Best Apps to Learn Japanese in 2022 – Teacher’s Choice

What a great time to be learning Japanese! As long as you’re connected to the internet, you have plenty of platforms to learn Japanese – podcasts, Youtube channels, music, and many more. Above all, a language learning app is a wonderful tool for getting acquainted with Japanese.

But you might be thinking, which one should you start with? In this blog, we polled Coto’s teachers for suggestions of the best apps to learn Japanese in 2021. Let’s dive straight in.

Coto Academy
Learn Japanese JLPT by Coto

  • Learn Japanese JLPT by Coto
    Developed by: Coto World Inc.
    Price: Free
    Best for: Absolute beginners or intermediate Japanese learners. Highly recommended for those preparing for the upcoming JLPT N3, N4, N5 tests. Flashcard contents include JLPT grammar/vocabulary/reading quizzes, Katakana and Hiragana quizzes. Detailed analysis after quiz completion.

    JLPT flashcards include relevant questions provided by the official board of JLPT that appeared on previous editions of the test.

    Quiz completion comes with detailed analysis – helping you spot your weakness and improve further.

    Quiz completions show a detailed analysis of each question and its correct answer, allowing you to review your sticking points. Get your app from Learn Japanese JLPT by Coto

  • Mondly
    Developed by: ATi Studios
    Price: Free・Premium plan $9.99/month or $47.99/year
    Best for: Beginners just getting started. Mondly covers over 40 languages. Daily Japanese lesson, chatbot conversations, audio guides, and tests. It also features speech recognition and virtual reality experience.

    Are you looking for a Japanese learning app catered for non-English speakers? Mondly is what you’re looking for – what’s unique about Mondly is that you can learn Japanese from any language.

    If your first language is not English, looking for complimentary lessons with a focus on vocabulary building, Mondly is for you.

  • Lingodeer
    Developed by: LingoDeer Co, Ltd.
    Price: $11.99/month $55.99/year
    Best for: Beginners or intermidiate Japanese learners. Lingodeer offers flashcard content for vocabulary and grammar. Reading lessons come with audio clips that help with correcting pronunciations. The Learning Tips feature explains Japanese grammar nuances in different contexts.

    Lingodeer has a great reputation as a Japanese learning app in the market. Japanese is one of the first languages Lingodeer focused on developing. With the contextual learning style, users can learn practical vocabulary and grammars used in everyday life.

    If you’re a beginner or intermediate learner expecting a contextual lesson with a variety of exercises, LingoDeer is for you.

  • Duolingo
    Developed by: Duolingo
    Pricing: Free
    Best for: Fun gamified learning, beginner to intermediate Japanese learners. Duolingo focuses on Japanese vocabulary, Hiragana, and Kanji. It does not offer grammar lessons. Gamified lesson contents take less than 5 minutes a day.

    Alongside Mondly, Duolingo offers Japanese lessons from multiple languages. Duolingo keeps you motivated by offering bite-size lessons and interactive methods of learning.

    If you’re busy, looking for short minutes of study, and get easily, Duolingo is for you.

  • Yomiwa
    Developed by: Nomad AI OU
    Price: Free
    Best for: Japanese translation and dictionary. Particularly useful for learning Kanji. Yomiwa is a handy app for those who want to strengthen their Japanese reading ability. Includes multilingual feature where users can translate Japanese into multiple languages.

    Simply take a picture of the Kanji in question and Yomiwa will automatically translate the letter into the language of your setting. In addition to understanding the meaning and pronunciation, Yomiwa lets you learn the nuances of the term. You can even draw the term in question using your finger on the screen.

    If you’re a curious Japanese learner who wants a handy book to learn interesting Japanese terms, Yomiwa is for you.


  • FluentU
    Developed by: Enux Education Limited
    Price: Starting at $20/month
    Best for: Intermidiate or advanced Japanese learners. FluentU offers fun Japanese learning through real-life Japanese videos. Media includes Japanese music videos, commercials, movie trailers, news, etc.

    All of the videos are beginner-friendly, they include subtitles in Japanese with an English translation. If you need help understanding a Japanese vocabulary, you can simply do so by clicking definitions and examples.

    If you thrive as an audiovisual learner and prefer contextual learning styles, FluentU is for you.

  • Pimsleur
    Developed by: Paul Pimsleur
    Price: $150 per level (16 hours each)
    Best for: Beginners who want to learn practical Japanese vocabulary and grammar lessons for everyday use. The app is developed by a qualified linguist and educator with knowledge in language learning.

    What’s great about Pimsleur is that they offer reading lessons on Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. The course starts with learning basic Japanese phrases, vocabulary, and grammar lessons.

    If you don’t have a particular budget and want to strengthen your listening and speaking skills, Pimsleur is for you.

  • Busuu
    Developed by: Busuu Limited
    Price: Free・Premium plan starts at $12/month
    Best for: Japanese speaking practice and learning practical Japanese. The lessons progress from beginner level to advanced levels. Includes Conversations feature where you can speak to native Japanese speakers. The app also focuses on how to read and write Hiragana and Katakana, vocabulary, and grammar.

    Busuu is a user-friendly app where lessons are structured and personalized into custom study plans. Users can personalize when to study Japanese on the app and for how long. The app will keep you on track during your busy schedule.

    If you’re looking for systematic, structured, and efficient Japanese lessons, with a focus on speaking, Busuu is for you.
Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese

  • Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese
    Developed by: Adam Critchley
    Price: Free
    Best for: Japanese grammar guide, beginners, or more advanced level Japanese learners. The guide is parted into different lessons that introduce you to new grammar, structures, and vocabulary.

    Absolute beginners can start by learning a basic understanding of Japanese writing structure. Then move on to learning essential grammar involving verb and adjective conjugation. More advanced learners can look into topics that cover native Japanese expressions.

    If you’re looking for a handy guide to learn, review or strengthen your grammar and vocabulary, Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese is for you.

  • Renshuu
    Developed by: Michael Hominick
    Price: Free
    Best for: Gamified learning, in-depth explanations on vocabulary, grammar, and Kanji. Users can test their learning progress by taking personalized quizzes. Renshuu offers customizable flashcards.

    You can submit your own Japanese sentences and receive feedback from your fellow Japanese learners.

    If you’re motivated by gamified learning and cute rewards, Renshuu is for you.

top 20 best apps for learning japanese - dr. moku hiragana katakana
Dr. Moku
  • Learn Hiragana & Katakana with Dr. Moku
    Developed by: Byrne Bob
    Price: Free
    Best for: Visual learners. In the app, they associate all the kana with pictures, making it easy for you to remember them.

    Dr. Moku’s Hiragana and Katakana Mnemonics are 2 separate apps. One for Hiragana and one for Katakana.

    It is very efficient as it makes use of mnemonic hacks as compared to just rote memorization, which is a lot more useful when learning vast amounts of information.

    If you’re a visual learner, Dr. Moku is for you.

top 20 best apps for learning japanese - nhk easy japanese news
NHK Easy Japanese
  • NHK Easy Japanese News
    Developed by: Ghi Nguyen
    Price: Free
    Best for
    : Learning Kanji while keeping up with the news in Japan. On top of all the kanji appearing in the news articles, there would be furigana provided such that you can familiarize yourself with the various kanji.

    It also serves as a simple way to practice your Japanese reading skills every day while learning relevant information about what is going on around the world.  This app also has free audio features and the best way to use apps like these is to just set aside a small amount of time daily and focus on putting in the time.

    Over time, you will see an improvement that is bound to surprise you.

    If you want to practice Japanese everyday, NHK Easy Japanese News is for you.

top 20 best apps for learning japanese - mondo
  • Mondo
    Developed by: Polyglots
    Price: Free
    Best for
    : Finding Japanese friends, and friends that are learning the Japanese language. Read Japanese news articles on the app. You can click on a Japanese word and then have an external dictionary feed you the meaning of the word. You can also star words and add them to lists.

    There is a social aspect in a “Handshake” feature. It allows you to match with language partners within their learning app network. The maker of this app also has an English reading app in Japan that helps Japanese people learn English.  They have used this unique benefit to their advantage by providing a matching feature for users of the App.

    When you shake hands with other users, you can connect with them and see their study logs. We recommend Mondo as a great way to spend time reading on the train or learning new vocabulary.  It also could be a great way to meet new Japanese language exchange partners.

    If you want to slowly learn and meet new people, Mondo is for you.

Kanji Senpai
  • Kanji Senpai
    Developed by: rodriguezJP
    Price: Free
    Best for
    : Practicing Kanji repeatedly. Kanji Senpai uses a spaced repetition system (SRS) which means that once you learn a kanji character it doesn’t go away forever.

    The characters will come back in later courses to ensure that learned characters don’t slip away from your mind. Kanji Senpai incorporates characters that will show up on all levels of the JLPT and offers several ways to study different characters.

    Users can practice writing characters, create and download custom vocabulary lists and review vocabulary through different quizzes.

    If you want to practice and memorize Kanji, Kanji Senpai is for you.

  • Anki
    Developed by: Damien Elmes
    Price: $24.99
    Best for
    : Beginners to Advanced Japanese learners. Anki is a free SRS system available for studying flashcards both online and offline. Of course, you could just make your own flashcards from real-life pen and paper…but do you really want to? In Anki you can create your own, or you can use one of the thousands of high-quality Japanese flashcard decks already provided.

    There is no debate about SRS systems being the best tool to learn Japanese, and Anki is one of the best SRS apps out there.

    Anki does have one tiny flaw. The web version of Anki is free for all, and if you are an Android user the app is free for you. The downside is that Apple users will pay a fee to download a mobile version.

    If you want one of the best flashcard apps, Anki is for you.

top 20 best apps for learning japanese - memrise
  • Memrise
    Developed by: Ed Cooke
    Price: Free with a $8.49 Monthly Subscription for premium features
    Best for
    : Beginners or intermediate Japanese learners. Memrise has a very user-friendly interface and some seriously great technology on its backend.  There are premium features of the application that are not available to all users. However, the basic functionality and the science-backed learning assets are available to all users.

    Memrise also utilizes the SRS learning concept. It tracks how long you have studied something and how often you have given correct and incorrect answers. It then quizzes you at the moment where researchers have determined is the most optimal for you to retain the information.

    Memrise courses are created by members of the memrise community. There are some very fun and interesting community features such as a global leaderboard which ranks you against other users based on points.  Memrise also conducts paid contests where the heaviest users of the app (users with the most points) get rewarded with money.

    The only real downside to the app is that there are so many courses to choose from. Some of the less used courses also do not contain a lot of information.  There are also issues unique to Japanese such as on-yomi or kun-yomi readings not appearing simultaneously.  However, these problems are miniscule and we highly recommend memrise as a great free tool.

    If you want a flashcard app with a large community, Memrise is for you.

top 20 best apps for learning japanese - mindsnacks
  • Mindsnacks – Limited Free Version
    Developed by: MindSnacks
    Price: Free
    Best for
    : Beginners. Mindsnacks only has a limited free version unless you decide to pay for the app. However, if you like games, MindSnacks is definitely a very fun way to challenge yourself. This app drills you on basic Japanese kanji, hiragana, and Katakana.

    MindSnacks comes with 8 game modes that combine hand-eye coordination, speed drills, arrangement as well as listening comprehension, making it a fun way to learn kanji. MindSnacks is best for beginner learners as the material covered only extends itself to upper beginner topics.  It is also a good way to refresh yourself if you have learned Japanese previously but haven’t touched the language recently. 

    If you want basic, fun, gamified learning, Mindsnacks is for you.

top 20 best apps for learning japanese - bunpro
top 20 best apps for learning japanese - bunpro
Bunpro Flashcards
top 20 best apps for learning japanese - bunpro
Bunpro Flashcards
  • Bunpro
    Developed by: Bunpro SRS
    Price: Free trial for a month with $5 Monthly Subscription
    Best for
    : All Japanese Learners. Bunpro is a new online platform for Japanese grammar learning that combines the concept of SRS Flashcards.

    It has a linear leveled approach that will give you example sentences, quizzes, and lessons for each grammar point that will appear on every level of the JLPT Exam. There is also progress tracking and automatic reminders so if you fall behind in your studying you can easily catch up. The apps for both platforms are currently in beta testing, but if you would like to try it out, it is accessible on the website linked above.

    If you want dedicated grammar practice, Bunpro is for you.

top 20 best apps for learning japanese - imiwa
  • imiwa?
    Developed by: Pierre-Phi di Costanzo
    Price: Free
    Best for
    : Japanese Dictionary. A powerful dictionary that allows you to make searches in kanji, kana or romaji. Words are also accompanied by example sentences (with furigana provided) so users can see how it is used in conversations. You can also tap on a word and hear how it’s pronounced. Other features include verb conjugation charts, notebooks to keep track of your favorite words, JLTP vocabulary lists and more.

    One of its most useful features is the kanji feature. You can search for a kanji character simply by drawing the character directly on the screen. The app also provides helpful guides that allow you to look up kanji by its radicals or strokes. Once you’ve located the character you’re looking for, the app will show you how many strokes the character consists of, and let you practice writing the character as well.

    If you want a detailed Japanese dictionary, imiwa is for you.

top 20 best apps for learning japanese - waygo
  • Waygo
    Developed by: Translate Abroad
    Price: Free with in-app purchases
    Best for
    : Japanese learners looking for apps similar to Yomiwa. Waygo and Yomiwa are similar in a way such that they aren’t conventional dictionaries, but will come in handy when it comes to kanji translation.

    Both apps work similarly: Users can take a picture or select one from their photo albums and the apps will translate any kanji in the picture into English.

    Both applications work offline. Yomiwa can read horizontal and vertical text, while Waygo can translate text from Mandarin and Cantonese as well. However, Waygo’s free version allows only up to 10 translations per day.

    If you want an offline Japanese dictionary similar to Yomiwa, Waygo is for you.

top 20 best apps for learning japanese - studystack
  • Studystack
    Developed by: John Weidner
    Price: Free
    Best for
    : Gamified learning with flashcards. If simplicity is your aim, but still looking to play a few games to avoid the monotony of memorization, Study Stack is here for you. No thrills or extensive customization settings, it gets right down to business.

    Hangman is one of the featured games, and if words prove too tough to guess you can tap the strangling hangman for a hint.  There are many other games available such as the classic game “snake” — if your snake had to correlate the correct Japanese food to a word, memorize it and then eat it. At first, it had me just as confused as you are reading this description. The UI feels a little buggy (no pun intended), but it gets the job done. If these still aren’t simple or dry enough for you, there’s still a pairs matching game and a crossword you can do.

    If you want a fun flashcard app, Studystack is for you.

top 20 best apps for learning japanese - pocket colony
Pocket Colony
  • Pocket Colony
    Developed by: cocone
    Price: Free with in-app purchases
    Best for
    : Practicing Japanese with real people. Pocket Colony is a popular app in Japan where users can create their own mini “pockatar” that lives in a virtual world. Much like other applications (like LINE PLAY), you and your pockatar can complete quests together, play games, dress up and model a home for yourself. There is a large Japanese presence on this application, and if you’re up for the challenge, you can download the application in Japanese as well.

    You can chat in the message boards or travel through different worlds to meet and befriend potential language partners. English support is only available on the iOS version at this time.

    If you want to meet and converse with Japanese people online naturally, Pocket Colony is for you.

top 20 best apps for learning japanese - ameba
  • Ameba
    Developed by: CyberAgent, Inc.
    Price: Free with in-app purchases
    Best for
    : Learning Japanese with a social aspect. Ameba is a popular blogging website in Japan. Like many social networking sites, Ameba is convenient and on the go. Their application allows you to stay updated with your favorite bands, fashion icons or video games in Japanese.

    The biggest benefit of using Ameba is that you’ll be able to maintain a blog in Japanese and find native speakers who share similar interests. This can be a great way to discover new talents in Japan, make friends with native speakers, learn internet slang or record a dairy in Japanese and look back on your improvements later. What you write about and the amount of writing you do is completely up to you so feel free to explore!

    If you want to keep up with Japanese online culture while learning, Ameba is for you.

top 20 best apps for learning japanese - lext talk
Lext Talk
  • Lext Talk
    Developed by: Lext Talk
    Price: Free with in-app purchases
    Best for
    : Practicing Japanese with a digital Penpal. Lext Talk is an application that allows users to connect with people from around the world. Once your profile is complete, you can select which language you speak and which language you’d like to learn.

    A very convenient feature that Lext Talk offers is its map. Users can browse and navigate through Lext Talk’s map for language partners in their area, or find a partner in a specific region. That means things get a whole lot easier if you’re looking for someone who speaks 関西方言 (Kansai dialect). Lext Talk also provides chatrooms with various themes like “Let’s Learn English” or “Jpop Fans United”, where you can meet friends with similar interests and chat in your desired language.

    If you want to learn Japanese online from other people, Lext Talk is for you.

top 20 best apps for learning japanese - doongle
  • Doongle
    Developed by: Doongle
    Price: Free with in-app purchases
    Best for
    : Lext Talk for Android. Liked the sound of Lext Talk but you have an Android phone? Don’t worry, there’s a similar app for all you Android users too! Introducing Doongle: an app that allows its users to share voice messages, photos and more. Like other language exchange apps, you can easily browse maps to find a language partner in the same area, or in a selected region.

    This application also allows you to filter through its users’ profiles so you can easily find someone within your age group, who lives in your city or next travel destination, or even someone who shares the same interest in kabuki. Doongle also offers a group chat feature, where you can talk about English grammar or share tips on how to make a mean okonomiyaki with others.

    If you liked what was said about Lext Talk but don’t have an iPhone, Doongle is for you.

top 20 best apps for learning japanese - hello talk
Hello Talk
  • Hello Talk
    Developed by: HelloTalk Learn Languages App
    Price: Free with in-app purchases
    Best for
    : Practicing Japanese conversing and speaking directly with others. HelloTalk is a language exchange application that allows you to talk with others from around the world. You can write a brief summary about yourself in your profile, choose your native language and select the language and level that you’re currently learning. Thereafter, you’re able to search for native language partners from around the world! HelloTalk is immensely popular with many users who are eager to start a language exchange.

    The platform that you use to chat is very much like any other texting application. What sets HelloTalk apart from similar language exchange apps are some of its useful features. Native speakers can edit your messages and correct your grammar while you chat together about AKB48’s upcoming concert. Users are also able to transcribe a voice message, so you’re not always reading and writing, but can practice speech and comprehension as well.

    If you want to practice conversing and speaking directly with others, Hello Talk is for you.

top 20 best apps for learning japanese - skritter
  • Skritter
    Developed by: Inkren, Inc.
    Price: Free with in-app purchases
    Best for
    : Practicing handwriting. Skritter is a great app that combines handwriting input with flashcards – you can use it to learn both Japanese and Chinese – the Japanese version of the app is getting better every day and is well supported by a company that cares deeply about improving it.

    If you want to practice writing Japanese, Skritter is for you.

In 2021, with bilingualism on the rise, 1 in 3 people is either bilingual or multilingual. With the latest apps, make your breaks and commutes more productive!

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