How to get Japanese light novels FREE and legally. 1000s easily available.


Konnichiwa. Today, we’re going to talk about how you can get literally thousands of Japanese light novels in any genre you prefer absolutely free. And absolutely legally. People sometimes say that if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. But I expect they’d say that about an android who can turn Japanese from a difficult language into an easy one. Now, I think the subject of this lesson is very important because, as I often say, you can’t learn Japanese from me. And you can’t learn it from textbooks either. You learn about Japanese from me and perhaps from textbooks. You learn Japanese from using Japanese. It’s like swimming. You don’t learn it out of books. You learn it by getting into the water. Now, there are a number of ways of using Japanese, but one of the best is reading novels. So how do we get all these free — and legal — novels? The answer is, a website called syosetu.com. Now, this isn’t just a website. There are associated applications which work somewhat like the Kindle reader to allow you to download and read these books just the way you would any other digital edition of a book. The full name of this site is “Shousetsuka-ni narou” which means “Let’s become novelists”. It’s a site at which aspiring novelists upload their novels. Now, you may be saying “Does that mean you’re going to get a lot of amateur junk?” Well, the answer to that is two-fold. In the first place, many light novel series published in Japan debuted on syosetu.com. There’s one well-known light novel publisher who only publishes authors who debuted on syosetu.com, and most of the others do it quite a bit as well. So, syosetu.com is part of the Japanese light novel economy. And a second answer is that even if a novel is a bit amateurish, it’s written by a native Japanese speaker. What you’re trying to learn is natural Japanese, not fancy literary style. So long as you’re getting Japanese input in large quantities, you’re learning Japanese… by the only way you really can learn Japanese. Now, when people ask me: “What’s the best thing to read for learning Japanese?” my answer is always the same. The very best thing you can read is the thing you really want to read. It’s a book about a subject that you find so interesting that you keep going back to it even though it’s a struggle to read it in Japanese. I would say that motivation is the most important factor of all. And that is where syosetu.com really comes into its own, because you can find novels about exactly what you want to read about. You start off by entering your search into the little search box on the main page. It can be anything you want to search for — rabbits, round sheep, penguins… or whatever it is that you’re interested in. Now, once you’ve done your initial search, you come to this more detailed search page. There’s a box which has lots and lots of preset keywords. So you can search for absolutely whatever combination of factors you want. If you want a happy ending, if you want a female protagonist, if you want robots or androids, if you want detectives, if you want “isekai” (other-world) fiction, if you want science fiction, if you want horror — whatever it is you want you can put that into these tags. Now, there’s also a second box in which you can enter what you want to exclude. So, if you don’t want a female protagonist, if you really have the bad taste not to want any androids, if you don’t want R-rated material, you can enter it into this exclude box and you won’t get it. Also, you’re not limited to the tags here either. You can type in anything it is you’re interested in. The advantage of the tags, of course, is that the authors use them. but if you’re looking for something unusual, just type it in. It’s a very good search engine. And this is very important, because tailoring the book to exactly what you are going to enjoy reading is all-important. Now, once you’ve chosen your book, you’ll probably want to read it on your tablet or your Kindle reader or whatever, so you need to download one of the applications for reading it. The two best ones, in my opinion, are the ones that I’m showing you here. The first one is the official application and like a poor droid’s Kindle reader — it isn’t as good as the Kindle reader, but it does the job. And the other one here is an unofficial reader. It’s not as good as the official one, but again it does the job, and the advantage of this one is that you can select text. Why does that matter? Well, in a coming video, I’m going to show you how you can get an application which will work rather like the Kindle built-in dictionary, which will allow you to select text and get the reading and English-language definition of a word on the fly. And it’s also going to allow you to make instant Anki cards without having to actually build the Anki card for yourself and fill in all the fields. I’m going to tell you how to do both these things in a future video. For now, why don’t you get started, have a look at syosetu.com, download a few novels and see how you get on with them. If you have any questions or comments, please put them in the Comments below and I will answer as usual. I’d like to thank my Gold Kokeshi patrons, my producer angels, who make these videos possible, and all my patrons and supporters on Patreon and everywhere. And I’d like to thank you for attending this lesson. Kore kara mo yoroshiku onegai shimasu. Class dismissed.

19 Replies to “How to get Japanese light novels FREE and legally. 1000s easily available.

  1. I tried reading plain LNs without a translation in the past and didn't really enjoy the experience – thanks to the heavy context dependence of Japanese (and exacerbated by the fact that LNs love to use various slang and just plain invented terms), a simple mistranslation in an earlier sentence can force a misunderstanding of the following text, which quickly turns the reading process in a frustrating mess. "Why is this character described as having a polished wooden surface?… Oh, it's because four sentences ago the topic switched to describing the bookcase in the room, which I incorrectly understood as simply mentioned to be present in the room, as opposed to becoming the subject we're talking about."

    What I found works much better is having a translated version nearby so I can check my translation, unravel clumps I get stuck on (thanks, absence of spaces!) and ensure I don't veer too much off-track.

    Also, if you're giving recommendations for reading, two immensely useful tools I use that you may want to mention are Rikaichan (a browser addon for translation lookup by mouseover) and kanjitomo.net (a standalone app for doing the same plus OCR for reading text off images).

  2. A quick holiday break from my usual grammar structure videos – in the form of a little present for everyone! There are a few thousand books in there, so unwrap it carefully! A few people have had trouble with the address of 小説家になろう. It is www.syosetu.com – I think the problem is that because it is not written in the familiar Hepburn (the usual Western) system of romaji they misremember it – particularly the fact that there is no "s" after the "t". This, of course makes the stem system much clearer ( https://youtu.be/FhyrskGBKHE Hepburn romanization tends to hide it somewhat). So both have advantages and disadvantages – another indication why romaji is not a good way of writing Japanese.

  3. Nice! Now I hope I can print some of these because I like to write on the words so I practice my grammar by identifying what's going on in each sentence. I sometimes do this with video games where I write the sentence down in paper. Yes, it's weird but it works. The more I do it the less I have to in the future because I've become familiar to it. And yes, getting a subject you like is great because, like you said, it pulls you back in even though you have that annoying struggle with the language. It's a pain translating all that text but, dang, I want to know what the Skull Team is doing in Pokēmon Sun です. Anyway, will check it out. Thank you, android 先生

  4. Thank you sensei! And thank you for a fantastic year of learning! Here’s to an equally awesome 2019. 明けましておめでとうございます🎍m(__)m

  5. Whats the difference between light novels, visual novels and real novels? I'm reading manga and for the most part it's very easy. Do you think i should read real novels or just light ones?

  6. I have a problem related to visual novels, and I hope you can give me your opinion.

    When I started learning japanese, still a few (9) months ago, I got motivated by one special visual novel, 「月影のシミュラクル」, and it's still one very important reason for me to learn japanese. This VN is not translated by anyone, and I really really really wanted to read it. So I picked up a few basics from the textbooks, learned a bit of "sentence patterns", got myself a copy of this VN, and then directly jumped into text hooking stuff and it was working. But when I got into the game, I quickly noticed that it wasn't quite as the textbooks want to make it sound like. Some sentences just made no sense with the way I was taught.

    So as I got deeper into learning the language. I was told NOT to read that kind of content first, and to watch some very basic slice of life things instead. Well I tried it, but I'm hyperactive so I got bored and I couldn't focus on simple sentences since I just didn't want to read that. Now, I can play some simple Japanese games like 東方 and grab a few things here and there, but I can't quite get it all still. So there's no way I can read this Visual Novel, considered too difficult for my japanese level. Watching every definition of every word makes the reading fastidious and quite unpleasant.

    Now, I know that my main issue in the language is vocabulary, and that was also my problem when I was learning english. My question is : Do I really have to bring myself to learn vocabulary in the hard, boring way, or is there any alternative to make the reading less unbearable? Or do I have to target lower goals in order to read this one?

    Thank you for bringing this subject, giving me the opportunity to ask this question. And also thanks for giving answers so quickly, and for your very clarifying videos.

  7. Hello, I am new to learning Japanese and would like to know what alphabet I should learn to begin reading novels on shosetsu.com. What would you recommend?

  8. Hey CureDolly i would like to know what you think about listening. Like if you just listen to anime for 2 years will you be able to understand other media as well like youtubers who talk faster and don't enunciate as clearly as voice actors ( didn't do this btw, just curious) or like is there a problem if you read at the same time you listen to something or read the subtitles before watching, will this damage your listening or something or actually help you? For example you're watching with subs and a person says "嘘だろう" and you couldn't hear it, then go back and read the subs and start hearing it. If you're watching a youtuber for example who talks faster than most and doesn't enunciate clearly should you just continue to listen to him without worrying that you're not clearly hearing the sounds? Should you watch to anime in the beginning? I know that to get perfect you really should't read at all and do the same as you did with your native language but for 90% of people who will also read and use anki what's your take on this?

  9. Can I download novels not to read them from the website? I have only found a way to download pdf with vertical writing, but that's not ideal

  10. Wow, this is really great. It looks like they even have short stories which might be a good place to start before jumping into something longer. Thanks so much for sharing this.

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