1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Japanese
  4. >
  5. Basic, absolute beginner’s bo…


Basic, absolute beginner’s books?

I am just dipping my toe in the water and starting to learn Japanese from the absolute beginning, with no prior knowledge of any east Asian languages. I feel like I need more practice than Duolingo can give me. So, I have been searching for good beginner books to learn the scripts and some very beginning vocabulary.

What do people think of either of these? Or others that are favorites and effective?



November 25, 2017



I have no experience with this books you mention. But many recommend the Genki books (one reading book and one work book). I just got them myself. They seem good.


Genki is good for beginners, but it kind of just gives you a chart of the kana and then jumps right into grammar/vocab exercises. If you're a complete beginner I'd highly recommend learning the kana on Memrise, since they offer really useful mnemonics and the spaced repetition system is also very helpful.

When I started Japanese on Memrise, from what I heard, the Memrise-created courses weren't actually all that good. It's probably changed, since it's been a year or two, but this is the course I started off with and it's still excellent for beginners (it starts off in romaji, but transitions to kana quickly enough): https://www.memrise.com/course/12/introduction-to-japanese/

Once you have the scripts down, then books like Genki are very helpful for learning grammar. I think learning kana on the internet is easier, though, because a computer is better at knowing when you start to forget things than people are ^^u


I never see anyone mention this one, but it's the one I used.


It's written by the same person who wrote Remembering the Kanji, and it uses a similar approach. It's great if you have a decent imagination.


Memrise can be a decent complement, if you have Genki for example. Like it's been mentioned, Genki just kinda glances at the kana and goes straight into grammar/vocab.

that way, with the added benefit of mnemonics from memrise and the SRS, you won't have to worry about all the squiggles and actually get the best out of Genki.

the most important thing is not to get bogged down on the internets!! there are so many "learn Japanese the best way", "learn japanese quickly", "learn how to say bla bla bla in japanese" etc websites/articles. look for the structure and the optimal mix of resources that gives you confidence and systematic progress.


Definitely grab this book. https://www.amazon.co.jp/gp/product/4789004546/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

There's no structure, but just cover 3-5 entries per day, fill in an SRS like Anki, and do some self practice. It's an excellent book, with extensive explanations and examples.

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