Best Japanese Study Resources

There are a lot of lists like this on the internet yet quite often I find they only list the most popular resources, not the best Japanese study resources. The following list are some of the best Japanese study resources that I have personally used in the last 10 years of studying Japanese that I highly recommend to anyone (not including dictionaries).

I find that as you study what resources you find useful will constantly change, so it’s always good to research what will suit you best for that time.

If you have any suggestions feel free to post them or PM me on the Japanese Talk Online facebook page, and I might add them to the following list.

 

Japanese Textbooks and Books

For more detailed explanations and breakdowns for some of these textbooks see this post on Textbooks for Teaching Yourself Japanese.

Genki

Best Japanese Study Resources Genki BookSeries used in school with a teacher. Has a great balance of vocabulary, kanji and grammar with both books giving you enough knowledge to pass JLPT N5 to N3.

  • Beginner to intermediate
  • Covers reading, writing, listening, speaking
  • Vocabulary, kanji, grammar
  • Has workbooks for practice
  • Steady pacing
  • Best used with a teacher

 

Minna no Nihongo

Best Japanese Study Resources Minna no NihongoA large number of books which cater for those who can read kana and those who can’t, although the best book in the series is their kana workbook that teaches you hiragana and katakana using vocabulary, and includes a CD.

  • Beginner to intermediate levels
  • Kana workbooks
  • Covers reading, writing, listening, speaking
  • Vocabulary, kanji, grammar
  • Has workbooks for practice
  • Intensive learning
  • Best used with a teacher

 

Living Language Japanese

Best Japanese Study Resources Living Language JapaneseI used an older version of this series and found them to be fantastic for intermediate to advanced levels, but they’ve got a lot of resources for beginners. They’ve updated everything now to include online courses and resources on their website as well as books with CDs.

  • Beginner to advanced levels
  • Covers speaking and listening
  • Vocabulary and grammar
  • Online courses as well as books
  • iOS app

 

All About Particles

Best Japanese Study Resources all about particlesAn essential book for all Japanese learners, it covers all the different situations you’d use particles in including example sentences written in romaji, kana/kanji and with English translations.

  • Particles uses in sentences
  • Written in romaji and kana
  • No exercises, only reference

 

Basic Kanji Book

Best Japanese Study Resources basic kanji bookThis 4 book series covers kanji from 1-1000, with 250 kanji and their kanji based vocabulary in each book. Provides spaces to practice writing kanji and exercises for reading/writing kanji based vocabulary.

  • Kanji and kanji based vocabulary
  • Covers writing and reading kanji
  • First 1000 kanji and vocabulary (between N5 and N3 level kanji)

 

Remembering the Kanji

  • Remembering how kanji is written
  • Remembering kanji meanings

 

Kanji in Context

Best Japanese Study Resources kanji in contextFor intermediate to advanced learners teaching you the 2136 joyo kanji and their vocabulary, with workbooks with exercises and sentences of kanji used in everyday sentences and real life contexts.

  • Intermediate to advanced
  • All 2136 daily use joyo kanji and their vocabulary
  • Workbooks to practice

 

Try! JLPT Bunpou kara Nobasu! (日本語能力試験 文法から伸ばす)

Best Japanese Study Resources try! bunpou kara nobasuFocuses on studying Japanese for the JLPT exams through grammar. Explanations of grammar in Japanese and English. Examples of grammar use in sentences with audio CD, includes practice questions in books rather than separate workbooks.

  • Covers grammar and listening
  • Practices in books

 

Nihongo So-matome (日本語総まとめ)

Best Japanese Study Resources nihongo somatomeBook series for JLPT levels N3 to N1, each books covers a different topic; grammar, kanji, vocabulary, reading, listening. Great for giving you base knowledge for all the JLPT levels, but often not enough and will require supplementary study if you wish to pass the exams.

  • JLPT N3-N1
  • Each book covers grammar, kanji, vocabulary, reading, listening
  • Practice questions and exercises

 

Shin Kanzen Master

Best Japanese Study Resources kanzen masterSimilar to the So-matome series, each book in this series covers grammar, kanji, vocabulary, reading, listening, for JLPT N5 to N1 levels, (although N5 and N4 books are not needed unless you really, really want them). They go into a lot more detail than So-matome and provide more challenging practices that are similar to the real JLPT exams.

  • JLPT N5-N1
  • Each book covers grammar, kanji, vocabulary, reading, listening
  • Practice questions and exercises
  • Intensive study

 

Dirty Japanese

dirty japanese Best Japanese Study ResourcesJapanese phrasebook for everyday use in Japan with all the phrases given in romaji, kana and English. Great for both living and visiting Japan. Covers topics from conversations about hobbies to picking up people.

  • Japanese phrases
  • Written in romaji and kana
  • Spoken Japanese (no CD)

 

 

 Apps (iOS and Android)

For more detailed breakdown of most of these apps check out Apps for Learning Japanese.

Memrise (iOS and Android)

Best Japanese Study Resources MemriseFree flashcard program with space repetition software. Can create your own decks or use other peoples. Actually a website and an app (for both iOS and Android), you register on the site, find courses you like and can use the website or download your courses using the app.

  • Flashcard program with spaced repetition
  • Community created decks
  • Personal customisable decks
  • Covers all topics; kana, kanji, vocabulary, grammar

 

Learn Japanese Phrasebook (Simply Learn Japanese) (Android, coming soon to iOS)

Best Japanese Study ResourcesThis is another relatively new app developed by a couple with the aim to help foreigners speak Japanese while they’re in Japan. Useful regularly used phrases and teaches vocabulary using spaced repetition flashcards. Has audio so you can mimic how the phrases are said to get used to speaking them.

  • Phrases and vocabulary
  • Audio for listening/speaking
  • Flashcard program with spaced repetition

 

Henoida (Android)

Best Japanese Study Resources HenoidaA relatively new app that focuses on studying kanji through meaning and writing by teaching you how to write it. Also covers learning hiragana and katakana through writing.

  • Kanji for N5 to N1
  • Kanji meanings and readings
  • Practice by writing kanji
  • Flashcard program with spaced repetition
  • Kanji only, no kanji based vocabulary

 

Best Japanese Study Resources ankiankiAnkiAnki (Android)

(NOT Anki) This is a kanji based quiz app that tests you daily on kanji from N5 to N1 (depending on your settings). Only covers kanji, not vocabulary (unless you pay). If great for reviewing kanji meanings and readings, and is a great supplement for Henoida.

  • Kanji for N5 to N1
  • Kanji meanings and readings
  • Daily quizzes
  • Flashcard program with spaced repetition
  • Kanji only, no kanji based vocabulary (unless you pay)

 

JLPT Words & JLPT Verbs (Android)

Best Japanese Study ResourcesTwo very simple apps which consist of fast paced quizzes. You can change settings to test the various levels JLPT N5 to N1, using romaji, kana, English, etc. Fantastic for reviewing vocabulary.

  • JLPT N5 to N1
  • Vocabulary
  • Flashcard program with spaced repetition

 

Obenkyo (Android)

Best Japanese Study Resources obenkyoGreat app for beginners as it provides lessons and practice for learning hiragana and katakana. Covers kanji and vocabulary from N5 to N1, and ability to practice writing. Also lets you keep track of how much of a JLPT level you’ve learnt.

  • JLPT N5 to N1
  • Hiragana and katakana
  • Vocabulary and kanji (little bit of grammar)
  • Flashcard program with spaced repetition

 

Best Japanese Study Resources pixel partyHiragana Pixel Party (iOS, coming soon to Android)

Learn to read hiragana and katakana through a rhythm game!

  • Hiragana and katakana
  • Game

 

Japanese by Renzo (iOS)

Best Japanese Study ResourcesDictionary combined with flashcard program so you can look up words/kanji and study them! Able to build your own decks or use theirs for JLPT study.

  • Dictionary
  • JLPT N5 to N1
  • Flashcard program with spaced repetition
  • Vocabulary and kanji

 

Kanji Box (iOS)

Best Japanese Study ResourcesFantastic program that teaches you kanji and kanji based vocabulary from all angles (location in vocabulary, kanji vocabulary reading, kanji meaning etc), covering kanji and vocabulary from N5 to N1, and shows your progress for each level.

  • JLPT N5 to N1
  • Kanji and kanji based vocabulary

 

HelloTalk (iOS and Android)

Best Japanese Study Resources Hello TalkUnlike anything discussed so far, this app doesn’t have Japanese lessons or quizzes, but allows you to talk and text to natives of the language you’re learning (Japanese). Also acts as a translation tool. Fluent in 3 Months has a great review of this

  • Talk and text with native Japanese speakers
  • Find language partners near you

 

Websites

NHK Easy Japanese

Best Japanese Study ResourcesJapanese lessons from NHK for beginners teaching phrases, grammar and vocabulary through situations (i.e introductions) and comes with audio files.

  • Beginner
  • Phrases
  • Listening and speaking
  • Comes with podcast

 

Maggie Sensei

Best Japanese Study Resources maggie senseiMaggie Sensei probably has the best explanations for Japanese grammar online, but she also has lessons on vocabulary and common phrases in Japanese. She has lessons from beginner to advance although focuses most on beginner Japanese.

  • Beginner to advanced
  • Grammar explanations and lessons
  • Vocabulary and phrases

 

Best Japanese Study ResourcesTae Kim’s Japanese Grammar Guide

Structured lessons with grammar from beginner to intermediate Japanese. Generally considered the go-to for Japanese grammar, although I think Maggie Sensei’s explanations are better.

  • Beginner to intermediate
  • Grammar explanations and lessons

 

Wanikani 

Best Japanese Study ResourcesWanikanji is a website that offers systematic lessons for learning all of the 2136 joyo kanji and 9000 kanji based vocabulary, and kanji radicles. Teaching you with spaced repetition and mnemonics.  Also has 3rd party iOS and Android apps.

  • Beginner to Advanced
  • Kanji
  • Flashcards with spaced repetition

 

Lang-8

Best Japanese Study ResourcesVery different from everything discussed so far as this site doesn’t have any lessons or quizzes. It’s a program that lets you write in your target language (Japanese) and have native Japanese correct your sentences for you. And in exchange you correct their English. Great way to practice Japanese by using it, as well as meet people and make friends with native Japanese speakers.

  • Write Japanese, have it corrected by natives

 

HiNative

Best Japanese Study ResourcesBy the creators of Lang-8, this program lets you write short questions about the language you’re learning (Japanese) and have native people answer your question. And in exchange you answer their questions about English. Also comes with iOS and Android apps.

  • Ask questions about Japanese, have them answered by natives

 

italki

Best Japanese Study Resources italkiitalki is great if you don’t have the money to afford studying Japanese in school but still want to learn. You can find teachers to teach you and language partners to practice with through skype. Review of italki.com here.

  • Skype lessons with Japanese teachers
  • Find language partners through skype

 

Video Lessons

For more detailed breakdown of some of these check out Using Youtube to Learn Japanese.

Fluent Japanese

Best Japanese Study ResourcesSimple and clear explanations of grammar and phrases for beginners, including help with pronunciation.

  • Beginner
  • Grammar and phrases
  • Speaking and listening

Learn Japanese with JapanesePod101.com

Beginner bases again with a wide variety of vocabulary and phrases.
NOTE: Use their YouTube channel but do not waste your money on their website. Here’s a review explaining why.

  • Beginner
  • Vocabulary and phrases
  • Speaking and listening

 

Japan Society NYC

Lessons for beginners taught mostly through speaking and repeating method with not much text on the screen. A great way to push yourself to practice listening comprehension.

  • Beginner
  • Phrases
  • Speaking and listening

 

BuSensei

Channel focused on learning kanji from beginner to advanced, teaching people stroke order, radicles, kanji reading and meaning through the Kanji Kentei exams.

  • Beginner to advanced
  • Kanji (writing, reading, meaning etc)
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