Getting started in Japanese

This post is for everyone who’s always wanted to get started learning Japanese but never knew where to start.

‘Human Japanese’ is, in my opinion, the least painful and most entertaining introduction to all aspects of the Japanese language, and it’s what helped me most when I got started. It includes a short history of the Japanese language, a comparison of Japanese to English, and then a thourough and engaging intro to the writing system and basic grammar and vocab over the course of 40 chapters, including audio for all the words and phrases. The trial version is free to download (see link below).

The other resources (#’s 2, 3 and 4) are indispensable for learning Hiragana, Katakana and the Kanji, and #5 is for those who intend to study Chinese as well and want an efficient way to learn the 800 most frequent characters (which comprise 75% of written Chinese).

Ok, here’s what you do to get started in Japanese:

1) Go to

and try out Human Japanese, which, as I said above, is the best introduction to the writing system, grammar and vocabulary of Japanese I’ve seen.

***2) Download Nihonaid from

which is a program you download that utilizes mnemonics combined with Spaced Repetition Learning to maximize the rate at which you learn first Hiragana, then Katakana, then the Kanji.

3) Sign up for a free membership at

where you can learn the Kanji online using James Heisig’s system and have access to other learner’s mnemonic devices for the characters.

4) Check out the wealth of resources for learning Japanese at

5) (Optional) Invest in

Tuttle Learning Chinese Characters

which will not only help you to remember the meanings of the characters, but will also help you remember the Chinese pronunciations of the characters, as these are built into the mnemonic devices given.

I wish you success in your Japanese studies, and welcome any comments or questions!

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