Study Japanese language, Kanji; learn about Japanese travel, culture, life, music (JPOP) and more


Yookoso! is a portal for those who study the Japanese language (Nihongo) and writing (Kanji) and those who want to travel to Japan or learn more about Japanese culture, life, music (JPOP) and more. On the site you will find unique content (see below) as well as a hand-selected directory of useful online resources.

If you are interested, read more about the history of this site.

Site re-designed!

After many years of doing little to this site, I have recently completely re-designed it. You can read about all the changes but here is the tl;dr version:
  • Migrated from hand-coded to WordPress
  • Changed the software used for the Kanji and Grammar email lists
  • Updated the Kanji and associated popular words to reflect the current JLTP levels
  • Replaced the older stroke order diagrams
  • Rationalized the email lists (there were too many)
  • Added new resources (still ongoing)

Original Content (You'll Find Only on this Site)

This site started off as a way for me to share notes from a few of my Japanese courses. Over time it has become a directory of useful resources but below are the things you won't find elsewhere on the Web.

Course Notes

I have digitized notes summarizing different courses and textbooks. Most of these are quite old now, but since language doesn't change that frequently, they should still be useful.

Daily Kanji Email Service

Get a nicely formatted email every day with a new Kanji to study. Each email includes the readings, the meaning, a stroke order illustration, the Henshall mnemonic, and a list of common words that use the specific character. There is also a link to download a PDF version of the email.

Below are the latest Kanji:


Daily Kanji RSS Feeds

If you are a fan of RSS (if you aren't, you should be), you can access the daily Kanji levels that way instead of via email.


Daily Grammar Email Service

Similar to the Kanji email service, get a daily dose of Japanese grammar, courtesy of the jGram.org database.

Below are the latest grammar entries:

JLPT 1toii~toii
JLPT 2niyotte-2
JLPT 3temiru
JLPT 4doushite

Kanji Study Tool

I created a Kanji study tool in conjuncion with the email lists but you can use it to randomly test and expand your Kanji knowledge. Choose by JLPT or school grade level or just any random Jōyō Kanji. The format is the same as for the emails. There is also a link to download a nicely formatted PDF version of the information for each character.

Japanese Popular Music to Study

Music is an excellent way to study and improve your language skills. In Japan, of course, karaoke is hugely popular so it will also be helpful if you know at least a few widely popular songs that you can sing to impress your local friends. I have collected 14 songs of varying styles that you can listen to and read the lyrics in original Japanese, romaji and English translation. Note: most of these songs are slow enough and clear enough that you can actually understand the words being sung.

Vocabulary Study

In addition to the course notes, I have created a basic study tool to review the vocabulary for some of the textbooks I have used, specifically:

I have more vocabulary in a spreadsheet somewhere that hopefully I will get around to adding in the future.

Anki study decks

Anki is a popular free (except iOS) flashcard system that uses spaced repetition for more effective learning. Recently, it occurred to me that the kanji information sheets I use for my daily email service would make for a great Anki flashcard deck so I have done just that. In putting together my deck, I tried to take advantage of some of the program's useful features. In particular, I realized that many, including myself, will want to be able to study by JLPT or grade level, or possibly even by radical (bushu). In creating my deck, I included those as fields, but to study a subset of a deck you need to filter based on tags, so I also tagged each entry accordingly. Since there are more than the 1945 (old) standard Joyo, I have also tagged Joyo as well. The nice thing is that you only have to download one complete deck and then just use the "Custom Study" button. Once you click that, you can choose the "Limit to particular tags" option and then choose accordingly. You can also do more complicated filtered study with the search routine. Check out the user manual for more specifics.

Download Anki (.apkg) File (39MB)

I also offer the grammar content for Anki here in partnership with jGram.org

Download Anki (.apkg) File (NO Audio) (1MB)

Download Anki (.apkg) File (Male Voice Audio) (8.6MB)

Download Anki (.apkg) File (Femal Voice Audio) (8.7MB)

Pera Pera

This is NOT original content but tracking down the original files is a bit tricky, so I have made 99 of the 100 (cannot track down one of them) available to download directly from my server.

Recently Added Resources

  1. Site Redesign

    I first launched this site in late 2002. I did all the programming myself and, while over the years I have made a few tweaks here and there, mostly I haven’t done much in terms of keeping up with the times. The site wasn’t mobile ready or responsive and the design was pretty sad. Well, maybe the design is still a bit sad, but at least I have finally redesigned the site, porting it to … [ Read more ]

  2. So You Want To Learn Japanese
    Editor’s Note: I post this despite the protests I know it will inspire in many. It is a strange, but interesting piece. As the author states at the end, the essay is a joke and should be taken like one. Anyway, I don’t specifically endorse anything said but neither do I apologize for posting it. So You Want To Learn Japanese.

    You’ve eaten at a few Japanese restaurants, seen some anime, hosted an exchange student, and had … [ Read more ]

  3. Useful Tips for Typing in Japanese and English in MS Windows
    Typing in BOTH Japanese and English WITHOUT switching between the two in IME.

    Switching IME modes is a real pain. Have you ever wondered if there is a better way? Well, there is. Actually there are two ways:

    Just select the Japanese mode, type whatever you want in Japanese and then hit the F10 button. This works great for a single word but may not be ideal for a phrase or sentence since you can’t enter any … [ Read more ]
  4. Pera Pera Penguin

    This was a great short (1-page PDF) Japanese language learning column written by Hitomi Hirayama and carried every five weeks in the Daily Yomiuri newspaper. Although the main link is no longer valid, the original PDF files are still online and I link to them below. Alternatively, I have compiled all of them in a single .zip file (25.4MB) you can download from my server. Note that for some reason issue 56 … [ Read more ]

  5. The Different Ways To Learn Kanji, As I See It

    The kanji methods war is broken up into several camps, which I will be naming the following:
    – Repetition
    – Vocabulary & Context
    – Reading Reading Reading
    – Heisig’s
    – Mnemonics With Readings

    As I go through each “Way Of The Kanji,” I’d like to look at the positives, negatives, and history of each (if possible).

Most Popular

  1. Kanji Study

  2. A Japanese guide to Japanese grammar
    Most textbooks try to teach you Japanese with English. That want to teach you on the first page how to say, "Hi, my name is Smith," but they don't tell you about all the arbitrary decisions that were made behind your back. They probably decided to use the polite form even though learning the polite form before the dictionary form makes no sense. They also might have decided to include the subject even though it's … [ Read more ]

  3. Making Sense of Japanese: What the Textbooks Don't Tell You
    This book was formerly available under the more intriguing title Gone Fishin': New Angles on Perenial Problems. I highly recommend this book for all intermediate- or higher students of Japanese. It has been one of the most helpful books I have ever read since it deals with perennial problems that Japanese students deal with.

  4. Japanese Ads - Learning Japanese Through Print Ads
    Harvey Beasley has produced a new blog based on the idea of learning Japanese through print ads and posters. Japanese Ads features one ad per post and Harvey's dissection of the meaning and cultural nuance therein. It is, like all great ideas, simple in its elegance and a great way to learn Japanese in the context of real word usage. Harvey does a great job of explaining how Japanese actually works and has a … [ Read more ]

  5. Japan Information Network
    A thorough set of links on all aspects of Japan. Featured resources include: - NIPPONIA, a quarterly magazine introducing contemporary Japanese culture and society to people all over the world - Trends in Japan, short, engaging dispatches on the latest trends in Japanese business and economy; science and education; society; sports; and fashion, arts, and entertainment. - Japan Access, concise introductions of typical topics related to themes such as Japanese geography, economy … [ Read more ]