Best Books For Teaching Yourself Japanese

books to learn japanese from


If you’re interested in learning a new language, Japanese is a great option to consider! It’s a widely spoken language and even a basic level of fluency in Japanese can help you by improving brain function, opening up career opportunities, and allowing you to experience art, literature, and music in the Japanese language.


Once you decide to learn Japanese, there are several ways you can approach it. You can listen to music or watch films that are in Japanese, take classes, or even use some apps to learn. While everyone has their own preference when it comes to educational methods, the simple fact is that you need an in-depth knowledge of the basics including grammatical structures, character formation, and more. That’s where textbooks can be a huge help.


If you’re trying to decide which textbook you should get, you’ll likely be overwhelmed with the amount of options so here are five great resources you can use to get started.

Japanese language textbook


Genki I and Genki II are two extremely popular Japanese textbooks that are widely used by beginning Japanese students from all around the world. Due to this you’ll be able to find many shared resources online including flashcards or video lessons. There are also many explanations in the book that are written in the English language so it will be easier for native English speakers to learn. The Genki textbooks are also an affordable option so they’re great for anyone just starting out.


The only real downside to these books is that they are designed to be taught in a classroom under the supervision of an experienced Japanese teacher. That doesn’t mean they won’t be useful to you, because that fact is outweighed by the many benefits.

Minna no nihongo

“Minna no nihongo” translates to “Japanese for Everyone” and this series of books truly does live up to its name. The lessons are curated by a team of expert Japanese teachers and they are immersive and comprehensive. The books are also written in Japanese and while that may introduce a steep learning curve, once you’re past that curve you’ll be well on your way to Japanese fluency. 

Shadowing: Let’s Speak Japanese!

While reading and writing Japanese is a vital skill, you’ll also need to learn how to speak it and understand it in order to carry on a conversation. This textbook can help with that. It’s based on a technique that involves shadowing native speakers of the language to learn nuances of speaking and perfect your pronunciation.


You’ll be speaking from the very first lesson and with at least ten minutes per day you’ll be well on your way to comfortably speaking Japanese in conversation.

Japanese from Zero!

This textbook was published in 2006 and provides an approachable and fun methodology to learning the language. It’s specifically designed with students who are teaching themselves in mind and while you won’t have the support of a teacher, you’ll find that in a vibrant global online community. It’s less technical than the other textbooks on this list but it’s still a great starting point especially for those who are brand new to learning Japanese and are still deciding if they want to dive in completely.

Although textbooks are exceptional resources, our programs at Mingo Space are a great tool to help you learn Japanese. We provide not only the building blocks to help you get your start but we also have conversation practice and advanced lessons available. Our teachers are all native speakers which allows them to not only teach you how to speak the language but how to pair that with an understanding of the nuances that are so important to communication as well.

Contact us to get started today!

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