Guide to Japanese Learning Apps

By Danlei | Updated 08/05/2020

You might have wondered: where and how should I start learning Japanese and what apps would ease my pain teaching myself? While there are tons of paid and free Japanese Learning Apps on the market, not all of them are the most effective tools for self-teaching. And even if you find an app that works for you, it might not be as it promotes itself and can even cost you hundreds of bucks to get the full version. 

But...wait a second! We have researched online and found all kinds of Japanese Learning Apps for you! No need to worry about learning nothing after spending hundreds of bucks on an app. Just read our article and download the apps you need to start your wonderful journey of learning Japanese!

If you are looking for other Japanese learning resources in addition to apps, take a look at our guide to learn Japanese online for free to get blogs, YouTube videos, free online textbooks, etc. Also check out our series of guides to self-study Japanese and get tips for learning kanji, vocabulary, speaking, reading, and more.

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    Japanese Learning Apps for Vocabulary


    Platform: App Store, Google Play Store

    Good for: someone who prefers flashcard style of learning; someone who wants to build their own decks of vocabulary

    Price: Android version is free; iOS users need to pay $24.99 to get the app.

    Key Features:

    • Repeats flashcards AT THE RIGHT TIME so that vocab doesn't fade away from your memory
    • You can add audio, photos, and even videos into your flashcards
    • Plenty of downloadable good decks made by other learners
    • Customize your own flashcards decks based on your needs
    anki app for learning japanese through flashcards
    vidalingua japanese learning app


    Platform: App Store, Google Play Store

    Good for: someone who wants to learn their target language with a focus on conversations and natural expressions

    Price: Most of the language apps are free including Japanese.

    Key Features:

    • Different dictionaries for multiple languages including Japanese, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Swedish, and Hindi
    • Focuses on conversations and real-life situations and provides ample examples of everyday expressions
    • Accurate and natural translation are life-savers when traveling abroad

    Shirabe Jisho

    Platform: App Store

    Good for: someone who needs a dictionary app that can search by romaji and kana

    Price: Free; NO in-app purchases and you can use the full function of the app for free!

    Key Features:

    • Search by kanji radicals (for example 日 and 月 will find 明)
    • Search by kanji, kana and romaji - "じしょ", "じsho" and "jisho" will give the same search results
    • Character input by kanji and kana handwriting recognition. Recognition algorithm can handle wrong stroke order and small mistakes.
    shirabe jisho japanese learning app
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    Platform: App Store, Google Play Store

    Good for: visual learner who wants to learn vocabulary through short interval exercises

    Price: Free; Offers In-App Purchases

    Key Features:

    • Fully visual and helps you learn 2,000+ vocabulary with short intervals of 5 minutes a day
    • Professional word lists that cover vocabulary with a diverse range of topics
    • New word associated with a memorable picture to help you memorize the vocab faster
    • Provides lessons on basic grammar and listening training

    Minna - Japanese Dictionary

    Platform: App Store, Google Play Store

    Good for: beginner who needs a dictionary with trusted content and flexible ways of searching

    Price: Free for N5 vocabulary(875 words); you need to pay for more translations from N4 onwards

    Key Features:

    • Supports searching in Japanese (Romaji, Hiragana, Katakana, Kanji), or meanings (English, Thai)
    • Supports switching between Masu form and dictionary form 
    • Vocabulary from Minna no Nihongo
    • Customizable flashcards of vocabulary
    • Offline
    minna japanese learning app for beginners
    Japanese Learning Apps - Goiryoku shindan

    Goiryoku shindan (Vocabulary Skill Check)

    Platform: App Store, Website

    Good for: someone who wants to practice and learn vocabulary through practice questions and test

    Price: Free

    Key Features:

    • Good if you want to diagnose your vocabulary level with a quiz sense
    • A wide range of problem levels from 6th grade (about the upper grades of elementary school) to 1st grade (from the middle grades of high school to the general public)
    • Test yourself under 15-minute time limit or unlimited time mode based on your preference

    Still confused about where to start? Read our tips on learning Japanese vocabulary in which we will guide you through learning vocab step by step and find the best way for you to learn Japanese vocabulary to better assist you with these Japanese Learning Apps.

    Japanese Learning Apps for Kanji

    漢字検定・漢検漢字トレーニング (Kanji test/Kanji test Kanji training)

    Platform: App Store, Google Play Store

    Good for: someone who wants to learn kanji from various levels or is preparing for the Japan Kanji Aptitude Test

    Price: Free; NO in-app purchases and you can use the full function of the app for free!

    Key Features:

    • Kanji for the Japan Kanji Aptitude Test
    • 12 levels covering kanji from elementary school to workplace
    • Stroke order and the meaning of kanji available 
    • You can learn four-letter idioms, antonyms, homophones of the kanji

    小学生手書き漢字ドリル1026 (Elementary School Handwritten Kanji Drill 1026)

    Platform: App Store, Google Play Store

    Good for: someone who is new to kanji and wants to practice writing kanji with fun and ease

    Price: Free for all functions; you can also make in-app purchases to remove ads

    Key Features:

    • Learn all the 1,026 kanji you will learn during the six years of elementary school
    • Learn writing kanji like an elementary school student with fun and ease
    • Learn new kanji in context with the sample sentence on top of the grid
    Kanji Learning Apps
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    mainichi kanji app for japanese learners

    Mainichi Kanji

    Platform: App Store, Website

    Good for: intermediate to advanced learner who is preparing for the Japan Kanji Aptitude Test and/or wants to learn different forms of kanji (synonyms, homophones, etc.)

    Price: Completely free with NO in-app purchases

    Key Features:

    • 15 new practice questions that are updated every day and have similar patterns and styles as the Kanji Kentei
    • Various types of practice questions with different focuses on 読み(yomi)、送りがな(okurigana)、対義語(antonym)、同訓異字(homophone)、四字熟語(4-character idiom)、熟語の構成(structure of idiom)

    Want more resources and tips for learning kanji? Check out our tips to learning Japanese kanji which provides all you need to know about kanji! 

    Japanese Learning Apps for Grammar


    Platform: App Store, Google Play Store

    Good for: someone who wants to learn grammar with detailed notes and practice questions but does not like heavy lessons 

    Price: Free for most parts; you can subscribe or buy a lifetime pass to get all the lessons for $30

    Key Features:

    • Small chunks at a time; take 15-minutes on your way back home and learn 1 new grammar
    • Explanations are detailed but simple and everyone can follow along.
    • Grammar notes and lessons from alphabet to JLPT to business level 
    • 1700 example sentences and 8000 Japanese grammar quiz questions; natural audios for each example
    • Can be used offline
    bunpo grammar app for japanese learners

    Human Japanese (Lite & Intermediate Lite)


    Lite: App Store, Google Play Store

    Int. Lite: App Store, Google Play Store

    Good for: someone who wants to learn grammar from zero 

    Price: The Lite and Intermediate Lite version are completely free; you can also pay $9.99 to get the beginner and intermediate versions for the full lessons.

    Key Features:

    • Starts at the very basics and explains in a simplistic, step-by-step way
    • Explains grammar in context; teaches the background and history
    • Provides photos and cultural notes connecting to real life in Japan
    • Review quiz at the end of each chapter to reinforce your understanding of key concepts
    Japanese learning apps

    Tae Kim's Guide to Learning Japanese

    Platform: App Store, Google Play Store, Website

    Price: Free

    Good for: someone who wants to learn Japanese grammar comprehensively

    Key Features:

    • The most comprehensive guide to Japanese grammar, covering EVERY topic you need to know to master grammar
    • Teaches grammar that is completely different from textbooks and focuses on pure natural Japanese
    tae kim Japanese learning apps

    If you are looking for other Japanese Learning apps and helpful resources, we have created a comprehensive list of guides on learning Japanese on our Japan Switch website. Take a look at our Japanese learning guides that you will not be able to find elsewhere!

    Japanese Learning Apps for Reading

    Japanese Reading Learning Apps

    Japanese Reading (Reading Japanese)

    Platform: App Store, Google Play Store

    Good for: intermediate Japanese learner who wants to practice reading skills by reading real-life news and other types of articles

    Price: Free

    Key Features:

    • Easy-to-read articles by native Japanese
    • Furigana for all kanji
    • Built-in dictionary with a simple click; no more switching apps 
    • Simple and clean UI design which is readable and not distracting to eyes

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    Japanese Speaking

    Easy Japanese

    Platform: App Store, Google Play Store

    Good for: someone who wants to improve reading, listening, and speaking skills through reading news articles

    Price: There is a premium option to remove the ads but you don't have to do so; the free version provides all functions you need!

    Key Features:

    • News articles with different levels of difficulty
      • Each article has native audio and furigana on top on each kanji to help you understand the text.
      • Listen to these articles as many times as you want! You can also listen to the article line by line and read it out along with the audio.
    • You can translate the article sentence by sentence.
    easy japanese app for japanese reading practice

    Shonen Jump+

    Platform: App Store, Google Play Store

    Good for: manga lovers who want to practice reading skills by reading manga

    Price: Find tons of free manga and parts of the long-ish manga like Bleach, One Piece, etc. under "今だけ無料" (read now for free only) section

    Key Features:

    • The official manga app for Weekly Shonen Jump
    • Heaven for manga lovers; includes legendary masterpieces like One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, etc. and new rising series like Haikyu!!, Demon Slayer, etc.
    • You can improve your reading skills with fun and ease by reading your favorite manga!
    manga app for practicing easy japanese

    If the above Japanese Learning Apps are still not enough for you, we've also created a guide to improve Japanese reading where we share additional free Japanese study apps and resources for reading based on JLPT levels. Also, don't miss out the useful tips we came up with to help you learn Japanese in an enjoyable and efficient way.

    Japanese Learning Apps for Listening and Practice

    Learn Japanese Pod

    Platform: App Store, Google Play Store

    Good for: someone who wants to improve their Japanese listening and pronunciation through podcasts

    Price: Free

    Key Features:

    • A podcast app that covers lots of fun dialogues about Japanese life and culture
    • Introduces words and expressions useful for daily life; other topics include Japanese culture, food, travel tips, etc.
    • Designed to help learners speak authentic and natural Japanese that is used by native speakers
    • Also includes detailed grammar and vocab notes from the podcasts
    japanese pod app for japanese learners
    poro app for listening and speaking japanese skill practice

    PORO - Learn Japanese

    Platform: App Store, Google Play Store

    Good for: someone who wants to improve their speaking style, pronunciation, intonation, and listening skills

    Price: You can use the app for free with ads, or you can pay to remove the ads

    Key Features:

    • Includes 750+ daily dialogues and lessons that cover lots of practical situations(greeting, small talks, business talk, shopping, etc.)
    • Transcript and translation for learners to follow
    • You can listen to the conversation of native speakers and imitate their intonation and speaking style
    • You can adjust the listening speed from fast to slow

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    Innovative Language 101

    Platform: App Store, Google Play Store, Kindle Fire

    Good for: someone who wants to improve reading, grammar, and pronunciation by taking short and fun audio/video lessons.

    Price: In-App Purchases; price ranges from $7.99-$46.99 for each language/month

    Key Features:

    • 3-15 minute fun and effective audio and video lessons from real teachers on real Japanese conversation
    • Includes many useful study tools to help you learn faster
      • Slideshows, flashcards, and word lists to memorize new words
      • Comprehensive lesson notes for reading and grammar
      • Progress checking dashboard 


    Platform: App Store, Google Play Store

    Good for: someone who wants to learn Japanese through talking with native speakers

    Price:  Free; Offers In-App Purchases

    Key Features:

    • Text, voice message, and even video call native speakers that speak your native language
    • Build-in aids for translation, pronunciation, transliteration, and corrections designed to make your conversations run smoothly
    • Engage with the entire community by posting Moments


    Platform: Google Play Store

    Good for: someone who wants to improve their pronunciation and learn practical expressions that can be used in daily life

    Price: Free

    Key Features: 

    • Covers a wide range of practical dialogues
    • Each dialogue has 2 versions: the formal expression and a more familiar expression
    • Recorded audio from native speakers for you to learn the natural intonation and pronunciation
    • You can slow the audio down to pick up a specific word; you can also record your voice and check if the computer can recognize it
    Loecsen Japanese learning app for pronunciation

    Looking for more Japanese Learning Apps, resources, and study methods? Don't miss out on our guides on learning Japanese based on your Japanese level


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