Learn Japanese Online – For Free
Quick Overview Of The Language Content Below
- Learn Japanese The Real Way It’s Used Here in Japan
- Japanese Alphabet – The Myth And Its Secret Nuances
- The Best Order To Learn The 3 Japanese Scripts
- Does Anyone Use Rōmaji? Is It Visible In Japan?
- Japanese Grammar – Who Can Possibly Endure That?
- The Structure Of This Learning Japanese Website
- Japanese Words – Is This Website Only About Words?
- Can I Submit Questions? Will You Answer Them?
I’m learning Japanese here in Japan. You can learn it too (for free!) through this website.
You as a visitor and reader of this website can benefit of what I am sharing with you – to improve your own learning experience of the fascinating and unique Japanese language.
Don’t listen to the false office gurus out there who try to sell you stuff and claim that you will learn Japanese in only a few hours or in just a few days. There is no magic button.
Sneaky sales people who claim that, they only want to get their hands into your wallet exploiting your wants and needs of learning a foreign language – such as Japanese.
Hang around on my site and I will show you the same things for free. No cost. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Save your money and use it later on to for example visit Japan some day in near future and enjoy the mind blowing experience of your lifetime. It’s worth every penny!
My goal is to simplify the Japanese language and grammar as much as I can for you, so that it doesn’t take a degree in rocket science to start learning this captivating language.
Knowledge like this is available out on the Internet, but often it’s so boring. Recognize it?
Not to mention the common lack of user friendly explanations. Especially when it comes to pronunciation and how to use words in sentences to reach various politeness levels.
Yes, to be polite is a big thing here in Japan and that is directly shown by the choice of your words that you use with people from different society hierarchy levels.
As a foreigner those fine nuances or subtle differences can be tricky to understand.
Therefore – don’t try to learn it from someone who doesn’t even live in Japan. You risk to get it wrong. What you need is a strong and clearly understood foundation to build on.
For your own best – try to learn Japanese the way that it’s used in real here in Japan – by Japanese people who know how to speak it correct.
That’s where I get my Japanese language knowledge from. Not from some quick book error prone sentences with no idea of sounding or grammar structure.
I will teach you in standard Japanese, but also explain some Japanese dialects and their differences. You learn not only the language from its source, but also the Japanese culture as well as getting a glimpse of the differences within Japan itself.
Have you ever been curious about what exist outside of the tourist zones? I can bring you there through this language website, because this is the original and real Japan where I live and exist. Not in a mega city culturally polluted by hoards of western tourists.
There are hardly any tourists here where I live. Mostly only untouched original Japanese environments and jaw dropping awesome experiences – if you have an interest in Japan.
This part of Japan can be ancient and mystic at the same time as it can be top modern and highly futuristic. That’s one of the fascinations about Japan which captivates me. Combinations of old and new at the same time.
Those of you who know me on a personal level are fully aware of that I like hyper modern stuff like self learning neural network based advanced intelligent robotics (sci-fi style), at the same time as I pay deep attention to historical influences and ancient escapades of worldliness. Basically I like to go outdoors and see the world around me.
The people around me here are original Japanese and the only language that I hear everywhere I go is also Japanese. You can hardly find a more Japanese area without foreigners than here where I live.
Lots of things to see, but no western tourists. It’s a great place to learn real Japanese.
Some of the Japanese people here said to me that I am the first white person that they have seen and met in real. This part of Japan is located far out on the countryside, but don’t let that fool you. The so called countryside here in Japan is much more city side than the normal towns or cities in Sweden in Europe.
If you then consider the city side here in Japan, let’s say like Tokyo – such doesn’t even exist in Sweden. If you compare like that then this is a different planet.
The most common question that I get from people who want to learn Japanese is this:
-”What is the Japanese alphabet called?”
Some people claim that there is a fourth one called Rōmaji, but Rōmaji is only a way to write the sounds from those three Japanese scripts with a western Latin alphabet, so that people who don’t know the Japanese way of writing can have a chance to read the sounds by using the western alphabet. That’s not a correct match – so please avoid it.
Personally I recommend you to stay away (!) from Rōmaji as much as you can, because here in Japan you have no use of Rōmaji. Signs are written with Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana – not with Rōmaji.
As a total beginner you will encounter (and for a while need the help of) Rōmaji to get a hint or clue about how Hiragana and Katakana are pronounced.
After that please get used to the Japanese way of writing Hiragana and Katakana. From then on don’t even look at Rōmaji.
There are bad books out there that explain Japanese with only Rōmaji. For your own good, please avoid those books as the plague. They only do you a disservice by not getting you used into reading Hiragana.
Kanji is the most difficult of the three Japanese script systems. It contains thousands of so called logographic Chinese characters. Logographic is just a fancy word meaning that each symbol represents a word or the smallest tiny meaningful unit of a language.
In ancient Egypt there were hieroglyphs. Painted or carved images that mean one word each. Japanese Kanji writing system is based on a similar concept, but Kanji has its roots in the ancient Chinese writing symbols that contain lots of drawing lines.
Those symbols have evolved from pictures into text that remind about those original pictures of situations or thoughts.
If you are a manga or anime lover and like to read cartoons, then learning Kanji will be something of an extra fun for you because you can see it as an animation of pictures that describe a specific situation. It will be particularly easy for you because you are trained in thinking in terms of pictures.
As a foreigner or a complete beginner to Kanji – it’s a common situation to feel that learning Kanji is like an overwhelming and daunting task. If you feel like that – don’t worry!
There is a simple system for learning it and I have discovered it over here in Japan. For me it changed from having been totally boring to instead become fun learning Kanji. Can you believe that? I will show you how to learn Kanji in an easy and fun way throughout this site.
You can learn it too and it doesn’t have to be boring at all. I will make it fun for you with some detailed animations that make the explanation stuck in your mind – so that you can’t forget it.
By understanding which picture or situation that each Kanji origins form, then it becomes so much easier to learn it. Big difference.
It’s like reading simple cartoons. Each Kanji actually origins from a picture or a pictogram (describing an idea or thought in ancient China). Some of those Kanji symbols are highly humorous and almost impossible to forget once you get them described – even for the first time.
Besides the Kanji symbols are broken down into smaller pieces. Imagine toy Lego. If you build a toy castle by Lego, then you use small bricks and build something larger by leveraging those small bricks. Each brick would represent a part of a Kanji symbol.
In language terms such is called a Radical. Kanji is built up by smaller pieces called radicals.
When you learn the most simple Kanji symbols and their meanings, then you will be able to use that knowledge to recycle your already learned Kanji symbols into so called radicals (imagine Lego blocks) and combine them together to form a new Kanji word. Easy as that!
That way you form a totally new Kanji symbol with a different meaning – based on your previously learned Kanji symbols (that you combine in a unique way). It becomes fun.
You will be surprised how easy it becomes to learn Kanji that way. It makes sense too!
Just after a short glimpse of an already learned Kanji symbol you will immediately be able to recognize it by its picture or funny situation that it represents. You don’t even need to finish watching all those detailed lines. Great, huh?
The only thing you need to read it – is to recognize the situation and understand the meaning. Your eye and brain is built for this.
If you for example watch a real bird…do you need to count all of its feathers, make detailed analysis of the bird’s eye pattern and its claw structure before you realize that what you are looking at is actually just a bird? No, you don’t! Nobody does.
Your brain and mind is built to not waste time and immediately recognize that it’s a bird. You only need to have a very short glimpse of a real bird to understand that it is a bird.
The same thing applies to Japanese Kanji symbols. Once you have learned the Kanji symbols, or even parts of it – then you will easily be able to recognize it without even seeing all of its details.
The same way that you can detect a bird up in the sky without clearly seeing all details about it.
Personally I noticed that I began reading Japanese Kanji symbols faster than western words using the western alphabet. That’s amazing, isn’t it?! You can learn the same thing too. I will happily teach you. For free! No charge. It doesn’t get cheaper than that.
It is crucial to your learning success that you become proficient in this order:
Why this specific order? The reason why I recommend you to learn the Japanese scripts in this determined order is that you will be able to understand as much Japanese in as short time as possible by following this. You want to be efficient, right?!
Hiragana is a Japanese syllabary and contains 46 characters. Each character represents a sound. Just like each of the characters in a western alphabet represent a distinct sound. Kind of same thing, but different sounds.
When school kids in Japan learn how to write in Japanese, then they begin by learning Hiragana. So should you do too.
All original Japanese words can be written in Hiragana. Even if you don’t know how to write Kanji, then you can express yourself by writing in Hiragana. With original Japanese words I mean words that are not imported from other modern foreign languages.
For that (loan words from other modern languages) the Japanese people use another script called Katakana. As soon as you see a word written in Katakana, then you can be sure that exactly that word is a loan word from another language than Japanese.
Katakana has same many characters (46 of them) as Hiragana. They represent the exactly same sounds as in Hiragana. Only the way of writing them is different.
Once you learn to recognize the sounds that Hiragana characters represent, then it will be easy for you to learn Katakana.
Not only by that they represent the same sounds, but also because Katakana is easier for foreigners to learn since those characters are easier to draw.
Foreigners who only have a short vacation visit purpose in Japan can skip Hiragana and go directly for Katakana.
Why? Restaurant menus are often written in Katakana, so if you for example want to be able to read the word coffee in Japanese, then Katakana is the loan word script system for you to focus on. But be aware of that the main words in Japanese are written in Hiragana and in Kanji.
You can easily see the difference between Hiragana and Katakana characters. The characters in Hiragana are curve linear, meaning that the strokes of the characters bend a bit in a circular way. Not stright lines. Instead each and every line leans a bit or is slightly curved.
Katakana on the other hand has a more straight line style. The characters in Katakana look more simple as well. Once you learn Hiragana, then it will be very easy for you to spot Katakana.
Rōmaji is the Roman Latin alphabet originally used in Europe. The same that the English alphabet is based on. In Japan you will use the Rōmaji characters when you type on a Japanese computer – or on any computer that uses the Japanese character system.
To explain this we need to understand a little bit about the differences between the western alphabet and let’s say the Japanese Hiragana script.
Our dear western alphabet has only one single character per sound. For example the first character in the western alphabet is the character A. For us westerners it can be written both as an uppercase “A” as well as a lowercase “a”.
In the Hiragana script each character has only one version. There are no uppercase nor lowercase version of characters. There is only one way of writing each character. Great!
The sounds in Hiragana are different than the sounds in the western alphabet. Still they have similarities.
A few of the Hiragana characters can be expressed by just one western character. Such example is the character “A” (as written in Rōmaji by using the western alphabet). That sound exists in Hiragana as well as in the western alphabet.
Then there are sounds in Hiragana that require several western alphabet characters to express it. Such example is HA. In Hiragana the sound of HA is just one single character, while in the western alphabet it takes two characters (“H” + “A” = 2 western characters) to describe it.
Just like I meantioned earlier…all sounds that you learn in Hiragana – you can be sure that those exact same sounds also exist in Katakana. It’s simply written with a different character.
Now when we know that single Japanese Hiragana characters can be written with several western alphabet characters, then we are ready to understand how to type it into a computer.
Let’s say that you want to write the HA character in Hiragana on a Japanese computer keyboard. How do you do it? How do you find that character on the keyboard?
Here is the answer. You first switch over to Hiragana mode. That is done in a different way depending if you are using a PC or a MAC. I will show you later on (through this website) in a video how to switch between Hiragana, Katakana, Kanji and Rōmaji on a computer keyboard.
Now when you are in Hiragana mode on your computer (or ordinary mobile phone, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Android device, Japanese hologram mobile or whatever electronic writing gadget that you are using), then just press the ordinary western character “H” on the keyboard and then “A” on the keyboard.
Same way as you would have written the character combination of “HA” in English.
The magic happens by automatic when the Japanese computer input system detects the order of your keyboard presses.
If it detects that you typed a valid character combination that exists in your current already set writing mode (Hiragana, Katakana, Kanji, Rōmaji) then the characters change automatically from the Rōmaji version of HA to the actual Hiragana representation of that same character.
You just typed in “H” and “A”. That’s all.
If you repeat the same thing again, writing “H” + “A” then it should now say “HAHA” on your screen, but with two identical Hiragana characters next to each other. More like “HA” + “HA”, where each “HA” is changed into a Hiragana character representation of that sound.
In the western society if somebody says -”Haha”, then it means some kind of laughter or funny moment. In Japanese the word “HAHA” means mother…or mommy…mom.
What if you now would like to switch from Hiragana and get the HAHA word into Kanji?
Simple! Just press the space bar on your keyboard – and the Hiragana portion of the text gets automatically translated into the more complicated Kanji character – meaning mom.
Ok, here is the recap! What you do is that you type in through how your Hiragana or Katakana word is represented in Rōmaji (with western alphabet characters).
Because of that you have set your writing mode to let’s say Hiragana, then the western characters get automatically switched into Japanese Hiragana characters – as soon as a valid combination is detected.
If you then press space when there is a valid Kanji representation of Hiragana characters – then it turns into Kanji. Magic! Isn’t it?!
Japanese Grammar – Who Can Possibly Endure That?
Simple answer. Anyone can understand Japanese grammar as long as it is explained in an easy to understand way.
My goal of this free language website is to provide Japanese grammar explanations that ordinary people (like you and I) without any previous grammatical skills – can learn to master without experiencing mental pain on the way.
There are plenty of horror examples out there on the Internet about how to not explain Japanese grammar.
I want to find a cure against that by taking my time to explain grammar in such a simple way that everybody can understand.
For that I’m going illustrate it for you by drawing graphics. This website is my personal contribution to the world and I want it to be as learning friendly as possible.
Take a look at the top of the screen and you will see that I have made different tabs, named Learn Japanese, Hiragana, Katana, Kanji, Rōmaji, Japanese Grammar, Japanese Dictionary and finally Japan.
These are the sections that I consider to be most important for you to take a look at.
I have also built several categories where I regularly publish content about Japan and how to learn the elegant Japanese language.
Over time I will develop and publish mini-courses for you on this site – to help you improve your efforts in learning how to read, write, speak and listen to Japanese.
You get all of those covered in detail. One at a time. Remember – this is free of charge. No need to pay for this unless you wish to donate money by kindness or get access to some possibly future VIP material.
This website becomes what you as readers give me feedback about. I simply give you what you ask for and want.
In case you are interested, then I can also develop audio courses (on mp3 and CD-disc).
Interactive mini-games about learning Japanese is another goal that I have while building out this website. Since I’m a software developer then I can custom build such small language training based games to your likings.
If you have any suggestions – please feel welcome to contact me. I’m open to ideas.
No, this website is not only about words. The domain name is WordsInJapanese.com, but the website contains so much more than only Japanese words.
Consider this being a complete website about Japan with an insider view of its society – including the Japanese language and its practical every day use. Of course seen from a westerner’s point of view – since I’m from Europe, but live my daily life here in Japan.
Yes – of course! Please do. You are welcome! I will answer questions that make sense about learning Japanese or understanding the society here in Japan as a foreigner.
Private questions are ok too, as long as it provides value to the readers of this site.
For example a question like this: -”What did you need to prepare when you decided to move to Japan?”.