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The best apps for learning Japanese

Regardless of whether you are saving up for a trip to Japan and are therefore very busy, or simply want to make the most of your time here in Japan - Japanese learning apps are very useful.

If you want to learn a new language, the question always arises how and where to start. Textbooks are no longer the only means available these days and it is advisable to try a mixture of several learning methods anyway. One of our favorite learning methods is using apps to learn Japanese. There is a wide variety of tools available to help you learn from kana and kanji to conversation, grammar and vocabulary. But trying out every app to find out which ones are actually good and make your learning process easier can take a while and is tedious. That's why we did it for you, combed through all the apps for learning Japanese and included a list our favorites compiled.

Hiragana Quest

If you are still a beginner, you will first learn Hiragana and Katakana. The first app in our favorites list will be of great help to you. Hiragana Quest uses mnemonics, i.e. donkey bridges, so that you can memorize the characters of both syllable alphabets better in the long term. However, we may be a bit partial because the app was developed by one of our former students! Our mascots Hirako and Katako support you with a story about every single character and the opportunity to practice the spelling.

You can download the app here or in the iOS and Android apps stores.


The second app on our list is Jsho, because a list of apps for learning Japanese without a dictionary app would be incomplete. Jsho gives you the opportunity to look up words in both English and Japanese, with many input options: In Japanese you can either write in Hiragana, Kanji or Romaji - ideal if you only know the pronunciation or only the Kanji of a word. With the latter, you can enter the Kanji with the help of a selection of radicals, which can take a little time, but is very practical.

There is also a filter for nouns, verbs, etc. and when you click on a word, the composition of the individual kanji is displayed, including JLPT level, on’yomi, kun’yomi and even the stroke order. In addition, you can add vocabulary to a favorites list as you wish and learn the ones you come across most often. Last but not least, the app also includes all the conjugations of a word, including the politeness, past and negation forms, which can be a real lifesaver, especially when preparing for the JLPT test.

The app is available for Android and also fully functional offline without taking up a lot of storage space.

Kanji Study

This is our favorite Kanji learning app. The free version includes simpler Kanji as well as Hiragana, Katakana and exercises on radicals. The higher levels are definitely worth it thanks to the extensive functions. You can either sort by JLPT level, Japanese school years, frequent media coverage, or many other aspects. You can create your own sets and learn between Index cards, Choose quizzes, and writing tasks, and all of them will track your activity and show your daily progress. Each character has a separate page where you can find stroke order, meanings, readings (including audio), recommended words, and a range of example sentences. This may seem like a lot to you, but there's more: You can also see the stroke order of the kanji, including common mistakes AND a list of other kanji with which it is often confused. In principle, this is user data that was collected during the quizzes in order to identify frequent errors and prevent them accordingly.

With such a wide range of features, the app is definitely worth its low price. It also receives regular updates to stay in line with government standards and JLPT changes. And just like Jsho, it can also be used offline.


Learning a language is all well and good, but what good does it all for you if you are not actively involved in it apply? We know that this is exactly why you are coming to Japan, but if you want to practice a little before you arrive, HelloTalk is just the thing for you. With this app you have the possibility to get in contact with Japanese native speakers and to apply and improve your language skills. You can either chat privately with other people or ask questions publicly, for example to check a certain sentence. Others can then correct any mistakes and explain what you did wrong. You can also practice conversation and make international friends with people from all over the world. The app also has built-in dictionaries and translation tools in case you get fed up.

Tae Kim

Last but not least, we have Tae Kim's guide to learning Japanese. This includes everything you need to know about Grammar rules the Japanese language. The large size can seem daunting, but it really is an excellent reference book for things like the amount of counting words or the many different levels of politeness. Everything is explained from the point of view of a native speaker and you will find that after explaining a grammar rule, he often says that these are hardly used by the Japanese themselves and then shows you a more everyday alternative, which, however, is not necessarily grammatically correct.

At the moment the guide is only available for iOS, but there is also a website and book to immerse yourself in Japanese grammar.

Now that you know the best apps for learning Japanese, take the next step and live and learn in Japan! Do not hesitate to contact us for all information about language schools and language trips.

And if you want to read more articles about the Japanese language, follow our blog and find out everything there is to know about Japan!

This article is a translation from the English [original].