A complete path to Japanese fluency

Welcome beginners!

Start with the two Japanese syllabaries, hiragana ひらがな and katakana カタカナ, used to sound out words. Learn to recognize, pronounce, and write these characters, as well as basic words using them.

Delve into kanji without fear

Ease into kanji 漢字, the beautiful and evocative ideographic writing system. Learn about characters stroke order, radical components, and the richness of meanings and pronunciations.

Learn thousands of core words with examples

The latest corpus research has identified five thousand words as the core of the language. Learn each word, one professionally-written and voice-narrated sentence at a time.

Read, watch, and listen to fluency

Compelling, addictive Japanese content

Blogs and stories, anime and drama, carefully curated by our staff to keep you coming back for more. Content for every level, from beginner to advanced.

Annotated and cross-referenced

Text and transcribed video and music, heavily cross-referenced to dictionaries, grammar notes, idioms, and cultural references. Practice what you know, and learn more at the same time.

Harness the power of play and competition

Connect with the community

Meet and connect with like-minded learners. Create and join study guilds. Compete with friends on the leader boards. Share your victories on social media.

Positive reinforcement

Earn experience points and level up your Japanese. Regular milestones and achievements let you know exactly how far you are from understanding your favorite drama or manga.

Ask questions, get answers

Don’t quite understand why a sentence works? Would it have been right another way? Ask the community and realize your potential together.


Unlock Japanese is currently in development

But get in touch!  Twitter |  Email

Frequently-Asked Questions

Q. I’m new to learning Japanese, is Unlock Japanese for me?

Absolutely, yes. We have paid particular emphasis on the things that trip up beginners, like the memorizing the kana syllabaries. As a beginner, you are lucky and can learn from many great online resources, but at Unlock Japanese, we hope to provide you with a home, where you can spend the months and years getting to fluency.

Q. I’m familiar with many Japanese learning methods on the internet, what makes this any different?

We, like you, are Japanese enthusiasts & learners. We’ve all seen the hit-or-miss quality of online Japanese learning resources. We all struggled to find reliable and legitimate sources of Japanese content that don’t cost a fortune. We couldn’t find anything out there that satisfied our Japanese learning needs, so we decided to make our own.

Our driving vision for Unlock Japanese is to build, not just another Japanese learning website, but, rather, what we want for ourselves, and for our families and friends. A course that takes you from absolute beginner to intermediate–advanced levels of reading and listening comprehension. A source of curated and legal Japanese media, with something for everyone. A community where you connect with friends and make new ones. An environment where you’re rewarded for your hard work. A spaced-repetition methodology for scheduling reviews that’s well-founded in the psychological literature. All integrated into one learning system.

Q. Where does Unlock Japanese source its content?

Our content comes from a number of sources. We’ve engaged professional native-Japanese translators and educators to produce the corpus of sentences that demonstrate the language’s top 5,000 words. We may also supplement this content with Tae Kim’s Japanese Grammar Guide and the Tatoeba/Tanaka Corpus. Our native media will come from a variety of sources, both public like YouTube and Aozora Bunko, and through licenses as for anime, manga, and drama.

Q. Will Unlock Japanese be available on mobile devices?

Yes. The website will certainly be mobile-friendly, and native iOS/Android apps are planned.

Q: Will Unlock Japanese be available in multiple languages?

Yes. We’re going to focus on English speakers first, but our goal is to create a resource that non-English speakers can use just as well as English speakers.

Q. Will Unlock Japanese be subscription based?

Yes. While the specifics have not been finalized, rest assured that we plan on having a ton of free content, which should take you several months to get through.

Q: Why have a subscription-based system? Why not offer everything for free?

Thanks to the efforts of researchers and educators including Professor Stephen Krashen, we understand that foreign language input must be, among other things, compelling . Engaging with Japanese input ought to put you in a state of flow, in the zone. We aim to fulfill this goal by bringing you the Japanese anime, dramas, manga, novels, etc., that you crave to consume. We feel the ultimate instantiation of language learning is working hard, watching the comprehensibility measure of an episode of Naruto or a chapter of a Murakami novel rise until it’s finally within your grasp, and then diving in and engaging with it to a level that you forget it’s in another language. In order to to bring you experiences like that, we plan to license creative content from your favorite artists. We are looking at several ways to raise money for licensing fees, and subscriptions are one of them.

Q. When will beta-testing begin?

As of the end of 2017, we’re taking a break, but hope to have more information soon.

Q. How can I apply for beta-testing?

Follow us on Twitter and we’ll post as soon as we know.

Q. How else can I help?

Besides beta-testing our platform, we could use help with web design, frontend and backend programming, and Japanese NLP. Get in touch and tell us what you have in mind. We’re moving fast and can’t accept help from everyone, but we’d love to hear from you!