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Why learn Japanese?

  • Culture

    Understanding Japanese will open your eyes to Japanese history, arts and entertainment.
  • Gateway language

    Japanese is considered as a gateway language to other Asian languages.
  • Fun and connecting

    Travelling to Japan is always a more fun and rewarding experience when you can communicate (at least saying a few words) with the locals in their own language.

1000 most common Japanese words

  • Japanese

    Click the button below to start learning the most-used Japanese words.

Inspiring real-life stories of learning Japanese

Why should you start learning the most common Japanese words? Read inspiring real-life stories from people who started learning Japanese.
  • Living in Japan since 1989

    I studied Japanese full time in Kyoto, Japan from 1990 to early 1993. And from there I never really stopped. I had an important advantage: I have lived in Kyoto since 1989.

    Japan is the world's 3rd largest economy and also a distinct piece of the current "global village" world we live in. Japan has been interacting through trade and commerce and culture for well over 50 years now. But very few foreigners in Japan or anywhere else in the world speak Japanese.

    It is known as a "difficult language" but that doesn't mean anything if your passion lies in learning that language. My take on learning languages, and I speak 4 fluently (English, Japanese, German, and Swedish), is very simple.

    In three stages:

    1. Begin with memorization on portable cue cards. Memorize 40% nouns, 40% verbs (worry about conjugation later), and 20% adjectives and time expressions.

    2. Listen to the language as much as possible and begin speaking out loud to get your pronunciation pitch-perfect.

    3. Start using your words and your pronunciation skills to make sentences and continue watching, listening, thinking about the language as much as possible. For Japanese, step one also requires learning the hiragana and katakana syllable sets (48 characters in each one) and a few Chinese kanji ideograms.

    Even if you don't plan to read Japanese well you should have a good understanding of how the written language is constructed. Looking at the future, Japan is always in need of people who are intermediate fluent in Japanese. Currently, there are many jobs open to foreigners as Japan is the world's fastest aging population and the birth rate is also among the lowest in the world. And Japan's interest in foreign cultures is always trending and so is the world's fascination with Japanese cultural exports. Manga, anime, cosplay, architecture, design and contemporary art . . .

    Japan also has the most advanced and widespread craft culture (much like Italy) in the world and these traditions continue to live and change. So no matter your interest in travel and culture, Japan has to be in the top 5-10 places to gain language fluency.

    If Japan interests you, traditional or modern, then you should absolutely begin to study Japanese and listen and watch as much Japanese content as possible. The more you put in, in the beginning, the easier it gets.

    Ian Martin, Your Japan Private Tours Kyoto
  • Internship opportunities

    I started taking Japanese classes three months ago as I’m considering applying for an internship in Tokyo next year.

    I believe that knowing the basics of Japanese will increase my chances of landing an internship there. Japan has one of the leading economies in the world, so as a young and ambitious economics student, I’m taking Japanese to add more value to my career in the future.

    I signed up for Live Lingua Japanese classes as they provide a 1:1 approach and this has met my needs in learning economy terms and daily vocabulary to make my life in Tokyo much easier.

    Tamie Tailor, Economics student, USA
  • Translating Japanese

    I learned Japanese because in my primary country of residence, Greece, there are very few people who have the ability to translate this particular pair (Greek-Japanese) resulting in extremely high quotes for translating projects.

    After learning some Japanese I started getting some small projects translating beginner level documents like birth/marriage certificates etc. and later moved on to more significant projects. This considerably boosted my income and I was able to get more money for my time.

    Petros Kantzos, Editor of France Travel Blog
  • Amazing anime & pop culture

    Japanese is for their Amazing anime & pop culture. The deeper you dive into anime, the more you realize that you've joined a secret club of people who all have a similar interest. Knowing Japanese lets you enjoy it in its true essence.

    You can walk into a shoe store wearing an anime t-shirt and find yourself entrenched in an intense conversation with a complete stranger (which has happened to me). It's like having a secret key to a bunch of friends you never even knew you had.

    Lohith from Blinkvisa

  • Making friends in Japan

    I studied Japanese for two years in my city. I was lucky because my city and an important city in Japan were sister cities and there was an association conducting the lessons for free.

    As a linguist (and a translator), I have always been drawn to languages. Different language families are opportunities to get acquainted with different sets of grammar rules. For instance, did you know that Japanese adjectives have tense?

    I made many friends while studying, I am still friends with my first Japanese teacher; she lives in Tokyo now, but she still travels, so she did visit some years ago.

    Learning more about this country's culture was also fun - it wasn't always about calligraphy and pronunciation. We would watch and discuss anime, take part in festivals, wear traditional Japanese clothing, and learn Japanese dances.

    The same way traveling does, learning a new language opens you up, making you understand and accept a different lifestyle than your own.

    Olivia-Petra Coman, Translator & Travel Writer Inreperta
  • International relations

    Japanese has been taught in many Australian high schools since the 1960s, as a way to promote exchange between the two countries in relation to education, trade, diplomacy, and tourism. Japan has been a close strategic and economic partner of Australia for over 50 years, and many government-funded university programs have been established to promote learning, as well as collaborative projects in education and intercultural exchange.

    I studied Japanese in grades 7 and 8, however, this was long before there were language learning apps available to assist. It certainly wasn't the easiest language to start with at the age of 13, but the pronunciation did become more predictable once I spent some time learning the hiragana characters. In hindsight, resources such as Duolingo would have made it a lot easier to pick up the basics.

    Alice Bedward, Digital Marketing Specialist
  • Learning by watching Japanese TV shows

    I learned Japanese for 4 years and continue to watch Japanese TV shows in the native language.

    If you already speak/read/write Mandarin, Japanese is a natural language to then pick up since the root language is similar. It also opens up a whole new culture and many sub-cultures to you like fantastic food, music, and friendships.

    Justine Chan, Founder of Live With Plum
  • Japanese pop culture

    I first became interested in Japanese culture when I was a pre-teen, self-teaching the language from following Japanese pop culture and later expanding my knowledge with a Japanese class in high school.

    Japanese is a beautiful language that I would recommend to anyone interested in learning a new skill. I love the way the language sounds, and I appreciate how easy the alphabet is to learn. After learning all the exceptions and nuances of reading and writing in English, you will be amazed at how much more straight-forward that is in Japanese!

    Besides learning Japanese simply for the love of learning new skills, I had the good fortune of visiting Japan in the past. While most people in big cities do speak English well, knowing the basics of the language was a great asset to explore the areas that were less touristy.

    Dr. Patricia Celan