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Links

The Best Sites for Learning Japanese

Through years of studying, I’ve come across a lot of truly amazing resources for learning Japanese. If you know of any that I’ve missed, please let me know in the comments section, and I’ll add them to this page!

 

Our Favorite Tools for Learning Japanese

This list is ever-changing as we find new and awesome things that deserve to appear on it. Also, a lot of these sites and tools are incorporated in our guide on how to learn Japanese.

  1. Hacking Japanese Supercourse: My pride and joy. Thousands of hours went into creating this guide to learning Japanese. It has everything you need to go from zero to fluent in 1 year.
  2. Anki: Smart flashcards are the most powerful language learning tool in existence. Period. Start your own deck, then build it for years and years and years. In this way, you can master any language. I’ve heard there are many other similar programs, but I’ve never used them.
  3. JapanesePod101.com: Hundreds of lessons. Great grammar, vocab, and listening practice all rolled into one. I’ve been studying Japanese for years now, and I owe so much to JapanesePod101. I learned so much from them back when I could hardly introduce myself in Japanese, and I still continue to learn from them even after reaching an advanced level of Japanese. [Full disclosure: This is an affiliate link. If you do decide to sign up for this very affordable service, it really would mean a lot to me if you could use my link. It’s what pays for (some of) this site’s hosting costs.]
  4. Remembering the Kanji + Reviewing the Kanji: The haters will hate. I’m convinced this combo is the fastest and most efficient way to remember all of those thousands and thousands of kanji. It worked for me. Instructions on kanji-learning awesomeness can be found in our guide on the fastest way to learn the kanji.
  5. Jisho.org: I (used to) spend more time on this site than anywhere on the WWW. The ultimate denshi jisho (electronic dictionary). Once I stopped using English, I switched to using the Japanese-only dictionary on Yahoo.
  6. The Dictionary of Basic/Intermediate/Advanced Grammar Series: Great references for all of that pesky Japanese grammar. A great tool when writing NihongoShark articles, too ^_^.
  7. Rikaichan or Rikaisama: Great tools for browsing the web in Japanese.
  8. imiwa?: If you have a smartphone, this is one of the best (free) Japanese apps out there. It essentially turns your phone into a denshi jisho.
  9. JGram: Extensive database of Japanese grammar. I often wish there were more explanations, but the breadth of listings alone makes this site worth placing on this list.
  10. FluentU Japanese: Is it possible to actually learn Japanese from watching videos? FluentU would tell you that it is, and they make a pretty good case of it, too. I wrote a review here.
  11. Reviewing the Kanji Wiki: Tons of information. Tons of links that lead to Japanese superpowers.

Learning Japanese

Lessons

  • JapanesePod101.com: Hands down my favorite source for lessons. There are hundreds and hundreds!
  • italki: I just learned about italki recently, and I’m really excited to start trying it. This is most likely the cheapest place that you’ll find 1-on-1 lessons with professional, native Japanese teachers.
  • JGram: Though not technically lessons, this site is awesome! Almost like an online grammar dictionary, divided up by JLPT Level.
  • FluentU Japanese: Their interactive videos are one of the most entertaining ways I know of for getting structured, productive Japanese exposure.
  • CafeTalk: Sometimes I teach English on Cafetalk. They have a lot of Japanese students, which in turn makes it a pretty good resource for Japanese lessons online. Nice lesson-based interface, as well.
  • TextFugu: An online Japanese textbook. I’ve never read it, but resources lead me to believe it’s good for beginners.
  • iKnow!: I’m not the biggest fan of iKnow (formerly smart.fm), but it’s a clean, fun-to-use site, at least.
  • Lang-8: Pretty cool concept of getting help from native speakers.

Tools, Books & Other Stuff from Japan

  • White Rabbit Japan: Typically where I buy all of my Japanese study books, especially ones I can’t get in the US.
  • Amazon.com: Cheaper when buying books published in the US.
  • Amazon.co.jp: All in Japanese, but they do ship internationally.

Kanji Studies

Listening Practice

Conjugating Verbs

Living, Working  & Studying in Japan

Jobs

Job Posting Sites

  • GaijinPot.com: Probably the most well-known job posting site for foreigners.
  • O-Hayo Sensei: Great English Teacher job listings.
  • Daijob.com: Pretty much only for the super-上手 and qualified.
  • Japan Times: Again, not easy to qualify for most of these jobs.
  • Career Forum: Jobs for English-Japanese Bilinguals.
  • boobooSKI: This company offers resort jobs in Japan.

English Teaching Companies

There are hundreds of companies that teach English in Japan. This is but a sampling, really. Typically, you’ll need a bigger school if you’re looking to get visa sponsorship, though not always.

Eikaiwa
ALT

Translation Companies & Other 上手 Jobs

  • Gengo: Good for inexperienced translators… bad for making solid money.
  • Bloomberg: Seems like they’re always hiring for something.

Housing

Visas

Schools

Language Schools

  • Japanistry: This site has a nice database for looking up Japanese language schools all over Japan. Very useful.
  • KCP International: I once attended KCP for about six months. Made a lot of friends, learned a lot of Japanese. They’re located in Shinjuku, which is nice and central. Give them 2 years, and they’ll give you JLPT N1… pretty much guaranteed, if you hang in there (though many, if not most, Westerners have a hard time keep up with their Chinese and Korean classmates).

Universities

Scholarships

Blogs

  • Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai: I love this blog! I don’t really learn much Japanese from it. He translates Japanese ghost stories and posts them in English. Scary. I mean, AWESOME.
  • GaijinPot.com: Their blog is continuously adding new guest articles. Some are better than others.
  • Nihonshock.com: Consistently awesome & informative posts.
  • Tofugu: One of the bigger (and better) Japanese blogs.
  • Japanese Level Up: I’m really impressed with the walkthrough on this site. I don’t always agree with his approach, but this is undoubtedly a solid option for pursuing Japanese.
  • Ganbare Japanese: Usually interesting, and occasionally with some good Japanese learning in there, too.
  • LinguaLift: Sometimes they’ve got some pretty interesting posts.
  • JALUP: This site has a solid study system.

Smartphone Apps

  • imiwa?: Turns your smartphone into a denshi jisho. Super useful.
  • Ostukai Samurai: My friends developed this fun Japanese vocab app. Great way to kill time!

Best Sites for Learning Japanese

Really, there are so many great sites for learning Japanese–for anything Japanese–that I could never list enough of them. Even so, if you know of any that deserve to be on this page, please let me know!

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  • iji

    Smartphone Apps I like and use:

    iOS: KanjiBox ($4.99), Memrise (version 1.3.3)

    Android: Anki

    WP: Tango Master Japanese

  • Thibault B.

    Hello Niko!

    First, thanks for all those informations ! I have just one more question for you : according to you, what is the best area to stay in Tokyo?

    Friendly.

  • Hi there! It depends on what you’re into, really. If you stay at or near a station like Shinjuku or Shibuya, though, you’ll have a lot of options. Also, these are fun places to explore at night. Pretty much anywhere on the Yamanote Line (the loop line) is quite convenient.

    Enjoy your stay!

  • Leo

    Hi Niko,

    I am really excited about learning new languages this summer, or at the very least trying. I want to start off with Japanese because I heard it’s one of the most difficult languages to learn. Any tips on where to start? Any books I should check out first or what websites I should use first?

  • Adnan Sehic

    I read your (long! but very insightful) post after signing up, and I’m definitely going to incorporate everything you’ve worked to build into my study regimen. Question – I notice Wanikani isn’t on the list, is this because it’s not worth it/ineffective, too expensive overall, or? Just curious! Thank you again!

  • Mayumi Busi

    I’ve been trying to learn japanese for some time now, but I got so demotivated because of the difficulty of f the language that I quitted for some time, but now I’m on track again, very motivated and feeling very hopeful about it! If anyone can do it, I can do it myself! Thanks for the help! 🙂

  • Hi Mayumi,

    The same thing happened to me a couple of times. I hope that this is the time you’re able to stick to your studies. Good luck!