Sugar, spice and everything nice.
That’s what Japanese lifestyle blogs are made of.
Well, that plus mouthwatering food photography, street fashion inspiration, recipes for lovely culinary creations, offbeat home decorations, cool gadgets and DIY everything.
You might already love blogs about the Japanese language and how to learn it. Now you can take that blog obsession to the next level with blogs in Japanese about improving your life and all the little details within it.
Plenty of useful and compelling blogs (and vlogs) are out there, floating around online.
Blogs are a match made in heaven for anyone who wants to learn authentic and useful Japanese but who also loves to procrastinate by clicking around online. You don’t have to worry about multitasking—or putting off tasks—anymore, because I’ve gathered and recommended 12 beautiful lifestyle blogs written in Japanese.
These will not only give you useful tips for DIY projects, cooking and living in the Land of the Rising Sun, but they’ll also teach you all kinds of fun Japanese language lessons at the same time.
Where to Find Blogs in Japanese
I will tell you, young caterpillar, from my firsthand experience, that looking for blogs in Japanese is not always easy. When searching in English, most of your results will be blogs written in English about Japanese things, rather than blogs written in Japanese.
The simplest way to find Japanese blogs is to search in Japanese. Add a Japanese keyboard, then search Google using ひらがな (hiragana) or 漢字 (かんじ, kanji).
Alternately, try this mega, super large blog ranking database that contains thousands of neatly-categorized Japanese blogs—it’s called BlogMura, or “Blog Village.”
How to Read the Blogs: Tips for Approaching Blogs in Japanese
I know that, personally, when I’m confronted with a wall of text, even in my first language, I can feel myself shutting down.
Even if the blog layouts and images are so beautiful that I salivate just imagining what wonders lay within the text, actually making myself start the reading process is like when my dentist had to pull my wisdom teeth after they’d already grown roots.
When I was in that dentist chair, though, I discovered something. They didn’t numb my roots, but you can figuratively numb the roots that keep you from chewing through these blogs. I’ve just got a few simple tips to make this happen:
- Segment: A blog will generally consist of three main sections (header, sidebar and posts). The first time you visit a blog, focus on each of those individually. Become familiar with the header and the title, then try translating some words from one of the sidebars. By just focusing on one piece every time you visit the blog, you’ll become more and more familiar with how to navigate that blog and find all its goodies. Speaking of which…
- Become familiar with layout: The first time you visit a blog, make it a point to become familiar with the blog layout and features. How do you search through posts? How do you go back or forward a page? How can you tell how many posts there are each month? What cool features do they have? Spend your first visit to the blog getting the lay of the land.
- Take it step-by-step: Click on the newest post (which will show up first) and just start picking through it word by word.
- Skim: Briefly skim through a post to see how much you already comprehend. Then go back and read more deeply.
- Take notes: Create a personal dictionary. Not just with words, but with phrases and grammatical structures too. Handwritten is better for internalizing and remembering the vocabulary, but even a document on your computer can be helpful, and you can use the software’s search and organizational features when building and later consulting your dictionary.
Useful Tools for Decoding Japanese Text
- Online dictionaries and kanji search sites: My go-to sites are Jisho.org for words and Saiga for kanji. The benefit to having a dictionary or kanji site online is two-fold: (1) you can copy and paste from a blog directly into the other site, and (2) you can have both Jisho.org and Saiga open in the same window while you’re reading. More recommendations include JapanDict.com, Tangorin, Yamasa or this handwritten kanji search engine.
- Smartphone dictionary apps and translation apps: Like with online dictionaries, smartphone dictionaries are useful for finding words, and some have built-in kanji search capabilities. You won’t be able to copy and paste, unless you’re also reading the blog on your smartphone, but you also don’t have to keep switching between windows or screens.
- Browser extensions: You can download extensions for Google Chrome (such as rikaikun or IPA Furigana) and Firefox (like rikaichan, PeraPera Japanese Popup Dictionary, or gtranslate) that will help you best those baffling blogs!
12 Beautiful Lifestyle Blogs in Japanese
It’s a melon-colored blog run by Melonpan Mama. The blog is brightly-colored, arranged simply and full of food and recipes!
Why it’s beautiful (and useful): She employs advanced grammar, native-level phrases and a combination of plain, polite and very polite language. Not only will your vocabulary and comprehension go through the roof while perusing her seven years’ worth of writing, but you’ll also be able to impress the locals when you visit Japan.
- 「魅惑のスモア、チョコたっぷりのジャーケーキ⌋ (みわく のすもあ、ちょこ たっぷりのじゃーけーき) – Attractive and chocolaty s’mores jar cake
- 「ホットケーキミックス(HM)でつくる、超簡単チョコバナナのパウンドケーキ⌋ (ほっとけーき みっくすでつくる、ちょう かんたんちょこばななのぱうんどけーき) – Super easy hotcake mix pound cake with chocolate and bananas
As the name suggests, this is a recipe blog dedicated to meat-free cooking. The blog has a clean and simple layout, so no worrying about where you are and what buttons to click on. To search through the posts, scroll down to the dates at the bottom left and click through the dozens of recipes posted each month!
Why it’s beautiful (and useful): As soon as you walk through the door, you’ll encounter blocks of polite-form Japanese text. It’s replete with opportunity to study standard Japanese without too much distraction… and the photos are nice.
- 「えのきのお焼き」 (えのきのおやき) – Enoki mushroom pancakes
- 「大根おろしの梅スープ 」 (だいこん おろしのうめすーぷ) – Grated daikon radish and plum soup
Launched a short two months ago, the Petit Tintin blog features recipes (mostly sweets) and crafts. I dare you to resist attempting every single recipe and craft on the blog. I dare you.
Why it’s beautiful (and useful): Petit Tintin writing is short and poetic. There are no paragraphs, and in fact, there are hardly any full sentences (at least no long sentences). Most of the writing is in casual form and it reads like someone’s internal musings. That plus the generous use of onomatopoeia makes this a good source for low-stress learning that will fill you up with vocabulary before you’ve finished your veggies.
- 「りんごジャム」 (りんご じゃむ) – Apple jam
- 「いただきもの〜柿と麩」 (いただきもの～かき と ふ) – Things I received: persimmons and wheat gluten cakes
Ignoring for one moment that JoliJoli and her husband have three soft, fluffy Abyssinian cats, we can see that her home cooking blog is visually stunning and full of six years’ worth of recipes. If the photos don’t reel you in, then maybe the cats will.
Why it’s beautiful (and useful): Each blog contains about a postcard’s-worth of polite form text, broken down into short sentences and small blocks so you’re not overwhelmed. The best feature is the レシピ (れしぴ, recipes) page, where categories are marked by custom silhouette drawings of food.
- 「酒粕で甘酒」 (さけかすであまざけ) – Sweet rice wine made of sake lees
- 「ニトスキでシーフードグラタン」 (にとすきでしーふーど ぐらたん) – Seafood gratin in a skillet
Upon entering Soprano Kitchen 2, readers are immediately greeted by a facade of calming leaves and text in various hues of green. The blog boasts nearly 300 recipes, including green tea financiers, roast chicken thighs with vegetables and blueberry cheesecake.
Why it’s beautiful (and useful): Soprano Kitchen 2 reads a little more like a textbook in its language than the other blogs, but the vocabulary is both advanced and useful for day-to-day experiences.
The blogger uses the kind of vocabulary you might see on the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) N2 or N1 (the top two levels of the test), in full sentences arranged into one or two lines each, so no overwhelming blocks of Chinese characters.
- 「鱈のココナッツミルク・カレー」 (たらのここなっつみるく・かれー) – Cod coconut milk curry
- 「鴨のソテー」 (かものそてー) – Sauteed duck
Art and Design Blogs
Reading through Tedium Museum posts is anything but tedious. The host, Shirakawa-san, publishes his own drawings, the likes of which anyone would want printed on a classy kitchen towel or chic coffee mug. He supplements his drawings with musings about day-to-day life and interesting art happenings.
Why it’s beautiful (and useful): Shirakawa-san’s writing is short and subtly humorous, with a hint of the absurdity common in Japanese speech. The vocabulary is full of words you won’t learn in class, maybe even words you wouldn’t study for the JLPT, but it’s well worth reading. A strong vocabulary is the bedrock of fluency, after all.
- 「ネズミの追跡」 (ねずみのついせき) – Mouse chase
- 「三宅一生の仕事展」 (みやけいっせいのしごとてん) – Miyake Issey exhibit
7. Marghu Blog
The other 11 blog recommendations are for private/personal blogs, but this one is for an art gallery with locations in Fukuoka and Kumamoto Prefectures. The style of the blog is very modern Japanese: chic and simple. The posts generally focus on exhibitions, artwork and artists, and the art featured is firmly rooted in the realm of the weird.
Why it’s beautiful (and useful): Marghu Blog is a good source for art vocabulary and a useful tool for more common and practical learning. The reader gets to interact with Japanese names, and each post is an opportunity to learn relevant vocabulary, such as prefecture names.
Additionally, there’s a combination of excessive 漢字 (so you’ll really get bang for your zero bucks) and カタカナ (かたかな, Japanese characters derived from Chinese characters, used for foreign words.)
- 「奈良美智『ビーチタオルWOW Project』」 (ならよしとも「びーちたおる WOW ぷろじぇくと) – Nara Yoshitomo, “Beach Towel WOW Project”
- 「ジョルジュ・ブラック 」 (じょるじゅ・ぶらっく) – Georges Braque
Japan loves to gloat about having four seasons (四季, しき), and the Seasonal Photo Notebook attests to the claim with beautiful photography and writing. As the tagline reads, “It is a photo gallery blog to introduce the changing of seasons in Kyoto, Osaka, and Nara.”
Why it’s beautiful (and useful): The Seasonal Photo Notebook is an exercise in learning 漢字, both utilitarian and specialized, but efforts are rewarded with beautiful photographs of Japan’s four seasons. Posts average between 300 and 400 words, and because the photos are accompanied by relevant comments, there’s the added element of visual connections.
- 「原谷苑の桜」 (はらだにえんのさくら) – Haradanien cherry blossoms
- 「毘沙門堂の秋」 (びしゃもんどうのあき) – Autumn at Bishamon Hall
Daily Life and DIY Blogs
Why it’s beautiful (and useful): The writing, short phrases with more beginner level grammatical structures, employs a mash up of カタカナ words (related to the content) and utilitarian 漢字, mainly verbs.
For anyone planning on living in Japan, posts come with step-by-step instructions on how to build various pieces of furniture or fixtures for your home, so when you decide to order a mahogany armoire online for your apartment, and it arrives in pieces, you’ll know exactly what to do!
- 「珪藻土・ソイルコースター」 (けいそうど・そいるこーすたー) – Diatomite/soil coasters
- 「ステップラダーラック」 (すてっぷらだー らっく) – Stepladder racks
The author moved from Mikawa Bay in Aichi Prefecture to the remote island, Sakushima. Here she lives the life of small island leisure and writes about it (with photos, too!). Thus, the blog is also called Sakushima Like. Additionally, she travels around the country and takes pictures of her wanderings.
Why it’s beautiful (and useful): From a cultural standpoint, Sakushima Life provides a glimpse into life on a small, remote island, 離島僻地 (りとうへきち), and from a linguistic point of view, a chance to read plain form Japanese.
Most of the blogger’s writing is in casual form, but with a few polite sentences thrown in, and where 漢字 can be used, 漢字 is used liberally. Never fear, though, as the posts are short (<2oo words) and full of stunning landscapes from the region.
- 「月島散歩＆もんじゃ焼き」 (つきしまさんぽ＆もんじゃやき) – Tsukishima strolls and monjayaki
- 「お散歩にご案内」 (おさんぽにごあんない) – Strolling news
Doing Nothing is all about small-town Japanese life. Kasanyarome’s blog, like their 田舎 (いなか, rural) lifestyle, is low-key, simple, quiet and aesthetically pleasing… and it features a 17-year-old cat.
Why it’s beautiful (and useful): On the blog, readers get a glimpse of 田舎 life, and exposure to authentic, colloquial Japanese with varied levels of difficulty. Most of the writing is about weather, a perpetual concern for 田舎 residents, but Kasanyarome also writes about food, daily life and animals, and the writing is chock full of onomatopoeia.
- 「１１月１日のお弁当と銀太」 (じゅういちがつついたちのおべんとうとぎんた) – November 1st, lunch and Ginta
- 「６月３０日休日ごはん」 (ろく がつ さんじゅうにちきゅうじつごはん) – June 30th, day-off meal
Follow Kappa-chan, a knitted and stuffed kappa toy, as he knits, travels, eats, socializes and lives along the sea. The posts are mostly photographs of Kappa and his other あみぐるみ friends.
Why it’s beautiful (and useful): The blog averages a post a day, so there’s plenty of opportunity for real, meaningful reading practice, and the posts are written at about a first-year Japanese learner’s (someone who’s in their first year of studying Japanese as a foreign language) level, but replete with 漢字, so even advanced readers can benefit.
- 「赤いはっぴがかわいい！すがもんこんにちは」 (あかいはっぴ が かわいい！すがもんこんにちは) – A cute, red coat! Hello, Sugamon
- 「西新井大師へ〜あみぐるみと一緒に」 (にしあらい だいしへ～あみぐるみといっしょに) – Going to Nishiarai Daishi with the animals
If you, like me, are tired of cramming through textbooks and trying to wrestle with abstract grammatical rules, blogs not only provide comprehensible, natural, authentic and meaningful interactions with Japanese language, but they can also be visually appealing sources of learning.
Even if a post only has 100 words and you only gain one new word, the photos or drawings that supplement the text are a way of looking into another world.
And One More Thing…
If you love learning Japanese with authentic materials like blogs, then I should also tell you about FluentU.
FluentU takes real-world videos like music videos, commercials, news, and inspiring talks and turns them into Japanese learning experiences. It naturally and gradually eases you into learning Japanese language and culture. You’ll learn real Japanese as it’s spoken in real life.
FluentU has a broad range of contemporary videos—like music videos, dramas, TV shows, and TV commercials:
FluentU makes these native Japanese videos approachable through interactive transcripts. Tap on any word to look it up instantly.
All definitions have multiple examples, and they’re written for Japanese learners like you. Tap to add words you’d like to review to a vocab list.
And FluentU has a learn mode which turns every video into a language learning lesson. You can always swipe left or right to see more examples.
The best part? FluentU keeps track of your vocabulary, and it suggests content and examples based on your vocabulary. You’ll have a 100% personalized experience.
The FluentU app is now available for iOS and Android, and it’s also available as a website that you can use with your computer or tablet.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Japanese with real-world videos.