8 Best Japanese Books to Learn for Beginners 2022

Top Books To Learn Japanese For Beginners

Looking for the best Japanese books to learn for beginners? Well, check out this curated list of Japanese textbooks for learners. Read further to find out more about them.

The Japanese language has earned the title of “one of the most difficult languages to learn”  and for good reason. What makes it so difficult is that there are three forms- hiragana, katakana, and kanji. 

Best Japanese Books to Learn for Beginners: Quick Summary

Best Japanese Books to Learn for BeginnersBest For
GenkiGrammar and vocabulary
Japanese from Zero!Hiragana writing
Minna No Nihongo Japanese translations
Japanese for Busy PeopleKatakana writing
A Guide to Japanese GrammarUnderstanding the language
Elementary Japanese Grammar and conversations
Learning Japanese Hiragana and Katakana: Workbook and Practice SheetsHiragana and Katakana vocabulary
Yookoso! An Invitation to contemporary JapaneseLearning Japanese culture

However, the Japanese language is one of the most sought after languages in the world. The growing demand for this beautiful language is due to the expanding relations between Japan and other countries. 

Which is the best Japanese book to learn for beginners?

My team and I tested 30+ books to learn Japanese on the basis of content, explanations, as well as clarity. We found Genki to be the best Japanese book to learn for beginners.

Genki is the most popular Japanese book series for beginners to learn Japanese vocabulary and grammar. The instructions are delivered clearly and it makes the learning process fun. Genki also has exercise work books and CDs for better understanding. It also covers the Japanese Language Proficiency Examination (JLPT) level N5. It’s available to buy on Amazon. 

Whether it is to understand your favourite manga and anime, or to travel to Japan or for work purposes, learning Japanese is a good decision. 

There are numerous ways to pick up the language, but sometimes the old fashioned way of studying from a textbook is necessary. With so many textbooks and workbooks on the market, it can be quite difficult to choose the right study material. 

But fret not, Gakusei!

We have put together a list of the best Japanese books to learn for beginners to help you learn the Japanese language.

Best Japanese Books to Learn for Beginners


best Japanese books to learn for beginners: Vocabulary and Grammar

best books to learn japanese

This is probably the most popular series of books for beginners who are learning Japanese. 

Genki is designed in a way that makes it perfect for beginners and is easy to follow. It targets vocabulary and grammar and delivers instructions clearly.

See also  Japanese Names Of Characters From Mobile Suit Gundam Series

Users of this book can also refer to the exercise and work books and CDs that are available. Another plus point of this user-friendly book is that it also covers the Japanese Language Proficiency Examination (JLPT) level N5.

The book includes little illustrations and dialogues that keep the reader engaged and makes learning a fun activity. It’s one of the best Japanese books to learn for beginners in pdf.


  • Affordable
  • Well structured lessons
  • Audio CDs and workbooks are available


  • May need a teacher

Related: Best Japanese Novels

Japanese from Zero! 

best Japanese books to learn for beginners: Hiragana Writing

best japanese learning books for self study,

Another popular book to learn Japanese is Japanese from Zero! The book is perfectly designed for children and absolute beginners. 

The series has four books. The first book introduces the hiragana writing system alongside basic grammar, vocabulary and pronunciations.

The book doesn’t require a teacher and is great for self study. It consists mordern, up to date and relevant examples and vocabulary. 

It doesn’t come with a CD, but extra supplements can be taken from the official website, some free of cost and some chargeable. It’s one of the good japanese books for beginners.

The slow pace of the exercises and lessons makes this book perfect for anyone without prior knowledge of the language. 


  • Affordable
  • Suitable for absolute beginners
  • Easy to understand
  • Can be used for self study


  • No audio CD attached to book
  • Have to pay extra for certain content
  • Very slow paced

Related: Best Japanese Crime Mystery Novels

Minna No Nihongo 

best Japanese books to learn for beginners: Japanese translations

good japanese books for beginners

“Minna No Nihongo” translates to “Japanese for Everyone”. This is a textbook series written in Japanese. While this may seem difficult, it is actually a great way to pick up the language since learners are exposed to the language from the very beginning.

If you require translations and extra notes, you can buy a companion book that is available in English and 14 other languages. 

Minna No Nihongo is written by Japanese teachers who are top names in their respective fields. It’s no wonder that this book is so highly rated and known for helping its readers achieve a high level of Japanese. 


  • Helps the learner pick up the language faster
  • Introduces kanji at the beginning
  • In depth exposure to grammar


  • Written in Japanese
  • May require another book for translation
  • Slightly more expensive

Related: Best Japanese Children Books in English 2021

Japanese for Busy People

best Japanese books to learn for beginners: Katakana writing

Books for Japanese language,

The title says it all! This book is designed specifically keeping in mind working individuals. It’s amongst the best books to learn the Japanese language.

See also  5 Top One Piece Theme Songs

Ideal for self study, Japanese for Busy People comes in two versions- romaji version and kana version. The romaji version uses English characters while the kana version uses hiragana and katakana. 

To help with pronunciations, the book is accompanied by a free audio CD. The book also has a section at the end that answers all the quizzes in the book. This is one of the must-have japanese books for beginners in pdf.


  • Dialogues are more relevant and suitable for business and daily conversations
  • Audio CD included 
  • Answer key to all quizzes are available at the back


  • Kanji is not introduced

Related: Best Japanese Female Authors

A Guide to Japanese Grammar

best Japanese books to learn for beginners: Understanding the language

Best Japanese Books to Learn for Beginners

What is the point of learning a language if you don’t have a grasp of the grammar?

What makes this book so effective is that it is written by an English speaker who has mastered the Japanese language. 

The book aims at making the learner understand the language rather than making them memorize words and phrases. It’s amongst the best japanese learning books for self study.


  • Easy to follow
  • Emphasis on grammar 
  • Many examples in English
  • Available online and as PDF free of cost


  • No listening material

Related: Tokyo Bookstores with Foreign language Books

Elementary Japanese

best Japanese books to learn for beginners: Grammar and Conversations

japanese story books for beginners pdf

Another brilliant book for beginners is “Elementary Japanese”. The book includes grammar explanations that are thorough and revolve around basic vocabulary and conversations.

The book comes with a CD included that gives learners access to printable PDFs and MP3 audio files. 


  • Budget friendly
  • Good option for self learners
  • CD include with printable PDFs and audio files


  • The design may be little plain and cause confusion 

Related: Best Japanese History Books

Learning Japanese Hiragana and Katakana

best Japanese books to learn for beginners: Hiragana and Katakana Vocabulary

best book to learn japanese for beginners pdf,

Ideal for classroom settings and self study, “Learning Hiragana and Katakana” is the perfect way to learn to write the Japanese language.

The book offers many opportunities to practice and build vocabulary in hiragana and katakana. 

The workbook also consists of a reference section that explains the functions and combinations of kana. Learners can also access audio files to help with pronunciations.


  • Affordable
  • Easy to use
  • Free audio to help with pronunciations


  • None

Yookoso! An Invitation to contemporary Japanese

best Japanese books to learn for beginners: Learning Japanese Culture

japanese books for beginners pdf

For individuals who learn better with examples, Yookoso! is for you. This book is popular for its excellent explanations for grammar. 

The book also gives readers a brief introduction to contemporary and traditional Japanese culture. 

It includes relatable conversations that can be used in everyday life. You might find it as one of the best Japanese story books for beginners in pdf as the culture is explained in a way of story-telling.

See also  6 Best Japanese Zombie Movies 2023 | The Deadliest Japanese Zombie Movie Reviews


  • Brief but clear explanation of grammar
  • Use of real world conversations for examples


  • More expensive than other books
  • May require a teacher

Best Japanese Books to Learn for Beginners: FAQs:

Where can you buy Japanese books to learn the Japanese language?

Nowadays everything is available with just the click of a button thanks to online stores. While Amazon offers its customers a chance to have a look at the books before purchasing them, here are some more places where you can make your purchase:
– College campus bookstores
– Traditional bookstores
– Online store like OMG Japan
Amazon also has a used book section where you can make your purchase at a lower price. Amazon Japan has a larger selection of Japanese books than the local Amazon sites of English speaking countries.

What are some of the ways to learn Japanese?

Here are some ways to learn Japanese as a beginner:
– Learn to read Hiragana
– Become familiar with Katakana
– Familiarise yourself with Kanji
– Build a core vocabulary 
– Learn basic Japanese pronunciation
– Get familiar with basic particles
– Learn Japanese sentence structure 
– Learn basic greetings and expressions

Why is Japanese considered a difficult language to learn?

Japanese is considered to be one of the most difficult languages in the world because it has three different forms of writing. They are hiragana, katakana, and kanji

What are some Japanese language learning materials?

Some Japanese language learning materials are:
– Books
– Subtitled movies
– Japanese television
– Memorization tools (like spaced repetition software and Mnemonics)
– Conversations
– Easy Japanese websites (like news websites)
– Japanese learning communities
– Online Japanese courses
– Japanese podcasts

Is it easier to learn Katakana or Hiragana first?

Learning Hiragana first will make it easier for you to understand the pronunciation of Japanese sounds. Also, Hiragana is the most commonly used Japanese script.

Since katakana has most of the borrowed words that Japanese uses, it can be more difficult to understand. Learning Hiragana will also help you whie learning other writing characters.

Best Books for Learning Japanese

Japanese books are a great way to learn the language if you’re someone who really wants to learn Japanese. You might seem a little lost in the beginning but eventually you’ll get the hang of it. 

Hope you love our suggestions for the best Japanese books to learn for beginners and it will help you learn the language smoothly. Cheers!

Also Read:

  1. Best Netflix Shows to Understand Japan
  2. Top Japanese Anime on Netflix

Looking for the best Japanese books to learn for beginners? Well, check out this curated list of Japanese textbooks for learners. Read further to find out more about them.


Author: Eri Banno, Yutaka Ohno, Yoko Sakane, Chikako Shinagawa, Kyoko Tokashiki

Editor's Rating:
best japanese female authors image

10 Best Japanese Female Authors 2022

best legal anime streaming sites

12 Best Legal Anime Streaming Sites 2022