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Due to Japan’s high quality of life and tremendous influence globally, nowadays, many people want to learn Japanese. And we don’t blame them.

Over the years, this Asian giant has become the cradle of a technologically advanced society, a fascinating history, respectable values, time-honored traditions, world-renowned industries and academic prestige.

But sadly, not every learner manages to learn this beautiful language. As Japanese is radically different from English, most students give up, because they have no idea of where or how to begin.

And if you don’t want to be a victim of this problem too, we suggest taking a good look at our neatly organized list of the best Japanese learning resources to confidently start your journey.

The Ultimate Resource List For Studying Japanese

Now, we know what you’re thinking. Yes, there might be many resources to learn Japanese, but how will you find the best one for your study methodology?

Fortunately for you, we also thought about this problem too, and, of course, we came up with a solution. Rather than creating a list of loosely connected Japanese learning tools, we divided each resource into sensible categories to suit different learning approaches.

So, you’ll only have three objectives while reading this list. First, explore your options. Second, pick the most suitable tools for your needs and, thirdly, make sure to read the last paragraph to discover the secret to rapidly becoming fluent in Japanese. さあ行こう!

Best Apps To Learn Japanese

Are you the kind of person who likes to learn while playing games? Do you lack time to enroll in a full-time course? Would you like to study without the need for textbooks or teachers? If this is your case, we have the perfect tool to learn Japanese: Apps. Closely linked to the concept of gamification, these resources will give you an excellent foundation of Japanese through fun and interactive exercises that you can complete at any time and at any place.


Learn Japanese

Rather than structured lessons, this app displays categories, such as romance, food and greetings, that cover basic vocabulary necessary to survive on a short trip to Japan. In addition, it sports an audio program that lets you record yourself to test your pronunciation. And if that wasn’t enough, it works offline as well.



User-friendly to the core, Renshuu is the perfect option for students who learn by playing games. Why? Because that’s exactly what the app offers, a customizable set of quizzes, crosswords and Shiratori to practice your grammar and vocabulary knowledge, according to your level and preferences.



Just like Renshuu, this is a gaming-based app. But instead of hosting a variety of games, it only sports one, flashcards. And not just any kind of flashcard game. Anki’s system keeps track of what you know, what you need to practice and when are you at risk of forgetting something. In this way, it makes sure that Japanese words, expressions and Kanji remain firmly lodged in your memory.



If you’re looking to master Japanese writing, this is definitely one of the most complete apps you’ll find on the web. Using several types of activities, Benkyō will drill your knowledge of Kanji and Kana on a daily basis. For instance, you can write Kanji on the screen to practice stroke word order and then test your writing abilities by trying this app’s AI quiz or costumed quiz features.

Best Dictionaries/Translators To Learn Japanese

It doesn’t matter what you’re learning, dictionaries will always be useful, especially if you want to become proficient in Japanese. Aside from containing the definition of a huge library of words, dictionaries also give you access to other important information about Japanese lexis and Kanji, such as how to use them in context and how they’re written. Additionally, some of these options below have very unique features that will facilitate the learning process and expand your vocabulary to new heights.


Learning Language Dictionary

Like any other dictionary, this option also has numerous definitions in English and Japanese. So, what sets it apart? Its camera functions. Instead of tirelessly writing words on the search toolbar, you’ll be able to iimmediately look for definitions by simply snapping pictures of Kanji or Romanji wherever you are.



This dictionary works great as both, a learning tool to search for definitions and vocabulary. How so? Well, on the one hand, you can search for vocabulary using Kanji, Kanan or Romanji. On the other hand, you can practice vocabulary by using its flashcards feature or learn how to write Kanji with its animated stroke order option.


Japanese Food Dictionary

If there’s one thing that makes Japan special, it’s food. Like most other cultures, Japan has hundreds of delicious culinary delights, including some incredibly famous dishes, like 鮨飯, (sushi, which literally means “it is sour”). And if you’re a food lover or just looking to find the best Japanese food, this dictionary doesn’t only contain food names but also has pictures of each meal, their pronunciation and the name of restaurants.

Best YouTube Channels To Learn Japanese

Now, if you’re looking for something more akin to a classroom experience, we suggest carefully exploring this category. In it, you’ll find plenty of YouTube channels, whose electrifying hosts are ready to give you a tour of the world of Japanese language and culture. What’s best, they’ll rely on different teaching resources to make your trip a highly engaging journey. Here are our favorite picks.


Tae Kim

For those looking for more structured lessons, this is the perfect option. With the help of a whiteboard, Tae Kim’s carefully organized series of videos will give you Japanese lessons on a variety of topics, such as compounds and syntax, making a strong emphasis on pronunciation.


Rachel & Jun's Adventures!

Unlike the other two options, this is not a Japanese teaching channel. Run by a couple who have been living in Japan for a while, these are a set of semi-instructional videos on what it feels like to live in this Asian country. So, if you dedicate some time to this couple’s series, you’ll be able to find out more about Japanese culture and lifestyle while also challenging your listening skills.


Paolo fromTOKYO

Are you looking to immerse yourself into Japanese life? If so, you might want to check this channel. Paolo’s “Day in the Life” follows his day-to-day activities in Japan, as he explores this country and interviews locals. What’s best, since Paolo is Filipino-American, you’ll also get to see everything from the point of view of a non-native speaker.

Best Blogs/Sites To Learn Japanese

Blog readers, however, might want to ditch the other categories and focus solely on this part of the list. As the title states, in this section, you’ll discover numerous blogs on how to learn Japanese. But don’t let the name fool you. There’s more than meets the eye. These blogs also pack other interesting details that go far beyond language or even culture. What are those things? Well, don’t waste more time and find out which are the best blogs/sites to learn Japanese below.

Best Podcasts To Learn Japanese

But perhaps, you’re tired of spending countless hours in front of a screen. And we completely understand you. Most people work, study and take breaks with the help of their cellphones, computers and tables. If you’re one of these people too, you’ll be happy to hear that there’s a way to learn Japanese while taking your dog for a walk, sunbathing on crystal clear beaches or cooking dinner: Listening to podcasts. Just plug in your headphones and get ready to study Japanese with these hosts.

  • Learn Japanese Pod: This podcast is aimed at beginner students who need to learn conversational language. In each episode, the hosts will have a short conversation in Japanese about local culture and then break it down in English to give you a good idea of how to implement it. What's best, they include transcriptions and cover dozens of topics.
  • JapanesePod101: Like the other option, these hosts also follow the interview format with tidbits about the Japanese lifestyle. However, it is not just dedicated to beginner students. Rather, their clear and crisp presentations are also aimed at intermediate and advanced learners.
  • News in Slow Japanese: As the title implies, in this podcast, you’ll hear local news about manga, movies, humor and other topics in clear and precise Japanese. Additionally, you’ll also be able to access translations of the Kanji, and if you feel like challenging yourself, you can also choose to speed up the audio and test your listening skills.

Best Textbooks to Learn Japanese

Another option to avoid using the computer or your mobile phone to learn languages is textbooks. Some students give this resource a wide berth, because in their eyes textbooks only contain dry grammar activities, dull stories and impenetrable explanations. However, they’re completely wrong. Nowadays, language learning books are thoroughly complete, engaging and entertaining, especially when it comes to Japanese textbooks. Just take a look at our favorite picks.



Perhaps, the most popular Japanese textbook of all time, Genki covers every single language skill with fun texts on local culture and easy-to-understand grammar rules in both Japanese and English. Moreover, if you’re looking to take the Japanese proficiency exam, several sections of this book include similar activities featured in the test.


Basic Kanji Book

The title already gives away the content of the textbook. It is an introduction to over 500 Kanji with a detailed explanation of their meaning, how they are used, how they are written, and enough practice to confidently start writing these symbols by yourself.


Minna No Nihongo

Also known as Japanese for Everyone, this book’s Volume 1 and 2 will challenge beginners and satisfy the needs of intermediate and advanced students. How so? Because it introduces Kanji from the very beginning and has an all-Japanese format. Besides, having completed Volume 2, you’ll be ready to pass the N4 Japanese Proficiency Test.

Best Exams To Learn Japanese

Taking exams has numerous benefits. They are not only about measuring your level of knowledge. Exams force you to study harder and, in turn, learn faster than normally. Additionally, passing them also gives you access to an internationally recognized certificate which allows you to expand your professional and academic horizons overseas. In this particular case, there’s only one proficiency test that will allow you to work and study in Japan.

  • Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT): As of today, JLPT remains the only standardized criterion reference test to evaluate non-native speakers' Japanese abilities. It is divided into five levels and covers every single skill. What’s best, while the JLPT takes place only two times a year, it is not costly at all and does not expire either.

Best Social Media To Learn Japanese

Spending an awful amount of time on social media has very negative effects, especially on language learners. Most commonly, they often get distracted and fail to keep up with their studies. But there’s a way to turn this situation around. Instead of using social media to watch trending videos or news, you can use them to learn Japanese! For instance, you can follow Japanese teachers on any of these sites, watch their bite-sized lessons and interact in Japanese with other speakers in the comment section.



To end our Japanese learning tools list, we thought about mentioning some alternative studying methods. Unlike all the other resources, these don’t include teaching in any sort of way. Rather, they’re day-to-day activities that can complement your studies and motivate you to keep learning. What’s best, they give you the possibility to be in contact and engage with locals’ culture on a deeper level.


Talking to Japanese native speakers

Of course, if you talk to native speakers, you’ll be much closer to real-life language use than other students. But exposure to Japanese is not the only benefit of interacting with locals. You’ll also find out about the meaning of certain customs and traditions when communicating, like Aizuchi, bowing and locals’ ambiguous answers.


Watching Japanese series

Now, if don't find locals to talk to, you can rely on TV series. In addition to being highly entertaining, watching Japanese TV yields many advantages for language learners. On the one hand, you can practice your listening and reading skills by taking notes on sounds and checking understanding without subtitles. On the other hand, you can learn about their past by watching historical dramas, such as おんな城主 直虎 (Naotora: The Lady Warlord).


Reading in Japanese

But if you’re more of an avid reader, we suggest looking for books that are close to your Japanese proficiency or that can challenge your abilities. Beginners should take a look at light novels with basic vocabulary, such as キノの旅 (Kino's Journey), while more advanced learners might want to test their skills with modern classics from Murakami.

Tips To Get the Most of Your Japanese Learning Journey

Language learning is no small feat. It demands much motivation, persistence and dedication on the part of the students. And when it comes to Japanese, things can get a bit harder.

As this language sports a whole different alphabet, there is an extra added difficulty to your journey. For this reason, we resolved to include a number of tips to make the best of all these resources. Make sure to check them out below.

  • Languages are not impossible to learn: While Japanese has a whole different alphabet, there’s no reason to think of it as impossible to learn. Yes, it might look a bit alien to western eyes, but in general terms, it has the same characteristics as every single language, namely, syntax, sounds and lexis.
  • Always set goals: Rather than learning everything at once, we suggest outlining goals. In this way, you’ll focus on useful language and avoid learning unnecessary stuff. Additionally, we also advise writing realistic objectives. You might feel very optimistic at the beginning. But instead of planning something completely impractical, like “becoming fluent in two weeks”, you should concentrate on easily attainable short-term goals, such as “learning five Kanji per week”.
  • Track your progress: How do you know you’re making progress without testing yourself? At some point, you’ll have to do it. And if you don’t like taking exams, you can also challenge yourself by watching Japanese movies without subtitles, reading Japanese books or trying to hold a fluent conversation with native speakers.
  • Don’t be embarrassed to make mistakes: Some students refrain from using their newly-developed Japanese abilities in public, because they fear making mistakes and being embarrassed. If this is your case as well, there’s something you need to know. First, everyone makes mistakes, even locals. Do you speak your native language perfectly at all times? We doubt it. Second, there’s nothing wrong or embarrassing with mispronouncing words. On the contrary, it is a huge part of the learning process, as it allows you to know what you need to get better at.
  • Be patient and persistent: Above all, you should never give up. Out of frustration and anger with their lack of progress, many students easily lose motivation and call it a day. Although this is understandable, you should know that nothing happens overnight, less when it comes to learning Japanese. But if you stick to your method of study and persist, eventually, you’ll reach your goals.

How to Boost Your Japanese Learning Experience?

Chances are that, by now, you’re eager to begin your Japanese learning journey. But before you pack your bags, we’ll give you one last piece of advice.

You see, all of these resources are highly useful, but they will not be enough to make you fluent in Japanese. If you really want to acquire bilingual skills in this language, you need something else, an expert in Japanese language, culture and pedagogy, namely, a native-speaking tutor.

Why so? For numerous reasons. To begin with, tutors will prepare a specialized program suited to your particular needs. They will also make you practice every single one of your skills, keep track of your progress, and on top of that, make sure you’re always motivated with the most engaging classes.

And where can you find them? Here! At Language Trainers, we pair you up with the most proficient Japanese tutors on the web. And what’s best, they can teach classes in your home, your office or online through Zoom, Meet or Skype.

Are you ready to start your trip? Send us a quick inquiry now, and we’ll get in contact with you soon. また近いうちにお会いしましょう!