10 Best Apps to Learn Japanese

Photo of author
Written By Francesca Stephens

Founder of Linguatics. Passionate multilinguist.

Without a doubt, apps are the fastest way to learn a new language.

They are also engaging and immersive, not to mention very fun.

And best Japanese learning apps are no exception.

For today’s article, we’ve rounded up the 10 best apps to learn Japanese.

We’ll show you different types of apps, so everyone can find something for themselves.

Some of them are ideal for beginners, and others offer advanced content for experienced learners.

We’ll tell you all about their main features and benefits.

So, whether you’re a beginner looking for gamified Japanese apps or an intermediate learner searching for more serious programs, we’ve got you covered!

10 Best Apps to Learn Japanese

1. Rocket Japanese

Rocket Japanese app

Rocket Languages is undeniably one of the most popular language-learning platforms.

It’s well-structured, versatile, and efficient. Therefore, it’s arguably one of the best apps to learn Japanese.

But does it offer what you’re looking for?

Rocket Japanese Features

Well, one of the best things about Rocket Japanese is the fact that it’s focused on all four language skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing.

So, the Rocket Japanese app will provide you with well-rounded lessons that will surely take your skills to the next level.

These lessons are linear and easy to follow.

And they combine audio tracks, interactive exercises, and useful study tools.

You can also a Benchmark tool to check your current Japanese level, a Saved Vocab feature, flashcards, and so on.

There are also Rocket Reinforcement activities to help you strengthen your knowledge.

Also, Rocket Japanese will keep you motivated, but it doesn’t have too many gamified elements. You’ll be earning points and taking quizzes, but you won’t get distracted by too many useless features.

It’s a highly effective program designed to teach you how to speak Japanese in a proper way.

Content and Benefits

Rocket Japanese lessons are divided into 3 levels.

And each level has several sections: Interactive Audio, Language & Culture, Writing, and Survival Kit.

You can start with Interactive Audio lessons. If you’re a beginner, you’ll learn how to introduce yourself, order food (and tea, of course), get around Kyoto, and have basic conversations in Japanese.

Listening to native speakers talking about common topics will help you pick up on new words through context.

Furthermore, Language & Culture lessons will tell you how the Japanese language works as well as provide you with valuable cultural insights.

The writing section is really important if you want to master Japanese writing systems. It will teah you Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji characters.

Finally, the Survival Kit lessons will show you essential terminology and extra vocabulary.

All in all, Rocket Japanese will take you from the basics to the more advanced lessons.

It will give you a chance to learn at your own pace, but also provide you with a clear, linear curriculum ideal for people who prefer structured learning.

Who is Rocket Japanese Best For?

Rocket Japanese is the best app to learn Japanese for beginners and intermediate learners searching for reliable, well-structured online Japanese lessons. Read our full Rocket Languages review.

Start your free trial of Rocket Japanese here!

2. Mondly

Mondly Japanese learning app

Mondly Japanese is definitely one of the most innovative learning Japanese apps.

Besides the standard version, the platform offers three more apps: Mondly VR, Mondly AR, and Mondly Kids.

Mondly Features

Yes, you got that right – you can learn Japanese in virtual reality.

But even the standard Mondly app offers an immersive learning experience.

The app combines audio tracks (with dialogues), interactive exercises, quizzes, and challenges. And there’s a speech recognition engine to help you with your pronunciation.

Daily lessons are rather short and concise, so you can make progress by studying only 5 minutes a day.

You can also create streaks, earn points, and have fun with other gamified features.

With Mondly, learning Japanese does feel like playing a game. Especially if you opt for the Mondly VR.

On the other hand, the app is efficient and well-designed, so you will surely be able to improve your comprehension of the Japanese language.

Content and Benefits

Mondly Japanese lessons include conversation exercises designed to prepare you for real-life situations.

As a beginner, you’ll learn how to introduce yourself, get around the city, order food, and so on.

And if you’re an intermediate learner, you will work on expanding your vocabulary and learn how to engage in more complex conversations.

But Mondly’s Chatbot is probably one of the app’s biggest advantages. This kind of smart technology will help you work on your communication skills.

Although chatting with a Mondly bot isn’t the same as having a conversation with a real teacher, some people will find this more comfortable. It’s sometimes easier to make mistakes when nobody is listening to you (but you’ll get instant feedback anyway.)

Also, you’ll be learning vocabulary through phrases rather than individual words.

All things considered, it seems like Mondly knows how to teach Japanese in an effective way that won’t overwhelm you with too much information at the same time.

Who is Mondly Japanese Best For?

Mondly is the best Japanese learning app for beginners who prefer immersive, game-like learning programs.

3. Mango Languages

Mango Languages is another popular app to learn Japanese.

It’s fresh-looking and very efficient.

But what makes it different from other apps?

Mango Languages Features

First of all, the Mango Languages app is based on intuitive language construction.

With the so-called intuitive chunking approach, the app will teach you vocabulary by pointing out lexical chunks.

It uses colors and semantic color mapping to help you connect Japanese with your native language.

And it helps you learn the language through context, both conversational and cultural.

The app combines high-quality audio tracks, interactive exercises, and memory-building activities.

It will also record your speech and compare it with native-speaker audio.

Moreover, the app will adapt to your learning style; as you move forward, you’ll get lessons based on your progress and unique learning behaviors.

Mango Languages really did a good job in using technology to enhance every user’s learning process.

Content and Benefits

The Mango Languages app uses a mix of reading and listening activities.

You’ll also get memory-building and critical-thinking exercises as well as grammar and culture notes.

All core lessons (chapters) are very easy to digest.

Each chapter of the course starts with the lesson material being presented by native speakers in a conversational context.

As you progress, you’ll learn to interpret idioms, figures of speech, and non-translatable concepts. And that’s really important if you want to really understand the Japanese language (and any other, for that matter.)

You can also choose the topics you’re interested in, which is useful to learners who are already familiar with the basics.

Overall, the Mango Languages app will provide you with an immersive and interesting learning experience.

Who is Mango Languages Best For?

Mango Languages is arguably one of the best apps to learn Japanese thanks to its smart technology, beautiful design, and versatile exercises.

It’s perfect for visual learners and people who like intuitive learning.

4. JapanesePod101

And if you’re an aural learner, you’ll probably like what JapanesePod101 has to offer.

Let us introduce you to this beloved language app.

JapanesePod101 Features

The JapanesePod101 app uses a podcast-style format to deliver its content.

But it also has video clips and exercises, so it’s not all about listening.

And it uses flashcards, word lists, and slideshows.

The app is focused on reading, writing, grammar, and culture; therefore, you’ll get a well-rounded curriculum that will prepare you for real-life situations.

It’s not very heavy on grammar though.

For the most part, you’ll listen to dialogues and learn practical vocabulary, step-by-step.

The atmosphere is very relaxed, and speakers (teachers) will break everything down for you.

There are also Line-by-line Audio and Vocabulary features to help you out.

Content and Benefits

If you want to learn Japanese in a casual atmosphere, JapanesePod101 would be a good option for you.

There’s a Pathway feature to help you navigate your lessons and add more structure to your learning process.

And with the Premium Plus subscription, you’ll have the possibility to have personalized guidance from a teacher (via private messenger.) That’s a big advantage for people who want to get feedback, corrections, and answers to their questions.

With this Japanese learning app, you’ll get enough knowledge to have a casual, fluid conversation in Japanese.

You’ll learn all the Japanese phrases and expressions.

And last but not least, the platform has an active Youtube channel, so you can join live classes, watch tutorials, and so on.

Who is JapanesePod101 Best For?

JapanesePod101 is the best app to learn Japanese for aural and verbal learners, but it’s also convenient for anyone who wants to improve their Japanese comprehension skills.

It’s also great for anyone who wants to have an option to get feedback from a real teacher.

5. Duolingo

Duolingo Japanese

You probably know about Duolingo. Well, everybody does.

That’s because it’s a very simple, practical, and efficient app.

And learning Japanese with Duolingo is no exception. So, let’s see if it’s the right choice for you.

Duolingo Features

The Duolingo app is free, but if you want to use it offline and have some extra features, you can pay for Duolingo Plus.

The app is based on translation and repetition, so it’s a great option if you want to expand your vocabulary.

However, Duolingo also offers games, podcasts, exercises, and learning through storytelling (with Duolingo Stories.)

It’s a rather versatile app, but people mostly use it to learn new vocabulary.

Content and Benefits

With the Duolingo app, you can learn how to speak and read Japanese.

The app will introduce you to hiragana, katakana, and kanji characters. However, it might be a bit challenging to understand it with Duolingo methods.

You’ll also learn how to pronounce Japanese words.

But what really makes Duolingo so popular is its simplicity and design. It’s very practical, engaging, and user-friendly.

It has in-built leaderboards, achievement badges, and other features to keep you motivated and perhaps a little bit addicted.

And if you combine it with another app, you might get a well-rounded online Japanese course.

Who is Duolingo Best For?

If you’re looking for the best free app to learn Japanese, you should consider using Duolingo.

However, the Duolingo Japanese app probably works best as a supplemental learning resource. Read our full Duolingo review.

6. Busuu

Busuu Japanese

Busuu is another popular language learning platform.

It offers fun and immersive Japanese app-based lessons.

So, let’s see if it grabs your attention!

Busuu Features

Firstly, Busuu takes learning languages very seriously.

On the other hand, it provides a relaxed learning environment.

The app is a mix of short lessons, listening and comprehension exercises, and writing challenges.

It uses a smart vocabulary and a grammar review tool to know which words you’ve learned and which ones might be challenging for you. And then you’ll get appropriate quizzes to make sure you memorize everything.

The Conversations feature is also very useful.

Moreover, you can join live group lessons with a qualified language teacher, and the number of lessons depends on your subscription plan.

And you can book a private virtual lesson for an extra fee.

There’s also a free version of Busuu, but the paid version has more material and features.

Nevertheless, one thing is for sure: this app will definitely help you achieve your goals.

Content and Benefits

As Busuu creators claim, 22 hours of Busuu Premium are equal to one college semester of language study.

The Japanese course on Busuu is developed using the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR.) And the CEFR on Busuu is broken down into six stages, ranging from complete beginner to fluent.

The C1 course is currently only available for English though.

Either way, the Busuu app offers Hiragana and Katakana courses, the complete Japanese course, and Japanese for Travel.

No matter what you choose, you’ll create your own study plan and learn Japanese vocabulary and grammar.

With Busuu Premium, you can also get feedback from their community of native speakers.

You can also get a Busuu Certificate for every level passed, and that’s a big plus.

Another benefit is the possibility to learn offline. That can really come in handy when you’re traveling.

Who is Busuu Best For?

Busuu is a great learning source for Japanese learners of all levels.

It’s ideal for people who want to learn Japanese because they’re about to travel to Japan.

And it’s convenient for anyone who wants to get a certificate of completion.

7. Lingodeer

Lingodeer Japanese language grammar app

If you want to delve deeper into Japanese grammar, Lingodeer is a great option.

This app for learning Japanese will allow you to learn grammar rules without feeling confused or overwhelmed.

So, how does it work?

Lingodeer Features

Lingodeer has a grammar-based curriculum created by experienced language teachers.

You’ll learn the language in a natural way: through context. But you’ll get clear and thorough explanations.

Lessons are voiced by native speakers, and they will introduce you to Japanese grammar in a relaxed way.

With Target Trainings, you can also pick a focus; vocabulary or grammar.

The app also has an in-built flashcard function, downloadable Knowledge Cards, and quizzes and exercises.

And it can remind you when you need to study.

Content and Benefits

With the Lingodeer app, learning Japanese grammar will be so much easier.

The app is well-designed and easy to navigate.

And it’s customizable: you can adjust the background color, a type of script or the narrator’s voice, and so on.

Moreover, you can take Lingodeer lessons offline.

The app also offers a silent study mode, which can also come in handy.

You should also know that Lingodeer won’t only teach you grammar. Meanwhile, you’ll actively work on reading and speaking skills.

And you’ll learn interesting cultural facts with the Lingodeer Story section.

Finally, grammar is considered one of the most challenging parts of learning a new language. But it’s also incredibly important, and if you understand grammar, you’ll easily understand the whole language.

In other words, Lingodeer will help you build a strong foundation and help you understand how the Japanese language really works.

Who is Lingodeer Best For?

Lingodeer is the best app to learn Japanese for people searching for grammar-based programs.

8. Rosetta Stone

When it comes to language learning online courses and apps, Rosetta Stone is a familiar name.

And it offers one of the best Japanese learning apps.

But does it meet all your needs?

Rosetta Stone Features

Rosetta Stone is actually a great conversational Japanese app.

It’s based on immersive learning, and it will allow you to make your own conclusions rather than provide you with explanations straight away.

According to Rosetta Stone, that’s a very natural and effective way to learn a new language.

You’ll start by connecting the word with a picture. As you progress, you’ll realize how the language works and pick up on new words every time.

The app uses the TruAccent speech engine, so you’ll also get instant feedback on your pronunciation.

And the app’s Phrasebook contains all Japanese greetings, phrases, and expressions.

You can use Rosetta Stone on your desktop, tablet, and smartphone; you can simply pick up where you left off.

Content and Benefits

The Rosetta Stone app offers a full language course, which means you’ll get well-structured Japanese lessons focused on the development of all the important language skills.

You’ll learn the Japanese alphabet and characters, which is the foundation of the Japanese language.

Later on, you’ll start learning about different topics. Lessons are centered around common topics and practical vocabulary.

You can listen and learn offline with downloadable Audio Companion lessons, which is very convenient.

Another benefit of the Rosetta Stone app is live tutoring. It’s optional but very beneficial; suggestions of their native-speaking tutors can really be helpful.

The platform also has an active blog and social media, so you can stay updated and also connect to fellow learners.

Overall, the Rosetta Stone app can provide you with an immersive learning experience and get you to speak Japanese right away.

Who is Rosetta Stone Best For?

Rosetta Stone is a great learning source for anyone looking for a well-structured online Japanese program. Read our full Rosetta Stone review.

9. Pimsleur

Pimsleur Japanese

The Pimsleur app also offers a full Japanese language course.

It’s based on an effective language-learning system.

Pimsleur Features

The Pimsleur Method is centered around the so-called graduated interval recall. According to Pimsleur, if you repeat the words you’ve learned at specific time intervals, they will move into your long-term memory.

This method is also focused on activating anticipation skills and learning core vocabulary.

So, the Pimsleur Japanese course is given within the context of the conversation. This kind of organic learning is very natural and effective.

In a nutshell, this Japanese learning app will provide you with 30-minute core lessons, reading lessons, and digital flashcards.

You can take Pimsleur lessons on any device, and as they are audio-based, you can take them anytime, anywhere.

Content and Benefits

Pimsleur promises to teach you this: to understand what you hear, respond easily and naturally, and pronounce words with a near-native accent.

It also promises you’ll speak Japanese at an intermediate level in just 30 days.

Well, that depends on your persistence and time commitment, but the app is designed to get you quick results.

On the other hand, it doesn’t do things superficially. With high-quality audio lessons and exercises, you’ll build your language skills step-by-step.

The app won’t overwhelm you with too much information at the same time, so you’ll be able to really internalize everything.

Another benefit is definitely hands-free learning (for core lessons.)

You can learn Japanese while you’re walking, cooking, driving… And that really be convenient if you don’t have enough time on your hands.

Who is Pimsleur Best For?

Pimsleur is one of the top Japanese learning apps because it’s efficient and practical.

It’s ideal for people who want to learn on the go.

And it’s great for anyone who’s planning a trip to Japan and wants to grasp the basics as quickly as possible. Read our full Pimsleur review.

10. Yomiwa

Yomiwa Japanese app

Yomiwa is a very useful Japanese app focused on the translation of kanji.

It has a lot of features that can come in handy while you’re learning the language or traveling around Japan.

Yomiwa Features

Kanji characters are adapted from Chinese characters; it’s a system of symbols that represent words or ideas.

Kanji is considered by many the hardest part of learning Japanese. And while Kanji characters are rather complex, technology made it a lot easier to learn them.

And that’s why you’ll need the Yomiwa app – in a way, it works like a dictionary.

Its search function allows you to input words in any kind of alphabet (Kanjis, Hiraganas, Katakanas, Romajis.) You can also write full sentences.

Moreover, the app features a powerful Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology.

So, Yomiwa can recognize more than 4000 Japanese characters in your pictures or with your device camera. It works offline as well.

And the Handwriting Recognition engine recognizes Japanese characters from your touch-screen.

There is both free and paid version of the app.

Content and Benefits

As you can see, Yomiwa can really make things easier for you.

Its OCR modes can help you read newspapers, books, restaurant menus, and signs.

But you’ll also get information about Japanese characters and Kanjis as well as sentence examples.

So, Yomiwa isn’t only a translation tool. If you combine it with another app, it can definitely help you improve your comprehension and reading skills.

You can also build vocabulary lists and listen to the pronunciation of words, which some translation-based apps don’t provide.

And you can share pictures on the Yomiwa Wall to get help from the user community, which is also a plus.

Who is Yomiwa Best For?

Yomiwa is the best Japanese learning app for people who want to master Kanji and expand their vocabulary.

It’s also a nice extra learning resource and a useful tool that help you get around Japan more easily.

How to Choose the Best App to Learn Japanese

Are you still wondering what is the best app to learn Japanese?

Well, maybe you’re still not sure what to look for in an app.

First of all, your Japanese learning app should fit your goals, level, and abilities.

Most of the apps we mentioned today are great for beginners. So, if you’re just starting out, you shouldn’t have any problems in finding the right program.

But if you’re already familiar with the Japanese language, you need to make sure the app has enough advanced content.

And don’t forget that some platforms like to advertise that they offer lessons for all levels, but they actually don’t have detailed, quality content for advanced students.

That’s why Japanese apps reviews are very helpful.

Best apps to learn Japanese

Furthermore, you need to be aware of your time commitment. Do you want to get daily bite-sized lessons? Or do you want to study once a week for a couple of hours?

Luckily, most of these apps are self-paced and flexible when it comes to schedule. However, some of them are meant to deliver quick results, and others don’t require continuity in learning.

But it all comes down to your expectations and goals.

Are you planning to visit Japan and do you want to know how to read Japanese letters? Or do you want to delve deeper into Japanese grammar and eventually become a fluent speaker?

All apps are created with a specific learner in mind. Also, some of them cover all language skills, and some of them are focused on one element of the Japanese language.

And that’s the charm of Japanese learnings apps – they really allow you to work on what you want/need.

But more about the benefits of using a Japanese app in a second.

When it comes to choosing the right app, we just want to add that regardless of what you choose, you’re going to have a great learning experience. Best apps for learning Japanese are designed to ensure you a relaxed yet productive learning environment.

What Are the Benefits of Using an App to Learn Japanese

We hope everything seems a bit clearer now.

But another reason why we believe you’re going to have a great learning experience is the fact that most of these apps are customizable. You can simply adjust them according to your preferences.

And that’s definitely one of the benefits of using an app to learn Japanese.

Also, you can find an app suitable for your learning style. If you’re a visual learner, there are many great apps with visual cues and video clips. And if you learn faster by listening, you can opt for a podcast-style format.

Either way, you can find an app that fits your needs perfectly.

Moreover, apps to learn Japanese are highly effective, interactive, and immersive. You’ll not only learn how to speak and write Japanese, but you will also learn a lot about Japanese culture, traditions, and customs.

And getting to know another culture can only broaden your horizons.

Learning Japanese

Apart from making you even more open-minded, learning a foreign language like Japanese will also boost your brainpower; it will improve your memory and attention span as well as enhance your problem-solving skills.

The thing is, language learning apps always include different kinds of exercises. And some of them require you to really think about that question for a bit.

And as some of the apps are based on intuitive learning, you’ll also improve your creative thinking capacity.

So, besides acquiring valuable language skills, you’ll also give your brain a nice workout.

And trust us: you will feel amazing after learning the basics.

The Japanese language can be quite challenging, mostly because of its writing systems, and knowing you managed to master it feels great.

More importantly, reliable language apps make learning Japanese a little easier. They use cutting-edge technology and research methods to help you understand the language.

And that’s what ultimately makes them so popular and successful.

Final Thoughts

We hope this article helped you make the right choice but also encouraged you to start learning Japanese right away.

It’s a beautiful language that will help you understand a fascinating culture.

And although it seems hard to learn, these Japanese learning apps will help you build a solid foundation in a rather quick and easy way.

However, the results also depend on your persistence and self-discipline.

As is the case with any skill, learning how to speak Japanese fluently requires practice, practice, practice.

So, pick the best Japanese learning app for you, be patient, and enjoy the process.

And you never know where that will take you!

You May Also Like…

10 Best Online Japanese Courses