How to Learn Japanese on Your Own? (2023)

Discover the tools I used to learn the Japanese Language!

I'm sure that you're like me. You love Karate, the Japanese culture and now you want to learn the Japanese language, but you're wondering if it's possible to do it on your own?

In this article, I will cover the following:

  1. My favorite books
  2. My favorite website (the best tool IMO)
  3. Conclusion

Yes, it's totally possible! If I did it, and you can do it too! I have put together a list of resources that I have used (and still use!) and that are the most helpful for me.

The best ways to learn Japanese on your own (and it worked for me!)

For me, there are basically two efficient ways to learn Japanese on your own: by using books and specialized website (with both audio and reading).

Here is a list of Japanese language resources that I personally use and love, and that worked to improve my Japanese language skills.

My favorite books

Books are probably the most common ways to learn Japanese by yourself. These books presented here are, from my experience, the best on the market today. If you are interested and motivated to learn the Japanese language, these books are for you.

1. Introductory books

Let me present to you my personal favorite introductory books to Japanese. I have actually started studying Japanese with these books, and they're great! Like me, you'll be surprised at how much you will learn with the help of these books.

(Video) How to learn Japanese FAST? Tips from a native speaker 🇯🇵📚✨🌎✈️

a) Easy Japanese Step-by-Step (by Gene Nishi)

How to Learn Japanese on Your Own? (1)
This is the very first book that I have bought to learn Japanese. I actually started, years ago, with the second edition, but I love it so much that I have purchased the third edition as well. This book is easy to understand, perfect for beginners to the Japanese language. You'll learn how to construct Japanese sentences, from the simplest to the most complex, using an easy-to-follow approach. This is a book that comprehensively teaches Japanese grammar instead of just providing "pre-cooked" phrases to use. Great buy, you won't regret it. Check price on Amazon

b) Speak Japanese Today (by Taeko Kamiya)

How to Learn Japanese on Your Own? (2)
Taeko Kamiya is an internationally recognized linguist, Japanese teacher, and author. I just love her books on the Japanese language (I own quite a few). This self-study book is an excellent choice for learning Japanese basics quickly, without compromising on quality. This book provides both the material and the method of practice to learn everyday Japanese conversation fast. For a short book, this one packs a lot! Check price on Amazon

2. Grammar books

You might hate it as much as you want, grammar is a part of the Japanese language as it is part of every other language. These books will really make grammar easy on you.

a) The handbook of Japanese verbs (by Taeko Kamiya)

How to Learn Japanese on Your Own? (3)
If you wanna learn Japanese, you can't help but learn verbs. Taeko Kamiya wrote the perfect in-depth book on how to handle Japanese verbs correctly. This is one of those books that you will often refer back to even if you become more and more skilled in Japanese. The handbook of Japanese verbs is pretty much a reference book filled with exercises for you to practice. Check price on Amazon

b) The handbook of Japanese adjectives and adverbs (by Taeko Kamiya)

How to Learn Japanese on Your Own? (4)
Japanese adjectives and adverbs can be a bit tricky to learn, but not anymore, thanks to this book. My understanding and ability to speak Japanese got serious better after studying this book. This book is a great help in understanding how to put Japanese sentences together. It's another undeniable must-have. Check price on Amazon

c) Japanese sentence patterns for Effective communication (by Taeko Kamiya)

How to Learn Japanese on Your Own? (5)
Another great book by Taeko Kamiya, I told you I like her! This book uses a straight to the point method for learning Japanese sentence structure that is both common and practical. I wish I had this book years ago when I started studying Japanese - it could have saved me a lot of time and sweat. The book breaks down conversational patterns into more than 150 sentence structures, with approximately 1200 sample sentences. Definitely one of the most helpful books that I own. Check price on Amazon

3. Reading and writing books

Some people only want to learn to speak Japanese, and some others prefer to learn to speak, read, and write. I'm the latter type. Maybe that's because my wife is Japanese and we go to Japan pretty often where I'm confronted with Japanese writing everywhere.

a) A guide to Learning Hiragana & Katakana (by Kenneth G. Henshall and Tetsuo Takagaki)

How to Learn Japanese on Your Own? (6)
This is a great book to learn basic Japanese Kana (hiragana and katakana) characters. The structure of this book is simple enough so that characters can be learned quickly. With the help of this book, I've actually succeeded to learn every hiragana and katakana. What is interesting about this book is that it contains a workbook to practice writing characters and get the strokes in the right order. Check price on Amazon

b) Kana Pict-O-Graphix (by Micheal Rowley)

How to Learn Japanese on Your Own? (7)
This book is a tiny visual guide for remembering hiragana and katakana. If like me, you are a visual learner, then this book is for you! This small little book does precisely what it says it does - teaching you the basic Japanese characters in a matter of hours. You'll learn hiragana and katakana painlessly, through fun mnemonic pictures. I can't recommend this guide enough! Check price on Amazon

c) Beginners Japanese Script

How to Learn Japanese on Your Own? (8)
This book is definitely more advanced than the previous two as it deals with Kanji or Chinese characters. It's obviously intended for readers wanting to learn higher-level reading and writing skills. I bought it because when I'm in Japan, I wanna be able to recognize the most common set of kanji. The information and illustrations are to the point and really helped me identify dozens of kanji. Read and write Japanese scripts is a great step-by-step guide to the written Japanese language. I've got the older edition. Check price of the new edition on Amazon

My favorite website to learn Japanese

How to Learn Japanese on Your Own? (9)

There's dozens of specialized website dedicated to teaching Japanese, so choosing the right one can sometimes be challenging.

(Video) how i study japanese + language learning tips for self-studying

I tried most of them, but when I stumbled upon, I knew I had found what I was looking for. From all the tools that I have used to learn the language, is by far the best and the one that helped me the most.

JapanesePod101 is a website that teaches Japanese with a series of lessons in audio format accompanied by precious lesson notes. The lessons are organized in courses of up to 50 episodes each, arranged by skill level, ranging from complete newbie to advanced. Lessons are delivered in audio format and are generally 12-15 minutes long. Each lesson is divided into four parts: 1- short dialogue in Japanese (then with English translation), 2- discussion about the story, 3- vocabulary, and lastly 4- grammar.

How to Learn Japanese on Your Own? (10)

You can listen to them on the website itself or else downloaded it all as podcasts, which you can then put on your smartphone and take around with you. Even better, you can use their fantastic smartphone app.

There are different pricing options for Japanesepod101, and I personally chose the Premium Plan, which is only 10$/month if you pay for 24 months! As usual, the longer your subscription, the cheaper it gets. In my opinion, the pricing is reasonable for content of that quality. You can try now their free plan and see for yourself.

Additional tips for learning Japanese by yourself

Here is a list of a few extra things that you can do to learn Japanese on your own or improve your actual level.

1. Watch Japanese Films and Anime

Another great way to practice your Japanese is to watch Japanese movies and anime. Through films and anime, can learn a wide variety of new words and expressions, including slang and casual Japanese. Personally, I often use English subtitles to help me better understand what I'm watching. That's especially true if I'm watching a Taiga drama as they often use old Japanese.

2. Listen to Japanese radio

Just like with movies, listening to Japanese radio is an effective way to sharpen your listening skills. Try listening to music with lyrics, or Japanese talk radio. There'ss a great website to listen to Japanese radio online.

3. Read in Japanese

At the begins, try ready simple kids book. That's what I did! I used my son's Anpanman books to practice my reading skills! Later on, as you get better, you can try reading small Japanese books or even manga. I wouldn't touch newspapers as they are quite complicated to understand.

(Video) This is How I Learned Japanese in 3 Months

4. Find a Japanese friend to speak with

A pleasant yet challenging option for practicing your Japanese speaking skills is to talk face to face or through video-chat with a native Japanese speaker. They are lots of online resources that pairs you with a language partner. There's a website called My Language Exchange that's one of the most famous and oldest.

5. Visit Japan!

There is really no better way to learn a new language than total immersion! If you have the opportunity, go to Japan! This will enable you to speak to people in Japanese and watch them talk. You'll learn much from this experience! Personally, every time I come back from Japan, my wife tells me that my Japanese level has improved a lot.


So as you can see after reading this article, it's totally possible to learn Japanese by yourself, on your own.

After years of experience studying the language, I honestly think that the best was to study Japanese is with This website helped me tremendously, and I recommended it to many friends who also greatly benefitted from it. I highly recommend it.

What tools do you use to learn Japanese?

How to Learn Japanese on Your Own? (11)

Thank you for reading!
Hey, it's Martin, I hope you liked this article! I will share on this website information related to Karate, Martial Arts, Self-Defense, Health, Spirituality and more! Please read my bio, and follow me on Facebook and Instagram.

Pssst, I've got more!

(Video) How To Learn Japanese on Your Own (or any other language)

The Best Program to Learn Japanese

21 Japanese Words you Absolutely Need to Know for Karate


Is it possible to learn Japanese by yourself? ›

Learning Japanese by yourself? Yes, it's possible to do that – millions of people are doing it all over the world. It takes a bit of work but you can truly make Japanese progress alone.

How long does it take to learn Japanese self taught? ›

Learning Japanese isn't easy and it will take time. It's probably fair to say that you can expect a commitment of at least three years in order to achieve something resembling fluency. The average learner gets to the advanced level in three or four years.

What is the hardest language to learn? ›

1. Mandarin. As mentioned before, Mandarin is unanimously considered the most difficult language to master in the world! Spoken by over a billion people in the world, the language can be extremely difficult for people whose native languages use the Latin writing system.

Can you speak Japanese 3 months? ›

How Long Does it Take to Learn Japanese on Average? With consistent studying and speaking, for about 30 minutes to an hour a day, you could speak at a conversational level in Japanese in about 3 months.

How good is Japanese duolingo? ›

Duolingo Japanese Review Conclusion

Duolingo is an excellent free resource for learning languages, especially if you consider yourself a beginner who is looking to immerse yourself quickly in Japanese.

What's the easiest language to learn? ›

15 of the easiest languages to learn for English speakers - ranked
  • Frisian. Frisian is thought to be one of the languages most closely related to English, and therefore also the easiest for English-speakers to pick up. ...
  • Dutch. ...
  • Norwegian. ...
  • Spanish. ...
  • Portuguese. ...
  • Italian. ...
  • French. ...
  • Swedish.
24 Oct 2021

Where do I begin Japanese? ›

You need to start with hiragana in order to learn the basics of how Japanese sounds, and how the structure of the letters works. By learning hiragana first, you will understand how words are put together, and how they are said.

Can I learn Japanese by watching anime? ›

The good news is, it's possible! You can absolutely use anime to boost your Japanese studies, to a degree. While it'd be unwise and difficult to attempt to learn Japanese entirely from anime, there's no reason you can't leverage a love of anime to help you learn Japanese if you're smart about it.

Should I learn German or Japanese first? ›

Another factor is which languages you know already. If you know English and Spanish, for example, German might be a great choice because these two languages will make it a lot easier to learn German. If you happen to know a Japonic language already, Japanese will be easier, of course.

What is the easiest language to learn? ›

15 of the easiest languages to learn for English speakers - ranked
  • Frisian. Frisian is thought to be one of the languages most closely related to English, and therefore also the easiest for English-speakers to pick up. ...
  • Dutch. ...
  • Norwegian. ...
  • Spanish. ...
  • Portuguese. ...
  • Italian. ...
  • French. ...
  • Swedish.
24 Oct 2021

Is Duolingo good for Japanese? ›

Duolingo is an excellent free resource for learning languages, especially if you consider yourself a beginner who is looking to immerse yourself quickly in Japanese. The keyword here is 'free'.


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