Best Language Apps for Learning to Speak Japanese

Dreaming about exploring Japan? There’s never been a better time to learn to speak Japanese! We’re sharing our favorite Japanese language-learning apps, so you can practice your Japanese from home—and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime in Japan.

Woman in in front of a Japanese building holding a map and looking at her phone
Learning Japanese has never been easier. Photo © Ronnie Wu/Dreamstime.


Cost: Free trial, with monthly and yearly subscriptions thereafter
WaniKani is a super accessible mnemonic-based learning system that gets you up to speed on reading Japanese quickly. It promises you can learn 2,000 kanji and 6,000 vocabulary words in just over a year. Why not get started now?


Cost: Free, with an option to subscribe to remove ads
With the Todai app (available in for <a href="http://“>iOS and Android), read simple news stories and practice listening and reading Japanese offline. There are options for different reading levels, as well as helpful audio.

Kanji Star

Cost: Free for beginning levels, with an option to purchase additional levels
Learn kanji by drawing kanji right on your iPhone or iPad with Kanji Star! This app will help you practice your stroke order and writing based on grade level or your level in the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT).


Cost: Free
Imiwa is a multilingual Japanese dictionary that includes both the rōmaji (English alphabet) version of a word and its kanji equivalent. It’s totally free and does not require an internet connection—so you have no excuse not to try it if you have iOS!


Cost: Free, with an option to subscribe to remove ads
A classic option for language learning and available on both iOS and Google Play, Duolingo requires just five minutes a day, and feels more like a game than work. Although it calls its lessons “bite-sized,” that doesn’t mean you can’t pick up the pace if you want, especially if you’ve got some extra time on your hands.