Konnichiwa Japanese learners!
Are you using YouTube to learn Japanese? If not, why not?
There are so many amazing Japanese YouTube channels out there. And with more and more videos uploaded each day, you’re guaranteed to find your perfect teacher.
Whether you’re a beginner or advanced student, studying just for fun or for JLPT level 1, there’s a YouTuber who can help you learn Japanese.
And best of all, it’s completely free!
So if you want to know how to learn Japanese in an easy and fun way, check out our pick of the best YouTube channels to learn Japanese:
Best YouTube channels for Japanese lessons
Let’s start out with the obvious: Japanese language learning YouTube channels. Here are some of the best Japanese teachers on YouTube for free lessons in grammar, vocabulary and more.
I haven’t divided this list by level because most of these channels have a range of videos from beginner to advanced, but I have tried to indicate who will benefit most from each channel.
Japanese Ammo is one of my favourite online Japanese resources. It’s created by Misa sensei, a multilingual Japanese translator and teacher. Misa teaches through her YouTube channel and blog posts. All of her content is completely free.
There are loads of lessons suitable for beginners and most of her lessons are taught in English. She also has a few Japanese-only videos with English subs for more advanced learners.
You might have heard of JapanesePod101, an awesome way to learn Japanese online with audio lessons. Did you know they also have a YouTube channel? Yep, loads of fantastic content is available for free, and you don’t have to be a JapanesePod101 member to enjoy it.
Although JapanesePod101 have online courses for every level, their YouTube channel is mostly aimed at beginners. They have loads of videos on basic Japanese phrases, and can even teach you how to read and write hiragana and katakana. I also love their fun videos on Japanese slang and anime words.
There are new videos almost every day, so this channel is a great one to follow to get your regular Japanese listening practice in.
Videos teaching Japanese with the aid of simple drawings and props. The videos are all in Japanese but easy to understand. There are subtitles in Japanese and links to transcripts on their website.
The ‘complete beginner’ lessons focus on basic vocabulary. The ‘beginner’ and ‘intermediate’ lessons talk about Japanese culture and daily life.
Recommended for visual learners who want to learn Japanese through Japanese-only lessons, even at the beginner level.
Short fun videos, mostly in English, teaching Japanese words and phrases. Good for beginners.
Ako sensei creates lessons for JLPT levels N5-N1. Her lessons are very well presented with slides and examples on screen. Her lessons are all in Japanese but she does include some English translations at lower levels.
Recommended particularly to learn JLPT grammar.
If you are trying to learn more Japanese vocabulary, this is the channel for you. It simply runs through flashcards on various topics, including example sentences. Follow the link in the video description to practise with interactive flashcards on the website, and you can even print out flashcards to practise at home.
Beginner and intermediate level.
Short videos on various grammar points, plus lots of videos for Japanese listening practice in the form of interviews and vlogs on various subjects.
The grammar videos use lots of English but the listening practice videos are Japanese only, so there is something for all levels.
Akkie sensei creates series of lessons of different themes, including basics, JLPT N3-N1, kanji, casual Japanese, keigo and more. The lessons are all in Japanese.
I would say this channel is better at higher levels or when you’re ready for some immersion.
Nihongo no mori offer some of the best free Japanese lessons for JLPT grades N1, N2 and N3. The funny and energetic lessons are produced by a team of Japanese university students and taught entirely in Japanese. They talk you through every grammar and vocabulary item you need to know to master the JLPT.
My top recommended channel for higher levels.
An animated android with a unique approach to learning Japanese, Cure Dolly has somewhat of a cult following with Japanese learners. Videos are mostly in English.
Best YouTube channels to learn Japanese with songs
Japanese kids songs are an excellent way to learn Japanese, especially for beginners! They use simple vocabulary, and it’s much easier to remember new vocabulary if it’s in song form (think how many song lyrics you’ve memorised in your own language?)
And song videos designed for Japanese children usually have captions in hiragana only, so you can read along.
So if you are looking for good Japanese YouTube channels for beginners, I reocmmend these channels to learn kids songs:
Red Cat Reading is a YouTube channel designed for Japanese kids. They showcase traditional and modern Japanese children’s songs, accompanied by cute animations.
All the videos have the words to the songs which highlight karaoke-style so you can sing along. Also, you can find the full lyrics in the video description, so you can copy/paste words into a dictionary or print them out to study (for single-song videos only, not compilations). The lyrics are mostly just hiragana (with katakana when appropriate). This is one of the best Japanese YouTube channels for complete beginners!
With almost 1,500 videos, this channel could keep you busy for a while! The starts of Pon Pon Academy are super adorable duo Icchi and Naru, who sing fun songs accompanied by cute dance moves! Again, most of the songs have hiragana lyrics on screen and in the video description so you can read and sing along.
The channel also has some cartoons and other videos for kids. These do not have captions, but they use simple Japanese.
This is a spin off of an American channel, so you will get to learn the Japanese versions of many popular English children’s songs. They have lots of songs designed to teach kids simple vocabulary such as colours and daily routine.
They mostly don’t have captions, but you will find lyrics and key words in the video description in Japanese and romaji.
Best Japanese YouTube channels for stories and books
If you’re looking for some good Japanese language YouTube channels for immersion, but you’re not fluent enough to follow ‘normal’ Japanese content at native speed, I would recommend these YouTube channels for listening to stories in Japanese! They are designed for Japanese children so they use simple but authentic language.
This calm and relaxing channel narrates Japanese children’s stories. It’s like getting a bedtime story from a lovely Japanese auntie. Most videos show the words in hiragana on each page, so you can pause the video and get some reading practise.
For traditional fairy tales and fables from Japan and around the world, look no further than Hukumusume. The videos don’t have subtitles but in most cases you can find the text on the Hukumusume website to print out and study. (Some of the videos have a link to the text in the video description, otherwise you can do a site search.)
Kadokawa is a Japanese publishing company. On their channel you can peek inside many of their books, from historical manga to children’s encyclopaedias. (You have to dig around a bit because some of their videos are more like adverts, but there are some good books in there too.)
Best Japanese YouTubers to learn about Japan and Japanese culture
These Japanese YouTubers will teach you about Japanese culture and daily life in Japan. The videos on this list are mostly in Japanese only, so they are good choices for intermediate/higher level students looking for Japanese language YouTube channels for immersion. Most of them also have English subtitles.
Travel vlogs, food, culture, street interviews and some basic Japanese lessons. Videos are all in Japanese and mostly have English and Japanese subtitles.
At first this Japanese YouTuber specialised in teaching onomatopoeia (hence the name) but now he has lots of vlogs on all kinds of topics about Japanese culture. Mostly in Japanese with optional captions in English and Japanese.
Yusuke is a Japanese vlogger who creates Japanese-only videos for learning everyday language. Most of his videos see him wander around different neighbourhoods and carry out everyday tasks, holding conversations with shop staff and so on. The videos are all unscripted, natural Japanese. There are subtitles in English and Japanese.
I highly recommend this channel for intermediate learners and above who want to learn everyday Japanese in an immersion style, rather than from scripted lessons!
That Japanese Man Yuta is best known for his street interviews in Japan. He basically asks all the questions you want to know about what Japanese people are thinking. From what Japanese girls think about dating foreigners, to what it’s like growing up mixed race in Japan, there are lots of interesting insights on this channel. All the interviews are in Japanese with English subtitles.
He also has videos about learning Japanese and random ‘life in Japan’ topics, but these are mostly in English.
Unscripted Japanese conversations. All in Japanese with optional English subtitles. Great immersion at the intermediate level.
Japanese conversations, vlogs and videos on topics related to everyday life in Japan. I like the countryside vlogs. All in Japanese, with Japanese captions, and occasional English translations. Recommended for intermediate and advanced.
Learn about Japanese etiquette and business Japanese. All in Japanese and a little more serious style than most channels on this list. Recommended for higher levels, especially those preparing to work in Japan.
Learn Japanese with YouTube
If learning Japanese with YouTube is your thing, I have one last tip for you. FluentU is an awesome website/app that helps you learn Japanese with authentic Japanese YouTube content. They take Japanese YouTube videos and add clever interactive captions that you can hover over to get a definition.
You can also add unknown words to your flashcard deck to review, and there are quizzes to drill new words and phrases from the videos.
If you learn well from videos but you want to take the extra step to make sure you’re actually learning new things (and not just passively watching), I highly recommend it!
More free resources to learn Japanese
And finally, if you enjoyed this list, please check out my other round-ups of free native materials to practise Japanese:
- Best Japanese podcasts
- Huge list of resources for Japanese listening practice
- Huge list of websites for Japanese reading practice
What are your best YouTube channels for learning Japanese? Let us know in the comments and we’ll add them to our list! Thanks for reading!
Rebecca is the founder of Team Japanese. She spent two years teaching English in Ehime, Japan. Now back in the UK, she spends her time blogging, self-studying Japanese and wrangling a very genki toddler.