New Ninja Penguin Cartoon: All-you-can-eat Buffet!

It’s a bit silly, but I woke up with this idea and I just had to sketch it out. Ninja Penguin is the character that introduces Japanese prefectures in our book aptly titled, Ninja Penguin Talks Japanese in Japan.

4-strip-smPlease check out the book and let me know what you think.

ちりもつもれば山となる Even Dust when Piled can become a Mountain

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BRAND NEW: Read Japanese for Windows 8

We are pleased to announce the newest app to our library. Read Japanese for Windows 8.


If you have Windows 8, please click here to download it for FREE. The first story, Hikoichi and the Hanami, is totally free. You can also get the second story free by writing a review (click on the button in the app to write a review and when you come back, the second story will be unlocked). This includes all grammar notes, dictionary functions, and sound files (slow and normal speed). Other stories are inexpensive and being added often.

We’ve tried to make this an amazing resource while maintaining low prices. Please let me know what you think.


LEARN to read Japanese the fun and easy way with this collection of traditional Japanese stories.


** For Beginners (with hiragana knowledge) up. **
Read real Japanese, listen to the story (slow and normal speed), and tap any word to get an instant definition. Read Japanese is your ticket to the world of Japanese Literature! Enjoy reading Momotaro, Hikoichi, Aesop’s tales, Inch-high Samurai, Princess Kaguya, modern short stories, and more. (With much more to come!)


Each story includes two audio recordings by a native Japanese speaker—one at normal speed and one at slow speed so even beginners can understand.

Each story is written with full hiragana and kanji (with optional furigana), so you can read along at your own pace.  The best way to increase your vocabulary and remember Japanese is to read the stories and learn the words and phrases in context. This app will let you do that. In addition, you can listen to the story while you read, adding yet another sense to your language learning arsenal. Tap on any word/phrase and see the translation and grammar notes instantly.

BEST of all! The first story is completely FREE. Try it out and learn from Hikoichi, the wise and yet mischievous young man, as he finds a way to enjoy hanami—cherry blossom viewing. Other stories are inexpensive and available for instant download.


Try it out—your Japanese will benefit as a result.

Yes, you can read real Japanese—even if you are just starting out in Japanese!  While new-to-Japanese beginners can get a lot from this, hiragana knowledge is highly recommended.


To download this app, please click here.

Four New Reviews for our FREE Hiragana & Katakana iPhone / iPad App

Normally, we get a review every other day. But today, we suddenly got four for our Hiragana and Katakana – Complete Basics of Japanese! And I love all four.

starstarstarstarstar Most Easy And Effcient App For Learning Japanese On The Appstore.
From Learning To Writ(e) Japanese (Katakana & Hiragana) To Reading Stories & Writing Them With Perfect Grammar.This Is A Perfect Combination Of What A Newbie Needs for His/Her Japanese.

starstarstarstarstar  Awesome app! Best Japanese app I’ve ever had
It’s a great app for beginners just taking the first steps as well as more experienced people. I’ve studied for more that a year and this app has clarified many things I might have otherwise never understood. The only complaint I had was that the search option was very limited so I got a japanese dictionary app to compensate because I wanted to search words I had heard but didn’t know that meaning of.the search option needs to be like a dictionary with a database that doesn’t need Internet. That would make this app the best Japanese learning app on the app store.

starstarstarstarstar  Very helpful app!!
Easy to use. Great study tool.

starstarstarstarstar  Thank you
I had the sudden spark to learn Japanese before school and this app helped, it helps you remember, gives you quizzes and examples. It’s absolutely perfect. 5 stars.

Neat! That makes my day. BTW, if you have an iPhone or iPad and you are interested in learning Japanese, this app is free and easy to use. Download it now. It is ad supported, but I guarantee the ads are unobtrusive.

Intro for Future Ninja Penguin Videos

We just released Ninja Penguin Talks Japanese in Japan in paperback and eBook format. We have an iPhone/iPad game in the works and I also plan to create some educational (and some… less-so) videos staring our penguin friend.

[youtube: that in mind, I made this intro video that will begin the videos. Any comments and suggestions about this or ideas for videos staring the penguin would be appreciated.

Ninja Penguin Talks Japanese in Japan–new in Paperback and eBook

Here is our newest video about our newest product:

Ninja Penguin Talks Japanese in Japan!


Learn about the 47 prefectures of Japan while mastering 500 important beginner level Japanese words. MP3s totaling over one hour of audio lessons are also included for FREE.

Penguin’s dream of completing Ninja Academy has finally come true…


One test remains: he must journey to the far frigid shores of Hokkaido in order to become a true Ninja Penguin. Besides, it is simply too hot in the sub-tropical Okinawa. Hokkaido, in northern Japan with its far more reasonable climate, sounds REALLY nice to a penguin who had been training many seasons in the Okinawan heat.

This book chronicles what the penguin experienced as he toured the forty-seven prefectures that make up Japan. He learned much about Japanese culture and geography while picking up more than 500 useful vocabulary words. You too can learn these important beginner-level words with the helpful hints and puzzles found throughout this book. As you work through each lesson, we invite you to listen to the especially formatted audio files.

  • Learn many interesting facts about the 47 prefectures of Japan.
  • Master 500 useful beginner level Japanese words.
  • Listen to MP3s to help learn the vocabulary words–totaling over one hour of audio lessons.
  • Download (found on the last page of the book) includes PDF version of the book, eBook, and MP3s.
  • Includes many fun cartoons featuring the penguin’s journey through Japan.

Check out Ninja Penguin today at Amazon.

Japanese Phrases iPhone app

And we just got a great review for our Learn Japanese Phrases iPhone app:

5 stars all the way! – This is the BEST Japanese app I’ve ever paid for. Before I knew about this app I was stuck with google translate which didn’t really do anything for me. Then I got the demo version of this app and after a while decided it was time to buy the full version and I do NOT regret it at all!



There are currently three main textbooks for those who have completed beginner level textbooks such as Genki, Japanese for Busy People, and Minna no Nihongo. I should mention that Minna no Nihongo also has intermediate textbooks, but I’m focusing on three other books since users of that textbook will probably just continue with the series.

The three books are:

Both An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese and Authentic Japanese Progressing from Intermediate to Advanced are newly revised and include two CDs for free. Tobira is a fairly new textbook first published in 2009 and while it does not include a CD, it does have online content the student can download.

First, the targeted level according to each book’s introduction:

  • IAIJ: 240 hours Classroom time
  • Tobira: 250-300 Classroom time
  • Authentic: If you are around JLPT N2-N1

Let’s look at the first chapter of each book individually. Jump to the textbook you are interested or scroll down:

Tobira Gateway to Advanced Japanese

Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese

Authentic Japanese


Tobira’s goal: “to solidify the grammar, vocabulary, and kanji foundation built during the students’ study at the beginner level, and second, to expand their four language skills (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) and the socio-cultural knowledge they need for communication.”

Tobira Chapter Structure: (most chapters follow this basic pattern)

1) Getting started–pre-reading section introducing the chapter’s topic.

2) Reading + Vocabulary List–longer text with full vocabulary list

3) Dialogue/discussion with Vocabulary List–Topics covered through dialogues

4) Conversation–exercises in speaking

5) Grammar Notes

6) Kanji List

7) Language Notes

8) Culture Notes

(The first chapter didn’t have Culture Notes section, but cultural notes are peppered throughout the book)

All chapters follow the basic patter above.

Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese

Chapter Structure: (most chapters follow this basic pattern)

1) Culture Notes

2) Conversation

3) Reading

4) Vocabulary

5) Kanji List +Kanji Parts

6) Grammar Notes

7) Practice

8) Listening Practice

9) Speed Reading with Proverbs or Haiku at the Bottom

Authentic Japanese

Chapter Structure: (most chapters follow this basic pattern)

1) Before you Read–questions and light exercises for introducing the topic of the chapter.

2) Reading–1-2 Page essay with questions

3) After Reading–several pages of questions and examples based on the reading

4) Important Expressions–introducing important expressions with examples.

5) Grammar and Vocabulary Exercises


To download larger images of all the scans (sorry for the poor quality), click here.