One of the best places online to find content for studying Japanese is YouTube.
There is so much to offer from all over the world, from structured language learning programs, to fun videos about Japanese culture.
And the best part is that it’s free! 😊
No matter where you are in your studies, you’re sure to find something on YouTube to improve your language skills.
I put together this list to help you find a channel perfect for you.
Starting from beginner and going all the way to advanced, here are the most helpful, enterining, and well made videos on YouTube for learning Japanese.
Best YouTube channels to learn Japanese from beginner to advanced
Japanese From Zero has long been a reliable set of textbooks in the Japanese learning community.
As the name suggests, the book starts with very beginner Japanese. But if you have a hard time learning from a textbook, these lessons are also covered in video format on YouTube.
The videos are designed for someone with no knowledge of Japanese, so they are a great place to start your Japanese journey.
Even in the first few videos you will be surprised how you can start making sentences and get used to Japanese pronunciation.
We can’t start a list about Japanese learning without including JapanesePod101!
JapanesePod101 started out as a podcast, but eventually spread to online lessons, and then YouTube.
The YouTube lessons are geared more toward beginners, with simple videos on Japanese pronunciation, grammar, and even children’s songs to practice your hiragana reading and listening skills.
There are dozens of short, easy to digest videos on this channel which give you a good precursor to their own online lessons.
But even if you don’t move onto more of their lessons, it’s still a great resource to practice some basic Japanese!
JLPT Bootcamp is a series of videos created by Clayton McKnight.
He covers Japanese grammar, kanji, and vocabulary that correspond to the different levels of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. Most of his videos are for the lowest, N5 level, and most of them cover different grammar points that will be on the test.
The videos are presented in a straightforward manner, with great little animations to keep your attention.
They are full of fantastic reading and listening practice so you can start to study for the N5 level of the JLPT.
One of the best textbooks to use to start learning Japanese is called Minna no Nihongo, or “Japanese for Everyone.”
The texts don’t have an official YouTube channel, but NihonGoal has you covered. Rose is a foreigner living in Japan and her videos consist of lessons straight from the Minna no Nihongo text.
The channel feels like you have a teacher and study buddy going through the book with you, making every lesson effortless and amusing.
Minori Education is perfect for those who have started with a bit of Japanese, and are ready for a full immersion class to move onto.
The channel is almost like several different channels in one, with a few different teachers and lessons on various topics. They have videos ranging from N5 to N4 level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, starting with the basic alphabets, and moving on to grammar, vocabulary, and kanji.
Every video is completely in Japanese, but teachers speak slowly and they make the lessons incredibly easy to understand.
This is definitely a terrific start to listening and practicing full immersion Japanese lessons.
If you want to go old-school, you can check out this YouTube channel that shows original Japanese learning videos from 1984.
Don’t be discouraged by the cheesy characters or antique video production, these videos are a tried and true method that have helped people learn Japanese for decades. The lovable character Yan fumbles though daily Japanese life trying to learn as much as he can.
Each video starts out with a skit, then has a detailed breakdown of all the parts in English.
They speak slowly and give you plenty of time to practice yourself, so even though it’s old, give Yan and his shenanigans a try and see if he can help you learn Japanese!
Reina Scully’s channel is a little bit different from just straight Japanese lessons.
She has tons of amazing content about living in Japan, and the differences between Japan and the west. When she does deliver a lesson, it is upbeat, friendly, and full of funny slang and useful idioms.
She really stands out as a YouTuber you won’t get sick of watching, and you can learn a ton of beginner to intermediate Japanese with her creative lessons.
This channel is for beginners that have learned at least the basic Japanese alphabet and a few vocabulary words, but it is much more than just simple lessons.
The channel covers interesting topics about everyday life and culture, spoken at a slow speed with tons of visual cues. It’s almost like how a mother would speak to a Japanese child about interesting topics. The videos cover everything from basic games to explaining parts of Japanese culture.
Even if you have very little understanding of Japanese, there is enough information to be able to follow her videos, and learn new vocabulary and even grammar.
These videos have obviously been produced by someone with an in-depth knowledge of language learning, and you will be surprised how much you can learn without relying on English.
Despite the name, Kanji Link has much more than just kanji videos.
Produced in both French and English, this channel has a ton of great Japanese grammar videos as well. The simple, well produced visuals and easy explanations make this a fabulous collection for those who want to brush up on some basic grammar.
He hasn’t produced anything new for several years, but the videos he does have are extremely helpful and easy to understand.
If you have done any searching online about learning Japanese, I am sure you have run into Tae Kim’s grammar guide.
One of the most comprehensive grammar guides online for Japanese, Tae Kim has made an entire database of Japanese grammar points, from beginner to advanced.
But Tae Kim also has a YouTube channel!
This channel is older, and hasn’t been updated in years, but the videos are still fantastic for beginner Japanese.
They start with very in-depth videos about the writing systems, and move onto basic grammar.
If you aren’t one for slogging through hundreds of pages of text, this channel is a great alternative to learning some Japanese grammar.
Once you are ready to hear real Japanese speakers, Benjiro has an incredible channel, filled with short interviews with real Japanese people.
The topics they cover are varied, everything from school days to travel.
While Benjio is interviewing each person, a list of vocabulary words are typed on the side of the screen in real time, so you can follow each conversation without getting hung up on grammar.
I would recommend these videos for intermediate learners, as the language can sometimes be faster, but they supplement anyone’s learning because of the extensive, real life vocabulary you can learn!
With all the different writing systems you have to learn, starting to read Japanese can be intimidating.
But the Foxumon channel helps so much with that! It takes real life material like the NHK Easy news articles, or the manga Yotsubato, and goes over each sentence with you to help you understand.
The videos are entertaining and will make sure you learn all the Japanese in the presented material, piece by piece.
With Foxumon, you will be reading real Japanese in no time!
Yusuke has a tremendous channel with practical Japanese for those who want to hear real life conversations and native material.
Each video has Japanese (with furigana) and English subtitles so it’s very easy to follow.
The videos would be best for intermediate learners as he still does speak at a relatively fast speed and he uses higher level grammar.
The best part about Yusuke’s channel is that he is doing real life things. He films himself going to a convenience store, interacting with friends, and walking around tourist destinations in Japan.
So these videos are full of relevant real life Japanese that you are sure to hear when you go to Japan.
Crazy Japanese Lessons are a really fun way to brush up on your Japanese, for intermediate to advanced learners.
Each video introduces a different Japanese idiom or phrase that is a bit strange or uncommon.
These videos are incredibly well made and super fun to watch. They have both Japanese and English subtitles so you will definitely learn vocabulary, grammar, and even brush up on your kanji, all while learning silly Japanese phrases you can use with your friends.
Even the most advanced learners can still get something out of this because they teach uncommon idioms in an innovative way.
Sambon Juku’s channel has the feeling of after school lessons with a well prepared teacher.
Aki-sensei covers Japanese lessons from beginner to advanced, but his best videos would most definitely be the JLPT grammar videos, in which he covers different grammar points for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test.
The channel is entirely in Japanese, so they are full immersion lessons, using Aki’s expertise in the language to drive home Japanese grammar concepts that would be difficult to master on your own.
He speaks slowly, and is easy to understand, but I would recommend these videos to intermediate to advanced learners.
Nihonnomori, meaning “Japanese forest” is another channel that has Japanese Language Proficiency Test lessons in a ton of short videos.
What separates this channel is the clever skits, and real life experience the teacher’s bring to each video.
I would recommend this channel for the N2 and N3 lessons in particular, as these are where the teachers do their best work. The channel has the feel of being in a classroom with a fun lecturer who is willing to be goofy to keep the attention of her students.
A must see for those who need a leg up on grammar for the JLPT.
KemushiChan is a channel started by Loretta, an American who learned Japanese and has been living in Japan for many years.
Her Japanese is ridiculously impressive and her videos reflect how she got to where she is now. The channel is a mash-up of all kinds of content about learning Japanese, travel, conversing with native speakers, and even the difficulties of learning the language.
She has an impressive collection that includes a ton of Japanese language tips, where to start with learning Japanese, vocabulary, and questions and answers.
Though most of her content is aimed toward people with a solid foundation in Japanese, they all have subtitles and can be enjoyed by learners of any level.
Easy Japanese is a channel that interviews real Japanese people on the streets about various topics.
These videos are really fun to watch, not only to learn Japanese, but to hear opinions about cultural topics, news, and even slang. Each video has Japanese and English subtitles, which makes them easy to follow for every learner.
But to improve your Japanese, I would recommend these videos for higher intermediate learners. The language is fast paced, and sometimes uses casual Japanese you won’t find in a Japanese textbook.
The topics are extremely interesting, so be sure to give this channel a try!
Chika is an incredibly popular YouTuber that has been making videos about Japan for over a decade.
Most of her content is lifestyle vlogs, covering topics like cooking and travel.
The videos are always lively and they are almost always in both Japanese and English.
Her Japanese is clear and easy to follow for intermediate to advanced students, so follow her daily life to improve your listening and reading skills!
Rachel and Jun are an American-Japanese couple who have been making videos about Japan for years.
They cover everything from travel to recent trends and food. While not strictly a language learning channel, it is still a great way to pick up native content, while learning more about Japan.
Rachel and Jun are an adorable couple so it’s fun to watch their adventures, and most of their videos have subtitles so they can be easy to follow.
You will find a lot of English, but usually Jun speaks Japanese, while Rachel speaks English.
When it comes to learning pitch-accent and pronunciation in Japanese, Dogen has become the gold standard.
It is mesmerizing to hear a foreigner speak with such eloquent Japanese. He has comprehensive videos to teach you everything you need to know to sound just like a Japanese native. If you want to work on your accent, this is the place to go.
He is also just generally hilarious and has dozens of funny shorts in Japanese about his experiences as a foreigner in Japan.
These videos are generally geared toward a more advanced audience, but the subtitles make most of them easily accessible to any audience — though beginners will have to watch some videos multiple times due to the speed in which he speaks.
I would be remiss if I didn’t include one of the most popular YouTube topics in Japan, which is obviously video games!
If you like watching video game streamers and are looking for one in Japanese to improve your language, Hikakin is the best out there.
He speaks clearly and slowly, and often has Japanese subtitles when the words aren’t clear on the screen.
He mostly plays games with simple language like Mario, or Minecraft, so the Japanese isn’t too difficult, even though it is native level.
Hikakin is hilarious to watch, so check him out to learn some great vocabulary for playing Japanese games.
After you get a bit better at Japanese, there is always a need to find native materials to keep going with your progress.
But this can be difficult if you aren’t living in Japan. The NHK YouTube channel is a real game changer in this regard. NHK is the national Japanese news network, and they make up-to-date videos about what is happening around the world, as well as Japanese culture and entertainment.
This is the same kind of content you would see if you turned on the TV in Japan.
It is an invaluable resource for native material made for Japanese people.
Hajime is an insanely popular YouTuber in Japan with over 9 million subscribers. His videos are about his wacky antics, like bungee jumping, eating the world’s largest gummy worm, or buying a suit of armor from Amazon.
He speaks very fast and there are rarely subtitles on his channel, so these videos would be best for advanced learners, looking for material to improve their Japanese listening skills.
If you can understand his Japanese and like his over-the-top style, these videos are extremely interesting to watch and will have you laughing along with him.
One of my personal favorite Japanese YouTube channels follows a single woman who travels throughout Japan on her motorcycle.
She goes to a lot of really incredible places all over Japan and meets interesting people along the way.
The videos are entirely in Japanese, with no subtitles or translations, so these are best for advanced learners who want to pick up native material. The channel is a burst of fun with high energy people and music throughout.
So enjoy some amazing sights all over Japan while listening to native Japanese!
Know of a cool YouTube channel for learning Japanese that I didn’t mention?
Share it below in the comment section.
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