YouTube is a goldmine of Japanese language lessons and listening practice. Whether you’re looking for grammar breakdowns, non-textbook language, beginner vocabulary, or advanced-level Japanese debates on current affairs, you’ll find it here – and for free.
But search for “Japanese YouTube” and you’ll get over 300 million videos. And unfortunately, there’s a lot of dross on that list.
That’s why we’ve rounded up some of our favourite YouTube channels for Japanese learners. We’ve also divided them into beginner (roughly A1–A2/N5–N4), intermediate (B1–B2/N3–N2), and advanced (C1–C2/N1). Of course, these divisions aren’t always clear cut. You’ll see some channels repeated, and you can also expect the difficulty to fluctuate slightly within each level.
However, we’re certain you’ll find plenty of interesting, educational, and entertaining YouTube channels on this list – no matter your level or personal interests.
Table of Contents
YouTube Channels for Beginner Japanese Learners
These YouTube channels cover basic Japanese vocabulary, grammar, writing systems, and key phrases. You’ll go from using survival Japanese, such as はじめまして!, to being able to use conditionals, express doubt and probability, and more. The channels in this section use clear and easy-to-understand explanations, and nearly always teach in English.
Whether you’re an absolute beginner or finishing up Genki II, you’ll be in safe hands with this channel.
Misa has uploaded three playlists for absolute beginners: Japanese Characters, Grammar Lessons For Absolute Beginners, and New Absolute Beginner Japanese Lessons. Once you’re past the essentials, you can then try her JLPT N5 and N4 playlists, her listening practice activities, and her playlists about vocabulary and slang.
As well as being entertaining and in depth, Misa’s videos use a range of good teaching techniques, such as showing you incorrect Japanese and giving you time to identify the mistake(s). Important words and phrases are written in Japanese script and romaji with English translations beneath them, while colour coding draws attention to important parts of the phrase. She also speaks Japanese a lot in the videos, giving you extra listening practice.
This channel will take you through an N5 and N4 Japanese curriculum, teaching you grammar, vocabulary, and writing systems. The catch? It’s all in Japanese, although there are English, Vietnamese, and Japanese subtitles. If listening and pronunciation are a priority for you, then this is a great channel to start with.
You won’t run out of content any time soon, either. There are hundreds of videos, all organised by theme and level. Within each video, the tutorials also progress logically. For example, the video embedded above introduces vocabulary (the months and days of the month), then grammar structures, and then question phrases, before wrapping up with a practice section.
Get ready to learn Japanese grammar, vocabulary, and culture from the charismatic Miku. She will teach you natural, casual Japanese phrases in addition to the textbook ones.
Her videos also include lots of spoken, level-appropriate Japanese, whether it’s a funny sketch or a bunch of example sentences. You’ll practice your listening as well as learning Japanese grammar and vocabulary. Signing up to her Patreon will also grant you access to extra videos and Anki decks.
Miku also uploads intermediate-level content, including listening practice. However, most of her videos are targeted at beginners. She clearly signals the JLPT level in the video thumbnail or title, so don’t worry: you won’t find yourself suddenly overwhelmed by material that’s too challenging.
This YouTube channel has a bit of everything (and for nearly every level). Whether you’re struggling with a grammatical concept or looking for interesting anime-inspired materials, you’ll likely find something here.
There are dedicated playlists for each JLPT level, although as a beginner, the ones that will most interest you are The Writing Systems, Optional Pre-JLPT Studying (aka survival Japanese), N5 Level, and N4 Level.
The teacher gives comprehensive and clear explanations with plenty of examples. He’s also pretty active in responding to questions in the comments.
Sarah Moon is a Japanese-to-English translator whose channel mixes Japanese lessons and tutorials with video essays on translation and anime. Oh, and she also adds a pinch of humour alongside lots of encouragement.
There are heaps of tutorials to watch, but as a beginner, you should start with her Japanese for Beginners (Genki vol, I) playlist. It takes you through the same themes as the popular beginner-level Genki textbooks but with different example sentences and phrases. This means it works well as supplementary materials or a stand-alone resource.
Do you prefer the Minna no Nihongo textbooks to Genki? Try NihonGoal’s Minna no Nihongo playlists instead. Each textbook unit is broken down into three videos: one for vocabulary, one for grammar, and another for kanji. The lessons are well-structured and the teacher, Rose, speaks clearly, although she is not a native Japanese speaker.
If you’re tempted by the idea of learning Japanese in Japanese but don’t want to be too challenged, you might like Coto Academy’s more recent beginner-level videos. They’re short and sweet, and while they’re often in Japanese, the teachers use lots of repetition and pauses to help you out.
These videos are less in depth than some of the others on this list, but you’ve still got plenty of material to choose from. There are over 50 N5 tutorials and roughly as many for N4 learners, too. Plus, you’ll find assorted videos on vocabulary, kanji, natural phrases, and more. The quality of the older videos can vary, but most of the newer videos are pretty good.
Not a fan of PowerPoint-style YouTube lessons? This channel might change your mind.
Yuko Sensei has been teaching Japanese for 20 years, and now offers free and paid-for online courses in addition to lessons on her YouTube channel. Nearly all her video lessons are on Japanese grammar, vocabulary, and scripts, with lots focused on particles and verbs. Color-coding is used to help you understand the sentence structure, while most videos have text in kana and romaji.
While Yuko Sensei has uploaded a small number of intermediate-level video lessons, most of them are targeted at beginners (N5 and N4). She often mentions which chapter of the popular Genki textbook the topic corresponds to as well.
JapanesePod101 has hundreds of videos for you to watch; in fact, the hardest challenge might be sorting through all of them. There’s a mixture of grammar, vocabulary, essential phrases, kanji, listening practice, reading comprehension, cultural information, study tips, and even practical guides for tourists and immigrants. And although most of JapanesePod101’s content is for beginners, you’ll also find some intermediate-level content.
If you like JapanesePod101’s style, you can sign up for more videos along with podcast-style lessons through their website. This is a premium service (use the coupon code ALLLANGUAGERESOURCES to save 25%) that we’ve reviewed in detail here.
Here’s another option to pair with your Genki studies. ToKini Andy has uploaded a video for each chapter of Genki I and II to help you expand your understanding of the topic. He’s also a Japanese learner but has achieved conversational fluency.
The videos are slow-moving and contain occasional tangents, but they’ll introduce you to extra vocabulary, sample sentences, and dialogues, as well as giving you additional practice at listening to the target language. Plus, Andy shares some extra tips to help you understand Japanese grammar and sound more natural. And if you sign up to his Patreon, you’ll also get access to additional videos and tests.
Ever felt like you understood every single thing when the teacher was talking – only to realise, after the video or lesson ended, that you didn’t know how to actually use the grammar or vocabulary? The reason is often a lack of example sentences and structured practice.
Japanese by Chunking may not be the most engaging channel, but there are lots of example sentences and some exercises for you to do, too. What’s more, the example sentences are translated into Spanish and Portuguese as well as English.
There’s also heaps of content: grammar playlists for different JLPT levels, a playlist of easy Japanese phrases targeted at N5–N4 learners, onomatopoeia, Japanese folktales for beginner students, and more.
In this channel, you’ll find recordings of live lessons for all levels, N5 up to N1 (although you’ll want to stick to the N5 and N4 playlists for now). What’s more, these lessons are conducted almost entirely in Japanese, meaning you’ll get plenty of listening practice.
These aren’t the most dynamic of YouTube videos: you’ll see Ako-sensei talking in the top-right hand corner while a PowerPoint presentation takes up most of the screen. However, they are well-organised, contain plenty of example sentences, and are a good way to brush up on specific topics. You’ll be prompted to make your own sentences, and there are also review quizzes.
You’ve probably come across Tae Kim’s Japanese grammar guide, which is famed for being comprehensive and easy to understand. So as you might expect, Tae Kim’s YouTube channel has a strong focus on Japanese grammar.
It’s worth mentioning that some people complain of oversimplifications and linguistics errors in Tae Kim’s tutorials. Treat them as helpful, learner-friendly breakdowns of key points rather than as the Japanese-learner’s bible.
The videos generally break down a concept with clear explanations, provide samples, and then give you some questions to check your comprehension. Afterward, Tae Kim will explain how you should have answered them and why. These are not the most engaging Japanese video lessons, and you will receive a lot of information in a short period of time. However, they will let you study Japanese topics in a condensed manner.
YouTube generally isn’t the best way to learn kanji. After all, you can’t learn to write just by watching. Most of the time, an app like Skritter or Kanji Study or a kanji textbook will be better. However, if you really want to learn kanji through YouTube, give this channel a go.
The teacher starts off by explaining the kanji along with its kun and on readings (with an example word for the latter), before showing the stroke order. Most importantly, the video descriptions also contain links to the worksheet he uses so that you can print it and practise at home.
The kanji is generally beginner level, although the teacher uses the elementary school system rather than the JLPT levels. He also speaks in both Japanese and English.
YouTube Channels for Intermediate Japanese Learners
At the intermediate level, you’ve already got a grasp on basic Japanese grammar and vocabulary. The videos in this section will challenge you with more complex language, immersion learning, and Japanese-language interviews with native speakers.
Eager to learn Japanese in Japanese? You might like Sambon Juku. Your teacher, Akkie, speaks in slow and easy-to-follow Japanese while breaking down Japanese grammar.
The channel has dedicated playlists for JLPT N3 and N2, as well as a 日本語おもしろい！playlist dedicated to topics like onomatopoeia, different ways to say “very,” non-textbook greetings, and more.
Get ready to drown in content: this prolifically updated channel has been around since 2013. Although there are a handful of clearly marked beginner-level videos, most of them are targeted at intermediate and advanced students. And they’re entirely in Japanese.
You’ll find tons of videos teaching Japanese grammar and vocabulary, as well as things like onomatopoeia. The teachers and teaching styles have changed over the years, so try a few of their series out to see who you get on best with.
We’ve already mentioned Japanese Ammo With Misa in the beginner section, but don’t write her channel off as being too easy or basic.
She also has plenty of N3-level content, and she regularly dives into topics that are useful for all levels: pitch accents, Japanese literature, implicit meaning, and more. She’s great at teaching natural Japanese, politeness levels from super casual through to humble, and more.
You’ve probably already taken a look at NHK Easy News, in which Japanese news stories are rewritten to an N3–N2 level. They’re a great way to challenge your reading or listening skills, pick up new vocabulary, and expand your understanding of common Japanese phrases – plus, they’ll help you talk about Japanese current affairs.
If you’re struggling to read the NHK Easy News stories, however, take a look at Foxumon’s channel. She translates the articles word-by-word, and in older videos, she also explains the grammar and vocabulary used. It’s a good way to get used to the style of the news stories.
We’ve already mentioned Sarah Moon’s channel in the beginner section. She’s a Japanese-to-English translator who uploads a mixture of lessons and video essays on translation and anime. Intermediate learners with a love for Sailor Moon will want to check out her Watch Sailor Moon, Learn Japanese series.
Meanwhile, the videos on translation are nearly entirely in English but often focus on how to interpret the tone and nuance of certain Japanese phrases. They won’t be the most productive use of your study time, but if you’re looking for some procrasti-learning, they’re a fun option. Not only will you get insights into anime shows, but you’ll likely pick up some titbits of intermediate- and advanced-level Japanese.
Welcome to the YouTube page of the Tokyo- and Yokohama-based Japanese language school, Coto Academy. You’ll find plenty of intermediate-level lessons here, with dedicated JLPT N3 and N2 playlists.
Upper-intermediate students might be annoyed by some videos that have English subtitles that you can’t turn off, plus you’ll need to drill the material in your own time. However, these video tutorials generally provide succinct and clear introductions to the grammar points in question.
Nervous about dipping your toe into intermediate-level content? This channel is a gentle starting point. As well as Japanese lessons suitable for upper beginners and above, there’s plenty of intermediate-level listening practice.
Whether it’s a lesson or a listening exercise, every video is entirely in Japanese (although there are accurate English or Japanese subtitles available if you want). The Japanese is slow and easy to understand, while the topics are interesting: the history of Shinto, kabuki, or why anime is popular in Japan.
This is another channel that made it onto the beginner’s list but also has plenty to offer for intermediate learners.
There are dedicated playlists for JLPT N3 and N2 (plus an almost empty N1/advanced playlist). You’ll find in-depth grammar explanations for topics such as transitive and intransitive verbs, lessons on key phrases, cultural insights such as the differences between male and female speech, a huge number of videos that break down the Japanese in anime, and even a curated playlist for listening practice.
And as we already said, the breakdowns are clear and come with plenty of examples to help you wrap your head around the new concept.
We’ve already mentioned Ryouji’s channel under the beginner list, but he’s also uploaded N3 and N2-level grammar tutorials. Plus, his all-in-Japanese vlogs will let you test your listening comprehension.
In the grammar tutorials, Ryouji teaches in English, so most learners will likely prefer other channels’ lessons. However, Japanese by Chunking gets an honourable mention for translating example sentences into Spanish and Portuguese as well. Each video has a brief explanation, lots of example sentences, and then some exercises.
Ready to immerse yourself in Japanese? This YouTube channel contains Japanese-language lessons, Q&As, interviews, and more. And with very few exceptions, it’s all in Japanese – including the subtitles.
Designed for intermediate and advanced students, あかね的日本語教室 contains many challenging videos, so don’t get demotivated if you’re struggling with the material. Put that video to one side, try another, and come back to the original in a few months’ time. You might be surprised by how much your Japanese ability has grown.
This prolifically updated YouTube channel contains tons of intermediate-level listening comprehension. Each short-and-sweet video is completely in Japanese, well-suited to N3 students, and either relatable or interesting. Sometimes there are guests, but often it’s a monologue. Noriko is a qualified and experienced Japanese teacher, so she knows how to manage the difficulty level. You can also read the script on her website; each video contains the relevant link.
This YouTube channel has its pitfalls, but there’s also plenty to like about it. Yuta, the channel host, asks Japanese people on the street specific questions like “What social issues are you interested in?” and “What does ‘masculinity’ mean?” English subtitles explain what the answers mean.
On the one hand, you get lots of practice at listening to different people. And, if you’re struggling to follow the Japanese, the subtitles will help you out. On the other hand, it’s easy to think you’re studying more than you actually are. The subtitles can end up helping you out too much, distracting you from the Japanese audio – and you can’t turn them off.
You’ll also find other content on this channel: Japanese anime breakdowns and analyses of how anime characters speak, Yuta’s opinions on elements of Japanese culture, and reaction videos.
Get ready to hear more native Japanese speakers share their opinions. In this YouTube series, you’ll listen along as people in Japan are asked about things like slang, Christmas, martial arts, and more. You’ll get to practice your listening comprehension, pick up new vocabulary, and glean insights into Japanese culture.
The videos come with three sets of subtitles: Japanese, romaji, and an English translation. While helpful, it can require discipline to not look just at the romaji or the translation.
This weekly podcast will give you plenty of Japanese listening practice. The topics vary greatly, from Japanese phrases to current events. But no matter what the episode is about, the focus is on using natural language rather than textbook phrases.
Each episode is short and sweet, while the Japanese is slow and clearly enunciated. Plus, there are subtitles and free transcripts to help you follow what’s being said or look up that new phrase you want to add to your flashcard decks.
Wishing you could attend Japanese classes? Ako-sensei might not offer live classes via YouTube, but she does upload recordings of her live lessons conducted almost entirely in Japanese – albeit often with written explanations in English. While not the most high-energy classes, they are well-structured and contain example sentences, practice activities, and review quizzes.
YouTube Channels for Advanced Japanese Learners
At an advanced level, you’re ready to take on videos designed for fluent Japanese speakers – not just learners. There are no limits on the amount of content available to you: just pick a topic that interests you, search it on YouTube in Japanese, and you’ll soon find videos and channels worth watching.
As such, we haven’t included many vloggers or YouTube personalities. Although there are plenty, and you’ll no doubt benefit from their conversational style, they are both easy to find and hard to rank. The “best ones” will depend entirely on your interests, whether that’s gaming, feminism, make-up, travel, BookTube, or anything else.
Instead, we’ve focused on channels related to things most Japanese learners are interested in: Japanese culture and media. And of course, even though you’re an advanced Japanese student, you’ll still want to brush up on your grammar and kanji. So, you’ll also find some N1-level lessons in this section.
This channel bridges the gap between lessons and vlogs. Run by a Japanese teacher for upper-intermediate and advanced students, it contains lessons, interviews, Q&As, snapshots of everyday Japanese life, and more. Most videos contain Japanese-language subtitles, so you’re not quite thrown into the deep end – but there’s plenty to challenge you, too.
We’ve already mentioned this channel in the intermediate section, but advanced beginners will likely learn new things too. Short-and-sweet video tutorials will introduce you to N1-level concepts in less than 15 minutes, while the delivery is clear and well-structured.
Listen along as Ako-sensei teaches N1-level Japanese. Each video is a recording of a live class, meaning it contains plenty of example sentences, practice activities, and quizzes. While not the most entertaining of YouTube videos, they’re a good way to brush up on specific topics.
If you’ve ever struggled with Japanese pronunciation or the pitch accent (or are wondering what that even means), then this is the channel for you. Ms A Soma has uploaded dozens of videos about how to pronounce specific phonemes and words, as well as ones explaining pitch accents, demonstrating them, and teaching words that follow specific pitch accents.
You’ll also find other fairly standard videos on how to use particular phrases, particles, tenses, and other aspects of Japanese grammar. These, however, are often more appropriate for beginner and lower-intermediate students.
Curious about traditional Japanese artisanry? This channel contains short documentaries about many of Japan’s inherited artistic traditions and the people who continue doing them today. As documentaries, the Japanese tends to be slowly spoken and relatively easy to understand, although they also include more specialist terms. They often feature interviews, too.
If you regularly fall down the Wikipedia rabbit hole, you’re going to love this channel. The high-energy, enthusiastic and always well-informed 中田敦彦 sets out with a whiteboard and pen to give you a lecture lasting anywhere from 25 minutes to 3 hours. Whether it’s science, history, literature, economics, or even anime, you’ll find yourself learning plenty more than just Japanese here.
You don’t have to be in Japan to watch Japanese TV clips, thanks to the public broadcaster NHK’s YouTube channel. Unfortunately, videos tend to be just a few minutes long – just enough to give you a taster of the TV show, but not enough for you to lose yourself in them. However, the channel is updated multiple times a day, and there’s a wide variety of topics.
If you’re easily distracted by viral videos on Facebook, then we apologise now: you’re going to spend far too long binging on this clickbait-filled channel. It contains riddles, life hacks, facts, how-to videos, and more. But like all forms of clickbait, you should carefully fact-check the videos before believing everything they tell you.
YouTube is a fantastic way to improve your Japanese, and these channels are just a starting point. As you get more confident with the language, search out channels and playlists that cater to your personal interests – whether that’s Kobe-ben, history, or the Japanese car scene.