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In the almost never ending quest to find some of the best resources for learning Japanese, today is the turn of Satori Reader; and just a heads up — I’m quite attached to it. 

At the heart of Satori Reader — as the name implies — is a Japanese application with a focus on reading material. However it’s also a little misleading due to the amount of other features that it offers, so much so that this has the potential to become your primary Japanese learning source. It’s a tool that approaches the process of teaching Japanese in a different manner to many others but also means it may not be for everyone. 

Developed by the same team responsible for the ‘Human Japanese’ series; there is a lot to unpack with this language learning tool. 

So can Satori Reader be a useful Japanese resource for you?

A story to tell

No matter what language you are trying to learn, be it your native language at a young age or an additional later in life, reading is a surefire way to achieving comprehension and fluency. 

Satori Reader takes this view as the foundation of its entire business model. 

What you will find then is a lot of written material, but it’s written material that is varied, exciting, and most importantly useful as opposed to content for contents sake. 

The way that Satori Reader accomplishes this is by delivering the bulk of its content in the form of stories which you can essentially read like any other book. Most of these stories are a series of original works of fiction but there are also other factual pieces and short one-off scenarios. The thing is, you can easily lose yourself in the events and narratives found within due to some fantastic writing. 

And that is key to how Satori Reader makes learning Japanese enjoyable as well as beneficial.

Unlike traditional textbook content with bland scenarios, Satori Reader will keep you engaged; push you to want to understand what is occurring — you may even find yourself forgetting you’re reading Japanese after a while. 

However, there is one last trick up its sleeve that completes this storytelling package. 

Every single line of text within each story is fully voice-acted, turning this much loved book analogy into an audiobook too. This means there is ample material in which to practise your listening skills, perfect pronunciation, and enjoy every piece of content with performances that are as equally as engaging as they are written.

Interactive tutoring

Unlike every other book however, there is tons of interactivity on every single page to help readers comprehend what is in front of them. 

For a start, every single word and particle on the page is clickable. Doing so will always bring up a translation as well as many other useful pieces of information such as dictionary forms and conjugation patterns. However, many times it will also offer in depth explanations that make Satori Reader one of the best resources in allowing you to fully understand what is occurring within a text.

It’s almost like having your own tutor sit down and explain everything you need to know about the element in question. 

Let me give you an example:

Here is a word 挟む (はさむ) which appears within a chapter of a story. 

It’s a fairly difficult word to get used to and become acquainted with. If we click on this word, not only do we get a translation, but we get an in-depth description, breakdown and analysis so detailed that it dwarfs the rest of the content on the page.

What’s more, these breakdowns are explained in a very down-to-earth, approachable, and relatable manner. 

Now this particular example above is somewhat an exaggerated case in terms of the amount of explanation, although it’s certainly not uncommon to see lengthy explanations all throughout Satori Reader.

Personal development

There are a selection of other simple but useful tools available within this application that can improve and customise your experience. The first to note is the use of a flashcard reviewing system. 

Now the use of flashcards have become quite common in many other language resources but those found within Satori Reader takes the practice slightly further and feels more refined and personal. 

To start; following on from above, any word or particle in a story you click on can be added to ‘your studylist’ essentially converting it into a flashcard for review. This means that you can choose which words you want to focus on whether it be just a few, many, or the entire contents of a page. 

During a review, not only will the word or phrase etc appear, but the context in which it was added too. You will be able to see the surrounding sentence which further jogs your memory and solidifies its usage and understanding.

Beyond flashcards, the difficulty of text can be adjusted to suit your own personal reading levels. For example, if you are in the early stages of learning Japanese, you can choose to see very few kanji, or none at all (just kana characters). You can choose to see kanji depending on Japanese school grades — almost equivalent to JLPT levels. You can even choose the level of furigana, (the kana characters displayed above kanji).

In short, you can customise the experience to suit your needs and also change it as you improve.

Things to be aware of

For the most part, Satori Reader can be a great Japanese resource for a lot of people. There are however some aspects to it that need to be discussed —mostly related to difficulty.

To put it bluntly, this is not a tool that you should really attempt to use near the beginning of your Japanese learning journey; I would even say it’s not a tool that you should use unless you have a significant understanding of core principles, particle usage, sentence structures, and conjugation. 

While there is certainly content that varies in difficulty, even the lowest level content can prove to be challenging. 

This is because of the nature of Satori Reader. 

To create interesting and natural sounding content, a vast array of terms, expressions, and nuanced elements are used in almost every story; things that are not typically covered or witnessed in other learning resources. And while they are all certainly explained by the method of clicking on them, it can be incredibly overwhelming. 

Along a similar vein, one frustrating part of Satori Reader is the type of vocabulary that is used. You will often come across very literary terms that you will rarely encounter outside professional Japanese publications. Sure, eventually you may need to learn these terms but they feel like the kind of words you would only need when it’s no longer necessary to study Japanese in a scenario like Satori Reader. At times it just makes everything seem a little more complicated than it needs to be.


After using Satori Reader for a year, it seems the app and the team behind it genuinely understand the challenges and processes a Japanese language student truly has to face. Finding Japanese learning resources that provide quality reading and listening material can often be a challenge, but Satori Reader gives you access to such.

The fact that there is somewhat an unspoken minimum knowledge requirement means it may not be entirely suitable for everyone. However once you have a solid foundation of some of the basics of Japanese, certainly give Satori Reader a try. It may be the only resource you need well into the advanced stages of Japanese.