Recommended books/materials for intermediate Japanese

I didn’t find any similar topics so please refer me to one if it exists.

I am currently at that dreaded place called ‘intermediate wall’. For two years. In fact, I had a two year break from using WaniKani and learning Japanese at all, due to my job and other aspects of life. Now I would like to go back to learning Japanese and this time do it more effectively.

I am almost through with WaniKani (level 60, I did last 33 lessons today) and I would concentrate on grammar and vocabulary so that I could take the N3 or even N2 exam in December 2019.

However, there’s a SEVERE lack of any sensible materials for that.

Do you, fellow Crabigator followers, have any books worth recommending? I’m from Poland, but I have no problems with using foreign language handbooks, however it would be superb if such handbook had instructions and all information in English.

Thank you in advance!


When I was at the intermediate wall, I consumed a lot of native material rather than textbooks.
I did try to use textbooks, though, but it was hard to see progress, and they were no fun to read.
I didn’t see much progress from reading manga… but at least it was fun.

If you don’t mind adding some more SRS to your study, you could try
It provides vocab lists for books, and allows you to add words you don’t know to its SRS. It also learns which words you know, so that they don’t show up in other word lists. Another advantage is that floflo is free. (You still have to buy the books yourself, obviously)


You need to start reading easy novels in order to pass N2 (and maybe n3) since the reading section requires you to read quickly. Aoi Tori Bunko offers great novels for elementary school to middle school level readers.

Aside from that I think nihongo no moris grammar videos are super useful. They take 2-4 similar grammar points and teach them in a way that shows how they’re different from each other

Edit: and you should still be SRSing because you need to learn a ton of words at this point
Edit 2: The Nihongo no Mori playlists N3 N2


This is another vote for just consuming media. It’s my opinion that it’s the only way to get past that plateau.


Welcome to the dreaded intermediate twilight zone :crazy_face:
I’m gonna just point out that you’re in a great place to start using japanese and gradually be over with textbooks and learners material, no need for the cold turkey approach, but still… the balance should turn in favor to more immersion and less textbooks / SRS

In no particular order I would recommend

  • Start reading something (there’s a whole secton on that here), simple enough to keep you engaged and hard enough that you struggle a bit.

  • Practice listening, use a method, either custom made or a book like this one ( or similar… since it’s somewhat hard to find at a decent price lately).

  • Then just jump… star watching a show (slice of life for example with or without jsubs), following Nihongo no mori channel or NHK Kokokoza lessons.

Anyway, it’s more or less what I’m doing… and the so called plateu seems less so every day. It’s no magic trick either, lots of work too, but a huge step over the textbook + WK days :man_shrugging:


Thank you guys so much! Your suggestions are really helpful showing what direction I should take right now. I suspected as much; that I just should make this huge step and start using miscellaneous media for improving my vocabulary and everyday use of the language.

I am taking all your advice and making a checklist for what I should use. Also, I think I am gonna supplement them with a grammar dictionary, since I am not very confident with my Japanese grammar knowledge yet, just for quick crash course.

Once again, thank you very much! :bowing_woman:


In my experience, that kind of wall is often caused by one aspect lagging behind your general ability. Things get frustrating because you’re trying to do things you feel like you should be able to do, but you’re not making progress. What do you feel is your weak point? Admit that this may be at a lower level than you’d like to admit, and fix it.

For people who go through typical education systems that focus too much on textbooks, a common issue is needing experience actually reading things, in which case the answer is either graded readers or native materials depending on level.

For me, having focused on reading from the beginning, it was grammar. Vocabulary worked out okay that way because I’d make anki cards for things I encountered, but I needed more structured grammar for everything to feel a bit more solid. I’ve gone through both Genki books (it took me less than six months for both because it was largely review), I’m working on Kanzen Master N4 (okay, I’ll admit I’ve taken a break) and then I’m going to go on to Tobira.

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I think having grammar reference material is a good idea. I’m finding that exposure to native material gradually gives me an intuitive understanding of grammar, but there’s still stuff I want to look up. My general philosphy us that researching grammar can get you the gist and actual exposure gets you to actually understand it.

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Actually, I do think the grammar is my weak point. I’ve spent years with exposure to real Japanese in all kinds of media, but sometimes, even if I understand separate words and structures quite well, I can’t catch the meaning of a whole thought. I’ve been through both parts of Genki and An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese and vocabulary isn’t a big problem, but I would very much like to get my knowledge of grammar in order first.

I am liking Kanzen Master grammar book for how it arranges the points and makes me practice them, but the explanations are often not that great. I have The Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar and it is pretty good for filling in some of that, but I can’t always find everything.

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Japanese from zero is available on kindle for $9.99
Books 1 to 4 with 5 coming out soonish. 4 would be intermediate. You can see lessons online to see if you like the style.

The Read Real Japanese books are great, so the short fiction and essays ones, as they offer authentic Japanese texts by known authors with step by step translation and grammar notes.

While they’re not bad books(or at least they worked well enough for my brother), I wouldn’t really say they’re intermediate level from taking a look at the table of contents.

I think we’ve used some of the Read Real Japanese when I attended a group Japanese class, we read something by Murakami - I thought it was good too, I think I’m gonna buy it after I do the grammar. :slight_smile:

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