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Minna No Nihongo – Good for beginners, a bit outdated in terms of book layout and design.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
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!
Vocab & grammar resources
How I take notes for Japanese
Useful blog posts
Kana & Kanji resources
Genki Kanji reading practice
WaniKani – free to an extent; thereafter paid
Kanji by frequency
How I learn Kanji – on my tumblr
Kakijun – Kanji stroke order
Tumblr answers I’ve written on learning Kanji:
How I study Kanji
How to memorize Kanji
When and how to learn Kanji
Why you need to learn Kanji
Where to start with Kanji