I'm learning Japanese and currently I finished the hiragana and katakana charts.

A friend of mine suggested me to start reading something simple to build a vocabulary , so I found a children's story but I'm stuck on trying to read the first phrase:


How can I learn new words if I can't even understand where a word begins and where it ends ?

I understand that I need to learn grammar because simply knowing hiragana-katakana I can't even separate the words in the phrase.

I tried looking online for Japanese courses but they try to teach basic 'survival phrases' to speak and listen to Japanese people but for now I want to learn hot to read and possibly write in Japanese so could you tell me where I can find good resources, preferably online, that teaches me how to read and write in Japanese and most important thing how to recognise the words in a phrase in a language without spaces.

  • mukashi mukashi, aru tokoro ni, ojiisan to obaasan ga sunde imashita. – Friendly Ghost Jun 28 '15 at 8:52
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    It'll get easier as you learn more words. – snailplane Jun 28 '15 at 10:14
  • Why don't you submit this question to Language Learning Stack Exchange, where we already have several questions related to Japanese? The problem also applies to learning to read Chinese. – user18139 Dec 22 '16 at 15:50

If you're reading online then I suggest installing the Rikaichan plugin to your browser. Hovering over the words gives you the meaning and the conjugation of the verbs etc.

The real problem is that you need to learn kanji. Trying to read hiragana with no spaces is a nightmare. The kanji break up the stream into manageable chunks.

Also, become familiar with the particles. These are usually really helpful for delineating where words end.


Once upon a time, in some place, there lived an old man and an old women

I've highlighted the particles in bold. In this particular sentence, that separates all the words for you.

Finally don't get too disheartened if you struggle with the story. I have a set of children's books which claim to be for beginners but which contain complex grammar and obscure words. You'll get there in the end.

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    +1 I can read business level Japanese fairly well, but I struggle to read a hiragana-only book to my 2 year old. – deceze Jun 28 '15 at 13:31