Tom's Links for Studying Japanese
There are so many resources on the Internet for studying Japanese! These are the best
ones I've found so far, and I hope you find something helpful in this list.
Some quick notes first:
- This page is outdated and I don't plan to update it further. Use at your own risk.
- Everything listed here is free to use unless otherwise noted.
- Links in bold are are highly recommended.
- Some sites I've linked to no longer exist, but we can still browse them
anyway! It's all thanks to the Internet
Archive's Wayback Machine.
- Last updated: August 8th, 2009
Real-Time Online Lessons
- JOI (Japanese Online Institution) -
An online school offering affordable real-time online lessons focusing on
speaking, listening, reading, and grammar. Headset required. Lessons are
limited to no
more than 7 students per teacher and are conducted entirely in Japanese.
They are about 50 minutes long, held on a regular schedule, and broken down
into different levels: introductory, beginner, intermediate, and
advanced. Lessons are pre-paid, so you buy a number of lessons of
lessons up-front, with a per-lesson cost of around $6-9 (varies depending on how
many you purchase at once, and the dollar/yen exchange rate). Then you reserve a spot
in advance for each lesson you want to attend. This is all done
through an exceptionally well done web-based reservation system. It's flexible in
that you can attend lessons from the schedule however you like. You can mix and match times, teachers, and levels,
with no restrictions.
I've taken hundreds of lessons since starting on February 15th, 2006 and it's been excellent! Most people consider
daily conversation to be an essential part of gaining traction with a
language. But how do you do it without living in a place where that
language is spoken? For me, this helps a lot.
- Japanese word processor for Windows. Excellent built-in dictionary
and kanji lookup capabilities. I could not live without this program.
- Project LRNJ / Slime Forest - Learn
hiragana, katakana, and nearly 2000 kanji with this retro-styled RPG for Windows,
Mac OS X, and Linux.
- LearnKana - Cross-platform
kana drill programs for Windows, MacOS (all), and Linux.
- JEDict - An interface to EDICT that
runs on Mac OS X, comes highly recommended by a visitor.
- Kanji Trainer PenPen - A
Tetris-like game for Windows that has you match up vocabulary in Japanese
with its readings and meanings.
- mikachan - A great
font including kana AND kanji! (as shown at the top of this page)
Web-based Language Tools
- rikaichan - A
Firefox add-on that gives you mouseover popups for Japanese words.
Absolutely invaluable. A must have.
- The ultimate web-based dictionary for Japanese words and kanji. Has
audio clips for practically every word in the dictionary, links to example
sentences, verb conjugation charts for practically every verb, simple
J->E and E->J word lookup interfaces, a great
kanji search with links to animated stroke order drawings, and much more.
- Amikai (via Livedoor) and BizLingo
(via @nifty) machine translation - Automatic translation of text (not just individual words) from J->E or
E->J. Caveats: 1) For J->E, you must use kanji properly. 2)
Machine translation is far from perfect, and sometimes it doesn't work at all
or gives really weird results. But overall I think this system does a
nice job. I use it (carefully) as a sort of spelling and grammar
checker when writing Japanese by having it translate my text to English.
For a single interface to a whole bunch of different Japanese machine
translation services, check
- A collection of dictionaries (words, kanji, particles, and more), as well
as an extensive grammar guide. Great user interface!
- rikai.com - Read Japanese web
pages (or pasted text) with mouseover popups that tell you the readings and
meanings of kanji, as well as many katakana words. Works with
different browsers and you don't have to install anything.
- POPjisyo.com -
Same kind of thing as Rikai, with even more info but a slight delay between
mouseover and popup.
- Yahoo translation -
Another automatic translation service. Doesn't seem quite as smart as
Amikai, but has a very nice sentence-by-sentence output that will highlight
which words correspond to which words.
- www.google.co.jp - Easily search
only Japanese web pages, making it easy to find interesting reading
material. Also, the number of results for a search can be a useful
indicator of whether or not your search term(s) make sense, or how common
the usage is...
- Hiragana Megane - Adds furigana
(hiragana above the kanji) to Japanese web pages.
- J-Talk conversion - Converts
kanji to kana with very high accuracy - can also show detailed info (i.e.
meaning, frequency) for each compound
- Genki - A good textbook for
introductory students. It's easy and doesn't move too fast. I used
it for two semesters at university and was quite satisfied.
no Nihongo (.jp) -
Another good introductory textbook. This one is written in
Japanese. Translation is available separately. I never saw a
need for the translation myself, but I started with Genki.
for Busy People - Some people tell me this is good, others say it's bad
... I haven't tried it myself.
Note: These books are in Japanese only, and
only available on order from Japan (as far as I know). All links are
to Amazon.jp. These books have been recommended to me by my teacher.
- JLPT level 2 grammar study book affectionately known to me as 完全マスター.
This green book lists 173 grammar keywords. Each one is broken down
into sections according to meaning, and there are usually 3 or 4 example
sentences for each section. Then there are various problem sets
similar to what you might find on JLPT level 2. These same pieces of
grammar can be found at jgram.org,
but this book has higher quality info.
- 日本語中級読解入門 - 31 chapters of
increasingly challenging reading practice. Each chapter contains a
short 1-2 page text written in kanji with no furigana. This is
followed by a separate vocabulary list (with furigana), then some grammar
and reading comprehension practice questions. I found it quite useful for practicing
reading without furigana.
読解編 - Reading comprehension practice for JLPT level
2. Contains 30 passages of 1-2 pages each, printed with and without
furigana. Each passage is followed by questions that test reading
comprehension. There are also explanations for some vocabulary and
General Reference and Introduction
- The JLPT Study Page - Seems
to have the best available vocab lists for levels 2, 3, and 4. Also
covers grammar, kanji, reading comprehension, and has some online quizzes.
- Charles Kelley's JLPT
Vocab Lists - Nice online quizzes for level 3 and 4 vocab.
Complete lists linked to WWWJDIC and other dictionaries. Lists of
commonly used words that aren't in the JLPT vocab lists.
- JGram - An outstanding Japanese
grammar database. Contains entries on grammar for all JLPT levels,
with user comments and example sentences.
- Tae Kim's Japanese Grammar
Guide - Extensive grammar guide with good organization and
examples. Well presented and easy to read.
- Japanese for the
Western Brain - In-depth coverage of grammar (and more) with a clear
and refreshing style. Some great travel stories too.
Grammar Online - Test your grammar
knowledge. You must be able to display and enter Japanese text in your
- Adagio Practice Materials
- Interactive practice from a University of Hawaii course based on the Nakama
textbook. Some great QuickTime videos too!
Yourself Japanese - Lots of info here, well organized, with good
technical explanations of grammar.
- Collin McCulley's notes on Japanese verbs
- Covers the various conjugation forms with formation rules and examples.
- Maktos: Japanese Is Possible!
- A series of 32 lessons covering grammar and word lists focused on the
- smart.fm - The ultimate site for
learning vocabulary online. A social learning site where people share
vocabulary lists and use Flash-based applications to study them.
- speedanki.com - Leitner flashcard
review site for vocabulary based on JLPT levels. Very good for
identifying and reviewing vocabulary for specific JLPT levels. Free
registration required in order to make full use of the system.
- kantango - Vocabulary practice
with word lists that can be shared between users. Free registration
- KanjiSite - Practice
kanji recognition online, organized by JLPT
level. Random mode. Detailed info for each kanji.
- University of
Virginia Online Kanji Exercises - Interactive kanji practice based on the Nakama
- Kanji Networks - Hyperlinked
etymology dictionary of kanji, specifically made for Japanese. Find
out why kanji look the way they do, and how they relate to each other.
Very useful for resolving memory interference issues.
- Japanese Kanji
Dictionary - An online kanji dictionary with the jouyou kanji.
It's got a very clean web interface and organization. For each kanji,
you can magnify it, see an animated stroke diagram, see example word for the
kanji. Also has
high quality audio clips in WAV format for the kanji readings AND example
- Reviewing the Kanji - Leitner
flashcard review site for kanji based on the Heisig method
("Remembering the Kanji").
- MIT kanji movies - Movies
(QuickTime) of someone using a brush to draw many of the Joyo kanji.
Fairly easy to search.
- Dartmouth kanji
movies - Movies (QuickTime) of someone using a brush to draw various
kanji. Sound clips of the readings too! But poorly indexed.
- Kanji alive - A
QuickTime-based web application with searchable character drawing
animations, stroke diagrams, and sample compounds for each kanji (written in
kanji, English, and even spoken!)
Misc. Reading / Writing
- NIHONGO-JUKU - This blog provides casual reading material
with audio for intermediate and advanced students of Japanese.
So, actually, this is great for both reading and listening. The audio
is in standard MP3 format and is easy to play and download.
- Names in Japanese
- Learn how to write your [non-Japanese] name in romaji, hiragana,
katakana, and even kanji.
- Japanese VAL Balloon
- Intermediate-level reading practice. You may need to manually select
Japanese auto-detect or Shift-JIS character encoding in your web browser.
- Mononoke Hime: Annotated
English Script - The script of Mononoke Hime in Japanese, romaji, and
English all together. Good reading practice!
- Nobumono HP
& Square RPG Database) - Written scripts for most of the Final
Fantasy and Dragon Warrior RPGs. Japanese text only. You may
need to manually select Japanese auto-detect or Shift-JIS character encoding
in your web browser.
Specialized Reference / Articles
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