Japanese resources

A regularly-updated list of language resources to help kickstart your learning journey.

Japanese textbooks

Beginner

Japanese From Zero – Good for kids, includes fun activities, exercises are easy. Simple for beginners starting with no background in Japanese. The book has an associated website with some resources. It also comes with a bilingual glossary.

Minna No Nihongo – Good for beginners, a bit outdated in terms of book layout and design. They have lots of levels and are available in a few languages.

Japanese for Busy People – by far my favorite series! Fun, engaging, and moves from beginner to advanced. I love how they introduce Kanji in the context of the lessons. Huge fan! 
Get the books:
Book 1 for Beginners

Genki 1: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese – a really popular book for beginners.

Living Language Japanese (great for beginners from zero, but a bit expensive. If you want one set of books and don’t want to be distracted with other resources, you can try this, but it won’t lead you to fluency like it claims. It’s pretty good for a base and comes with awesome audio CDs. 

Read Real Japanese (this link is for fiction; I have the book with essays)

Intermediate to advanced

A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar – must-have for all grammar geeks!  I have used this for years and it’s amazing for explaining grammar concepts. Totally recommended.

Nihongo So Matome book series – I use these for N2 and N3 grammar and vocabulary. They’re featured in almost all of my book review videos, hehe. 

Japanese for Busy People – My favorite series!
Book 2 for Intermediate
Book 3 for Advanced

Tobira Gateway to Advanced Japanese – Seriously one of the best books for upper intermediate to advanced learners. Each chapter has interesting content related to Japanese culture and life. 

すぐに使える 日本語会話超ミニフレーズ200 – Conversational phrases to sound more natural in Japanese. This book is for intermediate learners

Books I used for JLPT N3

Books for JLPT N2

Japanese courses and lessons

Japanese on Memrise
iTalki – get $10 credit on your first lesson with a tutor! 
Japanesepod101
Maggie Sensei – grammar-focus lessons
Ubiq – grammar based online lessons
Japanese.io is a cool website that teaches you and helps you improve your Japanese reading.

Useful Japanese apps

  • Japanese on Master Ling for a simple app with audio
  • JA Sensei – good app for those who like comprehensive notes and background. Also available in French!
  • Clozemaster is awesome for quick phrases and a fun, gamified experience. 
  • Obenkyo is a really rad app (only for Android, heh sorry iOS peeps) which starts you from the basics of hiragana and katakana and moves you up to different JLPT levels. I mostly use it to recognize kanji. 
  • By far the best app to train your Japanese with (2000 kanji and 6000 vocab words) is WaniKani. You use spaced repetition to move through all the different levels of Kanji and it doesn’t let you move on if you haven’t learnt the kanji to a good enough level – pretty good for motivation!

Bunpo – seriosuly one of my FAVORITE apps out there. It’s a comprehensive JLPT focus; plenty of example sentences! I used Bunpo for a few days and tracked all my progress and pros and cons on this Twitter thread

Vocab & grammar resources

jGram Grammar – awesome resource for grammar explanations
Bunkei Bank – grammar with examples
vvlexicon – for compound verbs
Corpus – for conjugations and verb forms
Onomatopoeia

How I take notes for Japanese

Useful blog posts

JLPT-specific resources and videos

JLPT Kanji lists
MLC Japanese – test your JLPT level
Japanese Test 4 You
JLPT Grammar resources
Watanoc Reading practice for N5, N4 and N3

Useful JLPT test prep book series:

Apart from going through past papers, these 500 Practice Questions books really helped me learn the necessary vocabulary, grammar and Kanji to pass the JLPT exam.

Nihongo 500 Mon N4-N5 on Amazon
Nihongo 500 Mon N3 on Amazon
Nihongo 500 Mon N2 on Amazon

Kana & Kanji resources

Advice & FAQ

I’m pretty active in answering questions related to language learning and Japanese on my Tumblr blog. You can check out all my posts tagged Japanese on my blog here!

Language exchange

italki
Affordable language tutors that you can book according to your schedule. I use italki often for speaking practice. Get $10 credits after you book your first lesson with a tutor using my affiliate link.

HelloTalk app to meet Japanese native speakers and practice with.

Misc resources

Weekly language inspiration

Get motivated with my language learning videos on YouTube 🎉