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Is Japanese Hard to Learn? Your Easy Guide to Japanese.

Is Japanese hard to learn?

How hard is it to learn Japanese?

Well, that depends on you. And in this guide, you will find out if you’re one of the LUCKY for whom it is easy. Or, if you’re one of the UNLUCKY ones that will fail at Japanese.

is japanese hard to learn

By the way, if you’re learning Japanese…

…you NEED to LISTEN to Japanese.

So, here’s a fun audio lesson where you’ll learn some basic words. Press play and listen below right now.

1. Why Japanese Can Be Easy

A. Japanese Can Be Easy Because of YOU

Alright, what the heck does that mean?

It means that if YOU love something about Japan or the Japanese language, you’re already 50 miles (80.4 kilometers) ahead of everyone else. Yes, if you like anime or the culture or you had some language exposure from a home-stay student, that is enough to make it easy. Why?

Because people don’t do things they don’t like. People don’t do things they are not used to.

We do things we like. We do things we are used to.

So, learning Japanese is easy if you have the right attitude.

B. Japanese can be easy if you learn with Audio Lessons + Accompanying Translations

So, Japanese audio lessons with text.


Imagine listening to a Japanese conversation. You won’t understand much, right?

Now, imagine listening to a conversation. Then having someone explain everything. And having the text for it. The translations. The explanations. Each word is defined. You’ll start understanding everything. You can read along and follow along as you listen.

And if you read out loud, you’re practicing speaking.

So, learning with audio with text is a very easy way to learn Japanese.

  • Listening to audio is easy
  • Reading along makes everything easier to understand
  • You can listen and learn on any computer or smartphone

Try it for yourself:

Text from the lesson:

  • Ohayou
  • Ohayou gozaimasu
  • Konnichiwa
  • Konbanwa

Another easy way to learn Japanese is with Japanese textbooks. Why?

  • Textbooks guide you from start to finish, from page 1 to 100. You’ll never be confused.
  • You learn to read, write, pick up plenty of words, phrases and grammar rules.
  • If the author makes it fun, reading the textbook and learning is fun.

C. Because Millions of People Out There are Learning Japanese.

is japanese hard to learn
A million subscribers

Don’t take my word for it.

Google around for Japanese learning websites, blogs and social network channels.

And take a look at all of the people commenting.

If there are so many willing souls to trying to learn Japanese…

…surely it can’t be that bad. And if it is that bad, people are jumping in anyway.

They enjoy learning it, using it and listening it – even if they don’t reach 100% fluency.

D. Japanese Uses a Lot of English Words.

The running joke amongst foreigners living in Japan is…

…if you say English words with a Japanese accent, you’ll likely be understood. There’s a good chance. But jokes aside, there’s a truck-ton of words borrowed from English like..

  • セーター sētā — sweater
  • ビール biiru— beer
  • パンツ pantsu — underpants
  • ビル biru — building
  • ガラス garasu — glass
  • パーカー paakaa — hoodie
  • パンツ pantsu— pants
  • グラス gurasu— glass
  • アメリカ Amerika – America (USA)
  • ロシア roshia — Russia
  • ハロウィン harowin – Halloween
  • テレビ terebi – TV
  • コーヒー – koohii – coffee
  • ハンバーガー hanbaagaa – hamburger
  • コンピュータ konpyuuta – computer

That’s just a small sample of katakana words. There’s tons more but you get the point.

Now, knowing a bunch of katakana words won’t make you fluent, but, it makes the language a bit easier.

E. Japanese Has No Gender

You know how words in Spanish are either “el” or “ella.” There are nouns that are masculine and others are feminine. Then some are neuter. Same with German and French. Same with Russian. But Japanese?


One less thing to worry about.

F. Japanese No Articles

By articles, I mean “a” or “the.” By the way, Japanese natives that learn English really struggle with “a” and “the” and when to which.

G. Japanese Pronunciation is Fairly Simple

Yes, if you want to argue about it, there are subtleties.

But the good news is that if you can say these syllables:

  • Ka, Ki, Ku, Ke, Ko
    • Pronunciation: (Kah, Kee, Koo, Keh, Ko). The rest of the Japanese letters follow this pattern.
  • Ra, Ri, Ru, Re, Ro
  • A, I, U, E, O

Then you should be fine with pronunciation.

H. Singular or Plural? Doesn’t Matter

You can say:

  • Ringo wo tabemasu

And that can mean “I eat an apple” or “I eat apples.” Or even “They eat apples.”

  • Point is, the object of the sentence doesn’t need adjusting.

I. Verb conjugations

Compared to other languages, there are just a few irregular Japanese verbs.

So, when you learn the conjugation patterns, you will be able to conjugate all the other ones.

2. Who Japanese is Easy For

First, it depends on your native language and how transferable it is to Japanese. For example, Russians can learn Polish easier because the languages are similar. And similarly, Koreans and Chinese can learn Japanese because the languages have some things in common

  • is Japanese hard to learn for Chinese speakers?
    • Reading and writing wise, no. Japanese uses Kanji which was borrowed from the Chinese language.
  • Is Japanese hard to learn for Spanish speakers?
    • It will be challenging. The good news is that since you can roll your “Rs,” you won’t sound terrible in Japanese.
  • is Japanese hard to learn for Korean speakers?
    • No. They have common grammar rules.

Now, let’s talk about attitude.

Japanese will be easy for the the “optimist,” “doer” and not the “thinker.”  As with anything you do, your attitude defines how far you will go. And attitudes aside, your actions do too.

If you’re a doer that’s plowing through textbooks, reviewing flashcards, listening to Japanese audio and, most importantly, speaking, you will succeed. And it will be pretty simple for you in the long run.

Similar with optimists. As long as you’re a natural optimist – which leads you to do things, and not a “self-help” book dependent optimist, you’ll be fine. Because attitudes lead to action. And long-term attitudes, which can’t be supplied by self-help books, lead to long term action… and long term results.

3. Why Japanese is Hard & Who It Can Be Hard For

I’m not going to lie and tell you that it’s all simple.

Hard parts of Japanese:

  • Kanji, the stroke order and the many different readings
  • Reading advanced texts and newspapers. Even Japanese get stuck over Kanji
  • The many levels of politeness and different grammar involved
  • Counting: counting pencils doesn’t use the same numbers as counting small animals
    • However, this gets easy with practice
  • Subtle pronunciations:
    • Hashi which can mean “chopsticks” or “bridge” sounds subtly different depending on the meaning
  • Grammar: Particles can get confusing. Plus there are various uses for
  • Perfection. It’ll be hard to sound like a native.

Now, who can Japanese be hard for?

  • Realistic answer: Anyone who’s language is not Korean or Chinese.

If your language has no similarities with Japanese, you will encounter lots of new things. And new things require memorization and tons of practice. So, if you’re American, Canadian, Spanish, Russian or Indian, Japanese will be tough for you in that sense. Almost everything is new.

What kind of personalities can it be hard for? 

Thinkers. Overly smart people. And people that don’t work hard.

  1. Thinkers. By this i mean, people that wonder “ah, what is life all about” and “what if I never learn it” or “but what’s the best way to learn?” You’ve likely met people that think too much and romanticize things needlessly. They seem smart because of all the thoughts they have. However, their lack of action and results (which requires action) makes them stupid. And thus, Japanese will be hard for them. They’ll overthink it.
    1. Overly Smart People fall in this very same category.
  2. People that don’t work hard. These guys can take action and start. But, they just can’t continue or finish. Or stick with things. That’s another form of stupidity that you want to avoid. For whatever reason, they don’t work hard.
  3. People that need outside inspiration. Or those that are dependent on self-help books, inspirational quotes and other short-term fixes. And the problem is, those things are short term. If you need inspiration – especially from someone else – to stick with learning Japanese, you’ll lose when you lose your source.
  4. People that know all about learning and what apps are good/bad. They have opinions. This app is good. That app is bad. This textbook is terrible. They know all about learning but they don’t know any Japanese. You’ll find these guys on message boards.

4. Fun Japanese Phrases That You’ll Want to Know

Is Japanese hard to learn? Or is it easy? Well, you can now talk about it in Japanese with the phrases below.

Japanese is fun and easy to learn!

  • 日本語は楽しくて簡単に学べます!
  • Nihongo wa tanoshikute kantan ni manabemasu!

is japanese hard to learn

Japanese is easy to understand.

  • 日本語は分かりやすいです。
  • Nihongo wa wakariyasui desu.

is japanese hard to learn (1)

Japanese is difficult.

  • 日本語は難しいです
  • Nihongo wa muzukashii desu

is japanese hard to learn (1)

It’s not difficult.

  • 難しくないです
  • Muzukashikunai desu

is japanese hard to learn

Japanese vocabulary words are easy to remember.

  • 日本語 の 単語 は 覚えやすい です。
  • Nihongo no tango wa oboeyasui desu.

 What is the hard part of learning Japanese?

  • 日本語学習のむずかしい部分は何ですか。
  • Nihongo gakushuu no muzukashii bubun wa nandesuka?

is japanese hard to learn

I’m learning Japanese all by myself.

  • 独学で日本語を勉強しています。
  • Dokugaku de Nihongo o benkyō shite imasu.

is japanese hard to learn

So, is Japanese hard to learn?

Yes and no.

It depends on what you know already, how far you want to go and how you learn.

And if you do want to learn and speak Japanese, check these resources out.

– Written by the Main Junkie

P.S. Want to speak Japanese with an easy 3 minute lesson?

Then check out JapanesePod101.com. They have 3-10 minute audio/video lessons that get you speaking and understanding Japanese. So, if you want to speak and learn this language… click here to get a Free Lifetime Account at JapanesePod101.com

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