Wakayama JET Wiki

This is by no means a comprehensive list and there are tons of literature, materials and websites that can be found on Japanese language study.


Hiragana Times[]

A bilingual monthly magazine (each paragraph is written in English then Japanese) with articles about Japanese culture and people, plus some 'international' items. All Japanese characters have furigana (hiragana superscripts) for easy reading.

The Nihongo Journal[]

A 'self study' approach monthly magazine offering several levels of grammar, vocabulary, drills, and reading lessons, plus a few articles and stories in Japanese (furigana provided for kanji) and information on proficiency tests. You can also buy an accompanying CD containing verbal drills.


A now-out of print monthly magazine with English Japanese pop culture articles, cartoons and comics. You can still find back issues if you visit the URL below. There are various lessons included, using sample advertisements and comics as models. It's not recommended for the beginner, but much more interesting than your average textbook.


Japanese for Busy People[]

Author: Association for Japanese Language Teaching
Publisher: Kodansha International
Highly recommended by many people, especially for those starting from scratch. This comprises a set of three books, plus optional cassettes/CDs/workbooks, etc. After completing them you will be ready for the Level 3 exam. There is also a kana version of the set, which facilitates reading and writing in kana (and later kanji) from the onset. Good for people who want to dive in immediately, but not grammar oriented and perhaps not as good for those who want to go beyond beginner level.
Price: $25.00

Genki Books 1 & 2: An Integrated course in Elementary Japanese[]

Author: Eric Banno, Yutaka Ohno, Yoko Sakane, Chikako Shinagawa
Publisher: Japan Times
Another highly recommended book by many people. The series comprises of two books, plus optional cassettes/CDs/workbooks, etc. After completing them you will be ready for the Level 3 exam. The book facilitates reading and writing in kana (and later kanji) at the end of each chapter. Good for people who want to dive in immediately and has excellent, easy to understand grammar explanations for the beginner.
Price: $45.00/book

Learning Kana and Kanji[]

Let's Learn Katakana & Let's Learn Hiragana[]

Author: Yasuko K. Mitamura
Publisher: Kodansha
These are excellent books for learning the two scripts. They have effective drills, exercises etc.
Price: $42.00

Easy Kana Workbook[]

Author: Rita Lampkin
Publisher: McGraw-Hill
Price: $9.95

Remembering the Kanji[]

Author: James W. Heisig
Publisher: Japan Publications
This is one of the best book on the market for learning kanji.
Price: $42.00

Basic Kanji Book (Vol.1&2)[]

Author: Chieko Kano
Publisher: Bojinsha
This is a well-organized textbook for those wanting to begin learning kanji. It is divided into lessons of about a dozen kanji, usually with some sort of common thread. It includes reading, writing, and comprehension exercises. You must know hiragana and katakana to make the most of it. Volume 1 is red and has the first 250 kanji, and volume 2 is light blue and has another 250.
Price: $35.00


It is suggested that you, at the very least, get a dictionary app onto your cell phone.

Kodansha's Basic English-Japanese Dicitonary[]

Author: Makino, Nakada & Ohso
Publisher: Kodansha International
Packed with lots of example sentences, and is very good at showing how and in what contexts certain words are used. All words and example sentences are written in kanji/kana and romaji.
Price: $59.95

Kenkyusha's Furigana English-Japanese Dictionary[]

Publisher: Kenkyusha
Highly recommended English to Japanese dictionary. Intended for English speakers learning Japanese, so it provides excellent explanations of Japanese words, including their multiple meanings and kanji with furigana. Japanese words listed in kana, English words in English, thus avoiding many complications other dictionaries run into. It has over 40,000 entries, so is large enough to cover all the words your find yourself needing to look up on a day-to-day basis, including English slang and specialized terms. It has a green cover, and is strongly recommended.
Price: ¥2,000

The Kanji Dictionary[]

Author: Spahn & Hadamitzky
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing
By far the best kanji dictionary on the market. They use a unique classification system for kanji radicals (only 79 radicals as opposed to the standard 214), but once you get the hang of it, it is very quick and easy to look up characters. The best part of this dictionary is that it lists all of the most common compounds that each kaji is found in, regardless of where the kanji appears in a given word. This is especially useful when you are faced with a long string of kanji and are not sure where word boundaries are located. Some other kanji dictionaries (e.g. the Nelson Japanese-English Character Dictionary) only list compounds that include a given character in the first position.
Price: $59.95

The New Nelson Japanese-English Character Dictionary[]

Has a blue cover and is about seven centimeters thick. It replaces the original red Nelson as one of the best reference books for the serious kanji student.

Electronic Dictionaries[]

There are a number of electronic dictionaries out there and their prices vary. While these electronic marvels are convenient and useful, all but Cannon Wordtanks purchased use Japanese script exclusively, so you will have to understand hiragana and katakana for them to be useful. The Canon Wordtank, thanks to its bilingual set-up, is by far the most popular electronic dictionary among Japanese language learners.


A Dictionary of Beginning (Intermediate) Japanese Grammar[]

Author: Seichi Makino & Michio Tsutsui
Publisher: The Japan Times
A very useful and comprehensive grammar reference book produced by the Japan Times. Grammar structure explanations are made quite clear with lots of examples. It is organized alphabetically. It has a yellow-ish cover with red title. The next book in the series is A Dictionary of Intermediate Grammar, which has a blue cover.
Price: ¥3,700

The Complete Japanese Verb Guide[]

Author: Hiroo Japanese Center
Publisher: Tuttle
This is a very useful and easy to use book. Verbs are listed in alphabetic order with all of their conjugations, plus examples. The entire book is in romaji. It has a yellow cover.
Price: $17.95

Handbook of Japanese Grammar[]

Author: Masahiro Tanimori
Publisher: Tuttle
This is another easy to use book that is extremely useful. Grammar points are listed in alphabetical order. There are lots of example sentences in Hiragana and Romaji. It has a grey cover.
Price: $14.95


Japanese Words & Their Uses (Vol. I & II)[]

Author: Akira Miura
Publisher: Tuttle
Goes over commonly misused words in Japanese, especially Japanese's easy-to-cofuse word pairs (e.g. hajimaru vs. hajimeru).
Price: $12.95

Japanese Beyond Words: How to Walk and Talk Like a Native Speaker[]

Author: Amdrew Horvat
Publisher: Stone Bridge Press
Price: $14.95


Kinki Japanese[]

Author: DC Patter & Kaoru Slotsve
Publisher: Tuttle
Covers the group of Japanese dialects found in the Kinki region (e.g Kansai-ben, Osaka-ben, etc.) This book is a must for anyone who wants to understand what the hell the locals are actually saying.
Price: $9.95

Dirty Japanese[]

Author: Matt Fargo
Publisher: Ulysses Press
What you say depends on who you are speaking to, and this book is meant to be used in the company of friends. So be warned that if you say any of the words and phrases in Dirty Japanese to someone older than you, or to a stranger of any age, you can expect them to look at you as if you’d just peed in their kitchen sink.
Price: $10.00