Here is a list of some of the web's best resources for learning Japanese. There's no fluff here, just a list a serious stuff to support your learning.
Master Japanese by my buddy John Fotheringham is not a textbook, but an intelligent guide to learning Japanese, with a huge amount of material and resources that are linked to within. I don't even want to think about how much time and frustration I would have saved scouring the internet for good advice if I'd known about this guide when I started learning. Essential reading. (Click here to see an excerpt.)
A huge website to learn Japanese online. Read my full review here.
Formerly know as Kotoba!, this is hands down the best Japanese dictionary for your phone/tablet. Not only can it do everything, including text-to-speech, animated brush strokes for all the kanji, but you can look up words too! 🙂 The dictionary content is great, and includes a lot of contemporary slang which you wouldn't find elsewhere.
An impressive site with it's own online learning system developed. It seems to focus on building a core vocabulary in the language (also available in Chinese) and has all the key ingredients: written language, audio recordings, sample sentences, SRS. It's a paid service and you'd need to supplement it with a lot of extensive listening/reading and speaking, but it's very good for building vocab.
An interactive website feature situational dialogues in video format – great language/culture resource for beginners.
If you're into Japanese and you haven't heard of Khatzumoto, you've either had your head in the sand or a really bad internet connection. The original learn-Japanese blogger, he learnt Japanese to a professional level before even setting foot in Japan. On his site is a lot of stuff, from blog posts on learning kanji to motivational rants to expensive paid courses. I advise you to get over there right now and check it out.
Get your Japanese questions answered for free.
Find out how to use a word naturally by using this extensive resource of sample sentences.
A podcast series which features interviews with various people. They're usually around 8-12 minutes (although some are shorter). The level is high, but the topics are interesting, the recording quality is high and the guests usually speak very clearly, all of which is great for learners. If only they had transcriptions of the interviews…
The kind of site that the internet was made for. Up-to-date news, made easier for foreigners, with audio recording and accompanying text (complete with furigana, definitions and some word filtering tools). Once you've mastered the easy version, you can click on the link to view the original full-length news report in black-belt level Japanese. Amazing stuff.
I really like this series of parallel texts called Read Real Japanese. Audio recordings of contemporary writings in authentic Japanese. Each piece comes comes with the text in Japanese and English translations on the opposite page. Each chapter has it's own corresponding vocabulary list at the back of the book and all kanji come with furigana. Be warned – it's not for beginners!
Live streaming Japanese TV channels
This YouTube channel features an indulgent, trashy, rather cruel yet irresistible TV show. Each time, a model seduces a poor unsuspecting guy and they are secretly filmed as she leads him through various awkward situations – accompanied, of course, by a salacious and voyeuristic studio audience watching their every more.
Features: a lot of captioning in Japanese and full English subtitles available via the CC button.
This YouTube nutter posts a lot of stuff about a lot of things, all very Japanese and suitably quirky. They're generally short, bite-sized, manageable videos so quite good for your daily fix of Japanese. His older videos are subtitled in English (via CC).
Another nutter – very funny and a lot of bite-sized stuff to get your teeth into.
Cartoon. Easier than some other stuff and pretty cool, if you like that sort of thing. If you can't access the channel in the above link outside Japan then try searching for single videos elsewhere on YouTube. Here's one example.
Read any Japanese website with furigana above the kanji. Just past in the URL of the website you want. Magic!
A good Japanese dictionary. Search words, phrases, even kanji by radicals.
A classic add-on to the Firefox web browser. You scroll over a Japanese word and it displays its English meaning, and displays the furigana for the kanji. A must.
I really like this collection of flashcards for learning hiragana and katakana. They're beautifully produced and feel nice to the touch!
“Tangorin is a free online English ⇆ Japanese dictionary with a fast, responsive interface that helps you search through over million entries with various look up methods.”
Google Maps Street View
If you're heading to Tokyo, dive into Google Maps and take a Street View tour of a busy area like Kabukicho in Shinjuku. You'll be overwhelmed with restaurants and cafe signs and billboards. Take your pen out, copy down the Japanese, grab a dictionary/phrasebook and figure out what they mean. Do this before you leave and you'll be set when you arrive in Japan.
I really like this series of parallel texts called Read Real Japanese. Contemporary writings in authentic Japanese, with English translations on the opposite page. Each chapter has it's own corresponding vocabulary list at the back of the book, and, best of all, it comes with a CD so you get exposure to the spoken language too. Be warned – it's not for beginners!
Does what it says on the tin.
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Do you know anyone studying Japanese? Please share this resource page with them to let them know!