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The 10 Best Phone Apps for Learning Japanese

Find your new favorite app to level up your Japanese!

By 6 min read 1

While finding a Japanese language school is your best bet, you can never have too much self-study, especially using apps on your smartphone. Indeed, some language-learning books have earned their place on your bookshelf, but nothing beats smartphones for convenience and fun.

Are you waiting for the bus, subway or train? Practice kanji. Waiting for water to boil for tonight’s pasta dinner? Practice grammar. While we have made a list of great apps for learning Japanese before, the batch below lists current favorites.

1. Midori: Best Dictionary for iOS

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A convenient dictionary for studying vocabulary.

Midori is a powerful and comprehensive Japanese-English language dictionary containing 910,000 entries, 150,000 example sentences and 6000 kanji with stroke order provided. You can search for words on the app using romaji and Japanese alphabets and by drawing the kanji via the touchpad. You can also take pictures of the words or kanji you want to translate through their camera option. Try making vocabulary lists and flashcards for self-study, or use their pre-made sets, including the most frequently found kanji in Japanese newspapers, to help you burn through the intermediate wall!

  • Price: Free
  • Platform: iOS

2. Akebi: Best Dictionary for Android

Akebi is a completely free Japanese-English dictionary app that allows you to look up words and study. This app shines on the results page, providing several possible English translations that open up to example sentences, conjugations and comprehensive kanji information. You can also add words to a customizable list for future study. Do you ever want to know the meaning of a kanji but don’t know how to read it? Akebi supports a drawing function that doesn’t require proper stroke order, although the number of strokes must be correct.

3. Bunpo: Best for Grammar

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Also, cute drawings.

Bunpo should be one of your top contenders with its clean aesthetic and engaging mechanics if you’re looking to study grammar on the go. While the free version gives you access to just one grammar target for each JLPT level, five paid options give you access to all the JLPT tests and a chatbot to practice your conversation skills. With clear explanations in English using cute illustrations and various review methods, such as multiple choice, fill in the blanks and putting words in the correct order, this app is a great resource to level up your grammar skills.

  • Price: Plans start from ¥850.
  • Platforms: iOS and Android

4. Todaii Easy Japanese: Best Reading:

This app sources reading material from various online news articles, both Japanese and international, highlighting key vocabulary and grammar points categorized according to their JLPT level. For their listening practice feature, articles are read aloud while you can adjust the audio speed. You can also find lessons covering everyday scenarios and offer JLPT mock tests here. The app is free, but you must pay a subscription fee to access all the tests and advanced reading material.

  • Price: Plans start at ¥1,940 for three months.
  • Platforms: iOS and Android

5. Migii JLPT: Best for JLPT

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Passing the JLPT will level up your career.

Boasting over 44,000 users in more than 16 countries, Migii JLPT is a comprehensive exam preparation app that covers reading, grammar, listening, kanji and vocabulary for all five levels of the JLPT test. Drawing on research about the rate at which we tend to forget new information and the app’s tried and true method for promoting greater retention of target language, Migii will be your new best friend as the test date approaches.

  • Price: Plans start at ¥2,000.
  • Platforms: iOS and Android

6. Benkyo: Best for Kanji

Powered by AI, Benkyo offers over 10,000 kanji and 8,000 vocabulary words organized into the five JLPT levels to help you manage an effective study plan. Using a combination of flashcard practice with several quizzes, including multiple-choice, keyboard input and drawing, this app will determine what weak points need further study and which ones are strong enough to leave alone for the time being. While other apps may have similar progress-tracking features behind the scenes, Benkyo visually displays your progression as a motivational tool.

  • Price: In-app purchases start from ¥300.
  • Platform: iOS

7. Memrise: Best for Beginner Phrases

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Hear how natives actually speak.

Memrise aims to fully immerse learners through videos of real-life scenarios and conversations spoken by native language speakers. You can tailor the app to your speaking ability. Still, it is best suited for beginners who want to grasp natural speech and expressions used in everyday situations, like going to the doctor and checking in at a hotel. Memrise also includes a chatbot function that allows users to speak to the app and engage in live conversation. You can use the app for free, but to unlock all lesson plans, you can purchase Memrise Pro.

  • Price: Plans start at ¥1,500
  • Platforms: iOS and Android

8. LingoDeer: Best for Listening (Beginning and Intermediate)

LingoDeer is an entertaining app, bearing a cute deer mascot as its namesake, that is good for beginner and low-intermediate language learners. The app’s design is user-friendly and allows you to study various languages. Once you choose your skill level and daily study commitment (starting from as little as five minutes a day), your lessons are organized via a pathway toward your learning goals. While some vocabulary and grammar components have amusing visuals, most of your learning is centered around listening, with conversations and stories read by native speakers structuring the target language learned.

  • Price: Paid plans start at ¥1,860
  • Platforms: iOS and Android

9. HelloTalk: Best for Meeting & Speaking

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Learn Japanese and maybe score a date?

This app can be used for everyday studying, including vocabulary, Japanese alphabet training, and access to vetted language teachers for private and group lessons. But, it is especially popular for its social media-styled posts and chat windows where users can help each other with their language learning goals and meet Japanese locals. You may find a new friend or a date on HelloTalk’s friendly interface!

  • Price: Free to post, but paid options are available
  • Platforms: iOS and Android

10. Italki: Best for Tutoring

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iTalki is one of the largest language learning apps.

Italki is an app that connects language learners to teachers. Community teachers, usually native speakers, offer cheaper lessons, while professional teachers with proven qualifications offer more structured and expensive lessons. You can search by price, proficiency in English and other languages, teacher’s location and lesson target. Are you looking to level up your JLPT score, practice business Japanese or just chat? This app will help you find the teacher best suited to your needs. If you’re worried about whether or not a teacher is the right fit for you, many teachers offer a trial lesson at a reduced rate.

  • Price: Typically starts around ¥1,000, but can be much more expensive depending on the tutor.
  • Platforms: iOS and Android

Have you tried any of the apps above? Are we missing any of your favorites? Looking forward to hearing from you below!

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  • Trainman says:

    Just tried to get Akebi for my Samsung with Android 13, but the Play Store says not available as it was made for an older version of Android. Hopefully it will get an update.

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