Japanese Beginner Books

Good morning,

I wanted to ask if you guys had any recommendations on which learning book would be the best to start as a beginner. ( I got often recommended Genki or Japanese from Zero, but im not sure which one’s are good)

Thanks in advance


Hey there! You’ll see a lot of different advice on the internet, so it can definitely be hard to choose.

Personally, I used Genki 1 and am currently working through Genki 2. The most important thing when choosing a grammar resource is to stick with it, not jump around between resources. Every resource will teach you something eventually, so just choose one.

Genki is most suited for classroom use but it’s totally fine for self study. Since it’s so popular, there are a lot of tools that have been made to go along with it; I’ve found a lot of use in Tokini Andy’s youtube series:

He explains each lesson in Genki one by one. Afterwards, you can do the textbook exercises online at this website:


For a bringer I’d recommend an app instead. Try LingoDeer. I think it’s like a digital textbook with practice assignments and quizzes which makes it better for self study.

I did both Genki I and Human Japanese + Human Japanese Intermediate which are basically digital textbooks with some built in quizes.

Genki is good and it even goes a little further than Human Japanese, but I personally preferred Human Japanese. The reason is that I found Genki to be very classroom oriented and really quite dry.

Human Japanese, on the other hand, has a more informal tone to it that basically takes you on a journey through the fundamentals. Also, the examples it provides are all done in such a way that they’re never using more than the words and grammar points it’s taught you. They get progressively more complex as you learn more grammar points and vocabulary.

For example, one of the first example sentences is:


Then, an example sentence by chapter 36 is:


By the time you get there, you will easily understand that sentence.

Human Japanese + Human Japanese Intermediate are also cheaper and only cost 20 USD total (10 USD for the beginner and another 10 USD for intermediate). Genki I and II along with the associated workbooks and answer keys that you would likely want to get for self study are more like 160 USD.

I also used Anki along with them for learning the vocabulary and grammar points long term.

What is interesting is, as a software developer I see this question asked a lot in that area as well. What language is best to learn, what book is best etc. I went through the same thing when I started. The answer is the same in both though, just start somewhere and continue with it and you will get to the end. Its when you start jumping between things that you make no progress. If you have heard of Genki, start Genki and stick with it.

All paths up the mountain end at the peak. Take one and stick with it and you will get there.

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