I began learning Japanese 1 year ago. The first thing I did was to begin looking for software and websites to help me. I readily came across software like Rosetta Stone and websites like Japanese101.

  • Is there any other useful websites or software?
  • What would you recommend?
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    Sorry, I'm sounding like a broken record but this is off-topic. Please see here for examples of on and off topic questions: area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/…
    – Ali
    Commented May 31, 2011 at 19:29
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    Hello ali, i know you have founded this site, thank you :) This is IMHO very related to the site because as a new learner you stumble across this software and sites. So i think it's pretty relevant
    – Herr
    Commented May 31, 2011 at 19:30
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    This is arguably in the category of “What’s your favorite ______?” which is listed specifically in the FAQ as "something not to ask here". If you're curious why this is the case, a glance at the japanesepod101's forums should answer that. :)
    – jkerian
    Commented May 31, 2011 at 19:31
  • @Herr I'm sure you will find the answers useful but there are other places on the internet you will find answers to that question very easily. The purpose of the site is to ask and answer expert questions about the Japanese language itself, not to share opinions about language learning tools. For that reason it could be that it's focused more towards intermediate/advanced learners, which would be a good thing. There are lots of existing resources for beginners on the internet, not so many for people who are a few years in.
    – Ali
    Commented May 31, 2011 at 19:35
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    You will see gentleman, this question will be reopened and will pop up, agaiiin and againnn
    – Herr
    Commented May 31, 2011 at 22:51
  • @Herr Kaleun, likely, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be closed each time. When the community gets large enough, that will be auto-enforcing.
    – makdad
    Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 3:20
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    @makdad i believe that this is a question, that will pop up again and again. Something entitled for a sticky post IMHO, if there would be any.
    – Herr
    Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 8:21

7 Answers 7


One of my favorite tools is Rikai. Put the URL of any Japanese site in the box and click GO!, and it will load the page in a way that it's still in Japanese, but you can mouseover almost any kanji or katakana words, and it will bring up a popup showing you the reading and/or translation of it.

It's very useful for reading Japanese sites but being able to get help quickly on kanji that you don't know yet.


Just for some supplementary exposure, if you use Twitter, I have found politicians can be great to follow because they don't use net-speak. Also, since they tend to have issues that are important to them you don't just get random thoughts. Kind of like reading a newspaper, you may watch a particular topic develop as time goes by. All in 140 characters or less (actually this often feels like a lot in Japanese).

Here's a list of parties. If they tweet, their Twitter page might be listed on the representative's directory page, or their actual homepage.

But as with anything political, people's opinions may be highly-offensive, so beware.

  • +1 very creative point! :)
    – Herr
    Commented Dec 26, 2011 at 14:55

Honestly, software companies can advertise how amazing they will make you, but in the end they are all a terrible substitution for exposure to natural language usage. Read through this series at least twice. Lots of good example sentences. Then find reading material. Anything on a subject that interests you; if it's too hard, lookup the grammar/vocab or ask about it here. This is the best way to increase your reading skill and vocab. Movies, such as on youtube.co.jp or Niko niko douga are also great. The hard part is often finding stuff with high quality audio. If you'd like a regular dose of vocab review, use anki. Software will never do the trick until proper use of cognitive agents is possible. Until then, it's stilted interaction at best, crippling at worst.


I use iknow.jp (Used to Be Smart.fm). It is sadly no longer free though the prices are reasonable.

Another great (and free) website is http://www.livemocha.com.


http://japanese.lingualift.com/ is a great online Japanese textbook and learning community with educational games, SRS quizzes, interactive exercises, etc.

Another must-visit resource is http://lang-8.com/ - It's a site where you can submit texts you have written in Japanese or any other language and they'll be corrected and commented on by native speakers. This is very helpful and I suggest you to write as much as you can.


Now that this question has been moved to its proper location (on meta and not on the main site), may I pitch in my own (biased) suggestion:


Unlike some of the (similar) tools mentioned above, KB has been designed from the beginning for Japanese study (mainly kanji, but also other parts such as vocab) and is pretty damn smart at it.

Judging from the feedbacks over the year, it's been quite helpful to many people.

(and in case this wasn't clear: I am the author of this website and attached app)

  • Thank you for your comment and answer
    – Herr
    Commented Feb 25, 2012 at 11:23


japanesepod101.com is ok for beginners but can be annoying.

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