How to Learn Japanese In Tokyo

Whether you’re going to Japan for travel, work, or to stay long term, being able to speak Japanese is extremely helpful when in Tokyo. It opens up opportunities that would go unnoticed by those who can not speak the language, and these opportunities can help enrich your experience in one of the most incredible cities in the world. Here is a list of the best ways to learn/improve your Japanese while in Tokyo:

  • Volunteering
  • Joining a Clubs / Social Hobbies
  • Visiting an Izakaya
  • Seeing a movie in Japanese without subtitles
  • Taking Classes at Coto Japanese Academy 🙂

1. Volunteering

Volunteering is a great way to immerse yourself in Japanese culture while supporting great causes. There are a wide range of programs you can volunteer at in Tokyo. Here are some examples on how to learn Japanese while making a difference:

  1. Hands On Tokyo:

    Hands On Tokyo collaborates with many local organizations to encourage senior citizens, revitalize playgrounds, deliver food to the hungry, support people with visual impairment, inspire children in children’s homes, and more. Signing up on their website is quick and easy. (NOTE: this organization will be able to communicate in English if you have trouble understanding aspects of the program in Japanese).

  2. Mirai no Mori:

    Mirai no Mori is not-for-profit organization that creates life-changing outdoor programs for abused, neglected, and orphaned youths in Japan. Some programs of their include Back to Nature, in which the children learn more about nature while enjoying the great outdoors through fun hands-on projects, and Real Life English, where the campers are “inspired to broaden their perspectives, experience new cultures, and learn English in a relaxed and fun way as they engage with the international staff and take part in creative English-based camp activities, songs, and traditions”.

  3. Second Harvest:

    Second Harvest
    Founded in 2002, Second Harvest is Japan’s first food bank, who’s main goal is to increase food security in Japan through the promotion of food banking and food pantry systems. Their programs include the Harvest Kitchen (gives out meals at Ueno Park every Saturday), the Harvest Pantry (provides emergency groceries to households in need of assistance), Food Banking (receives food donations from manufacturers, importers, retailers, and farmers for distribution to welfare agencies, nonprofits and faith-based groups that provide social services to those in need), and their Advocacy and Development program (Promotes food banking in the region). This is a great program and a great cause to help support Second Harvest’s slogan, “Food for All People”.

Additional programs: Tokyo Nihongo Volunteer Network, Shine On! Kids, Room to Read

2. Join a Club / Sport / Meetup / Find a social Hobby in Tokyo

Finding a hobby in Tokyo such sports, video games, watching sports, and many other activities is a great way to practice your Japanese in a comfortable and fun environment.
Japanese people love to hang out in groups and making friends with Japanese can be a softer experience if it is part of a group.  You will often find that Japanese people who join mixed language groups are excited to help other people practice their Japanese and to help them learn.
Tokyo is a great city for shared interest meetups and there are many websites that publish events and meetup listings.  Recently – Wework – the shared office space company acquired and because of their increased presence in Tokyo they are helping to curate and encourage the growth of new local meetups.
Here is a list of some gatherings and hobbies you can find on Meetup in Tokyo:


Basketball, Japanese and English language exchange, Zumba in ShibuyaTokyo Music Meetup- sampling and beat making

Another site that you can visit to find meetups in Tokyo is Urban Meetup Tokyo

3. Visit an Izakaya

An Izakaya is a type of Japanese bar where people meet up to enjoy drinks and snacks after work or events. They differ from a traditional bar or pub because at an Izakaya, you have multiple options to decide where you want to drink, whether it be at a table, a bar, standing, or even on tatami mats. Because food and drinks are ordered at a slow pace throughout the night, you can study the menu and have multiple chances to order in Japanese. Going to an Izakaya is a great way to improve your Japanese while you have some drinks with friends!

4. Go See a Movie at a Japanese theater

Focus is a big problem in language learning – media is so readily available and its so easy to get distracted while attempting listening practice. Viewing a film in a theater is a rare experience where other forms of media and technology are forbidden and you are forced to listen to and watch only Japanese. Watching movies also helps you keep in touch with Japanese pop culture and learn new slang! You can see a list of movie theaters published by trip advisor here – best movie theaters in Tokyo You can also reserve tickets online with a credit card from the toho cinemas website – bonus points if you can reserve tickets in Japanese.

5. Take classes at Coto Japanese Academy

What better way to learn Japanese in Tokyo than to take classes at a friendly and relaxed school that focuses on encouraging natural speech.  At Coto we pride ourselves on our ability to understand the specific needs of individual students and we recognize that a one-size-fits-all approach to Japanese learning is far from the solution that most students need.  Each person is different and that means each person will learn differently.
We offer Intensive Japanese courses that focus on everything from practical speech skills for everyday life to Business Intensives that cover workplace communication.
If you are looking for a fun, relaxed study environment with Friendly Teachers and Staff – Coto is a great fit!  Interested in our Japanese classes?  Learn more by clicking the link below

Our new Shibuya school opens in August!

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