The Ultimate Guide to Japanese Learning Apps

By Danlei | Updated 07/27/20

Japanese is a hard language to learn, there is no denying that. But with the right learning resources, you'll be on your way to achieving your goals in no time! There are many free Japanese learning apps available, but in this article we are only going to focus on the best ones out there for you. Here are just a few of the best ones out there. Whether you are the beginner level, or intermediate, you will be able to find the best app for you in this article!

Visit our article on free Japanese learning apps if paid apps are not one of your options.

Japanese-Learning-Apps
Table of Contents
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    Choose the Best Japanese Learning Apps for You: 3 Types of Learners

    Before you dive into the sea of various Japanese learning apps, there is a crucial question that needs to be asked: how do you know which app fits you best? There are various kinds of Japanese learning apps available, and each of them may have a different focus: grammar, vocabulary, reading, speaking…To know which apps would help you the most, you first need to know what are the areas that you want to improve most. But only knowing the answer to this question is not enough. To figure out how you can get the most out of the apps, you also need to know what types of learners you are and find the specific type of apps that would help you improve at the fastest pace.

    Language learners can be roughly divided into 3 types: visual learners, auditory learners, and kinesthetic learners. Each type of learner takes in information differently, and the ways that would help them learn the most and fastest are also not the same. Read our article and get to know what type of learner you are and find the most helpful learning styles for you!

    Visual Learners

    visual-learning

    Visual learners are those who need to see pictures and graphs to visualize. If you are a visual learner, you learn and remember best through visual communication. You have great immediate recall of words that are presented visually. Relatively unaware of sounds, you can be distracted by visual disorder or movement, and taking in information by ears is not the best way for you to learn a language. As a visual learner, you learn most and fastest when using visuals such as pictures, chats, diagrams. Therefore, Japanese learning apps that include flashcards, videos, and audiovisuals can help keep you engaged.

    Best Japanese Learning Apps for Visual Learners

    StickyStudy

    Platform: App Store

    Price: $8.99

    Good For : someone who is looking for an vocabulary and kanji app with SRS features 

    Key Features:

    • Full dictionary of 8,000+ words with native audio
    • Powerful translation function:
      • Copy and paste Japanese text to produce readings, furigana, and English
    • Flashcard learning style:
      • All of your cards will be displayed on one screen.
      • Feel free to zoom in and out on your screen to see all your stickies.
    • Scheduler function:
      • Set a goal and the app will work out your daily study schedule for you.

    What Users Are Saying About StickyStudy

    Best app for kanji learning on phone

    "This app will take you from no kanji to however far you are willing to go. I love that I can import my own lists, drill components and browse cards quickly by stack and list type."

    Killer features and great developer

    "I’ve tried at least a dozen apps to complement my formal and informal Japanese studies, and this stands out for its efficiency at studying both how to read and how to write. The writing practice and stroke order visualization in particular really demonstrate a lot of craftsmanship. This and Quizlet win home screen slots for me."

    Kanji Teacher

    Platform: App Store

    Price: Free

    Good for: someone who wants to learn kanji and vocabulary 

    Key Features:

    • Includes all the joyo kanji broken up by JLPT levels, as well as 8,000+ most commonly used vocabulary
    • 8,000 tests available on hiragana, sentences, and vocabulary
    • You can practice writing kanji with the handwriting recognition function.
    • Elegant design of interface:
      • Find the correct answer in a 9-box grid
    • Provides visual and memorizable image associated with kana

    What Users Are Saying About Kanji Teacher

    FANTASTIC APP!!!!

    "This app is amazing!! As a busy PhD student, I honestly would have given up on continuing to learn Japanese if not for this app. It makes it fun and easy to pick up and review a few kanji whenever I have a few minutes of free time. The ability to change the definitions of each kanji is especially helpful."

    Everything in one app

    "Not only does it teach you stroke order for everything I just mentioned (which is super important for telling kanji apart) but it analyzes where you put your strokes and even breaks it down to the radicals and their meaning in each kanji from N5-N1. It also has example sentences with audio and tests/games to quiz yourself on. You can find an app for stroke order, another for grammar, etc but this has everything in one."

    Simple and extremely useful!

    "I’ve been using this app for several months now, and I really like it. Not many other Japanese learning apps offer the opportunity to add your own hints, mnemonics, etc., so the customization ability is very helpful. And it’s free! I’ve seen lesser apps want money for content that isn’t half as good as what this app has to offer. I’d spend a couple bucks on this."

    LingoDeer

    Platform: App Store, Google Play Store

    Price: Free; Offers In-App Purchases

    Good for: someone who is looking for a grammar, vocab app with Flashcard function

    Key Features:

    • Grammar-based expert curricula that are crafted by professional language teachers with detailed explanations
    • High-quality voices used for the lessons coming directly from native speakers
    • Various exercises on new vocabulary and grammar 
    • Flashcard function conveniently built into the app
      • No need to manually create flashcards on your own anymore!
    • Knowledge Cards with key grammatical concepts to your phones

    What Users Are Saying About LingoDeer

    One of the best out there!!

    "A feature I enjoyed that is specifically for the Japanese language is that there is a section where you can just practice and study the kanji independently from the sentences and grammar which is one of my favorite parts. Another feature is that I can change how i can change the difficulty. For example when I have a question on how to read or pronounce I can switch from native Japanese (the characters and kanji together as they would be in a newspaper) to furugana (kanji with hiragana above it), hiragana completely (no kanji) or romaji (Latin letters only of Japanese sounds)."

    BEST language learning program yet!

    "My biggest complaint with most language learning programs is that there are no explanations provided for rules or grammar. LingoDeer in stark contrast provides wonderful grammar lessons in easy to comprehend sheets...The review quizzes are a wonderful feature providing a quick and easy way to make sure you’re retaining everything you’ve learned so far. The stories and social features are a fun and unique addition that also add to your understanding of the language."

    A cocktail of language learning apps!!

    "I’ve had at least 10 different apps at once for learning Japanese. One for just vocabulary, one for kanji, one for hiragana, one for katakana, one for sentence structure, one for writing, I could go on! LingoDeer is all those apps blended into one easy to understand app with interactive activities and games to play, and more! This app really has helped me out. I’m an outbound exchange student (to be) and I’d definitely recommend this app if you plan on traveling anywhere."

    Drops

    Platform: App Store, Google Play Store

    Price: Free; Offers In-App Purchases

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

    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

    What Users Are Saying About Drops

    Very crisp and innovative

    "The app itself is very clean. It really met my expectations. It has a large variety in activities which was really fun and helpful. Every activity is different and it really helped me in not getting bored, it also reminds you to learn every day... This app is very reasonable especially for the price that I paid. "

    Ingenious app!

    "The learning style is fun, inventive and effective. By encouraging use of pictorials coupled with sound and text means that regardless of the way in which you learn best, you are reinforced in every medium. The bite-sized daily reminders are also a great way to encourage daily practice... The platform makes it really attractive and not daunting at all to just try to pick up a few words."

    Perfect Vocab App!

    "I took Japanese in college and was always so terrible with vocab. I have forgotten so much and I’ve been wanting to get back into it, so I tried this app, and I feel like I know more vocab now than I did when I was taking classes! Drops makes it simple and fun to learn, and is perfect in conjunction with Duolingo or teaching yourself the grammar. "

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

     

    Want to improve your Japanese?

    Get our best study tips to your inbox.
    Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

    Auditory Learners

    auditory-learner

    If you are an auditory learner, you learn best through hearing. Yet you are not only a good listener, you also like to talk and share your thoughts to other people as well. As an auditory learner you do not get the most out of visuals, and you need repetitive descriptions to help you memorize stuff. You benefit most from oral instruction and repetition. The most effective Japanese learning apps for you, therefore, should include auditory and conversation based lecture and discussion, repeated listening and allow you to read the text out loud. 

    If you are in Tokyo, consider taking group lessons with our sister school Japan Switch.

    Best Japanese Learning Apps for Auditory Learners

    Scribe Japanese - Master Vocabulary

    Platform: App Store

    Price: Free; Offers In-App Purchases

    Good for: someone who wants to learn real-life, common vocabulary

    Key Features:

    • Designed to help you learn the 8000 most common words all the vocabulary you need for the JLPT.
    • Activities to help you remember words with related-sounding words.
    • Audio for all of the words, so you can sound more like a native speaker.
    • 6 highly engaging and addictive modes to help you stay focused

    What Users Are Saying About Scribe Japanese

    Japanese vocabulary-building and kanji learning made streamlined and fun

    "This app does one thing and does it well: it teaches you the readings of kanji in the context of full words. No more trying to remember every reading of every kanji in one fell swoop -- learn them as you go. It also does a great job of making you learn several similar-sounding words in a row, so you can start to build associations and clearly understand which word is which." 

    Lots of ways to learn

    "I am using this app regularly now trying to increase my vocabulary. It really does a good job at keeping me interested by offering several ways to learn and quiz myself. It is fun to use... overall this app has a lot to offer. And I recommend it for anyone that wants to add to their vocabulary."

    Excellent App

    "I love this app. I used to use it daily, but I got busy with life and stopped studying Japanese all together. I've started studying again and this was the first app I went to.

    I love that you can study by hearing the word only. I'm a terrible listener, and this app really helps me out. I don't know why I love this flash card app so much, but I do. Worth the price."

    Easy Japanese

    Platform: App Store, Google Play Store

    Price:Free; Offers In-App Purchases

    Good for: someone who wants to improve reading, kanji, listening skills through news

    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.

    What Users Are Saying About Easy Japanese

    I was surprised

    "I don’t usually rate apps, but I had to give this 5 stars. I didn’t expect to find something that would work so perfectly for me, this is exactly what I was looking for when I was trying to find an app for reading Japanese articles. Not only does it have the ability to look up words really easily, it also has options to change the furigana depending on your level. Very good app."

    This app is fantastic!

    "I’ve never encountered an app so versatile in helping Japanese language learners of all ability groups improve their knowledge. The interface is wonderful and there are so many options for looking up things and saving things like articles and words for later. Truly helpful! If I never reach my full language potential it’s not for lack of resources!"

    Great App to assist Japanese learner

    "With latest news you can learn many vocabularies in a article. Best feature for me is the reading function - real Japanese can read the whole article for you and train your listening ability."

    HelloTalk

    Platform: App Store, Google Play Store

    Price:  Free; Offers In-App Purchases

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

    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

    What Users Are Saying About HelloTalk

    My favorite app!

    "You learn a language through a sort of social media platform, where you post statuses similar to Facebook or twitter, but with the added bonus that native speakers actually get to read and correct your texts, and you can help out as well by doing the same with people learning your language. I have met so many fun and intelligent people on this apps from so many countries, and I love hearing their ideas and sharing each other’s cultures. It’s exciting getting a message from someone and engaging in a fun conversation with them."

    Get this app NOW

    "Finally a new way to learn languages that isn’t just taking boring classes... It’s a perfect modern way to learn languages, cultures and make friends from all over the world. I’m learning Japanese on this app and now I have tons of friends from Japan and other countries.

    It’s amazing being able to talk to people your age from all over the world about your hobbies, and even help each other with their school work, and it doesn’t matter what language you speak ! The translation function on this app is super accurate."

    A must have for language learners!

    "One of the best features is the wall of moments (this is a feature Tandum doesn’t have as of no), which I’ve used to ask questions to the HelloTalk community about grammar, vocab, and to post advice and lessons about English. The correction feature is also great and I like how you can save the corrections people give you."

    Innovative Language 101

    Platform: App Store, Google Play Store, Kindle Fire

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

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

    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 

    What Users Are Saying About Innovative Language 101

    Great product

    "I was skeptical at first trying to learn Japanese this way- when I hear the audio and it's so fast it is overwhelming! But I find the different ways they teach you and reinforce the material to be super helpful. I can go over the lessons again and again, as well as individual portions...The video lessons cover different things and I find the detailed tips and visuals on pronunciation particularly helpful."

    Quite useful and Enjoyable

    "Because it forces you to try and understand what they are talking about without knowing every word, which is what would realistically happen if you went to a foreign country while learning the language. You can always glance at the vocab list first to familiarize yourself and then jump to the lesson. "

    Great way to learn a new language!

    "I love this app! It allow me to learn at my own pace at anytime that is convenient for me without the constraints of a classroom. It’s content is geared towards everyday conversations. Having hardcopy notes to follow along really improves the learning experience."

    Still looking for more listening resources? Check out our ultimate guide to improving your Japanese listening. We've prepared guides on how to improve your test-taking listening skills and daily listening skills!

    Kinesthetic Learners

    kinesthetic-learning

    Different from visual learners and auditory learners, kinesthetic learners learn the most from direct involvement and engaging in the action themselves. If you are a kinesthetic learner, you are poor listener and cannot stand long lectures. You also find it difficult to concentrate on visual presentations. Participation and engagement are the best way to help you stay focused and learn. Studying in short intervals, using Japanese learning apps that have flashcards separating into “know” and “don’t know piles”, working with teammates or in a group are the most effective ways for you to learn a language.

    If you are a kinesthetic learner, we recommend taking group lessons at our sister company Japan Switch. You can also choose private one-on-one lessons with the most affordable price in Tokyo!

    Best Japanese Learning Apps for Kinesthetic Learners

    BingoJi

    Platform: App Store, Google Play Store

    Price: Free; Offers In-App Purchases

    Good for: someone who wants to learn vocabulary through playing puzzle games

    Key Features:

    • Puzzle games help you memorize vocabulary easier and faster
    • Covers vocabulary in 50 lessons of Minna no Nihongo and other textbooks such as Soumatone, Mimikara Oboeru, etc.
    • Flexible play modes
      • Switch flexibly between 2 modes of kana and kanji
    • Useful dictionary included to help you look up words easily while playing the game

    What Users Are Saying About BingoJi

    Google Play Store Review

    "BingoJi is a fun game to play with. Most of the vocab words are basic, they can be spelled in Kana or Kanji. Sometimes, I enter the characters in Kanji because I don't know how to spell the words in Hiragana and vice versa." 

    HelloTalk

    Platform: App Store, Google Play Store

    Price:  Free; Offers In-App Purchases

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

    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

    What Users Are Saying About HelloTalk

    My favorite app!

    "You learn a language through a sort of social media platform, where you post statuses similar to Facebook or twitter, but with the added bonus that native speakers actually get to read and correct your texts, and you can help out as well by doing the same with people learning your language. I have met so many fun and intelligent people on this apps from so many countries, and I love hearing their ideas and sharing each other’s cultures. It’s exciting getting a message from someone and engaging in a fun conversation with them."

    Get this app NOW

    "Finally a new way to learn languages that isn’t just taking boring classes... It’s a perfect modern way to learn languages, cultures and make friends from all over the world. I’m learning Japanese on this app and now I have tons of friends from Japan and other countries.

    It’s amazing being able to talk to people your age from all over the world about your hobbies, and even help each other with their school work, and it doesn’t matter what language you speak ! The translation function on this app is super accurate."

    A must have for language learners!

    "One of the best features is the wall of moments (this is a feature Tandum doesn’t have as of no), which I’ve used to ask questions to the HelloTalk community about grammar, vocab, and to post advice and lessons about English. The correction feature is also great and I like how you can save the corrections people give you."

    Ameba

    Platform: App Store, Google Play Store, Blog

    Price: Free

    Good for: someone who wants to learn natural , real-time Japanese through social networking and posting blog

    Key Features:

    • Natural, real-time Japanese social networking and blogging platform
    • Stay tuned with Japanese fashion icons, bands, celebrities, video games, and all other popular cultures
    • Helps you find native speakers who share similar interests and make friends with them, and learn Internet slang that you would not learn from textbooks

    What Users Are Saying About Ameba

    Excellent

    "Works great on 3GS. Easily post pics to your blog or なう。You can edit various parts of your profile and blog from your phone, as well as view other's blogs and なう。Extremely handy, I use it daily. If you're an English Only Ameba user, you should have no problems after a little experimentation. The interface is user-friendly and straight-forward. Highly recommended for all Ameblo users!"

    Not too shabby

    "As a non-native Japanese speaker who has a super weak comprehension of the language, it's a great way to learn the language. Would be nice if there was an English translation but doesn't discourage me from using this app."

    iTalki

    Platform: App Store, Google Play Store

    Price: Each tutor sets their own price.

    Good for: someone who wants to learn Japanese by taking 1-on-1 online lessons held by native teachers

    Key Features:

    • Connects you with 10,000+ native tutors and teachers for 1-on-1 lessons online
    • Lots of flexibility with pricing
    • Flexible with schedule
      • Customize your lessons based on your own pace and goals
      • All the teachers at iTalki are flexible and would like to work with you to figure out your goals.

    What Users Are Saying About iTalki

    Great platform to connect

    “This app makes practicing languages super convenient and effective. Besides scheduled classes, the app also offers discussion forums which provide the opportunity to meet up with other users and do language exchanges for free through Skype. I’ve met lots of great people through the forums and enjoyed learning about their cultures and doing language exchanges.”

    Wonderful App

    "I recommend this to anyone aspiring to learn a language either as a beginner or an advanced student. It's important to learn a language at a more personable level with native speakers. After self teaching myself Japanese for years, I needed an outlet to find a more personable way of learning, and this site is a treasure.

    If you want to find great teachers for the language you're learning, or you just want to find pen pals to talk to and learn from, this app/website is for you."

     

    Wondering how to make more Japanese friends? Read our ultimate guide to making Japanese friends in which we share some tips to help you move past the acquaintance barrier and make friends based on your Japanese level!

    •  
    •  
    •  
    •  
    •  
    •  
    Scroll to Top