For self study: Genki, Japanese From Zero or Minna No Nihongo

I find the new Tobira Beginning Japanese series to be more beginner friendly than Genki. Especially for self learners. It’s modern, colorful, and very well structured. Plus, if you are deciding on an intermediate textbook after finishing this series, the very popular Tobira: A gateway to Advanced Japanese will be an easy pick to continue your Japanese studies.

Here’s a sample PDF of the entire chapter 4 of the first book:

Book 1 (Amazon JP):

Book 2 (Amazon JP):


You don’t have to do much hopping around, actually. At least, I barely ever do. I pre-learn the vocab with Anki, so I never have to do any vocab lookups because I have it all memorized when I read the lesson, and I just read through the grammar explanation once at the beginning, then set the translation book aside and read through the whole lesson on my own. Very occasionally I’ll double check the translations to make sure I’m on the right track, but only a little bit of the beginning of the lesson is translated, anyway, so the vast majority of the time, I’m only working with the Japanese-only text. I don’t ever really have much of a problem remembering and applying the grammar.

As far as time goes, I’m not sure how they compare. MNN takes me longer because I have two of the workbooks, which adds time, but if I didn’t have those, I feel like the actual process of going through the lesson would only take me like three hours total. However, I do have to spend several days learning the vocab with SRS, so I couldn’t just blaze through it even if I skipped the workbooks. But if I had done Genki instead, I would have applied the same strategy there.