Blogs are another source of reading material that is generally pretty easy to digest. No one is writing any thesis papers online about a certain topic. As a matter of fact, most of the blogs I’ve seen in Japan are rather simple affairs.
In Japan, a lot of people consume content via their cell phones (and more increasingly smartphones) so blogs are formatted with this in mind. They usually don’t have long posts, have fairly simple themes, and are written in short paragraphs. A lot of the travel blogs I’ve seen have a lot of photographs and a few comments under each one.
This makes for pretty light reading and easy commenting. Again, this isn’t the most maximum efficient way to study for the JLPT, so if you are pressed for time, you might want to try something else. However, it can be a way to change things up every once in awhile and get some Japanese practice in the process.
Also, in the spirit of complete language immersion, you can replace the time you usually spend reading about your hobbies and interests in your native language with time spent reading about your hobbies and interests in Japanese.
There are a few main blogging sites (like blogger.com in the states) in Japan. One of the major ones is Ameba. There are a variety of sites listed under this service. The formatting is a little strange, because most of the blogs have a narrow format suitable for cell phones, but you can still find a few gems here and there. A good place to start is there most popular ranking page.
A competitor to Ameba is FC2, which is a blog directory sorted by category and popularity. This directory can be real hit or miss. Some categories have some great blogs in them, others not so much, but it is a good alternative to Ameba.
There are also two independent blog ranking sites that might be worth checking out as well. One is a place call Blog Ranking and another is Blogmura. I’ve found some gems on both of these sites for everything from travel blogs to how to save money.
There are also some big professional blogs in Japan like LifeHacker, which has a lot of useful tips for making life easier. From there you can also visit, Gizmodo, Kotaku, Tabroid, Roomie and My Lohas that offer up some of the same. Another interesting blog that I check into every once in awhile is Pouch, which is an entertainment/fashion blog. It is more geared toward a female audience though.
Commenting on blogs shouldn’t really be a scheduled thing to do, more like something to do in your free time to have fun studying the language and get some casual Japanese practice. It will help on the test with some of the vocabulary though. I tend to read blogs and comment only when I have free time and want to read about a particular hobby.
Although I rank this as an activity for N3 and above, don’t be afraid to try reading blogs if you are just a beginner. The sooner you start seeing native materials the better, and with all the tools available to help you read Japanese on the web, there are really no excuses for you to not start even on your first day with Japanese.
1) Once you’ve picked out a blog that you want to read from the variety of blog directories out there. Read through the article and try to understand as much as you can.
2) Be sure to use the variety of tools (like Rikai-chan, etc…) that are available for you to read and practice Japanese with a web browser.
3) Try to write a comment that contributes to the article or possibly asks a question. You want to try to get some interaction with the blogger. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes either. It’s just a blog.
4) If there is an RSS feed, you can use that to read the blog in a blog reader like NewsBlur. This is a great way to remember to keep up on that particular blog.