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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.]
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 ^_^.
- Rikaichan or Rikaisama: Great tools for browsing the web in Japanese.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Reviewing the Kanji Wiki: Tons of information. Tons of links that lead to Japanese superpowers.
- 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.
- Livemocha: Private, online tutoring. Live lessons.
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.
- Reviewing the Kanji: I firmly believe that RTK, combined with this site, is the fastest way to learn the kanji.
- JapanesePod101.com: A veritable cornucopia of listening lessons.
- Beb & Alex Podcast: Used to be free, but I guess it’s not anymore. Podcast with a Kansai twist. Very entertaining.
- Crunchyroll.com: Not a bad selection of anime. Personally, I just like how I can use a PS3, tablet, etc., instead of watching on my laptop like I used to.
- RealityLapse.com: Lots of downloadable anime, if you don’t mind watching on your computer.
- Audiobooks via RevTK: You need to be pretty advanced, but it’s great practice.
- Japanese Radio Stations via RevTK: Good for all of that news-listening practice!
- JapaneseVerbConjugator.com: Why use your brain to conjugate verbs when a machine can do it for you?
Living, Working & Studying in Japan
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.
- Gaba Corporation
- Nichii Gakkan (Coco Juku)
- Jibun Mirai Associe
- Saxoncourt: They hire for other countries than Japan, too.
- WILL Square
- James English School
- Happy English
- The JET Programme: The most well-known (and respected) ALT program. Government Sponsored. Rural postings, typically.
- Altia Central
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.
- GaijinPot.com: Apartments, guest houses, you name it.
- Borderless House: Tokyo guest houses.
- Oakhouse: Furnished rooms around Kanto.
- Fontana: Furnished rooms & apartments in Tokyo.
- Sakura House: A ton of Tokyo share houses.
- Social Apartment: Think “classy guest house.” Most of them are in Tokyo.
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan: MOFA has most of the information anyone needs about getting a visa for Japan.
- 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).
- Waseda University: Lots of study programs, graduate & undergraduate.
- Monbugakushou (MEXT): A pain to get (give yourself at least a year & a whole lot of work). But then, they give out a lot of scholarships. Here is an awesome guide on how someone got their MEXT scholarship.
- Blakemore Fellowship: Super competitive. Super awesome.
- 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.
- 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!