February Favorites: 2022 Japanese Learning Resources Coto Recommends

Every month, we’ll publish our staff’s favorite Japanese learning resources. This February, we’re introducing a mix of podcasts, YouTubers and online tools. Learning Japanese is hard work. It takes commitment and possibly a few burnouts in between. Hopefully, these resources can make your study less boring — and more enjoyable but just as effective. We’ve compiled 12 this month, but if you have any recommendations, send us a message on Instagram.

Looking to learn Japanese with a professional native teacher? Coto Academy offers Japanese group courses for full language immersion — online or in-person (We have Japanese language schools in Tokyo and Yokohama). Head to our course page for more information. 

Jump to Japanese learning resources on:

Japanese Learning Blogs and Websites

Marugoto+ Japanese Learning

Magugoto+ Japanese Learning is where users can learn about the Japanese language and culture. The main website branches to other leveled homepage: Starter, Elementary, and Marugoto no Kotoba.  The contents are adapted from the Marugoto: Japanese Language and Culture book.  Here, you can learn about simple everyday communication, basic expression and improve your grammar, writing, kanji and pronunciation. For each topic (like topics on food, Japan or myself), you’ll encounter a “Can-do” review, a “Practice” section and a “Challenge” section. 

Depending on your Japanese level, you can set the website language to simplified Japanese, English and even Spanish. 

Link: marugotoweb.jp/en

Watanoshii 

Seasoned Japanese learners often use their news reading and listening comprehension as an indicator of their language skills. It’s because these articles and reports are often filled with advanced vocabularies and keigo. If you’re around basic to intermediate level but want to start practicing your reading skills, WaTanoshii (also stylized as WatanoC) is a great start. It’s a free web magazine, where articles are written in simple Japanese.

The Japanese vocabularies used in the articles match N4 and N5 levels, and each article section has JLPT indicators. The website covers a wide variety of topics, including information on daily tasks, part-time jobs, travel guides and living tips. Translations are available in English, Chinese and Vietnamese.

Link: watanoc.com

Jamaipanese

Life in Japan, gaming and learning Japanese are the center of this blog’s content. It’s run by Kirk, who’s living in rural Japan since 2006. Fast forward to the present day, and he’s been blogging for 15 years. Jamaipanese is a mix of two words: Jamaican and Japanese — hence, Jamaipanese. His writing bounces between his Japanese learning journey, living in rural Japan and his hobbies: figurines, photography, traveling and anime.

In short, he writes what he loves, and we love it too; it’s honest and insightful. His log on failing JLPT N4 is a prime example Between his failure and success in studying the Japanese language, like passing the JLPT N5 after the second try, you know his learning recommendations are genuine (“7 tools I used to pass the JLPT N5”). Although most of his recent blog posts circle around gaming, you’ll still find a few helpful study tips for beginner Japanese learners — and living guides in Japan, too. 

Link: jamaipanese.com

How to Japanese 

How to Japanese is a website with articles about the Japanese language, mainly about how to use phrases and words, but you can see a mix of personalized content, too. The thread that ties all of the content into one bundle? All of them focus on how to “get used” to Japanese.  It is written by Daniel Morales, who’s also a fan of popular Japanese writer Haruki Murakami (he has a dedicated page and tag for Murakami’s book review). Aside from blog articles, he also has podcasts available on Apple, Google and Spotify. He talks about many different topics and the content here is suitable for everyone, no matter their Japanese language level. 

Link: howtojapanese.com

Connect and Enhance Your Life in Japanese

Supported by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, this website is targeted at foreign nationals who lack access to Japanese classes. This could either be those who live in rural Japan (and therefore have limited options for Japanese language schools) or those who can’t enter Japan yet. The website launched in June 2020 to “enable remote learning of Japanese that is rooted in real-life situations.” In fact, the website tries its best to make sure all foreign-language speakers can start learning Japanese smoothly by providing multiple languages: English, Chinese, Spanish, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Filipino, Korean and seven others. 

The website is divided into three levels: Level 1, for most basic expressions and phrases, Level 2, for lessons to help make your life more convenient, and Level 3, which is comprised of more specific or less-common situations. The structure of the website is simple: a video is uploaded as the main content for each situation, complete with subtitles. A script is provided, and you can learn and memorize new phrases while learning words and information associated with it. 

One strong note, though: this website is for first-time learners, so you’ll only find basic Japanese phrases and terms in everyday situations in Japan. 

Link: tsunagarujp.bunka.go.jp

Hirogaru, Get More of Japan and Japanese

Hirogaru breaks down different things about Japan and the Japanese language through 12 different topics: the sky, anime, outdoor, Japanese temples, calligraphy, books and more.  Each topic contains related video content with subtitles option,  engaging articles to expose yourself to new words and expressions and a section called “Topics and Watashi.”

For the last part, you’ll see Japanese people expressing their opinions on said topic;  a video transcript and its English translation are available. Lastly, you can write your comments and answer their questions (like, “Do you like outdoor activities). There’s a catch, though — you can only type the comment in Japanese. It’s a great way to connect with people around the world while practicing your listening, writing and reading skill. 

Link: hirogaru-nihongo.jp/en

Tangorin

Tangorin is a web-based Japanese-English glossary with over 180,000 entries. You can search using any combination and conjugation of Japanese, English, romaji or kana. For example, you can search for tabeteiru (~て form), and you’ll find results for taberu. If you use quotation marks (“go down”), the website will automatically search only for the exact phrase instead of transcribing it to Japanese.

Link: tangorin.com

Japanese YouTube Channels and Podcasts

If you enjoy learning Japanese by watching YouTube videos, check out our top 50 favorite YouTube channels

Learn Japanese With Masa Sensei

If you are an auditory learner, this podcast is for you. Learn Japanese with Masa Sensei is a podcast suitable for complete beginners to learn about Japanese Grammar. This is helpful for those who wish to form their own sentences and have daily conversations in Japanese. Each episode is usually around 6 to 8 minutes long, making it really easy to keep up with your Japanese lessons every day. 

Listen to her Spotify here 

Nihongo No Mori

Nihongo No Mori (日本語の森) is a youtube channel that focuses on JLPT grammar and Japanese culture. One of their most popular series is learning with songs, which is a new and engaging way of learning the Japanese language. They have something to offer to everyone with their various Japanese levels, content and video durations. Their channel is very organized with multiple playlists, making it convenient to find what you need. This is suitable for people who are tired of reading from textbooks and want a new approach to learning. 

Visit her YouTube channel

Japanese Everyday

The channel is relatively new — it uploaded its first video on July 2021, but we recommend it for Japanese beginners. If you only have five minutes to spare, Japanese Everyday has short, cut-to-the-chase videos on N5 to N4-level grammar and Japanese phrases.

The true unique point, however, is the channel’s ASMR-like Japanese learning series called “Learn Japanese in Your Sleep.” Based on the studies that show that binaural beats, which is when you listen to two sounds at different frequencies, help people concentrate and remember better. Most videos span 8 hours long, filled with white or calming background noise and phrase repetitions to encourage long-term memory. 

Visit her YouTube channel

japanese learning resources coto academy

Japanese Learning Apps and Extensions

Want more recommendations on the best apps to learn Japanese? Check out our 20 Best Apps for Learning Japanese.

Earworms: Language Learning

Ever heard of a jingle once and can’t get it off your head (like the Don Quijote’s theme song)? Turns out, it’s easier for our brain to pick something up when it’s catchy (albeit annoying). Earworms take this principle and apply it to their memorization technique; making music the main vehicle (sound patterns and melodies), you’ll hear rhythmic repetitions of Japanese expressions. Each course comes transcript, plus the phonetic sounds of the word. 

For the Japanese language, there are two levels available. Each level has 10 audio tracks (around 70 minutes of audio). It’s a great option for students looking to perfect accent and intonation while learning new words. 

Available on App Store and Google Play

Language Reactor

This isn’t technically a ‘resource’, but Language Reactor is a great, powerful tool for Japanese students who want to try out immersion learning. It’s a Chrome extension that allows you to learn and soak new vocabulary while watching your favorite movies and TV series.  It’s available for Netflix too, which is a blessing because most Japanese movies and anime seldom provide English subtitles. You can easily add dual language subtitles to the video, and click on it to access a pop-up dictionary without exiting the film. 

It also works on other media platforms like YouTube. The text-to-speech function lets you translate books and websites. If you’re more of a literature person, there’s the import text feature, where the extension will add a machine translation and read the text in an accurate pronunciation. 

Download the extension here

Besides Language Reactor, we also recommend the Migaku browser extension. Head to our Migaku browser guide to learn how to get started.

Learning Resources Related FAQs

What blogs can you learn Japanese?

Coto Japanese Academy recommends a few Japanese blogs that include Marugoto, Watanoshii, etc. The reasons why those blogs are recommended are listed above.

What self-study does Coto offer?

Coto offers self-study Japanese courses that only cost students less than 900 yen per month, and students can access a variety of Japanese studying material. It includes video, cheatsheet, etc.

What are some good Japanese learning apps?

Coto recommended more of the best apps to learn Japanese. You can check out our 20 Best Apps for Learning Japanese

Not sure about your Japanese level? Take our free Japanese language assessment test

Get in touch with us and find out how we can help you achieve your Japanese language target. If you’re unsure where you are, we provide a free Japanese level check. You can also contact us at [email protected] for any questions about course options and details.

Coto Japanese Academy is a unique Japanese Language School in Iidabashi Tokyo. We offer relaxed and fun conversational lessons for all levels of Japanese learners. If you are interested in our courses, please visit our contact page.


Would you like to study Japanese in Japan?


Realize your dream of moving to Japan and becoming fluent in Japanese.

Move to Japan