Japanese Learning Resources We Love: February 2023

Are you looking for new Japanese learning resources for your study plan this month? It seems like yesterday we’re asking you what are your Japanese learning target for 2023. How are your New Year’s resolutions holding up? 

Either way, it’s never too late to discover new Japanese learning resources to boost your Japanese study. In this edition, the Coto team has been loving a lot of Japan-based Tiktok creators. Take a look below at our favorite learning resources for the month! 

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Todai Easy

Todai Easy is a powerful tool to practice Japanese reading comprehension and a get starting point to get exposure to real Japanese. It’s been featured in one of our articles on an easy Japanese reading tool for beginners and is very similar to NHK Web Easy. But what is it, exactly?

Todai Easy collects Japanese news articles, covering a number of different topics, and provides furigana and English translations of the texts to maximize what you’re reading. When you click on an article, you’re taken into the full text. There’s an audio recording of the article, but the article feature is where you want to take full advantage of it (as the audio is usually AI-generated). 

todai easy japanese

You’ll notice right away that the title and body of the article are full of underlined words in different colors that correspond to the JLPT level. If can click on a word, a small window will pop up on the site to show a breakdown of the kanji, meaning, and example sentences. Beyond these words, you can also highlight phrases and sentences in the text, and an auto-generated translation will appear, too. 

While the articles are Todai Easy’s main feature, you can explore its dictionary and JLPT test section. The dictionary comes with a unique image search function. Searching for 鉛筆 (enpitsu) will give you a picture of a pencil, but this option is very limited to tangible, physical objects. 

Todai Easy is a free website, but we recommend downloading the app to enjoy its full features. You can also upgrade to a paid version to enjoy an ad-free experience and the ability to read the news, use the dictionary and take the JLPT tests offline. 

Target level: Intermediate to advanced learner
Website here or download on Google Play or App Store

Check out our previous edition: Fall 2022 Learning Resources

Bunpo Japanese Learning App

bunpo japanese app

We usually think that flashcards are exclusive to learning Japanese vocabulary, but Bunpo grammar learning app uses a minimalistic, flashcard-like design. 

Each lesson starts with a skippable explanation of the topic, followed by exercises that give you multiple-choice questions or let you put words in the correct order. The lessons will be marked ‘complete’ when you master all the tasks. 

If you’re a beginner, you would get by with the free version. There are JLPT sections and 18 sections dedicated to hiragana, katakana, basic phrases and vocabularies called “Alphabets and Basic Words”. Don’t worry if you haven’t fully mastered the Japanese writing system, as all Japanese characters and expressions are equipped with romaji by default.

Bunpo is very well-structured and concise, which is a good fit if you’re a Japanese learner who prefers no-frills lessons. We view Bunpo as similar to Duolingo. The only difference is that Duolingo takes a gamification approach to Japanese language learning. It’s jam-packed with fun and playful design and cute mascots. If having too many visuals an over-sensory problem for you, you might want to try Bunpo. Ultimately, it’s a matter of preference!

Target level: Beginner to the intermediate learner
Download on App Store or Google Play

Kotonoha Study

You can think of Kotonoha as a trilingual blog: Japanese, English and German. It was founded by a group of international friends: Rika, Rin, Fiona and Ronja — all of whom are connected to their love of Japan. Articles at Kotonoha Study contain audio or video, accompanied by photos and matching texts for full immersion. The site has a huge list of article libraries ranging from hiragana and culture to origami. When you click on an article, the first thing you see will be the Japanese text. There is a separate tab on the same window for the translated English and German texts. 

A strong point in Kotonoha Study is that it enforces you to really work through the text to understand it. You will have to switch from one tab to the next for translations, so it’s a great method to internalize the new words you remember. We would recommend this site for intermediate to advanced learners, as the vocabulary is more advanced and doesn’t come with furigana. 

Target level: Intermediate to advanced learner
Website here,

Hajimete JLPT Tango Series

The JLPT Tango series is an effective structured study material, whether you’re actually studying for the test or using it as an additional resource. We’ve mentioned this book in our JLPT N4 success story. Part of the reason why this book is great is that it has themed chapters and sections, making memorization easier. Example sentences also use vocabularies that are already introduced, which further allows you to learn intuitively. These sentences also progressively use grammar concepts, which means you can learn grammar rules without actually memorizing them directly. 

You can find the audio downloads for each book (there are 5 in total) for free. The physical book is small, packed with just the essential vocabulary. You can easily slip it in your purse or bag, and take it out during your train commute. In conclusion, we see the JLPT Tango series as the default recommendation for those inclined to self-study.

Get it here

@takanihongodojo I can fly😎👍 Can you? mae 前 Front ushiro 後ろ Back zengo 前後 Front and back hidari 左 Left migi 右 Right sayū 左右 Left and right ue 上 Up shita 下 Down jōge 上下 Up and down #japanese #japanesewords #kanji #learnjapanese #studyjapanese ♬ オリジナル楽曲 – Taka Nihongo Dojo

Taka Nihongo Dojo

Taka Nihongo Dojo uses the basic concept of kinesthetic learning: he utilizes physical activity to learn — or in this case teach — Japanese. His learning content mostly covers basic Japanese phrases and words (like adjectives). The typical TikTok sketch follows a stern-faced Taka-san, who would do funny activities that represents a Japanese word he’s teaching. For example, in one of his videos, he keeps panning back and forth to teach mae (前) and ushiro (後ろ). 

Overall, his TikTok videos are great to keep you motivated, mostly because of its entertaining element. It surely doesn’t cover a comprehensive list of Japanese lessons, but you can follow him to incorporate some Japanese learning when you’re just mindlessly scrolling through the app. 

Target level: Beginner

Follow him on TikTok 

A Ringo a Day 

A Ringo a Day is created by Ottavia Baldi, a freelance illustrator from Italy. Although they mentioned that A Ringo a Day is a simple pet project to showcase their passion for learning Japanese, they’ve garnered a few thousand followers on Instagram and posted a lot of cute, mesmeric illustrations filled with Japanese words regularly. The word ringo (りんご) means apple in Japanese, which is their way of expressing learning Japanese regularly in small amounts. They’ve been building this visual dictionary for the past 2 years so that they could help anyone learn a new Japanese word every day. The simple illustrations are usually made built basic shapes, which is their distinctive artistic style. All of the Japanese is written in furigana, with the English word and romaji written underneath. 

Through simple illustrations, the account teaches you Japanese vocabulary ranging from job professions, object names, people’s names and many more. Unfortunately, it seems like they’ve stopped posting new visual flashcards since 2018, but you can still follow the illustrator on their real Instagram account @bisc_otti. 

Target level: Beginner 
Follow @aringoaday on Instagram!

Cobato Japanese

There are not a lot of grammar-focused Japanese learning Instagram accounts, but Cobato Japanese is one of them. The Japanese learning content focuses on grammar and sentence building rather than infographics. They post new Japanese grammar points every week. Each post consists of a JLPT label to indicate the level, the grammar of the week, and a short explanation of it. Keep in mind that they mostly cover JLPT N3 to N1 grammar points. It’s a great additional account to help with occasional reviews. 

Target level: Intermediate to advanced (N3 to N2)

Conclusion

That’s all for this month’s Japanese learning resources! We always recommend that you use a mix of apps, websites and textbooks to supplement your Japanese studies instead of putting your eggs in one basket. There are tons of great resources on the internet that are free, but it’s good to keep in mind that what works for other people might not work for you!

Ultimately, the best way to learn Japanese is through immersion and actual interactions with a Japanese native. Coto Japan Academy has helped thousands of students achieve their dream of conversing in Japanese. Our courses range from basic conversation for everyday use to business Japanese. We teach more than just proper Japanese and include casual conversation skills enabling our students to improve their lives in Japan.

If you’re interested in flexible, part-time courses, Coto Academy will find a course that suits your level, Japanese language goals and availability so you don’t have to worry!

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