Japanese resources

I’m learning Japanese, on day 44. Here are the resources I’m using.

At this point I know:

  • The Pimsleur material up to lesson 44
  • The Hiragana
  • A primary definition + how to write about 360 Kanji

Pimsleur Japanese

An excellent, excellent audio program. I’ve used this to learn Italian and Portuguese, and it’s going well for Japanese so far. There are 120 lessons, which is great – Pimsleur normally just has 90. I’ll note I’ve had to do many lessons twice in a day – the other languages were easier because I already spoke French and Spanish.

Note that Pimsleur has two very important conditions. It fails if you don’t follow those, and most people fail to follow them:

  1. Do it every day.
  2. Do it out loud.

Simple isn’t easy. You can do non-verbal activities like cooking while you do Pimsleur, but you must do the two conditions.

Pimsleur will feel slow until around lessons 80-90. Then you’ll astonish native speakers by being able to hold conversations.

You can find torrents, but the quality is spotty. I recommend buying the MP3’s: http://www.pimsleur.com/learn-japanese/pimsleur-japanese-levels-1-4-mp3/9781442386150

Remembering the Kanji

I’m up to 360 Kanji, and it’s been pretty effortless. Known as RTK, Heisig’s method has you use imaginative stories to remember the Kanji. You start with basic components and use these to remember more complex forms.

You learn one key definition + how to draw the Kanji. Pronunciation comes later, in volume II. This may seem backwards, but it’s precisely by reducing the complexity of the task that RTK allows you to memorize Kanji far faster than you’re expected to be able to do so.

Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Remembering-Kanji-Complete-Japanese-Characters/dp/0824835921/

Rememering the Kana

Same as above, except much shorter, this book lets you learn Hiragana and Katakana. It took me all of three hours to learn Hiragana using this method.

Of course, I had to practice before I could read and write them fluently – that’s still ongoing. But I knew them all that quickly. Apps for practicing are below.

Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Remembering-Kana-Reading-Japanese-Syllabaries/dp/0824831640/

Apps: Skritter, Memrise, Imiwa?, Hiragana: Learn Japanese


I like this app for use with RTK. Skritter has RTK support build it. The stroke order recognition is training me to write correctly. I could use Anki, but I like the feedback this app offers. I use Skritter on my iphone and ipad. I try to use a stylus when possible.


Hochanh RTK app

This simple Github app is invaluable. It has a database of all Kanji used in RTK. Sometimes, I can’t really relate to a definition Heisig uses. If so, I’ll check here and see what alternate definitions have been proposed by members of Kanji Koohii, a forum thats uses RTK.



A dictionary. I don’t know too much about it yet, except it has excellent reviews. Crucially, on iphone you can use the traditional Chinese input to draw Kanji in order to search for them in this dictionary.

  1. General –> keyboards –> chinese traditional –> handwriting
  2. Select the keyboard, and draw the kanji in the app


Hiragana: Learn Japanese

I installed this on an old Android phone. It’s excellent for drilling Hiragana. I did this in order to solidify what I learned with Remembering the Kana.

I’d say I used it for 2-4 hours total? Then I was done with it.



I’ve just scratched the surface of what Memrise offers for japanese. I’m using a course that has written components for Pimsleur Japanese 1 and 2.

I recommend using these some time after the current lesson. You don’t want the written version to mess with your pronunciation. But once you have pronunciation down, I’ve found these help with long run memorization of Pimsleur material.

These courses have also been excellent Hiragana practice.


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