One of the most difficult aspects of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) is the reading comprehension (
I was reminded of this lack of readily accessible JLPT reading practice materials by a commenter. I want to help fill that gap. In this post, I will provide links to interesting blogs written by natives and also JLPT reading practice websites. I’ve broken up the JLPT reading practice websites by JLPT level (N5 through N1). The best thing is that both types of websites can be used to push your Japanese reading comprehension to a new level.
If you have any additional websites to add to the list, feel free to comment!
Free and Fun JLPT Reading Practice Online
N5 – N4
The JLPT levels N4 and N5 are probably the most difficult to find fun, interesting reading materials for. The vocabulary and grammar are enough to get into a simple conversation, but not high enough to comfortably read native-level materials. This calls for seeking out practice materials that are primarily aimed at the JLPT and beginner Japanese language students.
This online Japanese study website, U-biq, has several sections with N5/N4-level reading materials. The materials focus on conversation and are in hiragana/katakana and romaji. Click through the section called
While picking up and reading any old manga would be difficult at the N4 or N5 level, with some help, you can get through one! This website provides interesting Japanese manga with tons of help — translations in English, option to read in hiragana or romaji, and even voice audio!
This website is a little older, but has a fair number of beginner-level writings. Check out the お勉強 section on the left for more JLPT reading practice material.
If you are studying for the JLPT, chances are that you have already seen the practice questions on the official JLPT website. If not, check it out for a sample of what you’ll be up against on the test.
The JPLANG website doesn’t have reading materials labeled as such, but the conversation reading practice should be of interest to N4 and N5 level students. Click on the links on the left for more example conversations.
This website has a fair number of N4 level JLPT reading practice materials. They are labeled as
You’re starting to get to the level where you can read straight-forward higher level materials if you use furigana and a dictionary. This is where the fun begins! At this point, “JLPT reading practice” turns into just “reading.”
You probably know about the obnoxiously adorable cat “Maru-chan,” but did you know that Maru has a blog? Sometimes the vocabulary is a bit higher level, especially considering Maru is a cat! At the same time, the posts are short and include English translations in case you get stuck. Here’s to more adorable cats!
In case cats aren’t your cup of tea, how about rabbits? Because of the nature of the subject matter, blogs about pets are usually written at around the N3 level, and Azurige labo. is no exception. This blog follows the cuteness of two bunny rabbits, Azuki and Rigeru, and the life of their owner.
This website is a little old, but has some good JLPT reading practice materials solidly at the N3 level. Reading comprehension questions are also included.
Even at the N3 level, you can dip your toes into reading Japanese news. The Japanese broadcasting station NHK has created this website to present the news in an easy-to-read format. The vocabulary can be a little advanced, but the grammar is fairly straightforward. All the words have furigana, there are pop-ups that explain the meaning of difficult vocabulary, and you can even listen to the story read aloud.
If you have iTunes, you can download free manga to study Japanese. You can choose to have furigana or, for a challenge, you can turn the furigana off.
A little more advanced than the fairy tale site mentioned for N4/N5, the website “Fukuhime” has some interesting stories at around the N3 level. The fairy tales are organized by month, so you can read stories connected with Japanese holidays.
Finding JLPT practice reading material for the N2 test presents some interesting challenges. Some native-level materials may be easy to read, but some are simply too difficult. This calls for some careful selection of reading materials that are challenging enough, but not so much so that they become tiring.
The JLPT N2 often includes advice column-type reading comprehension questions. What better way to prepare than read an advice column aimed at native Japanese speakers? You may need to use Rikaikun for some of the more difficult vocabulary, but some of the columns should be right at the N2 level.
The Japan Foundation’s website features stories about Japan and the world. The vocabulary can be a little challenging at times. However, the articles are also translated into English.
This Japanese language learning site has JLPT reading practice materials at all levels. The largest section seems to be the N2 level, so I decided to stick it here with the other N2 websites. The selections include vocabulary lists for the difficult words.
At the N1 level, you probably won’t have too much trouble reading most materials aimed at native speakers. The trouble, though, is finding interesting material, particularly if you live in another country and don’t have access to Japanese books or comics. I’ve collected these websites that I find fun to read and that may help students aiming for the JLPT N1.
Even though Madame Riri is a blog that is ostensibly about France, it contains a lot of insights about foreign countries. The information presented here is written by native Japanese speakers. For this reason, I think it is worth checking out so that you can see what Japan thinks about other countries and about itself relative to other countries.
You may be familiar with the English version of Rocket News, but did you know that it was originally in Japanese? Rocket News presents funny news about Japan and Asia, sure to keep you reading. The blog uses some fairly difficult vocabulary to boot, so it should be on your blogroll.
More on the academic side, Aozora is basically an online library. Some of the materials can be a bit difficult even for N1. But, I really enjoy clicking through the 公開中 作品別 (Works that are open-to-the-public) and finding essays about which I can say, “Whoa, I can read this!” I hope to put together a collection of N1-level and N2-level JLPT reading practice materials from Aozora soon.
Again, another academic source, JAIRO is a repository for mostly research papers. I tried typing in 日本語 and came up with several interesting studies about Japanese as a foreign language. If you read articles like these, you can both do JLPT reading practice and get information about studying Japanese from the contents.
The reading level of Kotobaya is probably more at the N2 level, but the vocabularly is probably more at the N1 level. This blog is aimed at explaining commonly confused Japanese vocabulary and introducing difficult everyday words.
Do you have any favorite JLPT reading practice sites?