4- **** GOOD. I like it.
3- *** Decent.
2- ** Not impressed.
1- * Don’t bother.
What I’m Currently Using:
WaniKani | Nihongo no Mori | Anki | Denshi Jisho | JALUP | JapanesePod101 | Lang-8 | Evernote | Rikaichan | A Dictionary of Japanese Grammar
(This page was last updated 8-23-2017. Working on fixing broken links, reorganizing the sections, and adding a ton of new stuff!)
Some links are affiliate links, but I only affiliate with products and sites that I have personally used and recommend, so no worries ^^
+_Preparation; Generally Useful Stuff
- XE currency converter
- Evernote ***** I use this to keep track of lots of things besides Japanese too. I highly recommend it!
- Using Evernote to learn Japanese: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 **** I don’t use it exactly like this, but it’s a good starting point!
- Anki (SRS software and app) ****
- Current time in Japan ***** Use the time zone converter to calculate the difference between your time zone and JST.
- Why do you love Japan? (*Login required to view)
- “So you really want to learn Japanese?”
- “How I Taught Myself to Read Japanese in Six Months”
- JapaneseLevelUp (JALUP for short) **** This website guides you with the mindset that you are the main character in a video game, and your special power is Japanese. I really recommend this!
- Inspiration also from Tofugu, TextFugu, Danny Choo, and GenkiJapan.Net!
- Yahoo!JP dictionary **** A really good, general, online dictionary with good sentences.
- Denshi Jisho ***** This is the online dictionary I use the most!
- Rikaichan / Rikaikun / Rikaisama – ***** Amazingly useful browser plug-in that pulls up reading (pronunciation) and dictionary definitions when you hover over a word, phrase, or kanji. It is highly customizable. ^^ I haven’t used Rikaisama, but being able to export it to Anki is a nice feature.
- Random House Japanese-English English-Japanese Dictionary **** While it’s not as recent as other dictionaries, it is still useful as it has some words my other paper dictionary doesn’t. I used this a lot when I had dial-up internet. Now I mainly use Denshi Jisho.
- Langenscheidt Pocket Japanese Dictionary ***** I have the 2005 version. It’s very useful, as it has a list of kanji by stroke order, a list of ordinals, numbers, and dates, and a chart of hiragana and katakana. It’s also easy to carry around and has some updated terms. I still use this sometimes.
+_Kana & Kanji
- Drag-n-drop kana ***** I find this more fun than RealKana because it’s more like playing. 😛
- RealKana ****
- ヨコミネ式95音一覧表 – Learn kana in order of easiest to write! This is a resource meant for Japanese kids, so the website is entirely in Japanese.
- WaniKani ***** WK is a kanji web app developed by the Tofugu team. You have to be able to read hiragana and katakana before you begin. The first two levels are free, so you can see if you like it or not (you will).
- WaniKani Stat Measurer **** I like how this one looks. You of course need a WK account to use it.
- Another Stat Measurer **** I find this one is the most accurate and customizable. It also includes many excellent charts.
- Measure **** Paste any text with kanji into this tool, and it will show you what kanji you know/don’t know based on your WK level.
- Kanji Repeater *** Simple flashcard system that quizzes you on either meaning (English) or reading (romaji) of the 1st-6th grade kanji. You can also opt to practice your kana recognition. It functions only in multiple choice; there’s no typing involved. It’s good for fast drilling.
- Vector Poster (2230 kanji) *** Neat vector “poster” of kanji color-coded by levels.
- JoyoKanjiKai *** This website shows you if the kanji you search for is jouyou or not.
- Read the Kanji – Review kanji in context with sentence flashcards. The free trial gives you access to N5 kanji and basic decks. The subscription is $5/month.
- TextFugu ****
- Essential Japanese Kanji [Volume 1 (N5) / Volume 2 (N4)] **** I was gifted the old edition of this book (250 Essential Kanji for Everyday Use). At first, I didn’t bother using it since I already knew the kanji, but when I started watching 日本語の森 grammar videos and taking notes, I realized it was going to be much harder to quickly read my notes without being able to write the kanji. So I started using this! Although my edition is dated, it’s very helpful to learn daily life terms related to living in Japan while you practice writing kanji.
- 生活日本語会話 – This appears to be an online textbook written in Japanese for Japanese language learners. It seems ideal for self-study if you already have some Japanese under your belt. Hosted on a Taiwanese university website, it is written completely in Japanese and comes with furigana on most text. A companion site called にほんご表現のページ is here. Both are by Uchiyama Kazuya.
- Making Sense of Japanese: What the Textbooks Don’t Tell You ***** I highly recommend this short book by Jay Rubin. Yes, there is a lot of romaji, but the way he explains difficult points of Japanese that actually makes you understand is worth the pain of romaji any day.
- Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It **** This is a brilliant book by Gabriel Wyner on how to actually keep the language(s) you learn in your brain. He has recently posted some updates to his methods specifically regarding Japanese and Chinese.
- Fluent in 3 Months ***** I had already read some posts from Benny Lewis’ website long before I was gifted this book, so I knew about his method, but I have to say I’m impressed every time I read it, as it is motivational for an introvert like me. Benny’s goal, when he learns a new language, is typically to become conversationally fluent within three months, and then he begins speaking it from day one.
- Studying grammar is boring. Help! *** (*Login may be required to view)
- 日本語の森 (Nihongo no Mori) ***** The kind people behind this YouTube channel create completely free Japanese grammar lessons that are taught in Japanese. I find their explanations very easy to understand, and the use of images, gestures, and skits helps to solidify meanings of grammar points, words, and phrases, in my mind. Japanese subtitles are often added to the video itself.
- A Dictionary of Japanese Grammar (Basic) (Intermediate) (Advanced) ***** Though I only have the first two, I can definitely recommend the set as a great resource as it has plenty of examples and explains things well. They’re a bit pricey, but worth it, I think. The only thing I don’t like so much about them is the presence of romaji, but since it’s not walls of romaji it’s not too bad. Read Tofugu’s thorough review on the series here.
- Nihongo Resources Guide to Japanese Grammar *** I have the PDF. A lot of history is explained in this guide, and it talks about things I haven’t seen any other guide or textbook talk about yet, like vertical writing and different styles of fonts. I do prefer Tae Kim’s guide to this one though, because this one is definitely more taxing to read.
- Tae Kim’s Guide to Japanese Grammar **** I have the updated PDF (2012) and am using that in combination with the Japanese LevelUp method. The online version has some exercises and there are comments, which might help when there are further explanations (including by other people). Tae Kim works from a different approach with grammar, starting out with だ instead of です and giving different titles to things so as not to confuse you. (For example, が does not mark the subject of a sentence. It is an “identifier particle” that indicates the speaker wants to indicate something that is unspecified.)
- Imabi // Since the site is undergoing a lot of edits, I’m hesitant to dive into learning with it, but it is a wealth of information!! You can ask questions or point out errors in the forums and the author will respond very quickly with an answer and/or a fix, which I think is great.
- The Japanese Page ***
- Maggie Sensei (mini lessons) **** Very good, easy-to-understand content. I only wish there were better categorization, like some sort of table of contents or index.
- Japanese Abbreviations and Contracted Words *** A list on Wikipedia.
- Japanese Sound Effects *** When you read manga, these are everywhere! You can search for an onomatopoeia or sound effect in romaji, hiragana, or katakana, and often get a result with a translations and image examples of the sound effect in context.
- (J) Colloquial/Slang Dictionary ***
- (J) Nihongo Day by Day ***** This is a blog written by a Japanese teacher (who is Japanese). She teaches grammar points, explained in Japanese with minimal English, and also offers lessons via Skype, as well as in-person if you live in her area in Japan.
- Lang-8 ****
- Lang-8 Prompts **** (*Login may be required to view)
- How to use Lang-8 effectively **** (*Login may be required to view)
- Getting the most out of Lang-8 ****
- (J) Natsume: Japanese Composition-Writing Support System – I’ve linked to the explanation on Nihongo-e-na because it is definitely needed in order to use this. It’s a bit complicated.
- (J) How to Write Easy-to-Understand Passages – It starts out by saying, “You don’t need to have skillful Japanese. Your goal is to write easy-to-read, easy-to-understand writing.”
- (handwriting) Kanji Alive //
- (handwriting) Guessing kanji stroke order
- HiNative **** An app by the folks at Lang-8 that has the same concept (you write stuff and get corrected by native speakers). The difference between HiNative and Lang-8 is that its focus is on asking questions, usually in specific formats (like “What is [this] in [language you’re learning]?”). As with Lang-8, you typically get corrections very quickly. Note that if you have your phone set to Japanese, the app will be in Japanese.
- Duendecat **** Built by a WaniKani user, this neat web app loops sentences based on whatever level is selected in the right-hand menu (accessed by hovering your mouse over that side of the page). It is very customizable, streamlined, and easy to look at. It’s a great start for getting introduced not only to Japanese sentences, but training yourself to read quickly.
- Chokochoko’s Great Library *** This is a great resource, although it’s unfortunately no longer updated…
- 多読 (Read More or Die) ***** A month-long contest that challenges you to read as much as you can in Japanese for points! Held in January, June, and October. You can use it for other languages too, but Japanese is default.
- Japanese/English parallel text Bible (NIV + 新改訳 [New Japanese Bible]) ***** I really like and recommend this if you can get it! It’s quite expensive (partially because it’s hardback), but both translations used come from the same main source–the original Hebrew, Greek, etc. texts–which is very important. Though the margins are not large, there is ample space for notes in between the English paragraphs, and there is furigana on all the kanji, which I normally don’t like, but find really helpful when reading in this case, because it makes it easier to quickly look up words I don’t know. (A Japanese-only edition is here.)
- (J) “Chick Tack” // This is an online resource for Japanese junior high students learning English grammar. Using L2 (in this case, Japanese) resources intended to teach your L1 (for me, English) can be helpful, like using a J-J dictionary instead of J-E.
- Liana’s Tadoku resources // Includes a variety of resources, often classical or children’s books.
- WK Reader Resource List *** (*Login may be required to view)
- (J) Keurig Cat Cafe blog – The posts on here are good-sized and have lots of cat pictures! They are located in Fukuoka.
- (J) Maru blog – ***** Blog of the owner of the famous cat Maru and his new friend, Hana, which is updated nearly every day. While English is used so foreign fans of Maru and Hana can understand what’s going on, the Japanese offers more insight–definitely try to ignore the English! If you read it on a smartphone reader (I use Newsify) then wait to scroll down to the English line until after you have read the Japanese line. ^^ (I find this blog’s content makes for good Anki cards because the pictures help reinforce the sentence you want to learn from!)
- (J) Ochikeron’s recipes – This is one of the places Ochikeron posts her recipes entirely in Japanese.
- (J) 日本人の知らない日本語 – ***** The drama is a book and vice versa! I have the second book because the first one was sold out at the time I placed my order, but the first book is back in stock, so I linked to that one. These are really…wonderful, actually. There are manga pages, and then pages in between chapters that are written more like a novel would be, with row after row of text. For someone like me, who hasn’t quite made the jump to reading novels in Japanese (at the time of writing this, I read them so slowly QxQ), it provides a nice transition. The text is entirely in Japanese, but most kanji have furigana.
- JapanesePod101.com – The Fastest Way to Learn Japanese Guaranteed **** Podcasts everywhere! Look past the constant sale ads and there really is a lot of good content. I recommend visiting the forums soon after signing up, and either search for or ask about the recommended lesson orders, since they have lots of older lessons that have been built upon with new seasons. I can write a post about this too.
- Japanese audiobooks // This is a forum thread with a lot of audiobook info! It’s also cool to read through and see the progress updates~
- The Podcast Thread – A list of podcast recommended by forum users (same RTK forum as above).
- Streaming Japanese TV recommendations – (*Login may be required to view)
- Hikakin’s Shobon no Action “Let’s Play” – Hilarious. (Playlist here.)
- 日本人の知らない日本語 drama – I’ve linked to the channel it’s uploaded on, but the first video is here. It’s great because it has Japanese subtitles! (It also has Chinese subs, but that’s fine for me because I can’t yet read Chinese.)
- Tokyo Animation College’s アニラジオ – Monthly radio show done by students.
- Ochikeron – The lovely Ochi-san shows you how to make all kinds of delicious things! She does most of the talking in English, but includes Japanese subtitles, and at the end of her videos, she usually talks in Japanese and has English subtitles.
- 中村幸の明日も幸あれ！(SachiHappyTomorrow) – Nakamura Sachi is an 18-year-old Japanese girl who makes daily videos in which she is usually talking about some happy thing. You never know what she will talk about as it changes day to day. Topics can range from trying out snacks to seeing a movie, from showcasing clothes to taking photos. She also talks about Hello!Project groups and other “idol” groups. She talks in a quiet room and has fairly clear pronunciation, which makes her easy to listen to. *Update: Sachi has decided to stop daily videos in order to focus on her acting/performing career. Her Twitter account is @sachi_0130.
- Chika (Bilingirl) (cyoshida1231) – While her recently-created Japanagos channel is good too, I prefer her original channel because I get more Japanese listening practice that way.
- Kanna & Akira (potemi926) – Two adorable little girls who put together toy kits of all kinds, including edible ones. Lately their youngest sister, Asahi, is also getting more involved.
- kougeisha – This channel seems to be run by the father of Kanna and Akira. They all go out for trips, eat at restaurants, collect Youkai Watch disks and other collectibles, and are altogether funny and adorable.
- Rino & Yuuma (rinozawa) – This channel gets updated quite frequently with videos of Rino (4 at the time of writing) and her little brother Yuuma (2). I like watching these kinds of videos because simpler Japanese is used and it’s almost like you’re getting to be a part of the family, especially if you follow the channel for a while. ^^
- nozamama – Rino and Yuuma’s mother’s cooking channel. For each video, she cooks something and records her kids’ while they eat it to capture their reactions and table talk. (Sometimes Rino and/or Yuuma help with the cooking.)
- Ashiya (fujiashiy) – A Russian girl living in Japan. She makes lovely videos and does most of her speaking in Japanese with Russian subtitles, which is good if you’re like me and don’t know Russian–you have to be able to understand what’s going on from the Japanese alone! Her pronunciation is also very good, and she speaks clearly.
- Shadowing: 日本語を話そう！ (Beginner to Intermediate Level) **** This book comes with a CD that you listen to and repeat after. No romaji, but there is furigana. The translations of the sentences/conversations are in English, Chinese, and Korean.
- Shadowing: 日本語を話そう！(Intermediate to Advanced Level) // Book two of this Shadowing: Let’s Speak Japanese! series.
- Accent Dictionary – U-biq has a free accent dictionary (really just a huge word list divided by categories) that can help fine-tune your Japanese pronunciation.
- What to Shadow
- Real-time Listening & Speaking Advice (*Login may be required to view)
- 6 Bad Habits that Make Your Japanese Sound Unnatural
+_Test Your Knowledge
- JLPT official website
- JLPT Boot Camp **** Great, comprehensive website about studying for the JLPT.
- RealKanji *** (There is also an app out now) Simple, straightforward reviewing of all JLPT words. Customizable in terms of font and background displayed, and whether or not you want to review words that contain only kana. RealKanji only quizzes you on the reading (pronunciation) of the words, not the meaning.
- Nihongo no Benkyou **** No longer updated, but it’s got good encouragement and inspiration along with tips. 🙂
- JLPT Study // General JLPT study site.
- Renshuu.org ** I listed it here, but it’s a general study site for Japanese learners. Take the tour to see all that it offers. The paid package ($20 for 6 months is the cheapest option) seems affordable and includes a whole lot more than the free or guest packages. I tried the free version, but didn’t seem to get much out of it.
- Tanos // Another general JLPT study site.
- Practice Tests
- EJU – Short (thankfully) for the Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students! Sometimes you will be required to take this if you are entering a Japanese University. They have to know how much science, math, world history, and Japanese you know, after all.
- BJT – The Business Japanese Proficiency Test assesses your proficiency in business-level Japanese, testing not only your language knowledge, but also your cultural knowledge as it pertains to business. Arm yourself with keigo; this is about to get messy.
- オンライン日本語テスト – I believe this is made to go with the みんなの日本語 series of textbooks.
Bored with standard Japanese? Spice it up with a regional dialect!
- Japanese Dialects *** Provides basic examples of some of the most common dialects (Kyoto-ben, Hiroshima-ben, Nagoya-ben, Sendai-ben, Hokkaido-ben, Osaka-ben, and Hakata-ben). You can view the page in English (romaji), Japanese, or Chinese.
- 関西弁 **** A great site devoted to Kansai-ben, which includes Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, Nara, and other prefectures in the Kansai region.
- Getting Started with Hokkaido Dialect (Tofugu) *** Links to further resources are at the bottom of their article.
What I Previously Used
- I was using SpeedAnki (JLPT kanji flashcard website) sporadically, but it seems the site has shut down, so obviously I won’t be using it anymore! I only made it through half of the new N4 deck before it shut down. I liked it though; it was a good resource for drilling and included example sentences.
- GenkiJapan.Net *** Richard has wonderful tips and advice on more than just learning Japanese! Practically everything he says in his videos is useful. His website design is rather basic, but the content is good, especially for beginners and for those looking for little bits of cultural insight. I used his website and videos mainly for inspiration.
- MIT Japanese Language Program // Their website once had online resources that I used briefly, which were decent. I downloaded the homework too. ;P I was kind of neat to peek into a college class schedule! All of that has been taken down and replaced with a global studies site. *Updated link.
- Living Language Japanese Complete Edition *** (Platinum Edition here) I have the 2005 Basic Coursebook only, so the one I’ve linked you to is an updated and complete version. While this book helped me a lot initially, it started me off poorly in that I knew what a lot of words were in sound and meaning, but I couldn’t read them if they were shown to me in kanji because the book taught exclusively in romaji until the last few pages of the book. In addition, I only had the coursebook. I had no audio CD, workbook, or any other part of the course.
- Tuttle Learning Hiragana and Katakana Workbook ***** I bought this when I decided to get serious about learning to read and write the kana. It’s really interesting in that it gives you the history behind the kana and lots of practice areas to, well, practice.
- Rosetta Stone * (I’m not linking to it because I don’t recommend it, but it’s not hard to find if you do a search.) We bought both the Japanese and French levels 1-3, homeschool edition. Long story short, Rosetta Stone did not really help me much at all, and I’m glad we got it at a discount because it’s not worth it in the long run. If you have it and want to make the most out of it anyway, only practice reading and writing with it, NOT listening or speaking.
(Edit: Apparently the newer versions or a newer service has come out that makes this program marginally better, but it’s still not entirely worth the price. See polyglot Benny Lewis’s in-depth review on this here. Another extensive review can be found here on LiveFluent.com.)
Other Resources and Links
+_Study Japanese Online_+
// Japonin (Online Japanese classes, with a variety of options. Haven’t used yet, but I plan on checking it out soon.)
+_Foreign Exchange Programs_+
St. Olaf’s Japanese Course – Located in Minnesota, St. Olaf offers study abroad opportunities.
MIT’s MISTI program – Located in Massachusetts.
+_Japanese Language Schools in Japan_+
- A Comprehensive Guide on Studying in Japan **** Very helpful read if you’re new to the search.
- Gateway to Study in Japan **** A good supplement to the above material.
- Japan Study Support **** A database of universities and vocational colleges in Japan. They have good information, although their search function could be improved. There is a list of language schools, but it is small.
- Japan Navigation *** A database of various schools all across Japan, including language schools. The site can be a little buggy sometimes, and is not extremely secure, but has good information.
Katayanagi Institute – A language school located in Kamata, Japan. You have to have graduated from high school in order to apply, because the courses are designed for college prep.
GenkiJACS (This is the one I’d like to go to. It’s a Japanese language and culture school, with campuses located in Fukuoka and Tokyo, Japan. GenkiJACS also has an online program you can take, where the lessons are conducted via Skype.)
Go Go Nihon – A service that helps you choose the school that’s right for you, apply to partner language schools, book accommodations, and more. The best part? It’s 100% free. They also offer paid study trips and 10-day tours for a fee.
+_Other Resource Collections_+
- Nihongo-e-na **** A collection of links to various Japanese language-learning resources, combined with a blog. It’s always being updated, which is great! A lot of the resources tend to focus on beginners.
- Tofugu’s “Learn Japanese” List ***** Updated from their former post of 100 best resources, this guide takes you from beginner to advanced level and beyond with a smaller collection of high-quality resources.