More good books for learning Japanese

We got some good feedback for our best books for learning Japanese post so we thought we would add some more to the list of worthy study aids for Japanese. The books we present here are somewhat more advanced than the previous post. If you are just starting out, we recommend you check out the books in the top 10 post before getting these.

Read Real Japanese

This is a great book for making the tricky jump from intermediate to advanced Japanese. Of course, you can read “real” Japanese anytime nowadays online but it’s sometimes nice to have explanations for unknown expressions and writing styles you come across. The book contains eight varying and interesting essays by famous Japanese authors such as Haruki Murakami, Seiko Ito and Banana Yoshimoto. I enjoyed studying with this book except for the author’s inexplicable usage of romaji in the vocabulary explanations. Why would an advanced learner still be using romaji? Anyway, it is an interesting read and you should be able to find it used for cheap on Amazon.

Read Real Japanese Essays: Contemporary Writings by Popular Authors 1 free CD included

The follow-up to the original is much improved with an audio CD included and the romaji scrapped! It gets difficult in some places and new kanji readings are only given once so it’s definitely for intermediate learners and up.

Read Real Japanese Fiction

Similar to the last two books but for fiction. I don’t own this one but it has some good reviews so it is probably safe to assume it’s of the same quality as the others in the series.

Nihongo Through Newspaper Articles

Another pretty solid offering from the Japan Times for building up your Japanese vocabulary. Each lesson presents a new article with vocab and exercises. There’s also two audio CDs included. A lesson a day will quickly improve your reading comprehension.

Nyuzu de fuyasu jyokyu he no goi/hyougen (Amazon Japan)


Another news-based intermediate book I found useful. The articles tend to be a bit longer than the Japan Times book. Audio CD included. One minor annoyance is the furigana on every single word in the articles. I guess it is better than no furigana…I bought this book a few years ago in Japan and it appears to be relatively unavailable abroad.

Nihongo nouryoku shiken N1 ni deru jyuyou tangoshuu (Amazon Japan)


Another book you might have trouble finding outside of Japan. It is supposed to be used for studying for the top level (N1) of the JLPT but it would be useful for most intermediate to advanced learners. If you think your Japanese is getting there, prepare for your ego to be shattered. Each page has deceptively similar looking words and expressions that will really test your knowledge. We follow a general rule that any books by the excellent publisher, ALC, are generally a good bet. This is no exception. It is a great little book which will take you a long time to master!

4 thoughts on “More good books for learning Japanese

  1. Interesting to hear about Nyuzu de fuyasu jyokyu he no goi and Nihongo nouryoku shiken N1 ni deru jyuyou tangoshuu! That’s the second time I’ve seen a recommendation for Nihongo nouryoku shiken so it seems like it would definitely be worth a look!

    I really found A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Sentence Patterns useful and the Yotsuba manga are probably the easiest way to break into real Japanese. The sentences and vocab are nice and simple.

  2. Yeah the yellow book is an all-time classic. Thanks for commenting!

    Edit: Oh you are referring to a different book. I don’t recall seeing that one before.

  3. Dear Admin,
    I just posted on you Chinese section and saw you also write on Japanese and Korean too! I’m the Marketing Manager for languages at Tuttle Publishing and was wondering if you would consider reviewing some of our newer Japanese language books. Some of our strongest are “Learning Japanese Kanji”, “Japanese Hiragana & Katakana for Beginners”, “Japanese Kanji and Kana” and “Beginning Japanese”.

    They can all be found here:

    If you would like review copies, I can arrange to have them sent right away.

    Thank you,

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