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Your #1 favorite Japanese learning resource (outside of Duolingo)?

Be sure to read through the comments first to make sure no one else has already listed the resource. If they have, please give it an up vote. Don't comment recommending the same resource someone else already has.

If you had to pick only 1 non-Duolingo, Japanese learning resource as your top recommendation to other learners, what would it be and why (super short)? (Please note the platform in your comment: book/android/ios, windows, desktop, etc.?)

When reading through other people's comments, only up vote resources if you've personally used it good amount and absolutely love it. Give 1 vote to your own comment. (Some ppl already will, so if everyone does, it will make it consistent. :P)

Ready. Set. GO!

July 7, 2017



Tae Kim's Guide to Japanese Grammar


(website, paperback, Kindle, PDF, IOS, Android - all free except for the paperback Kindle)

The course explains grammar from the Japanese point of view. This makes much easier to understand all the things that can be implied in a typical Japanese sentence. Recommended for all learners. It starts with kana and goes up to very advanced grammar topics. Available in many languages!


Slime Forest Adventure
- Platform: offline desktop game (Windows, Linux, Mac)

Basically it's kind of like a retro RPG-style game version of Heisig's Remembering The Kanji. You defeat kanji slime enemies by typing an English meaning keyword associated with their kanji. You have to battle your way through testing dungeons, where you will be killed by slimes if you can't recall the kanji. It teaches recognition of the kanji using its own unique set of mnemonics.

The free version teaches recognition of around 1,000 kanji. The full $20 version teaches nearly 2,000 kanji (all 1,945 kanji in the pre-2010 common use kanji list and a few extra) + subgames for ON reading, KUN reading, compound reading, and even grammar patterns.

I owe a great deal of my ease with kanji to this game. ^^


Ty to Rhabarberbarbara for description:

They are japanese lessons in form of short videos and mangas

(I've given you lingots and deleted your comment. i'm trying to keep this discussion as tidy as possible so people can do a quick scroll through the resources. Super concise descriptions are important. But, some people aren't adding them. I'm just trying to find ways to prompt people to add them. If DestartreK1st comes back and edits their comment to add that description, I'll delete my comment too.)


Midori app for iOS. (Very short description: Dictionary w/ multiple input capacity (English, romaji, hiragana, katakana, kanji), sentence examples, verb conjugation, kanji stroke order instruction.) :D


Online, language podcast: JapanesePod101.com!!!


I like this website, which has has vocabulary, grammar and kanji for each of the JLPT levels https://nihongoichiban.com/home/jlpt-n5-study-material/


Some ppl haven't given a complete comment. (I made some late edits.) Be sure to read the full instructions so we get a solid resource list for learners. Thanks! :)


I’m gonna go classic here and say: Start with a book. Japanese has its unique sentence structure and pronunciation guidlines, so I really recommend that you start with a solid base. Many online resources offer good content, but books (written by experts in delivering the right knowledge at the right stage) will guide you in the right direction until “your wings grow” and you feel comfortable to launch on your own and choose which method is suitable to advance you further. Which books? I recommend the みんなの日本語(みんなのにほんご; in romaji : Minna no Nihongo) series. In addition to the benefit of making the right start, these books will be your go-to reference whenever you need to brush up on your grammar later. If your purpose is to take the JLPT test, you will most likely be studying the 日本語総まとめ series, but studying it after you finish みんなの日本語 would be an advantage.


Yes, this series is very good and there are many additional learning ressouces, as very good produced CDs, and exercise books about different topics regarding the Japanese language. I would also recommend it.

And here is the link to the publisher's website:

Minna no Nihongo

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JapaneseAmmo with Misa

for some in-depth explanations about the structure of the Japanese language, as well as tips on how to use the language colloquially.


I also like this channel very much. While there are lots of channels about Japanese learning on Youtube, there are very few which go beyond the basics of Japanese and at the same time are enjoyable to watch.


Teach Yourself Complete Japanese by Helen Gilhooly (paper book). It was my first exposure to learning Japanese, and it was almost entirely what I used in high school that got me able to skip my first year of university-level Japanese and jump right into the second-year class as a freshman! It cost only $12.00 USD for a used copy on Amazon. We used Genki II by the time of second-year Japanese, and I did look through Genki I that the professor had but... honestly Teach Yourself Complete Japanese had almost all of the info as in Genki I plus some from Genki II. It also didn't really need any instructor aid to learn from it solo like Genki I and II seem to. I ended up finishing the entire Japanese minor program (18 credits) in 2 years instead of 3-4 years.

[deactivated user]


    Genki. period.


    Resource description: Textbook series with CD insert with audio comprehension. Default Japanese textbook for many universities. :)


    Books, Reading: レベル別日本語多読ライブラリー (Japanese Level graded readers) and it is also available for iPad


    Between Japanesepod101 and this one, which is your favorite?


    Both (and there are more), because the aim or task is different. Japanesepod101.com was my first ressource for learning Japanese and it is a complete and very big language podcast with many useful tools in it.

    'Japanese Level Graded Readers' is not a Language course. It is a book series with stories from very, very easy and short to more and more complex ones, so that a beginner can read the first stories with fun and can get a feeling for reading in Japanese. Another advantage of this series are the accompanying really professionally produced CDs with audio of the stories spoken by professional actors.

    Have a look at that links please:
    What is Tadoku
    Level description
    Sample Pages

    I used both (and more) to get into Japanese.


    Hmm... you make a compelling case for keeping both of your recommendations here. Ok. I'll make this one exception. But, don't tell anybody else >.>



    I have many more excellent ressources for different tasks for learning Japanese, as Japanese really is a challenge (The writing systems, chinese characters, reading, writing, pronunciation, speaking, JLPT...) and although you could learn all with japanesepod101.com, I found for some tasks ressources, that fit more to my needs.


    I promise, you'll find many opportunities to share the other resources with the community. I have a specific goal in mind for this particular discussion, which is why I've asked people to limit their recommendations to the one at the tippity topmost part of their list. (Though it might mean recommending one thing and waiting for someone else to post the others so you can up vote them.) Thank you for contributing. ^_^


    Kanji Study

    It is an app that allows you to learn and practice Japanese writing. It includes Kana, Radicals and Kanji from N5 to N1. The free version contains only Kana and N5 kanji but you can buy the rest of the features for around £9. You can study by testing yourself with Flashcards, Multichoice quizzes and Writing challenges. It has many options to personalise your study including: romaji, text to speech, Translations into 10+ languages (although English is the most accurate), and a daily study target (and streak). Overall it is a very good app and I would recommend it to anybody learning Japanese.

    IOS: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/kanji-study/id400074354?mt=8

    Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mindtwisted.kanjistudy

    (Thank you to Usagiboi7 for posting this thread)


    (Edit) I have used Kanji Study past the pay portion and found it enjoyable and helpful. (/edit) @Usagiboy7 Could you compare Midori to Kanji Study? I'm interested in your opinion and I want to know if I'm missing out. :P


    I've only used the free part, but it does seem to be a good resource.


    The main resource I used until now is the "Japanese from Zero" book series. I still uses those books besides other resources (manga, anime, books with Japanese/English parallel text, etc.).

    Main reason I used those books instead of Genki: Genki was way to hardcore for me at the beginning ;-). So I would definitely recommend them to someone who wants to start learning on his one and is not of the "hardcore" type.

    The author also has a Youtube channel with lots of content: https://www.youtube.com/user/yesjapan especially the video series where he covers all the grammar of the books 1-3 is very useful - it definitely covers all the unexplained grammar used in the Duolingo course ;-).


    My first resource was Pimsleur which is an audio book. I got it from the library and was happy just being able to say "I don't understand." I have it on my Kindle and I can listen to it on my phone if I want to.


    Can't pick just one, or you won't really learn japanese, just like you can't build a house with one tool, you need a whole toolset. I like duolingo for beginner japanese, but you really need to expand yourself. Try reading AJATT (just google it). I use Anki, Duolingo, Japanese I, II, III from Howard Peebles, IMEwa, loads of podcasts and listen to everything I can in japanese even if I don't understand it all quite yet. There is a HUGE amount of value in listening to japanese as much as you can stand. Even if you don't understand it all, it reinforces what you do know, but it also helps you learn how to recognize where words begin and end when spoken naturally. You start to feel comofrtable with the sound of the language even if you don't understand it. Can't say enough about this. After two months of intense study and listening emersion, I am starting to be able to hear what's being said, and not just a word or two....sometimes even in duolingo, if I don't understand a kanji that just got tossed in front of me, I can just listen to what is said and poof, "oh I get it". Listening is the most important part of your japanese study...Yes we need duolingo and similar apps for building the foundation, but listening is the key to everything....regardless of the language.


    Hi! I think it's useful. If you want to learn how to write the kanjis or hiragana and katakana. http://yosida.com/en/kanji.php?level=5&page=2


    Short description: This course book is for learning how to split kanji into something similiar to radicals and develop stories and mnemonics for each one. Have a look at https://kanji.koohii.com/ for a short intro, active forum & a good srs flashcard system.


    I love using Memrise and Tinycards.


    http://japanesevideocast.com/ !! A little known resource that does an excellent job on explaining the basics of grammar. It's what finally started to drill grammar into me, haha! Also it uses examples from anime, dramas and other resources to help work out grammar.

    Their beginner 'orenji' series is fantastic: http://japanesevideocast.com/orange01


    For kanji and vocab drilling, I like the KanjiBox app. It is not free, but it covers all level of kanji and vocab from the very early stages to the advanced stages, so I found it work the money. I believe there is also an online version at http://kanjibox.net


    I've been using JA Sensei on Android to supplement my Duolingo practice! The app has nice lectures and exercises to help you practice writing kana and kanji, which Duolingo kind of falls short on. It's free but there's a 10 or 11 dollar paid version I plan to buy once I get more experienced!

    EDIT: I forgot to provide a link! Here you go: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.japanactivator.android.jasensei


    http://www.learn-japanese.info/ - Nihongo o Narau is very much centered around the basics in terms of vocab and grammar lessons however it does have some kanji that I'm pretty sure Duo doesn't teach. It also has a lot of vocab and a few other resources (Reading, listening/speaking etc). Overall it's an old site and based on your Japanese level you've probably learnt most of it but it's worth checking out.


    JA Sensei is a great android app. It goes into Japanese culture and how it's integrated into the language, not to mention the lessons available to you (tho you have have to pay for premium but its really worth the price) it also has all the Hiragana and Katakana Characters section as well as some basic Kanji. I also like how they included a travel phrasebook where it shows you sentences/phrases with audio. all in all it has a ton of content for a app and i really enjoy it


    Full disclosure: I don't...really like learning Japanese on Duolingo. ducks Mainly because of kanji recognition and teaching errata, and that their introduction to te-form variations is pretty much non-existent, and that the grammar and usage taught might get you to pass N4 if you're lucky. (I'll stop complaining now...honest...) I do like that Duolingo has sparse use of roumaji as that's something that's irked me in a lot of other resources.

    I'll second (or third) the Graded Readers. The more you can read, the better. Something that flies under the radar (and that I use every single day) is kanshudo.com. The beginner course is free and you can earn access to the Pro side of things just by studying. The dictionary is fantastic, and the kanji wheel lets you visualize your progress over time. My favorite thing, though, is that if there's something you CAN'T find, there are actual human beings that are native speakers that will add it to their dictionaries and flashcards FOR you....often on the same day. They're a class act and I can't recommend them highly enough.


    The triple threat that's rocking my world (sorry, I know you said just one, but this combo is amazing): Yomichan browser extension: https://foosoft.net/projects/yomichan/ Anki: https://apps.ankiweb.net/ Animelon: https://animelon.com/

    I installed the browser extension to mine for vocab and automatically upload it as an Anki card; then I customized my Anki deck to present the cards in the way I want to see them (they're easy to flip when you want to train J->E or E->J translation). You can use any source you want to mine, but since I want to remember it, attaching it to a memory of something I watched is most effective. So I use Animelon as the source for new vocab and watch episodes a few times over in English, Japanese, or both depending on how I want to practice my listening and reading.

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    BUNPO all the way for me.

    Learn Japanese in just 5 minutes a day. For free.