Japanese Learning Resources

This is a mostly scattered collection of sites, tooling, and all kind of things that can help you learn Japanese.

Comprehensive Guides

Itazuraneko

4chan’s /djt/ (Daily Japanese Thread) guide. I don’t think it’s very beginner friendly but it has a lot of content and sections for all kind of topics on how to learn Japanese.

Mass Immersion’s Approach

MIA’s specific quick start guide on how to study Japanese using the Mass Immersion Approach tools and resources. MIA’s focus is on extensive immersion and natural acquisition of the language. It is worth checking out for the amount of resources they have mostly related to Anki but ever since the split most of them are under the Migaku umbrella now.

r/LearnJapanese Beginner Wiki

The official beginner’s wiki for the Japanese learning subreddit.

While personally I would not recommend spending too much time on the subreddit, their wiki is a decent entry point before branching off in your studies.

Wasabi’s Japanese Self-Learning Guides

Wasabi-Jpn is a site/project with a lot of resources for people learning Japanese. Among them, there is also a self-learning guide.

I personally haven’t gone through the whole guide myself, however I have read a lot of the articles. The way they expose the grammar seems to be solid to me, however I have noticed a lot of English mistakes and weird explanations. They do not make understanding necessarily harder but they can be a bit weird to parse at times. Your mileage may vary.

Textbooks

Genki

The go-to de-facto textbook for Japanese beginners that want to learn in a classroom-like setting with structured lessons and workbook exercises.

Pretty much everyone will tell you to get Genki if you want to start learning Japanese. Personally, I’m not a big fan and I prefer the Japanese for Busy People series, however I seem to be in the minority.

Japanese For Busy People

Another textbook like Genki with a classroom-like lesson structure. It covers about the same topics as Genki, and personally it’s what I’ve used myself. I would recommend it over Genki as I found it to have a better format, but overall they are very similar. Get the kana version, don’t even bother with the romaji one(Japanese writing systems).

Japanese the Manga Way

This textbook is very interesting to me. It attempts to provide some kind of crash course to Japanese grammar by real world examples of manga snippets. It’s great for beginners and covers a surprisingly large amount of grammar condensed into a relatively low number of pages. I used it mostly to learn basic particles and sentence structure as a beginner and it carried me a long way, surprisingly.

An Introduction to Modern Japanese

Relatively old (2004?) and hard to come by textbook. I include it here because albeit extremely expensive for what it’s worth and hard to find online, it provides a very “different” approach to modern Japanese learning practices. The book itself is very intensive and is not afraid to jump into complex Japanese from the get go, every chapter is introduced with a quite meaty block of conversation/text to immerse in. No furigana, extensive use of kanji. It definitely does not hold a beginner’s hand through its material, but I found it to be very interesting and appreciated it for what it is.

Definitely not essential, but if you can get your hands on a copy as a side read it can be quite an experience.

Tobira

Following Genki, this seems to be the de-facto material to use. I see this being recommended every time after someone finishes with their Genki studies, although I have never tried it myself.

Grammar

An Introduction to Japanese

Probably one of my favorite grammar overviews of the Japanese language. It’s great for looking up structure and grammar to get a thorough and extensive mental map of how the Japanese language works.

It is not to be used as a beginner resources or as a learning textbook. I like to re-read it once in a while as my language knowledge improves to further cement the fundamentals and broaden my understanding.

Imabi

This site is crazy. There’s pretty much everything you may want to know about the Japanese language grammar.

However, it’s extremely verbose and can be very confusing/convoluted in the explanations even for the simplest grammatical concepts. It’s great to look up individual grammar points if you want to get the finer intricacies and subtleties of the language, but I wouldn’t use it as a textbook alone.

Tae Kim

Often proclaimed as the entry point to learn Japanese grammar for beginners. I personally haven’t used it much and I’ve read a lot of criticism about the way he approaches some explanations (sometimes even incorrectly). Overall, it seems to work really well for a lot of people so it must be doing some things right at least.

Cure Dolly’s Video Series

While I am not a fan of the video format and the way Dolly speaks (still not sure if it’s a filter, an act of playing a character, or what), I think the way they approach the Japanese grammar is somewhat decent and it at least tries to explain grammar concepts in a less English-focused traditional way.

I personally cannot stand the video format and some of the videos can be quite inaccurate or reductionist but from a generalist’s point of view they aren’t bad. I do think it’d be better to have them in written format as they are very time consuming to watch, but if you’re into that sort of stuff it might work for you.

A dictionary of Basic/Intermediate/Advanced Japanese Grammar

These three books are exactly what the name implies. A literal dictionary of all possible grammar points in the Japanese language. Use them to look up individual grammar points, they are really good.

I believe if anyone is even remotely serious about learning the language, these are absolutely essential to have. I prefer them on paper but there are digital version too.

A Handbook of Japanese Grammar Patterns

This book is the complementary of the dictionaries of Japanese grammar mentioned above. It is a very hands-on dictionary-like approach to a huge number of various Japanese grammar patterns. Integrating both of them together provides you with an almost 100% coverage of all Japanese grammar points. The explanations are very extensive with plenty of examples too. If you are feeling confident in your Japanese abilities, there’s also a Japanese version (the original I think) which I would recommend as it is how this index was meant to be experienced.

Useful Sites to Bookmark

Core6000 Neocities’s and Itazuraneko’s aggregates

This is not a single resource per-se, but they are aggregates/index lists of all the dictionaries of japanese grammar and handbook of japanese grammar patterns entries (mentioned above) into a single place for easy browsing. If you could only bookmark and save a single website, either one of these would be it. This is really almost all you’ll ever need.

Japanese Counter Index

This site has a list of various counters to look up based on what words you need to count. It’s a very useful resource to have at hand.

Tsukuba Web Corpus

This is a great site with a a lot of content. It is an aggregate search site for various Japanese idioms and grammatical patterns. It is used best to look up and drill down specific words and grammar patterns to find out example sentences and see how they are used in natural language composition.

Apps

Anki

Self-explanatory, just read the linked page.

Wanikani

I have personally never used it myself, so I can’t give a personal opinion on it. However, I know plenty of people that vouch for it as a really good alternative to RTK/Core anki decks both for kanji learning and for core vocabulary SRS practice. It is a paid resource though, so be aware of that, but it seems worth it. If I were starting from scratch myself now I’d probably give it a go.

Bunpro

Another paid resource. Bunpro in my opinion does an excellent job at grouping up all (most?) grammar by JLPT levels and providing you a somewhat clear study path depending on what textbook you are following (or you are free to build your own study plan too). You can just look up grammar points you come across in your studies and add them to reviews, and you will be drilled SRS style every day on them. Some sentences and English hints are a bit awkward and it won’t give you a comprehensive explanation of the grammar patterns, but overall it is more useful than it is not and I would personally recommend it even for more intermediate learners.