How to Learn Japanese: Native Resource Guide

If you’re looking to speak Japanese like a local, the traditional textbook worksheets and grammar lessons won’t give you the colloquial dialogue you need to speak fluently. Like any language, Japanese has nuances and slang you’ll only be able to pick up from native resources that are created for and by fluent speakers.

When you’re ready to take your Japanese language skills to the next level, check out some of the resources in this guide to incorporate the language into your daily life.


Movies are a great way to pick up cultural cues, conversational grammar, and new vocabulary. Grab your favorite movie theater snacks and watch one of these Japanese films.

The Forest of Love

This has received rave reviews for its gripping plot — it’s based on the true story of an infamous Japanese serial killer named Futoshi Matsunaga as he lures an innocent group of aspiring filmmakers into his sinister world.

In This Corner of the World

For those who love Japanese anime, check out this compelling film that follows the story of a young girl before and after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Both heart-wrenching and beautifully animated, this movie can help foreign viewers understand the impacts of Hiroshima.

River’s Edge

If you watched American teen dramas like Degrassi or Gossip Girl, check out this live-action rendition of the manga River’s Edge. The film focuses around three troubled Japanese teens who discover a dead body on a river bank, which ultimately helps the teens form a unique bond.

TV Shows

If a TV series is more your speed, there are plenty of shows to stream online for free. You can opt for subtitles if you’re an intermediate speaker, or go without if you’re ready for a more advanced option.

Food you don’t eat and you don’t like

In this entertaining Japanese show, participants try to guess which foods the special guests won’t like, with plenty of laughs and competition along the way. This show is great if you’re looking to pick up some new food vocabulary!

Terrace House

For those who love reality television, this unscripted Japanese series that follows a group of young strangers as they live under the same roof is your next binge worthy drama. The series can also help language learners pick up on native Japanese slang.


This critically-acclaimed series has received rave reviews for its gripping plot that perfectly combines drama, action, crime, romance, and humor. No matter what kind of shows are your go-to, there’s something for everyone in this masterfully directed series.


Tune into a Japanese podcast while you’re working out, on your daily commute, or doing chores.

NHK News Radio

If you want to keep up with the latest news while brushing up on your Japanese, the NHK News Radio is a perfect podcast to check out.

Hino Kaeko’s Rules of Love and Work

For something a bit lighter and more entertaining, try this Japanese podcast that tackles job advice along with relationship tips. Questions are sent in from Japanese listeners, so this podcast can give you a sense of the kinds of issues locals deal with in their everyday lives.

Japanese Listening Advanced

In this podcast, you’ll hear native Japanese speakers chat. There’s plenty of slang, colloquial terms, and new vocabulary that can take your speaking up a level. This podcast is better suited for advanced learners, as the dialogue is fast-paced.


Swap out your typical morning newspaper or internet search for a Japanese source instead. You’ll stay up-to-date on all the latest stories and pick up some new language skills while you’re at it!

The Japan Times

Rather than reading your local paper, browse the Japan Times online and pick up useful Japanese vocabulary while staying informed.

Asahi Shimbun Digital

Stay up to date on all the current news in Japan and the rest of Asia with Asahi Shimbun Digital. This free news website has a range of topics and can keep your cultural chops sharp!

The Tokyo Reporter

For those who would rather browse entertainment, sports, or business stories, try out The Tokyo Reporter. There’s a lot of variety, giving you a chance to pick up new vocabulary and read up on cultural stories in addition to news.

No matter what resource you choose, incorporating native Japanese resources into your daily media digest can help you take your language skills to new heights.