The BEST Books for Learning Japanese – 2 Books I Used to Fluency


The Japanese language is used by 99% of Japan, not much by the rest of the world, however, meaning that “Can speak Japanese” on your resume is an impressive skill to have alongside English… Not only that, it opens up many new opportunities.

Today I am going to be talking about the Best Books for Learning Japanese including my personal favorites that made Japanese easy to learn, my Japanese journey and how to become fluent in Japanese online.

Short story about me – I got one of my favorite jobs from just having *Learning Japanese* on my resume. My previous employer was impressed just because it’s an amazing country full of culture, completely different world compared to home.  I have been learning Japanese online for over 2 years using many learning tools. Through dedication, motivation and commitment, I successfully became fluent without stepping a foot into Japan in 6-8 months. See more about my story here.

Learning a new language is not only exciting but overwhelming at the same time. These questions will be answered below:

  • How Long does it take to Learn Japanese
  • What are the Best Books to Learn Japanese
  • How to Tripple your Learning Speed

Best japanese learning material

How Long Does it Take to Learn Japanese – Fluent in 3 months possible?

Like learning any language in 2018, there are many ways including:

  • Learning apps – Hellotalk, Games, Flashcards and more that are designed to teach Japanese and communicate
  • Audio books – Probably one of the best ways to learn around work commitments or a busy lifestyle
  • Ebooks, digital books and physical books.. Physical books that encourage the reader to write within are recommended
  • Online learning courses that bring all over the above together into step by step guides

Yes – it is possible to become fluent within a language in 6-8 months, but not without some direction and help from someone who has done it all before. It would be like learning how to cook from a penguin. This is why I created

Realistically, what is the average time it takes to learn Japanese?

Experts say, that 10 hours a day of learning time may make you fluent in any language within 6-8 months. If you half this, making 5 hours a day, this will double your learning progress to 12-16 months.

Is immersion the best way to learn Japanese?

Yes – Immersion within the language is by far the fastest way to learn Japanese and completely doable without stepping a foot in Asia. The more ways you put your brain through a language, the quicker you will learn.

But everyone needs to start somewhere and language books are the best way to start learning a new language for beginners and gain a solid foundation. Here are my best books for learning Japanese in 2019.

TOP 2 – The Best Books for Learning Japanese

There is nothing better than getting immersed into a Japanese book and anew language. Japanese learning books are generally the first introduction to Japanese language and the first alphabet… Hiragana.  However, there are many Japanese learning books on the market that do no good for your overall Japanese.

Let me explain…

Many books contain just Japanese phrases that are useful for making your way around Japan or for a holiday.


I want to bring to your attention the first book of my 2 for learning Japanese to fluency.

Japanese from Zero – George Trombley  – (one of the cheapest ways to learn Japanese to fluency)

This book is absolutely fantastic…. Because it not only comes with a hard copy from Amazon here, but a video series to follow along at your own pace in correlation to the book.

George Trombley is the author and personally I have seen his face more times than my own left foot.

With over a 100+ videos in order to his books, Japanese from Zero is truly a full learning source from writing, reading and pronunciation without any steps skips and the Youtube series is a great way to test yourself on the book after each section is complete. Not only that, but to get the tongue rolling the correct way first time.

The value for your money is ridiculously low cost and all 4 books will set you back around $120, the Youtube videos are completely free and very detailed. It like having your own tutor at a fraction of the cost.

Why Japanese from Zero is my #1 recommended book

If your looking for an inexpensive “learn Japanese book” or route that comes with a very detailed online tutor, with reading, writing and listening in Hiragana (first Nihongo alphabet)…. This is your start to real Japanese.

The best books to learn japanese from
My hand writing looks like a 6 years olds 😀

Within the book, it starts in full English but slowly introduces Hiragana letters without overwhelming the reader. By the end of the book, most sentences will have the hiragana letters integrated into questions and answers. Meaning you’ll be reading and writing Japanese without even knowing it!!

Inside the book there also are many sections where you have to fill the blanks in, encouraging interaction and natural thoughts in Japanese.The best books for learning Japanese

Japanese from Zero will teach you formal, not casual Japanese. This is because formal will be mostly used when getting a job in Japan or showing respect throughout your travel and serious Japanese language students need to know it.

Whats my second best book for learning Japanese?

Actually… Being a student and learning Japanese language now for over 2 years, I refused to recommend many books that teach only certain aspects of Japanese language.

Throughout my Japanese language adventure, I have read, enrolled and used so many language products and can safely say which ones wasted my time reteaching me phrases or useless parts within the language.

I truly recommend Japanese from Zero and all 4 books as George Trombley has created an amazing community and you check out 638 other five star reviews here before continuing on this page.

My 2nd recommendation is a Guide to Japanese Grammer by Tae Kim 

Tae Kim not only runs a blog around Japanese language, but Chinese and a splash of Korean also.

Tae is a very talented teacher who built a large following online and was inspired to create a hard copy for others to further reach his learning.  His published book went straight to the top of Amazon here.

A cheeky tip – You can actually get all of this content (from the book) for free here.

I recommend purchasing his book however because advanced learning and immerses the reader in formal Japanese and every aspect of it from the start. It also includes many real world examples and vocabulary in casual speech towards the end of the book.

Guide to Japanese Grammar is a perfect reference and a must carry around when in Japan. Personally it may be overwhelming at first as it does “throw you into the deep end”. Occasionally its on sale, you can check here.

Read these two books together to fully immerse yourself like I did and learn faster than most.

What is an easy way to learn Japanese?

What is an easier way to learn Japanese than books?

Sometimes when learning anything, having a teacher just makes everything much easier. Direction is key to any success.

Although I purchased both of these books and learned a huge amount, these were not the only Japanese study material that I used. You need to immerse yourself more if you want to actually become fluent.

To do so will involve adding these to your daily routine:

  • Audio books
  • Apps
  • Japanese Games
  • An online learning community
  • Motivation (if you have got this far, your motivated!)

If your still “umming and awwing” about which book to purchase and where to start,  I highly recommend you see my recent post Learn Japanese Online for Free – How I Became Fluent Online in 7 Steps

In that post, I show you what I used and give you an understanding of where to start and “hit the ground running.”

Can I learn Japanese online? Yes, this is all you’ll need…

Those books above are a perfect way to start your Japanese learning journey..

But, if your serious about understanding the culture, learning on your own and want to be part of a community in the same boat as you, then there is a much more efficient way to learn Japanese online in 2019.

My first week in Australia
When I first started – See more about my story on my About Ant page

More about my Journey – I started learning Japanese online using free materials and my first book was Tae Kims Guide to Japanese Grammer. It really did throw me into the deep end and I did learn a huge amount of phrases. However, once the book was finished I carried on using free materials online trying to save money. What this did was waste a lot of time.

Then I decided to enrol onto an online course because they offer so much more and never really come to an end like a book. Within the first month my Japanese had improved 10x the amount and I was starting to read and write in Japanese. I give a big thanks to Rocket Languages.



I do not want to put you off learning online for free, just  recommend enrolling on a online course that will keep your progress, drive you in the right direction whilst you integrate all of your free activities along side.

This is the way to fully immerse yourself and the fastest way to learn Japanese online without stepping a foot in Asia. Just this guidance will double your learning experience and you will “hit the ground running”.

This is how I became fluent in Japanese within 6-8 months online, so if you want to actually get results that impress within a simple follow along course, to guarantee results fast and get you reading, writing and speaking Japanese in less than 6-8 months efficiently, keep reading. Its not overwhelming and actually addictive.

I recommend this language course for beginners or intermediates looking to ‘hit the ground running’ and grow on your new skill ahead of the rest. I honestly wasted around a month and a half not having direction and it drastically slowed my progress.

Investing in yourself from the start will save you 100+ hours of time searching online, trial and error and crossing paths. Take it from me… Its one of the reasons why I created this

The smoothness of this language course is ADDICTIVE ! Not only that, this course is designed to not overwhelm, keeping a passion and love for learning the language. The voice recognition on the app is better than any other language course I have used!

Over 2000 Five Star Reviews now, when I enrolled back in 2017 it was not even a 1000!!

This is the coupon code I used to knock off $50 enrolment whilst using the FREE TRIAL- Coupon code (automatically adds here) 

Not sure how long that will last…

My Words of Wisdom

I say that I became fluent in Japanese in 6-8 months, but really I wasted so much time without direction.

My biggest flaw studying Japanese language online was not investing in myself and wasting so many hours going back and forth over the same words. Yes it saved myself money, but at the end of it all I still enrolled a month later.

Use Rocket languages as your main core learning program and integrate these free steps from My 7 Steps to Becoming a Sensei, keeping it interesting.

If you are serious about wanting to change your life for the better, start with a bang and enrol on an online course saving you time and money and become a Japanese fluent speaker like me 🙂

Rocket language has 3 learning packages.

Now what? If you haven’t already:


21 thoughts on “The BEST Books for Learning Japanese – 2 Books I Used to Fluency

  1. Great content and good way to start learning a new language
    I also like the look of your site
    Great job, cheers

  2. As someone who’s been interested in the Asian culture (Korean and Japanese)., I would say you got me hooked with this article of yours.
    Just that maybe I’m not as motivated as you, as I haven’t yet taken any step to learning those two languages.
    I would definitely check out both your first recommendation by George Trombley, and your second recommendation by Tae Kim.

  3. Hi. Great tips that can be applied to learning any language. If the desire is there to learn, then it will happen and the more time invested into learning, the quicker the results will be. I wish to visit Japan soon, so I will check out these books and learn some of the language before I go. It always makes the trip experience better if we know a little of the language and culture before going. Many thanks for sharing.

  4. Hi, you have done great job. There is lot of information need here for someone to start learning Japanese language, culture etc. The books you recommended will make the course easy. I even think to start learning online myself.
    Wish you best

  5. Oh wow, what an informative post.
    I love how detailed you are in explaining.
    You make it very easy for anyone to understand.
    Thanks, I enjoyed reading your post.

  6. To be honest, I can’t think of anything negative to say… this is great material… my daughter has been wanting to learn Japanese, she actually wants to move there and has looked into seeing how long it would take her to learn the language… all accounts she read have said that Japanese is one of the hardest languages to learn and state that it takes at least a year to get fluent, and that’s with total immersion… so I’m impressed that you were able to learn the language in just 6 months!!

  7. My brother leans Japanese and I wanted to get this book for him as a present. However, he is not a completely a beginner. He took lessons around a month or so. Do you think is this book suitable for him? If not, can you recommend another?

    1. Hi Furkan,

      I would say this is the best time to get him one of these books. I spent around 2 months using just free japanese online and found that it just stunted my progress. I have now read and completed probable over 30 books in learning Japanese. These ones are just on another level when it comes to really understanding teaching paterns, sentance structures and NOT JUST PHRASES!!

      Hope this helps

  8. Hi Ant,
    You have a good website here it’s surprising how many people there are who wish to speak another language, and for me it seems that this is the language to learn especially here in the UK with our up and coming Brexit.

  9. I believe it is essential to immerse yourself in the culture of a country and not just the language. It helps you to understand why they form their sentences the way that they do. Is Japanese the only other language you are fluent in? Do you plan on learning other Asian languages? I feel like learning a language is a lifetime journey and not something to be rushed. I am fluent in English and French. I know a few words of Spanish and German. All of these languages have Latin as a base that makes them easy to learn once you have learned one. I wonder do Asian languages work similarly?

    1. Hi Maryann

      Yes, I completely agree. However I may be known as an impatient learner 🙂

      A lot of asian languages have similar words, alphabets or meanings like your relation to Latin, which I didn’t really think about until you mentioned it. Thanks for opening my mind a little.

      I plan to move onto Korean next as its close to Japanese language and I really like the people.


  10. Hey Ant,

    Is it really possible to learn a language with fluency in 3-6 months? I am learning Dutch and German but it is taking me ages and what’s more, I have even lived in the two countries! Even though you write about learning Japanese, your posts have proved to be an inspiration to me. I now have more confidence and more ideas about online tools and resources. For example, Rocket Languages looks like a great resource. Thanks for that.


  11. When I entered this website, I said to myself. There really are all the themes and sites to learn and how good that there are people looking for ways to involve others and show them ways to achieve something.

    I will follow your advice Anthony, and I hope to be able to like you without stepping foot in Asia to learn to speak and about Japanese culture.


  12. I recently purchased Japanese from Zero a little cheaper looking around online, but mine was second hand and its a pretty good price for a language resource. I do not rate Taes book that much, I completed in really quickly and actually got a little bored half way through. Learning Japanese online I think is the best way in 2018.

    I am trying the rocket languages free trial now actually.

  13. Wow, this is an interesting article that is furnished with the pros and cons of learning the Japanese language.

    The ability to get the hang of the language in just 3 months is simply awesome and that anyone with the flair to learn can go ahead doing it.

    Additionally, you have also shown the things required such as using the apps, audiobooks, ebooks etc.
    That was a good read.
    Thanks for sharing this useful information.

    1. HI Dan,

      There are many good free audio with Rocket Languages that are very detailed, worth checking out. They can be downloaded offline, perfect for when you got your headphones in on the move 🙂

      And there really is hundreds of them, you can gain access to all the premium ones via the free trial also!

  14. Hi Ant,
    Your site is very impewsive and yes japanese is a special language and one that will be of interest to others looking to learn it.

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