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’s definitely worth checking it out.

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.

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 great and it’s one of the best attempts at providing a “non-westernized”/English look at Japanese.

It’s perfect if you want to get into Japanese grammar the way it’s taught to Japanese people (allegedly?), not filtered through the typical English-speaking classroom setting.

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.

Apps

Anki