Language Resources

Japanese Language Resources

Information about language resources (and in some cases free downloads of materials) are available on the topics listed on the left. When there is only an introduction to a resource or some sample materials, you will find information on how to get the full text. The resources introduced are from a variety of sources – some are materials produced by OMF, others by other missions or Christian organizations and some are by secular publishers. On these pages you will also find tips of various kinds related to learning Japanese.

If you would like further information please contact the OMF Language Advisor at



OMF has developed more than one option for intermediate kanji courses to go alongside the published texts ‘Shin Nihongo no Chukyu’ and Mina no Nihongo Chukyu 1′. Please contact the OMF Japan Language Advisor at if you would like more information about these intermediate courses.


NB. Resources introduced in other sections may also provide ways to improve listening skills. Examples are the general textbooks, news, proficiency tests and video sections.

Proficiency – what is it & evaluation

Assessing your proficiency levels

SOPI – Simulated Oral Proficiency Interview

Evaluation of oral speaking ability is now available at low cost wherever you are in Japan.There are 2 levels – preliminary and intermediate-advanced. Just respond to questions (specially designed for missionaries) on a CD, record your answers digitally and send them for evaluation to our OMF Japanese Language Center.

Grammar resources and dictionaries

All good textbooks should introduce grammar in a systematic way and often provide supplementary materials for additional practice. For example, the popular Mina no Nihongo series have 2 supplementary Bunkei Renshuu Choo at elementary level. However, often students at an intermediate or advanced level of Japanese want to do a comprehensive review of grammar that the textbooks cannot supply. One way of doing this is to work through texts that prepare students for the grammar section of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). Any bookshop stocking English titles in Japan will have a good selection of these books.

You may find the following helpful too.

Another way to tackle comprehensive grammar review is to use one of the texts introduced in Texts for Comprehensive Grammar Review below.

Recommended reading & viewing

Below is an introduction to just a small selection of books and DVDs which are recommended reading and viewing for missionary residents in Japan. There are 3 sections:

  • Part 1: General books on Japanese life and culture
  • Part 2: Christian resources on Japan and Japanese culture
  • Part 3: Culture shock, adjusting to life in Japan as a missionary

Recommend reading and viewing in English

Ordering & Buying Language Resources

A number of Japanese Language courses designed especially for missionaries are available in digital form for order from the OMF Language Advisor at on receipt of a small user fee per individual and agreement to the conditions for use.

Books of the Bible Vocabulary lists

With the exception of the gospels of Matthew and John, the following vocabulary lists were compiled by an advanced learner of Japanese so users at a lower level may find that the lists are not as extensive as they would like. Nevertheless, they should be of great help to learners wishing to read the Bible more in Japanese.

Old Testament

New Testament

Cultural Curriculum

The materials in Preparing for Ministry-a Cultural Curriculum comprise part of the Language and Orientation Program at the OMF Japanese Language & Culture Center in Sapporo, Japan but have been adapted for general use by other mission personnel in Japan. There are 60 tasks ranging from general cultural activities (going to a noodle shop or onsen) to finding out about how people become Christians or how you could use Christian literature in evangelism. Tasks may be tackled in any order as you have opportunity. It may be helpful to keep notes on each task as you complete it. If you can be accountable to someone for these assignments you will gain much more from them. If you have recommendations for new assignments please let the OMF Language Advisor know at

Preparing for Ministry – A Cultural Curriculum

General texts/Short term

General Course Books


Materials for short termers

1. ‘Nihongo Hajimete’

This is A B5 sized 24 page booklet in both kana and romaji produced by experienced teacher, Ms Kaoru Shimada It is attractively produced with colour illustrations and is good for short termers with only a few hours for study.

2. Survival Japanese (40 hour course)

An introductory course produced at the OMF Japanese Language & Culture Center and geared in its topics and vocabulary towards short termers in church planting situations. Topics covered include introducing oneself, shopping (how much?), what’s this?, the days of the week, basic verb forms, requests etc. The Hiragana version assumes that the short termer has learnt or is learning hiragana and katakana alongside the 40 hour course. The romanized version is for those not planning to learn hiragana and katakana. Samples from the course can be downloaded. Contact the OMF Language Advisor at to order the full course by e mail.

Some suggestions for continuing study after the 40 hour or other short course are as follows:

  • ‘Hajime no ippo’ (はじめのいっぽ)’First Steps in Japanese’ by Surieenettowaaku スリーエーネットワーク 2,233 yen plus tape. For those with a very keen desire to continue studying.
  • ‘Japanese in 45 hours’ by Senmon Kyoiku Shuppan (専門教育出版) – main text 1,300 yen, workbook 1,200 yen, Notes and translation 1,800 yen. (There is no accompanying tape.) This is a slighter easier option than a.
  • Free Japanese language classes taught by volunteers. We recommend that short termers make use of volunteer classes wherever possible. In the major cities there are many volunteer groups offering classes at different times of the day and sometimes several days a week. Please contact the OMF Language Advisor for further information.

NB. Japanese learners with a background in Korean or Chinese or those with some knowledge of Japanese already may prefer the option of beginning straight away with the beginner texts being used with longer term missionaries such as ‘Minna no Nihongo’(みんなの日本語). You can find the introduction to this under ‘General Course Books – Beginners’ on this website.


Understanding the News in Japanese

Understanding the news in Japanese can be challenging so here are some tips to get you started, followed by suggestions for particular programmes and websites.

Make a decision NOT to watch bilingual or satellite TV for e.g. one day a week. There are too many temptations in Japan with easy access to satellite and cable.

Record a news program on video or DVD so that you can review as many times as you wish with a language helper or by yourself.

Before watching the news in Japanese watch in your own language or read the newspaper in English or on computer so that you have an idea about what topics are going to come up. If you do this you are beginning to develop the important strategy of predicting what kind of language you are going to meet and so are better prepared for coping with it.

Choose news content that you are interested in. If Japanese politics doesn’t interest you then choose a world news programme or sports news or whatever.

1. NHK Educational Sign language news

These news programmes are broadcast at various different times throughout the day on the NHK Educational channel. (Try, for example NHK 手話(しゅわ)ニュース845 at 8:45 pm each weekday night. They are excellent for language learners since the news is presented slowly and clearly. Speakers also make distinct pauses between phrases which help the listener process the material before the next input. The spoken word appears in written form on the screen as well as with sign language, so this can be a good way to practice reading as well as aural skills.

2. Use news websites

If you enjoy the internet, find a suitable Japanese news website especially if there is one where you can listen and watch videos as well as read. You can often download news podcasts as well. Here are a few sites for online news.

Download this as a PDF

Useful websites

1. The Tokyo Nihongo Volunteer Network

The TNVN is a clearinghouse organization of Tokyo-area volunteer Japanese classes, and “share the concept of accepting and supporting people through language assistance. Some of the volunteers might be trained as language teachers, however, the nature of activity is not to teach Japanese, but to help learners’ daily life in the community by offering informaion and helping to solve problems.” The TNVN recommends attending a formal Japanese language school if you want to “study Japanese efficiently.”

2. Japanese Reading Materials Bank

Click on the above and you will find yourself at an English page introducing “ ‘Reading Tutor’ designed to help JFL/JSL learners improve their reading skills in Japanese.” On this page are links to level checks, dictionary tools, reading resources bank and quizes on reading comprehension.

3. Dictionaries and on line translation resources

3 resources to use when doing translation work on line

4. Kanji Step

KanjiStep was born out of the idea to provide in-depth language study materials for all levels of students of the Japanese language on the Internet. KanjiStep, as the name suggests, offers a step-by-step introduction to the Japanese Language. This site is not dedicated to the teaching of Kanji (Chinese Characters) only but covers all aspects like reading, writing, grammar and other Japan or culture related topics. Within KanjiStep we tried to divide the study materials into four skill levels (Step 1-4) according to the definitions of the Japanese Proficiency test. This site contains over 600 spoken sound examples as well a reading and writing materials for self-study. KanjStep is created and maintained by the Japanese Language Resource Center (JLRC). JLRC is a group of certified Japanese teachers, offering their help to foreigners. The Japanese Language Resource Center has set itself the following goals when starting this project. Providing a professional Japanese language learning program on the internet. Creating a global community of people interested in the Japanese language and its culture. Providing all services for free or at a very low cost. Creating / producing Internet or Multimedia based language learning tools.

5. Books and articles on Japan

This website offers reviews of books in English about Japan on a variety of topics, both fiction and non-fiction as well as interviews with authors and other respected Japan scholars. The producers of the site are American and Japanese-speaking Japanese Americans with experience of living and working in Japan. Their site is not a business and aims to be as objective as possible in their reviews. This looks to be a very useful source of information about books on Japan. You can also sign up for an e mail newsletter.

6. Great Literature Made Easy and Audible!

The paragraph below is from the website above.

Breaking into Japanese Literature is designed to make great works of Japanese literature accessible. It features four stories by Natsume Soseki, the father of modern Japanese literature, and three stories by Akutagawa Ryonosuke, the Japanese master of the short story. The book presents the seven stories with the Japanese original and the English translation side-by-side, with a dictionary running along the bottom of the page. To get maximum enjoyment and benefit from this site, it is best to have read the book first. You listen to the stories free but to read you need to buy the book which can be easily done on line. This web site offers sound files of all seven stories in the book. Download a file and see if you can keep up, reading the kanji at native speed as you follow the text. If you feel really confident you can just listen to the story without looking at the text. Note that audio is provided as a single soundfile for Soseki’s Ten Nights of Dreams (Nights 1, 3, 5, 7). Akutagawa’s In a Grove, The Nose and Rashomon are much longer and so are divided into six or so soundfiles each. takes you straight to Soseki’s Nights of dreams no 1 which you can listen to in Japanese free. It is short and easy to listen to. The web page gives the following introduction in English to the story.

A man sits by the deathbed of his lover, unable to believe that so young and beautiful a woman as she could be doomed to perish. Before dying, she makes the man promise to wait faithfully for a hundred years at her graveside until she comes back.

The man dutifully places her body in a hole he digs out with an oyster shell, and marks the place with the fragments of fallen stars. He watches the sun rise and set again and again until he finally loses count of the days and the years. He is just beginning to doubt her promise, when a flower sprouts up from the grave and presses itself to his lips. He looks up at the sky where a single star shines. She has returned.

7. Kanji Gold

Free download software program. The following introduction is from the website.“This program revised in June 2004 contains several improvements and a bug fix. With a Japanese word processor like JWPCE you can easily customize your kanji and vocabulary studies to match any text you are currently using. The program is suitable for all levels of Japanese study.


  • Automatic and customizable review system.
  • Custom color selection.
  • Kanji choices available in On , Kun and English.
  • All Level 1 and Level 2 Japanese Kanji (about 6000).
  • Compounds sorted into Grade levels (0 -9) kanji. (over 44,000 compounds).
  • Custom Dictionaries for compounds (can be made with JWPCE).
  • Custom Dictionaries can be used for vocabulary study.
  • Custom kanji lists and dictionaries (can be made with JWPCE).
  • Includes Kanji lists for many popular kanji texts (with page numbers).
  • Kanji POPUP feature that automatically flips through kanji and/or compounds while you are using other programs.
  • Unique kanji study list method to help in memorization of Kanji.”

Learner Training

The following are articles written by Miriam Davis which form Part 2 of the OMF Japanese Language & Culture Center Language Orientation Handbook. They are designed to help language learners think consciously about how they learn and find ways to improve the effectiveness of their learning.