The 100 Most Important Japanese Words You Should Know

These 100 words will get you through an untold number of situations, problems, and feelings, just by knowing these all-important words. I’m not saying that there aren’t any other important words out there (and I hope you add to the list by commenting below), but I do think this list of 100 words will get you really, really far if you are, for some reason, … [ Read more ]

Learnit Lists

The Learnit widget is a simple & intelligent tool for building vocabulary. Users are shown a dynamic list of 10 words from a chosen language pair. The learnit widget can be positioned on social network homepages, search engines & blogs, and is available as a Google gadget which can be added to any web page. Subscription to extra features (such as sound) is an option … [ Read more ]

Language Express Kana Game

This game shows you an English word and asks you to type in the Japanese (you can hear the Japanese word and character as you click on the Kana keys).

気ままに日本語 (Kimama ni, Nihongo)

Kasumi Kobayashi reads lists of words so you can practice pronunciation. The lists are published on her website, so you can follow along, painlessly learning the kanji for each word. This website is aimed at French speakers, but there’s a lot of good stuff here even for non-Francophones.

minna no benkyou

This project was first started as a desktop application to help the author quickly recall the Japanese vocabulary in the Minna No Nihongo textbooks. That program was ported to the web so that he could share it with others.

The question order and “filler” (or “other possible”) answers are randomized each time you start a new quiz. This should keep the learning fresh and exciting. … [ Read more ]

healthhokkaido Symptom Translator

healthhokkaido’s symptom translator lets you choose a list of your symptoms and have them translated into a printer friendly bilingual format that you can take to the doctor.

Nathan Mrvichin’s Nihongo stoof (Yookoso! vocabulary)

Nathan Mrvichin, a student at the University of Texas Austin, created an online program to review the Yookoso vocabulary. It has all of Yookoso! Introduction vocab (vol 1) for a review, and he is adding Yookoso! Continuing vocab (vol 2) as we go along in class. It is a very good self assessment tool.

Editor’s Note: the explanations and format of the site need … [ Read more ]


Each language has different ways of counting objects. Japanese uses counters. They are similar to English expressions such as “a cup of ~,” “a sheet of ~” and so on. There are a variety of counters, often based on the shape of the object. The counters are attached directly to a number (e.g. ni-hai, san-mai). When combining a number with a counter, the pronunciation of … [ Read more ]

Onomatopoeic Expressions

Japanese is filled with onomatopoeic phrases, the word that describe sound or action directly. There are two categories: giongo and gitaigo. Giongo are the words which express voice or sounds. Gitatigo are the words which express actions, states or human emotions.

261 Commonly-Used Japanese Adjectives

Online resource guru Charles Kelly has just uploaded a Flash-based quiz on the ii-adjectives marked as commonly used in EDICT as of 2006-07-14. Straightforward stuff – you are given an adjective in kanji/kana and you have to pick the correct meaning from 4 or 5 options (depends on which quiz you pick). I gave it a whirl, did 100 questions and got paddled – only … [ Read more ]

Having sex in Japanese

The sequel to the article, “making love in Japanese”, this article is intended as more of a hands-on guide to useful sex-related vocabulary. [Hat Tip to]

Making love in Japanese

An article on the topic of how to speak about sex in Japanese and, at least as importantly, how to avoid accidental misunderstandings. [Hat Tip to]

関西弁 (kansai dialect)

Nihongoresources offers a semi-detailed look at kansaiben, including syntax, grammar and vocabulary.

Japanese Swadesh List

Learning in context makes sense – the relevancy of the words helps aid memorisation and use. The problem of learning words as you meet them is that you will never learn words you never meet! One way is to supplement contextual learning with some good old fashioned word lists. Then the question becomes “What words should I learn?”

A Swadesh list is a list of … [ Read more ]

Japanese Onomatopoeia in Action

Will at Nihongojouzu thought it would be fun to insert examples of sound words (onomatopoeia) into an account of an average day in the life of an Assistant Language Teacher in a public school in Japan. This way readers can see immediately how to use these nifty word devices in context.

語彙数推定テスト (Vocabulary Assessment Test)

How many words do you know in Japanese? Take the 語彙数推定テスト (Vocabulary Assessment Test) and find out. You will be presented with a list of 50 words – just tick the boxes next to the ones you know (be honest!) and based on how many of these representative words you know the page will spit out an assessment of your vocabulary. Compare your score with … [ Read more ]

Relationships with Animals: Cats

Neko (cats) are regarded as both auspicious and fearful in Japan. Learn some of many expressions including cats.

Life Science Dictionary Project

English-to-Japanese dictionary/database project for scientific words/phrases. Files available, as well as information about the project.

English-Japanese Vocabulary Quizzes

This site offers quizzes to help you learn and review vocabulary (part of The Internet TESL Journal’s Activities for ESL Students). Tons of subjects are covered, some available in romanized Japanese to English and the rest in English to Japanese.


Yoji-jukugo are idiomatic expressions made up of four kanji characters. Japanese is normally written with three types of scripts: kanji, hiragana and katakana, but these idiomatic words are written in kanji only and with no kana between them.

Yoji-jukugo contain classical wisdom or morals in short phrases. In English there are words that people use which make them sound intelligent or denote higher education. … [ Read more ]