Review of Nihongo Tango Speed Master

日本語単語スピードマスター (Nihongo Tango Speed Master) is a relatively unknown series of books which focus just on Japanese vocabulary.

And I’m surprised it’s unknown because all the books contain a lot of vocabulary, and lots of vocabulary that doesn’t appear in other books!

There are 4 日本語単語スピードマスター books: Basic, Standard, Intermediate and Advanced. These books are based vocabulary that appears in the new JPLT.

(Each range between $27-$31)

Nihongo Tango Speed Master


I like this series because they are simple. Each chapter is separated by topic (i.e time, family, people, body, travel etc.). Each chapter then has a short vocabulary list related to that topic. That’s it. Well almost.

Nihongo Tango Speed Master ContentsEach list had the Japanese written in black, the reading and meanings are then written in red. Each book comes with a red card, so when you’re studying you can’t see the meanings and reading.

There are also example sentences so you get an idea for how these words are used.

Each books also comes with CDs so you can hear the pronunciation. You can also practice parroting if you’re an auditory learner.


How to Use the Nihongo Tango Speed Master Books

It’s actually incredibly easy to use these books! You cover the page with the red card and try to say the meaning and reading for the vocabulary. 

If you get it wrong or are unsure make a note of it.

At the end of the chapter (and the chapters ARE short), go back and do it again. Study the vocabulary you didn’t get the second time.


Nihongo Tango Speed Master PracticeThe next day go over the chapter (or chapters) you did the day before. Studying any vocabulary you don’t get again.

Repetition is important. It’s key to any part of Japanese study.

You can make a vocabulary list to study in a multiple of ways. Write in a notebook to drill, create your own Memrise course, make flashcards etc. Or a mixture of these!



Nihongo Tango Speed Master Memrise

I personally hand write and practice vocabulary. I’ve also made a Memrise course of vocabulary, taking advantage of their spaced repetition program.

Every now and then I’ll go back over every chapter I’ve covered, again studying vocabulary I get wrong or are unsure of.






  • Not a bad price for the content
  • It’s simple
  • Example sentences
  • Vocabulary grouped by topic
  • Comes with CDs
  • More vocabulary than most vocabulary books (especially other JLPT vocab books)


  • No clear guide on how to use
  • Need self-discipline
  • Not well known so hard to get hold of

I actually love these books. I’ve been using Intermediate and Advanced to build up my vocabulary for the JLPT N1. Their simplicity really does work, helping you learn vocabulary quickly. They also have a lot more vocabulary than most JLPT vocabulary books. (Much better than Nihongo Soumatome and Kanzen Master vocabulary books.)

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