. Really good for revisiting stuff /sarc or maybe impressing potentially friends with how cultured you are. /sarc

    1. I’ll try to work on that beer consumption. But yeah, there are a ton of slightly older Kindles available. And if I get the chance, I fully intend to pick one up.

      1. Snagged an ancient Kindle this trip on Amazon jp auction, used for 1200Y, delivered. Very nice shape, as most of the stuff I buy “junk” on Yahoo. Was going to until research told me it works fastest and best as-is. Wants my Amazon.jp ID, which I guess I will break down and give it. Must NOT watch dodgy streaming sites on it.

        Also: Amazon.jp is one of the few Japanese online thangs that takes my outlander credit card. Has saved the day more than a few times during my yearly visits. For Yahoo Japan, I have to march down to the Kombini and pay at the all-purpose terminal.

  3. “There are various sites that propose ways of getting around this, but it sounds dodgy and a bit of pain in the butt. Probably easier just to move to Japan.”

    Or have a Japanese mother-in-law 🙂

    But seriously: I wish the world’s governments and companies would get over their stupid restrictions based on some imaginary location based nationalities. This is globalism, baby. And why wouldn’t I want to buy Japanese books (and other things) while living somewhere else in the world.

    Just as few days ago we bought PERFECT “Tonari no Totoro” car stickers only available on Japanese Amazon.
    Fuck that. Ask the in-law to do the shipping for us.

    1. Yeah, my mom’s great like that. Whenever I desperately need something from Amazon US (i.e., shoes), I have it (them) delivered to her house and she forwards the package to me.

      Globalism is an incredibly recent phenomenon. Hell, so’s the internet. It’s going to take a while for the established systems to catch up. Annoying, but there it is.

  4. “I love my Kindle”

    Heh. I’m similarly biased towards Netflix.
    I think it’s the first thing since I discovered Rikai-chan that had me excited for technology.

    I also recently bought a new car (made 2017) with all the gimmicks that are standard in new cars nowadays. So I use the car’s USB stick slot and the Bluetooth connection to do such modern things as listening to my own favorite music (and not some boring ass radio station, which never plays anime songs or Enka!) and talking free-handed on the phone in my car. Very neat, indeed.

    Woohoo 21st century gadgets!

    1. You know, I feel exactly the same about Netflix. It’s almost life-changing, although I’m sure that anybody under the age of about 25 has no idea why.

  5. Globalism was created for companies so that they could maximise profits while suppressing wages and salaries. It was not intended for you to benefit directly. Any benefits that do accrue to the consumer are purely coincidental and not to be relied on.

    1. The word you are searching for is ‘inevitable’, not coincidental. The consumer benefits are a natural consequence and they will continue to accrue.

    2. That was a fun read. I own a kindle paperwhite myself and absolutely love it. But I do like the size of oasis.

      1. Yeah, it’s really fantastic. And I don’t know if you use it for reading Japanese, but it’s one of the best tools I’ve found. I would have never been able to read the books I have without it.

    3. Love to see more people waking up to the well stated reality you just laid out. After a decade as an engineer in the corporate world I can assure people that corporations follow quarterly and annual profits. Whether or not they kill and torment people along the way is entirely besides the point. I was sh those that assumed otherwise could have been in the room with me when I resisted that shit.
      Much love Ted!

  6. I bought a budget tablet when I was in Australia (7000円ぐらい)for reading/manga/videos. It’s useless for using the internet and everything non-downloaded is terribly slow, but it’s easier than reading actual books in Japanese. I probably should have invested a little bit more, but with a phone and a laptop…

  7. I bought Kindle Japanese years ago as well Ken Sensei but still never used it for reading japanese.

    Do you have osusume reading for upper-intermediate japanese learner like me? Preferably the free one 😀

    1. Sounds like you and I are at similar levels. I just select books that look interesting, same as I would in English. Like I enjoy real-life adventure stories and biographies.

      My biggest recommendation would probably be to actually pay for the book you want. I used to spend hours on the net searching for free stuff in Japanese only to wind up with something I wasn’t really into anyway. The last book I got from Amazon has like a thousand pages, and I’ve gotten months of reading pleasure out of it. I feel that’s definitely worth the ten bucks I spent.

  8. I have had a JP kindle account for a while… and my way of getting round the ol’ region restriction is to load up Tor Browser and set my location to Japan.

    You could also use a VPN I suppose, just make sure that you’re careful with passwords/cards linked to that account as well… who knows who could be recording your data at the other end…

  9. Seeroi-sensei, have you got any reading recommendations? Perhaps for intermediate Japanese language learners?

    1. Reading tastes are pretty individual, but if you’re into non-fiction, I think

        these books

      made for grade-school kids are great. They may look simplistic, but I’m always surprised at how many words a 6th-grade kid knows that I don’t. You can pick your level too, which is helpful. Start at 1年 and work your way up.

    2. I’d recommend the もぐら series of books by 矢月 秀作. They’re really easy to read and entertaining AF. The story has a corny 80’s good vs. bad kinda vibe – where the main character basically takes on and absolutely destroys various crime syndicates single-handed.

      I read all the books when they first came out and I remember seeing some other guy in my office reading them too – we were like, “Bro…?” “Bro, you too?””Bro!”

    1. No, I’m not a veteran, but happy VD day all the same. (Are you a vet?)

      As for technology, I don’t think it’s that I’m too old, but rather that I’ve always been a Luddite. Like, on the one hand, a lot of technology is exciting, but there’s also something really cool about not having it. Give me a tent and a backpack and I’m good. Watch the sunrise, see a tree or something, I dunno, kind of hard to improve on that.

      1. You can even take your kindle into the woods because it will barely add any weight to your backpack!!! This leads me to ask (off topic) if you have any hiking experience in Japan (excluding the one you described with a bunch of drunk dudes). I mean, multiple day backcountry backpacking in Japan. Is it even possible/allowed? Is there any wild nature left in Japan? Are there actually places that require GPS or is Google maps working everywhere?

        1. …and you don’t have to worry about the battery dying like you do with a cell phone.

          So to answer your questions, no and yes. I’ve done lots of hiking, and plenty of car-camping, but never any backpacking in Japan. So that’s the no. But are there places to backpack in Japan? Absolutely. Outside of the major cities, Honshu has a wealth of rugged mountains, including the Japanese Alps, where you could get good and lost in the backcountry. There’s still nature in Japan; Japanese folks just don’t seem very in-tune with it. But that’s a different discussion.

  10. I hadn’t even thought of using my Kindle to get Japanese books, I just kind of assumed I couldn’t. A quick Google search shows that it isn’t! Yay.
    Although, I recommend this site: https://yomou.syosetu.com/ for people who want to practice reading Japanese for free. It’s a bunch of novel serials written by aspiring Japanese authors, so a lot of it is crap and some of it is absolutely brilliant. Most of it is either romance or fantasy, so perfect for people who got into Japanese through anime. And, most importantly, it’s online so you can copypasta the kanji right into a dictionary. It definitely helped me learn to read better, and now I work at a prefectural government and practically aced the N1.

    Recommendation aside, I love your blog, Seeroi. It’s given me many a laugh and many a thing to think about. I recommend it to people all the time.

    1. Yeah, I know. I hesitated for months about writing this up for that reason.

      The thing is, before I bought my Kindle, searched all over the net trying to determine how well the kanji look-up worked. I found some sites that helped assure me it was worth the money, but I was still concerned. I mean, it’s a fair chunk of change (especially in Japan; the States is cheaper). So I figured maybe this would help somebody else. But you’re right, it reads like an infomercial.

      Just wait’ll you see my review of the ShamWow.

  11. Cr@p, and I got a Kindle for my kid so that he could keep up his English when I ship him off to Japan for the Summer…guess I should steal it back from him. What are you reading now? Heh, maybe you should publish some kind of reading list or have a book club like Oprah.

    1. Man, a Kindle and a free trip to Japan—that’s like Dad of the Year level.

      Right now, I’m reading

      this book.

      It’s about a group of Japanese soldiers who lived in the jungles of New Guinea for 10 years at the end of, and after, WWII. It’s a little slow (they’re just basically in the jungle every day) but I like it.

      Honestly, I haven’t read that many Japanese books, and even fewer that would be worthy of mention, so it wouldn’t make much of a list. But I’m open to suggestions.

      1. Heh well he may beg to differ against my Dad of the Year Award since after he’s done with school here, he has to go to school in Japan, and as Japanese schools break for Summer…he comes back to the US, in time for school to start ;p

        But yeah will try out your book and inquire about others…I did go out with a girl who now teaches Japanese Literature…

  12. Note that this also works with the kobo touch I own, and I assume more recent ones also, although sometimes technology seems to be going backward.

    Note that unlike what seems to be described here you’ll have to install the dictionary yourself, which will require some researching and fiddling (not too much though, I think it took me about 30 minutes when I first bought mine). Just saying in case Kobe works better for you (like for example: you already own one).

    1. Hey Simon,

      My Kindle came with a Japanese-Japanese dictionary and a Japanese-English dictionary pre-installed. I thought I could do a bit better, so I downloaded two more J-E dictionaries from Amazon. They were cheap, 2 and 4 dollars, respectively. It took probably a minute to find and install them. Here’s the link:

      Kindle Japanese-English dictionaries

      1. I’m on the fence about whether to buy the paperwhite or the Oasis, but I’m also concerned about the dictionaries. I heard it came with 大辞泉 but that for some reason lookups don’t function properly with it (but the posts I read about this are a few years old). I also looked online but 1) I couldn’t seem to find any 国語辞典, and 2) I’m not sure when something can function as a dictionary. For example, in the link you gave to 和英辞典, how do you know what books can actually be used as quick-lookup dictionaries before you buy them? If I could find a decent J-J dictionary that has an entry for 90% of the words I want to look up, then I’d think that’s worth it (and maybe the built-in J-J dictionary can do that – why exactly do you think it’s not so good btw?); otherwise, I don’t understand how this is any faster than reading on your computer or something, since it sounds like using built-in dictionaries is the main advantage of a Kindle.

        1. Thanks for the comment. Let me try to address a few of your questions.

          For lookups, the Kindle isn’t as good as reading on a computer with a mouse; but it’s miles better than a paper book. So when I want to read a website, I use a computer, but I wouldn’t use one for reading a book. I also find computers don’t work so well in the bathtub.

          My Kindle came preinstalled with the Shogakukan Progressive Japanese-English Dictionary and the デジタル大辞泉. They both work fine, and in fact after you’ve highlighted a word, you can quickly switch back and forth between any number of dictionaries.

          Regarding “what books can actually be used as quick-lookup dictionaries,” the Kindle lookup dictionaries are specifically designed to provide lookup capabilities. They don’t exist on your Kindle as books. You can’t read them. They’re downloaded into the background the same way Yomichan or Rikaichan dictonaries are. So I suspect that if you bought and downloaded an actual dictionary (not one that specifically said it was for lookups), then you could read it but couldn’t access it for lookups. Does that make sense?

          As for the デジタル大辞泉, it finds about 97% of the stuff I look up. I think it’s pretty good, but I do wish it would break down the meanings of the individual kanji. i.e. 大 = big, 辞 = language, word, etc. I haven’t found a lookup dictionary that does that.

          As for which to buy, now that the Paperwhite and Oasis are both waterproof, they both seem pretty excellent and it’s really down to size. You could fit a Paperwhite into the pocket on a pair of cargo shorts, but that’s nigh on impossible with the Oasis. For me personally, I use a fairly large font size to be able to clearly see all those teeny-tiny kanji strokes, so the larger screen on the Oasis provides a much more sensible number of words per page.

          I don’t know—maybe order one with the thought that you’ll send it right back if you don’t like it? That’s basically what I did, only it’s never going back.

  13. Hmmm, can we do a thought experiment? Suppose for a few moments, an American citizen (such as myself) were to go to Japan for a few weeks for his annual Japan trip (which I actually do). Could such a person A.) purchase a Kindle in Japan, and B.) log onto to Amazon Japan, and C.) download a terra-bites of Japanese books, and D.) return to the US with a S**t-eating grin on his face, and E.) spend the next year trying to read all the stuff he downloaded, and F.) return to Japan the next year and do it all over again because he’s a masochist (of course he is, why else would he want to learn Japanese–which I do)?? It seems like the only possible glitch is finding a Japanese address for Amazon Japan. What would happen if I used my hotel’s address? Or should I just head out to Shinjuku and blow all my money on a burnt-out babe in a Snack Bar? (スナックバーに行ったことがありませんよ). Maybe she’ll teach me some Japanese and I can stop using the -masu form.

    1. The snack bar is a genius idea. Convince a 40 year-old waitress to let you ship a Kindle to her house and you’re golden.

      Actually, I think once you have the Amazon Japan account, you should be able to order books from the US too. Like, I have an Amazon US account and I regularly order stuff from Japan. I just have it delivered to a US address. Next time I’m in the States I’ll try ordering a Kindle book from Japanese Amazon.

  14. I can confirm this. I bought a Japanese kindle while living in Japan, returned to the US, and can still buy Japanese books with it. It is my lifeline.

    1. Philip,

      Is it because you have a Japanese Amazon account linked to a Japanese address? I was thinking of getting that set up as well…

  15. I happen to know that if you make an Amazon JP account and tell them your name is a random name from the credits of your favourite Japanese video game and your address is Akita city hall, you can buy kindle books with a foreign Visa debit card.

    You can also sign up for the trial of Kindle Unlimited, where you can download as many of the shittier books on offer as you want for free (including erotic photobooks, if you want to experience what Taisho period masturbation might have been like on the Kindle’s black and white screen).

  16. But we’re missing the most important question here – about that other oasis…is the image at the top a genuine shot of the inside of the Seeroi HQ?

    1. I think you mean “Paperwhite,” but I guess you can use it however you like.

      Anyway, yeah, you’ll be able to use it for word lookups. The Kindles come with a couple of dictionaries pre-loaded, and you can download others for a few bucks.

      Honestly, I think the Paperwhite is a great choice. Dollar for dollar, the Kindle is easily the best money I’ve spent for learning Japanese. If you want to improve your Japanese reading skill, it’s the way to go.

      1. White, weight. ポテト、ポタト xD
        But thanks a lot for confirming! And congratulations, you have successfully contributed to my monthly expenditure in a constructive way. I expect to be a kanji master in no time :>

  17. I am using a kindle fire at the moment and it`s quite good but the dictionary it comes with isn`t great (Midori on my phone is much better). I am thinking of getting an Oasis (or a cheaper ) paperlight manga model.

    The thing is I mainly read on the train and so I am not connected to the internet, just wondering, if you download other dictionaries can you use them offline? Which dictionary do you find the most useful?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hey, thanks for asking. Yes, after you download the dictionaries, you can use them offline. I always keep my Kindle in airplane mode, so it’s as self-contained as a paper book. Assuming the paper book had a massive dictionary glued to the back, that is.

      I’ve got 3 dictionaries installed on my Kindle Oasis. You can switch between one and the other: the “Shogakukan Progressive Japanese-English Dictionary,” which came pre-installed, another called “JMdict Japanese-English Dictionary,” which was like 4 dollars or something, and a third with the inspired title of “Japanese English Dictionary,” which is around ten bucks. This third one is the one I use the most:


      It’s based upon the open-source EDICT and KANJIDIC dictionary files, and provides the basic hiragana reading plus an English definition. It works fine, about as well as Rikaichan or Yomichan for reading web pages, if you’ve ever used that.

      Here’s a real-world example. This is what you see when you highlight the word 針金:

      [針金] n. ~no

      This cage is made of wire.

      Wires transmit electricity.

      …and two more example sentences.

      I do wish it had the additional step of providing a kanji breakdown, so that it would say 針 = needle, pin, staple, stinger 金 = gold, money, metal. It doesn’t do that, but it’s not a huge deal. In some ways maybe that’s better, because it gets me back to the book instead of diverting me off to kanji-study land.

      (Shout out to https://jisho.org/)

      I absolutely love the Oasis for reading, and use it every day. It’s the best thing I ever did for studying Japanese, and it’s just an all-around great product. I should say, however, that I’ve never used it for reading manga, so I’m not sure how well it works for that. For books though, it’s the cat’s pajamas.

      I’d love to hear from anybody else who’s using it for reading Japanese.

  18. Thank you for your reply it was very helpful.

    As a result I just bought the new flash premium version of the Japanese English Dictionary.


    At 3000 yen its 3 times the price of the standard one but I figure if I am using it daily then it will soon pay for itself. It is supposed to be able to read various conjugations but I tried it on 笑って and it failed but it succeeded on 飛んで。 I only bought it half an hour ago so I was just playing around and as I haven`t used the standard version I can`t compare them however it appears to be better than the preinstalled version so I am happy.

    It seems to do well with kanji but not well with hiragana.

    At the moment I am just using it on my iphone (on the fire and some other devices it doesnt work). I was considering buying a paperlight or oasis this month and canceling Christmas presents for my children but I hope amazon will have a sale in January so I will wait.


    1. That premium version looks pretty cool. 3000 yen isn’t outrageous; I could see buying it.

      As for conjugated forms…before getting an actual Kindle, I valiantly tried it on the PC and my phone, just because I’m a cheap fucker, and it wasn’t great. But on the regular Kindle, it handles conjugated verbs no problem. I don’t know, could be the same, but I don’t think it’s just my imagination.

      Just trying one page in my current book (a description about hunting)…飛びかかる (spring at, leap upon), 倒れた (fall over), 慌てる (in a hurry, flustered)…it seems pretty solid. I’d be really surprised if it couldn’t read 笑って.

      Not trying to talk your kids out of their Christmas or anything, but yeah, maybe in January…

  19. I think it`s a limited app on the phone but I am sure it will be great when I get a real kindle. I will let you know when I eventually get one.

    Don`t worry I was joking about the Christmas presents. I have already bought them each a lump of coal, so that`s covered!

    Just curious if you have dropped your Oasis (I guess it must have survived) and if you use protection film on the screen?

    1. Thankfully, I haven’t dropped the Oasis, and yeah, I don’t actually use protection film.

      As for drops, I think the odds of dropping it are way less than a phone, simply because I’m not usually walking down a flight of stairs while trying to read a book. Nor do I generally take the Kindle to a dance club and pass it around to random people. Probably the biggest danger would be slipping out of my hand when if I fall asleep on the bathtub.

      Because I use a cover, it’s protected when I stuff it into a bag, and that seems to work just fine. As an aside, I assume screen technology has improved in recent years, because I don’t use a screen protector on my Samsung phone any more, and it has zero scratches, despite years of being stuffed into jeans, bags, and backpacks. I don’t know if the Kindle uses the same glass. Probably not, but anyway so far the cover has worked perfectly, at least for scratch protection.

  20. Hey Ken,
    I have a Japanese friend in Chiba who is learning English.
    Would the Kindle be just as fantastic?
    If so I wonder which dictonary to get for learning English on Kindle…

    1. Yes, fantastic it would be. Eliminating flipping between book and dictionary is like boarding a jet after riding donkeys your whole life. The Kindle I bought here in Japan came pre-installed with an English-Japanese dictionary (as well as a J-E), so that might well be good enough.

      As a lifelong lover of books and avowed Luddite, I never thought I’d say this, but there’s a really good chance I’ll never buy a paper book again. And certainly not one in a foreign language.

  21. Hello Ken,
    What importance do you place on learning stroke order? Have you learned stroke order as your reading skills have improved? If so then how has it been useful?

    1. Good question. Reading does improve your ability to write kanji, no doubt about it. Sometimes I can write kanji that I haven’t even practiced once. I just know how it looks from seeing it so many times that I can write it.

      Now, the question remains, am I writing it in the correct stroke order? Eh, maybe. You can usually make a reasonable guess, based upon other kanji you know, plus just going left to right and top to bottom.

      The question of usefulness is right on point. Does stroke order even matter? In general, yes, because it makes your kanji easier to read. It just looks right; whereas if you wrote it another way it’d look slightly wrong. That’s true of all the big strokes, but to be honest, all those little marks—it probably doesn’t matter if you added them out of sequence, especially if your handwriting is as atrocious as mine.

      Stroke order is arguably more useful just for your own sake, because things are easier to remember if you do them in the same sequence every time.

      But that being said, I don’t worry one minute about stroke order, or any kind of writing practice a all. It’s just too time-consuming, while there are other things in Japanese I’d rather spend my time on.

  22. Hello Seeroi, i read all your section about learning japanese, i have a question, do you recommend minna no nihongo 1 and 2?, of course it is only for beggining. (Sorry for my english). I love you and i am going to start reading the others section.

    1. Hey, thanks for the question. I’m a big fan of learning Japanese. That and drink beer are pretty much all I do.

      Myself, I used the Genki I and II books, and they were pretty good. Probably Minna no Nihongo would work as well. That being said, the real challenge with textbooks is forcing yourself to go through them. I’m usually good until about page three, and then I lose interest. But if you can stick with it, you’ll learn plenty.

      Have you tried Nihongo no Mori on YouTube? I really love their lessons. If you could do one or two of them a day, at the appropriate level (with some note-taking and review), I think that would be as effective as any textbook.

  23. Is there a setting to simply add furigana?
    JP dictionary is great, but honestly 90% of the time, I just need to double-check the pronunciation.

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