Is Japanese hard to learn?

Study Japanese

Learn Japanese: Learn Japanese From ZeroWith Japanese basically being the sole languages of Japan, how hard is it to really learn Japanese? That’s a question that I believe everyone interested in learning Japanese has wondered at one time or another. The Japan Times has tried to tackle that very broad question. Japan Times writes,

Contrary to popular belief, linguists agree that spoken Japanese is relatively easy to master compared with other languages, partly because it has only five vowels and 13 consonants. On the other hand, English has 12 vowels and 24 consonants.

Japanese as a spoken language is quite easy to learn the rules for. Especially if you already speak the hardest language in the world, English. I am currently learning it, and once I realized that English is hard, everything else is easy, it made grasping concepts easier. I think it was more of a psychological thing. But, as you will soon find out, speaking Japanese is the easy part. Writing Japanese is where the frustration lies. Japan Times continues,

Experts agree the Japanese writing system is one of the most complex in the world because it combines five different systems — kanji, hiragana, katakana, Arabic numerals and even the Roman alphabet.

So my advice to you is to first learn Kana, then, using Kana, learn to speak Japanese. I know using Romaji allows you to “skip” to actually learning the Japanese sounds and words. But in the long run, especially if you’re goal is to be able to read, learning Kana first is the best way to begin. Via Japan Times.

Do you think Japanese is hard to learn?

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Study Japanese Learning Aides

Many people have a hard time finding real spoken Japanese that you would hear in everyday life. Check out my post on KeyholeTV to watch live Japanese TV. You cant get any closer to spoken Japanese unless you lived there.

If you like using online sites to learn Japanese, you may want to check out Cruxay’s: How to start learning Japanese.

Check out J-List’s very interesting Japanese learning and study aide selection for books, and study devices for learning Japanese.

If you’re starting from scratch, you may want to take the approach you learned English with. I believe most people forget about the “natural” way to learn a language, as a child does. There are a lot of children’s books that offer a very natural way to learning Japanese:

Learn Japanese: Jimi\'s BookLearn Japanese: Jimi\'s BookLearn Japanese: Learn HiraganaLearn Japanese: Read and Sing Japanese

What do you think?

Written by xorsyst

Comments are closed.


  1. Worrrrd! =) haha. Thanks for the reference. Also a very solid post for some good study materials and a realistic outlook on learning Japanese.

    It’s funny how many times you lay it out for people… yet you still have to answer a million questions about how to go about learning. Some people need to open their eyes/ears. =(

  2. I’m in the process of doing what you’ve suggested. I’ve just learnt the kana and it’s helping me a lot. I suggest avoiding Romaji, because I don’t think it would help. The kana is not hard to learn. I don’t think Japanese will be hard to learn, it will just take a lot of time.

    Immersing yourself in Japanese with TV, books and music helps a lot. It’s much like how a child would learn, surrounded by the language all the time, picking up a few common words here and there. I recognise a word or two in a song or TV show and it helps to keep it fresh in my mind. I’ve heard enough of ‘こころ’ to last me a lifetime though…

  3. And if you want to torture yourself with Kanji, there’s three things you need to know: radicals, radicals, radicals. At the very least you can use a dictionary.

  4. It’s a bit hard for me to learn Japanese because it seems that there are 5 different versions of one word depending on the situation, like “Ogenki desu” or “Genki”. I’ve been studying the language for several years, and I have yet to master conversational Japanese. I just know bits and pieces of it. I try to tell myself that it’s similar to English, but speaking in English, it doesn’t matter who you’re talking to when you use one word that’s “short”. Japanese, on the other hand, it’s mandatory to speak a certain level of Politeness, like when you’re talking to an elderly person…


  6. I have to say learning Japanese isn’t that hard, especially if just wanting to speak and not write, and I agree that the sounds are way easier to pick up and master than English, which has some crazy glides etc…

    Thanks for the reference materials too.

    Great article,


  7. Any language can be hard. But I think Japanese can be one of the hardest. I grew up speaking Japanese, so I didn’t have such as a hard time speaking it, but I realized how hard it was when I was a Teacher Assistant at the Unvirsity I was attending. Students were asking questions that I had no idea how to answer. The more I learned about the grammer structure, I was wondering why these students even considered to learn Japanese in the first place. However, I think with an adequet study guide, you can learn effitienly. Try an online guide to start with and see what happens?

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