New Reading Resource - WOW!

Just thought I’d post here something I ran across this week that has really inspired me to “get going” again. YUYU of YUYU Podcast has done a project where he took the Ryunosuke Akutagawa - Rashomon short story and translated it at each JLPT level. So there’s an N5 version for beginners, with or without furigana, vertical and horizontal, and an audio reading! N4, N3, N2-1, and even a modern retelling of the story set around Shinjuku Station, LOL. Anyhow it is a paid project, so maybe it’s not for everyone. Each level is $5 but I’d recommend just getting the $20 pack of all of them as you’ll want to compare what he’s done at each level. Also, you can start where you are and then move up as you learn the grammar and vocab…hopefully ending with reading the original. Oh, N5 LEVEL learners, don’t worry that his podcast is too hard, the N5 level story is perfect! I’ve been so excited reading something “real” that is graded so well for me! Hope it helps others too. Here’s a link to the announcement video: (If you look at his playlist you can watch audio demos for free of each level of the translation with text on the video as well!


Really interesting concept that I haven’t really seen much elsewhere. I’m tempted. It looks high quality, but I couldn’t tell from the samples if it was actually going to be an interesting story for me. I know the bulk of the content is based on a 100+ year old story. Can you report back on if you’re actually finding them interesting, or maybe give a summary of the story premise?

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Sure! It’s actually just one VERY short story, so the content doesn’t matter much. It’s about a peasant who is in Kyoto during a very rough period. He has lost his job as a servant and has no way to survive, so he’s battling the need to become a thief even though he is strongly morally opposed to doing that. Without telling the whole plot, it’s just what happens when he goes to spend the night in a storm holing up at the Rashomon Gate. (BTW Kurosawa’s “Rashomon” isn’t this story, it’s another, Bamboo Grove, but the movie title is the same.) If you want the whole plot it’s in Wikipedia and the story can be found online in English with a quick search. Worth a read in English to start anyhow, since it will make it easier to attempt in Japanese…similar to reading Shakespeare. Unlike a modern novel, it helps to know the story before trying to read it. The versions, N5 level to N1 level, are all the same 4 page story translated at different levels, so at N5 you can read it and that grammar level gives you the outline of the plot, the vocab is limited and the adjectives are minimal. The story gets more filled and and colorful as you move to each level. It’s really cool actually. The story is (very) paraphrased at each level so you get a good flow at each level. Personally I am not a literature fan and wouldn’t normally read anything like this, but it’s so fun to be able to “ladder up” each level of the story. It’s both great practice and, more importantly, quite engaging.

BTW I should probably say that I have NOTHING to do with YUYU or his site or his project, because I’m sounding like a commercial for this project, LOL. I just like it and thought others here might fine it useful and fun. Hope that helps you decide. Oh and watch the N5 (and 4,3,21) video(s) on YUYU’s YouTube. It has the story read and you see for yourself in a demo. Then you can decide whether to buy it.


Probably not quite what you’re looking for, but the original story by Akutagawa (as so many other older copyright-free Japanese novels and stories) is available free of charge on 青空文庫 at 芥川龍之介 羅生門 (this is the version with new kanji and kana usage).

藪の中 is also very recommendable, even though I’ve found it to be more difficult to read than 羅生門; due to it being a mystery story with highly unreliable narration.


Thanks for posting the link. It’s the same original version I found, but from another source. Hope people realize that THAT version is the goal, and the point of what YUYUsan has done is to make it more accessible, level by level.

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