Which app is best to learn japanese

Learning Japanese is hard. It’s not just that the language is incredibly complex, but that there are also so many resources out there and they’re all so different.

This article will help you make sense of it all. We’ll go through the best apps for learning Japanese, as well as the best websites, books and other resources.

So let’s get started!

There’s no shortage of apps that can help you strengthen your knowledge in different aspects of the Japanese language, from grammar, to writing and proper pronunciation. If you’re looking to accelerate your Japanese speaking ability, these are 5 apps that I have found useful in my personal quest.

Take out time to surf through our catalog right here on Quyasoft for more information on 10 Great Free Apps for Studying Japanese, Which app is best to learn japanese, What is the Best Way to Learn Japanese on Your Own and so much more. You don’t want to miss this!

10 Great Free Apps for Studying Japanese

1. Learn From Day One: LingoDeer

For people who like to make studying fun.

LingoDeer will have you speaking Japanese and raising your fluency level from day one. It follows a fun building-block approach that feels more like a game. Each lesson applies grammar and vocabulary that you learned from the previous one using several methods of testing.  

Unlike other apps that have you memorizing Japanese vocabulary and phrases without context, LingoDeer features audio from native Japanese speakers and integrates words, sentences, and culture naturally that you can use in real life. You can even slow down the speaker’s voice to be as accurate as possible in your pronunciation—indispensable to learning the language. Other awesome features include the ability to turn on furigana so you can study kanji, and learn the meaning and context of a particle with a simple tap.

While LingoDeer isn’t entirely free, you can learn all the basics such as hiragana and katakana, more than 1,000 essential Japanese phrases, and enjoy a deep dive into the first modules. Afterward, you can pay a small fee for the premium version, which includes all lessons, including coverage for N5-N3 vocabulary and grammar.

2. The Flashcard Fiend: Anki

One of the best flashcard apps.

Anki allows you to import kanji and vocabulary “decks” from popular textbooks or JLPT lists and then convert them into flashcards. These can range from just a word or kanji to vocabulary placed in sentences to help you understand the context. These can come with audio cues and hilariously cheesy stock photos for extra fun.

When presented with a flashcard, think of the answer and click to have it revealed. You can then self-mark from Again to Easy, with the time in which the card will be repeated listed alongside the options.

Anki comes with a range of useful features.

Along with being able to create your decks, Anki comes with a range of useful features, including an answer timer and the ability to flip the questions and answers. This is particularly good for when you want to switch between reading kanji or vocabulary to being able to write them.

Anki can be used as an app, online, or a desktop version. For creating decks, you might find it quicker to use the desktop version and then sync it with your device. Apologies to iOS users—you have to pay—but you’ll get your money’s worth.

3. The Sensei: Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese

Straight to the point.

If you’re looking for structure or can’t grasp meaning from context, Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese is the answer to your prayers. This app is packed with logically organized lessons, beautifully clear explanations, and conjugation tables. There are even some exercises for the first chapters on basic grammar. 

A vocabulary list with examples, kanji readings, and English definitions are available for every lesson. It allows you to pick up new words while also seeing the grammar work in context. Even without referring to this list, all kanji are clickable, so you never need to refer to a dictionary.

It’s not a game, so it’s not supposed to be particularly fun or help you with memorization, but if you want to understand something, Tae Kim is your sensei.

4. The Quizmaster: Obenkyo

The app for learning stroke order.

With Obenkyo, you’ll start from the basics of katakana and hiragana and advance through to kanji and vocabulary.

The app quizzes you with multiple-choice and writing tests using your touchscreen. Kanji lists can be displayed according to JLPT levels, making this the ultimate tool for preparing for the exam. You can easily access a list of vocabulary, classified by word type as in a dictionary, with verbs, for example, ichidan/godan, transitive/intransitive, etc.

Perhaps the star feature is the handwriting recognizer. It corrects not only your form but also your stroke order. If it makes a mistake in recognizing your writing, you can quickly tell it so, and your score will be adjusted accordingly. The app has also imported Tae Kim’s guide for grammatical references. 

5.  The Community: Lang-8’s HiNative-Language Learning

Learn Japanese and make friends.

HiNative-Language Learning is a place where native speakers edit entries written by those learning their language. Content can be anything you like and as long or short as you are comfortable. 

It’s a community built on reciprocation, so if you’re not stingy, you’ll be sure to receive fantastic feedback and suggestions (and maybe even some friendships). HiNative is developed by the creators of Lang-8, a highly successful language learning website, so if you’re more comfortable with a full keyboard, you might want to try the group’s full browser version as well.

6. The Dictionaries: imiwa?

Guaranteed to already be on a foreigner’s phone in Japan.

One of the most popular apps among foreigners, Imiwa is an offline dictionary with a variety of methods for finding words. You can search using romaji and Japanese characters, but you can look up kanji by SKIP (System of Kanji Indexing by Patterns), multi-radical, and Chinese radical. Its clear interface allows for the easy creation of lists and favorites and straightforward copy to clipboard/export to email functions.

It will appeal to those who don’t have English as their first language, as definitions and example sentences are listed in multiple languages.

The other fantastic feature is an automatic look-up of any text that you have copied to clipboard. Browsing a website and don’t understand a word? Copy it, open Imiwa, and the results will be instantly displayed.

7. The Dictionaries: Japanese (by Renzo Inc.)

Easy on the eyes.

Japanese by Renzo Inc. takes first prize for design. It features a beautiful, clear interface, and it understands how a user thinks. On opening, it presents you with a search bar to immediately type in and a handwriting, kanji component, and SKIP search option, all on the same page.

It contains an audio clip for all entries and has the most precise layout for examples with hiragana above the kanji used and each kanji displayed underneath with their meanings. The app also features a built-in study system, but it’s not as good as Anki.

8. The Kanji King: Kanji Recognizer

Never strain at kanji again.

This little app may be simple, but that’s where its strength lies. We’ve all been there. Staring at some unknown kanji as if we can wring its meaning out of it with our eyes. Kanji Recognizer is made just for those moments, enabling you to swiftly handwrite the kanji and obtain its readings, radicals, strokes, and basic meanings. You can then export to Anki or immediately look it up in your dictionary for compounds and examples of its use.

I’ve found it to be the best app at recognizing handwritten kanji. So I use it whenever my dictionary app cannot interpret my kanji squiggles or when I only want a kanji reading, rather than a detailed explanation of its meaning. Its simple interface and layout also make it very quick to use.

9. The Beginner to Winner: DuoLingo

Taste like cheap thousand?

Lessons can begin without any previous knowledge of hiragana or katakana with DuoLingo. And testing past beginner levels are available. All the lessons are grouped into fun categories that range anywhere from food and family to subculture. There’s even an Olympics category in anticipation of the Tokyo 2020 games.

Once you complete a category, a power bar appears beneath it. After a while, the bar will start to recede, prompting you to review that lesson. Along with focusing on vocabulary, DuoLingo emphasizes sentence structure. When it comes time to be quizzed, the app likes to keep things exciting and test you in various ways. Eventually, you’ll find yourself translating English sentences into Japanese or selecting English terms from a word bank to recreate Japanese sentences. 

10. The Government-Approved: WaniKani

It contains 6,000 words the government wants you to know.

WaniKani has over 2,000 kanji and 6,000 words sourced from the official joyo kanji guide established by the Japanese Ministry of Education. Through spaced repetition, you learn to depend on memory recall as you ascend through the various levels. However, it’s recommended that you have a solid grasp of reading both hiragana and katakana before starting. While this isn’t a service designated to teach grammar, there are example sentences for everything you learn that is useful for syntactic exposure or review.

If life happens and you become busy, you can freeze your progress. If enough time has passed that you forget or feel overwhelmed, you can also reset your level, but it’s permanent. Mastering, or “burning,” all of the items can happen within a year, but the average completion rate is two years. WaniKani is free to try for the first three levels. Afterward, there’s a small monthly fee. 

Which app is best to learn japanese

Pimsleur Japanese

If you’re a survivalist who is tired of just getting by, and want to beef up your vocabulary and comprehension, Pimsleur Japanese is tailored to fortifying your proficiency in the basics and building confidence in your conversations with native speakers. The Pimsleur Method has been widely-known for many years, but has only recently been made available in app form.

As Pimsleur Japanese is an audio format language tool, its primary focus is on increasing your Japanese speaking ability, as opposed to reading or writing. However, what sets Pimsleur Japanese apart from other audio lesson apps is in its question/recall/response format, which many users have attested to as a major element to improving their conversational ability.

As someone who has experimented with audio lesson apps myself, I can also say there is a noticeable difference. This method of teaching helps you to more organically absorb grammar rules in a conversational setting, as opposed to the method of hard memorization used just from studying rules charts without any natural context.

One significant drawback of Pimsleur Japanese is in the type of Japanese you will be learning to speak. It will be almost exclusively formal (polite) Japanese. This is completely fine if, like myself, you work in Japan and want to communicate better in your office environment. However, casual conversations with friends may come off a little awkward if you go heavy on the niceties.

Availability: iOS, Android

JA Sensei

As one of the more feature-packed Japanese language apps, JA Sensei covers reading comprehension, kanji stroke order practice, and situational Japanese lessons to help conversations go more smoothly. The JA Sensei app breaks down into the following sections:

  • Kana
  • Kanji
  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar
  • Aural comprehension

The app also includes a phrasebook and culture section to help those traveling to Japan for the first time, or just starting their Japanese learning journey. To help students retain their knowledge, JA Sensei employs quizzes that allow you to strengthen lessons you’ve learned, and work extra hard to correct errors you’ve made.

With its paid model, JA Sensei offers a myriad of teaching tools to guide you all the way to N1-level proficiency, with one of its standouts including a kanji section that allows you to practice writing with the proper stroke order directly on your smartphone or tablet screen.

Availability: Android

Human Japanese

Ask anyone who has studied Japanese, and they will tell just how unique it is in the way the language is intertwined with every aspect of the culture. Human Japanese is an app that incorporates this important aspect of Japan into its curriculum, by using breaks in between lessons to offer cultural insights about Japan that give greater weight and context to the overall instruction.

Human Japanese consistently receives high marks for its pace-focused teaching, personability and well-roundedness. It comes in a beginner version, and also offers an intermediate app for those who want to continue studying.

At $10 for each Human Japanese app, it may seem like a bit of a hefty investment for a smartphone program, but some users have claimed that knowledge retention with this app has been more successful than with more expensive lessons from private tutors and Japanese language schools.

Availability: iOS, Android


Perhaps you gain the most from a one-on-one interaction, but the money for a private tutor is a little out of your budget. This was my exact thinking, and I was happy when I found out there were Japanese people interested in learning English who felt the same way. That’s when I discovered HelloTalk.

This app is language exchange with the added perk of social networking. Just find native speakers of the language you want to learn, who also want to learn your language. This app works best for those who know a little Japanese and want to polish their skills. The brilliance of HelloTalk is sending messages to your friends, who can then edit your message and send it back to you to show you what you’ve missed.

HelloTalk also allows for voice conversations, so you can sharpen your writing and conversational abilities. Thanks to this app, I found friends online that I would later meet and study with in real life!

Availability: iOS, Android


Duolingo is one of the most well-known language apps on the market, and its freemium model makes it easy to dip your toes into learning Japanese. This app offers an incredible amount of lessons, from teaching the various Japanese writing systems, to building a solid vocabulary and sentence structure through flash card-style quizzes.

While the appeal of Duolingo is its ease of use and the relatively low time commitment required for learning, many feel it’s more of an entry-level language study program. I would have to agree that it’s a great first app with a friendly face, but going deeper into serious language study will require you to find an app dedicated solely to Japanese. For better writing system drills, particularly those for learning kanji, you might be better served to invest in JA Sensei as mentioned above.

Availability: iOS, Android

Honorable Mention for Kanji Study: WaniKani

The road to N1 Japanese proficiency is paved with 2,000 kanji. As a native speaker of a language with only 26 letters, the thought of learning a couple thousand Chinese characters on top of hiragana and katakana once seemed like an impossible undertaking. But as many who swear by WaniKani will likely tell you, it may take a little time, but you can get there.

WaniKani has built itself quite a reputation as a solid kanji-learning tool, with the aim of helping you achieve master-status in a majority of the Joyo kanji, which are the kanji approved by Japan’s Ministry of Education for use in official documents, which are required by students to learn by the end of middle school. With the use of these kanji through WaniKani, you will also build a vocabulary of over 6,000 words.

The reason WaniKani isn’t on the official list is because there is no official WaniKani app, as it is a PC-based language learning program, but it’s just too valuable not to mention. However, there are a couple very impressive WaniKani-related supplementary apps that help you practice what you’ve learned from the PC program, but on the go. Check out Tsurukame on iOS, and Flaming Durtles for Android.

What is the Best Way to Learn Japanese on Your Own

  1. Create an immersive Japanese learning experience. Immersion plays a huge role in language learning. Unfortunately, not everyone can simply pack a suitcase and move to Japan for a few months. Though you can create an immerse Japanese learning experience without leaving your home with language learning apps, like Encore!!!.
  2. YouTube as the Japanese language teacher. YouTube is a fantastic resource for all language learners, but the learners of the Japanese language are especially lucky because they can access so much great content for free and essentially use YouTube as the Japanese language teacher.
  3. Watch Japanese movies and TV shows. Many Westerners who are now fluent in Japanese have learned their first few words by watching Japanese movies and TV shows, more specifically anime.
  4. Read simple manga. Manga for younger readers usually includes furigana, a Japanese reading aid consisting of smaller hiragana and katakana printed next to a kanji. Many Westerners who are now fluent in Japanese have learned their first few words by watching Japanese movies and TV shows, more specifically anime.
  5. Play Japanese video games. If you enjoy playing video games, you will never run out of engaging learning material for Japanese language. The Japanese video game industry is known for producing hit games like Street Fighter, Bayonetta, Monster Hunter World, Valkyria Chronicles, Kingdom Hearts, Sekiro, Dragon Quest, or The Legend of Zelda, just to name a few.

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