Japanese Study Tools: Part 2- Books

30 Oct

Okay! I know! It has taken me a long time to make this post, my apologies.

These textbooks are for Beginner and Intermediate. I have two reasons for not leaving a list for advanced Japanese: 1) I have not mastered  Japanese to the level I would like to yet (I’m working on it) and so, I do not feel qualified to give study materials I couldn’t give a detailed review on. 2) I feel at an advanced level, it is time to start being more diverse in study materials and practice Japanese using real world examples that are little but more difficult (i.e. newspapers, news channel, classic & contemporary Japanese literature, etc.)

Anyway, time to move on to the subject at hand!

始めましょう!(Hajimemashyou!/ Let’s start)



Level: Beginner

Honestly, I’ve heard of the Genki textbooks, but I’ve never gotten around it because my Japanese Language school made and provided their own textbooks. Now since I am in college, we were using these and I really like them! They are great for somebody who wants to teach themselves. The workbook and textbooks both come with CDs so, you can practice listening. It is well organized and they have accompanying books that deal with kana and basic kanji.  I do find them a bit too easy though, so if you are in the intermediate level, I would suggest another textbook (we’ll get to that later).

The link below is their website, where you can buy the books (Amazon is cheaper) and play free games that help with learning Japanese. Genki is probably the most used Japanese textbook on college campuses and it has plenty of reasons for being so.


And if you want a better review of this textbook, click here: http://www.tofugu.com/2008/02/28/japanese-textbook-review-genki-i/

An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese 


Level: Intermediate

Even though the authors of this book are different from the genki authors, I still found that it was very similar to genki in ways of organization. Each chapter starts off with a dialogue and expands. One thing I love about this textbook is that it avoids as much English as possible. It really pushes you and if you don’t know something, I suggest getting a dictionary (expand your Japanese lexicon!). The reason I will not recommend book dictionaries is because app dictionaries are cheaper and can be updated.

I advise clicking on the link below (their website) because they give you a free PDF sample of the textbook so, you can get a sense of what you are putting your money towards.


Kanji Look and Learn


Level: Beginner

This is by the same authors of Genki and I really like how they take the basic Japanese Kanji and give you enough practice with them. I suggest getting the workbook. When I first started learning at Kanji, I thought maybe staring at it for two hours or until my eyes started to water it might finally stick in my head….wrong method! Learning means using variety of study materials and having different methods so, you can actually retain the information. The Japanese government says a person needs to know at least 2,000 kanji to be considered fluent (I actually have a good book for this), but the average Japanese person probably knows about 3,500-4,000 kanji characters. Better start practicing! :O

And I think this textbook and workbook is a good introductory into beginner Kanji.


Essential Kanji


Level: Intermediate

Remember when I said you need to know at least 2,000 Kanji to be considered fluent by the Japanese government’s standards?

Yeah, that is where this book comes in.

This book is extremely well organized and easy to navigate through. One thing I disliked though is that the kanji are arranged by stroke order and not relevance. So, if you go through the book page by page, you may be learning kanji by what is easier to write rather than what is commonly used. The first few pages are important kanji though, but by the middle it starts to wane concerning relevance so, don’t be afraid to jump around. Either way, remember all the kanji in the book.

Lastly, when it comes to kanji, most Japanese people are forgetting how to write kanji with the technological advancement that is going on. So, I recommend memorizing the meaning and the kun and on yomi readings before learning how to write.

That is it for now!

My next post will be on what I have been up to while in college!


7 Responses to “Japanese Study Tools: Part 2- Books”

  1. Rachel P. March 8, 2014 at 10:22 pm #

    Hi, my name is Rachel. 🙂 I also have interest in Japanese. I studied out of the Genki book my first two years of college. Right now I am reviewing them over Spring Break, because I have some free time. I am in my senior year about to graduate with my undergraduate in English.

    I’d like to give you an idea or suggestion from my own experience, which relates to learning Japanese and sharing the Gospel. I really like studying Japanese, so I have kept up with it on my own time even after I had stopped studying it after two years, because my school didn’t offer more classes :(. I began looking around for other ways of practicing or studying Japanese. I’ve made a few Japanese friends, and this year I met a Japanese girl through Japanese club. I prayed for her for several months after meeting her, as is my habit for everyone that I come into contact with (the Lord is the one who draws peoples’ hearts to Him, who makes them grow, all the servant can do is plant seeds and water them– 1 Corinthians 3:6-9. And it is part of our responsibility to pray for others.) I invited her to come over to my house for Thanksgiving this year. She was an atheist, but energetic and seemed really desirous to get to know me and my family. So we continued to invite her over, and we presented the truth of the resurrection to her. We also presented to her the apologetic of morality. If God does not exist, how could good and evil exist? Why is it wrong for evil to go unpunished? Why do we feel things such as guilt in our hearts– having a conscience? She was very intrigued and said she had never heard or thought of such things. After explaining the existence of God to her (we also talked about the design of the universe, among other things) we presented the resurrection of Christ as a proof that he is truly from God. Over five hundred witnesses viewed Christ risen from the dead, and what distinguishes Jesus from all other prophets or religious leaders is that they are still in the grave, but He is not. That is an objective truth, seen from outside of us, proven by a miracle. (As opposed to some Christians who convert because they have a feeling inside their heart, which is not based on objective truth, feelings can be misleading.)

    She became a Christian in December. 🙂

    I hope this inspires you. Perhaps you can use your common interests with others, such as the Japanese language or culture, and draw people to Christ. Any common interest can help form an acquaintance, and it is our duty to be salt and light to all around us. Also, feel free to shoot me an email if you’d like to chat more 🙂


    • lovelyleblanc7 March 12, 2014 at 3:56 am #

      Wow! What an inspiring comment!
      Thank you so much Rachel.
      I’m curious, are you into apologetics?
      We only offer two years of Japanese in my college too, but what I did was I started a sign up sheet for students who were interested in taking a higher class. My Japanese professor considered it! So we might offer another year of Japanese! 😀

      • Rachel P. March 14, 2014 at 10:07 pm #

        Yes, I study apologetics. I thought I had showed that in my earlier comment, but maybe it wasn’t so clear, lol. I didn’t know about them until about two years ago, so I have listened to several audio messages/ debates that are about an hour long, for example from William Lane Craig and those on the Stand to Reason team. I have read all of Cold Case Christianity by J Warner Wallace, listened to “Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing your Chrsitian Convictions”, “The Case for Faith,” “Jesus Among Other Gods” by Ravi Zacharias, “The Reason for God” by Timothy Keller, and “The Case for Life” by Scott Klusendorf (the last one is a pro-life apologetic.) It is so helpful to have audio things available! I am able to listen to them while I am driving or cleaning, which helps a lot because I am busy with homework and part-time jobs and all. It is part of my work to be prepared to give a reason for the hope I have.

      • lovelyleblanc7 March 15, 2014 at 1:28 am #

        You are awesome! I love apologetics! To find somebody who is interested in Japanese and apologetics is too awesome. William Lane Craig is very good apologist.I’m pro-life also.
        I’ve heard of all those titles; they are all very good.

  2. Rachel P. March 15, 2014 at 3:18 am #

    I’d suggest seeing if your local libraries have any audio apologetics to rent. That is how I got access to listen to some of these.

    • Rachel P. March 15, 2014 at 3:18 am #

      A good solution for poor college students, lol 🙂

    • lovelyleblanc7 March 19, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

      Thanks! Will do!

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