Japanese magazine review: 「子供の科学」 (Science for kids)

By | January 6, 2015

In the age of the internet, anyone studying a foreign language can access nearly limitless content in the language of their choice if they search hard enough (though I have read that know some languages are more represented than others online).

Having said that, I feel there is something special about using magazines for foreign language study. Besides the fact you know the quality of the writing and stories will be good (assuming you pick a well-known publication), there is also the easy readability of a book made out of physical paper and the ability to quickly flip through pages. Another advantage is that while online you may get the urge to look up every word when you are reading something in a foreign language online (see my post here about that), whereas when using a magazine you can peruse it away from computers, dictionaries, and even your phone. And if you profession requires you to be staring at a computer screen from morning to evening, your eyes will welcome a media where you don’t have to stare at something that is directly emitting light.

I received “子供の科学” magazine from my wife for Christmas (who knows I enjoy reading about science), and it turned out to be an excellent gift. The articles are written at a level below what an adult science magazine would have, which means easier sentence structure, easier vocabulary, and complete Furigana (kanji readings about the characters) for most article’s main text. Having said that, even though its for ‘kids’ you’ll probably need a few years of Japanese under your belt you appreciate the content. Of course if you are feeling adventurous you can try it at any level.

The magazine, nicknamed ‘Koka’ (from “Kodomo no Kagaku”) amazingly enough just reached it’s 90th anniversary, which must be pretty rare for any magazine of this type. Though some English-language magazines like National Geographic have been around for over 100 years, I don’t know of any children’s magazines (at least not science-related) that have been around for 90 years.

The topics covered are very wide ranging, so there will be likely at least a few that coincide with your interests: ecology, astronomy, life science, physics, electronics, chemistry, food science, and even robotics. The issue I received (Dec 2014) had a neat article about the CG technology behind the Anime “Space Battleship Yamato 2199” and another interesting one about how to efficiently decorate your Christmas tree with an even distribution of different types of ornaments (Yes, very nerdy but a great application of math). There was also a section on how to build your own mechanical toy, and how to do a science experiment to illustrate the unique properties of rubber.

One of the only disappointing areas was the photography contest, where both the winning photo and the professional’s demonstrative photo were very sub-par, but I guess I’m a bit biased having done photography as a hobby for some time and have read many photo magazines.

In magazines I generally expect a huge number of advertisements, but Koka has a good content to ad ratio. Although, to be honest I usually find the advertisements as interesting as the actual articles.

The standard price of it is 648 Yen (plus tax) which translates to around $6 dollars – pretty cheap (at least by American magazine standards) for a magazine with over 100 pages, and some of them color. Of course if you import from Japan you’ll have to pay a higher price with shipping and all.

Overall, if you are into science and intermediate level or greater in Japanese, I think this is a great read – even if you just skim it and read a few articles.

If you are interested, check out their website which allows you to 立ち読み (tachiyomi – ‘stand and read’, i.e. read without buying) several pages of the latest edition.

Update: I found out that the most common age group reading this magazine (according to their surveys) is from elementary school 4th grade through middle school, the former which starts at around age 9 or 10. It’s pretty amazing that kids that young can understand this level of content!





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2 thoughts on “Japanese magazine review: 「子供の科学」 (Science for kids)

  1. Lirah

    Thank you for you are wonderful review! I am self studying Japanese and I’m always on the hunt to find easy to read material in Japanese. I never knew about this magazine and I really do very appreciate your review. I will be ordering this pretty soon.
    Thank you!

    1. locksleyu Post author

      Sure, I’m glad you enjoyed the review and learned about the magazine. I’m always open to hear new ideas for posts so if you have any questions about Japanese let me know.


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