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15 Minute Japanese


15 minute BACKGROUND

Japanese is said to have begun some 2000 years ago. (English is about 1000 years old) Japanese's long history makes it a very deep and interesting language to study. Japanese has 3 writing systems. HIRAGANA, KATAKANA, and thousands of Chinese characters called KANJI. [Don't panic yet - it's really fun, really] This page will ignore all of this and focus instead on ROMAJI, or the writing of Japanese words using the Alphabet. THIS IS NOT AN ENDORSEMENT OF ROMAJI! Learn hiragana quickly. Don't let romaji become a crutch!

Now back to the background... Basically the writing system is based on the vowel sounds, which aren't that hard to learn.

a - (as in Ah!)
i - (as in fEEt or the letter"E")
u - (as in fOOd)
e - (as in hAte)
o - (as in Oh nO!)

SO the Japanese word "AOI" (the color blue) would be pronounced "AH OH E"

For now, just pronounce the consonants as you would in English and the vowels as above. (to learn more on pronunciation (beyond your first 15 minutes!) go to the HIRAGANA PAGE)

15 minute GRAMMAR

Here it comes...

The sentence order is very different from English. In English we use Subject-Verb-Object (SVO) but in Japanese it is usually Subject-Object-Verb (SOV) - observe:

  S V O
ENGLISH I eat bread.
  S O V
JAPANESE watashi wa pan o tabemasu.

Also notice there are extra "words" in the Japanese (WA and O). These are particles or markers and they tell us the fuction of the word just before it. So "WA" is connected with WATASHI and it tells us that WATASHI is the "main topic of the sentence." Likewise, "O" is connected with PAN and it tells us that PAN is the "object of the sentence." Don't worry yet...

For more on this go here


Here is the main event, what you have been so patiently waiting for... <drum roll>

Learn these words well. It may take you more than 15 minutes (sorry) but at least pick out the words that strike you as interesting or useful. ganbatte (do your best!)

  1. ohayo (gozaimasu) - Good morning! [NOTE: the gozaimasu is normally added for politeness, but just ohayo is ok!]
  2. konnichi wa - Good afternoon! or Hello! [the daytime greeting]
  3. konban wa - Good evening! [the evening greeting]
  4. sayounara - Goodbye! [actually Japanese usually say "Bye!"]
  5. (o) genki desu ka? - How are you? [NOTE the o is added for politeness]
  6. genki desu. - I'm fine. [The common answer to #5]
  7. hai - yes
  8. iie - no
  9. ~wa nan desu ka? - What's ~ [Just replace ~ with anything]
  10. hajimemashite - Nice to meet you. [Used on the first meeting]
  11. ganbatte - Do your best [used very often to encourage others "good luck"]
  12. ganbarimasu - I will do my best [here is a reply to when someone says #11]
  13. mata ne - See you [Another commone bye bye]
  14. ~ga suki - Do you like ~? or I like ~[ [This can be both a question and a statement - just raise the tone of your voice at the end of the word; also to make it a "proper" question add desu ka (see #20)]
  15. nihon(go) - Japan(ese) [the country and the language]
  16. eigo - English [NOTE the go at the end of #15 and #16 means "language"]
  17. ~san - Mr. or Mrs. or Miss or ??? [NOTE: san is like Mr. or Mrs., but it is always (almost) used even among friends]
  18. sugoi - cool! or great! [Used like "cool" in English]
  19. daijoubu - OK [This can be both a question and a statement - just raise the tone of your voice at the end of the word; also to make it a "proper" question add desu ka]
  20. ka - makes statements into questions [Note how #5 and #6's only difference is the ka] For more click here
  21. arigatou - Thank you

After reading this you may be scratching your head and asking many strange questions. This is good, as now you have an idea of what to ask and perhaps how to find it out! I hope you will enjoy your Japanese language studies. It really is fun. Take a look around and explore...

NOTE: You may want to read our 'New to Japanese' article here.

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tks lot



wow i'm just starting and already having good luck!!!this is crazy XD

Good video

This was a nice starter, I hope the rest of the learning experience is like this, quick and easy. Good job guys :D

15 Minute Japanese

Wonderful page. Great layout. Very helpful video and great words and phrases.

15 min jap

Just a little note that i found watching anime;
san = mrs or an adult person.
kun = mr or an teenage-adult person.
I'm not totally sure if thats right, but i get the feeling.

Sistema_GokuderaXIII's picture

Helpful and Thank you for the lesson

This helpful, i think anybody especially anime fans( like me) should to go to this website

Japanese language had a lot

Japanese language had a lot of characters that we can learn from studying it. I think it is not hard to pronounce or to speak with language and is to write on through following the three ideal forms of writing. However, you can't learn it easily without the help of the English language, because English had always been the major language among the rest.

susan616's picture

Great website

It's a wonderful website to let me know about japan and how to learn japanese, i love it so much!!! Thanks a lot!!!

Susan from HK

Love, Susan

arigatou Admin -

arigatou Admin - San

Soul_roxasXIII's picture


I LOVE THIS WEBSITE!!!!!It's great thing that i found this website.Ganbatte! okay


It really helps!

^^te hee


it really help!!!....

sweet_angel_in_asia's picture


Thanks for the lessons. I really find it easy to understand and I think one of the most accurate japanese sites I've ever visited and now joined! Sugoi!
Keep it up guys! I will definitely keep on coming back for more lessons. Ganbatte. (",)


Ganbarimasu "to learn" nihongo ... sugoi!...

im really enjoying this... actually i want to learn speaking and reading nihongo for me not to read anymore the sub title of all japanese drama.. .hahaha... and when i had a chance to meet NISHIKIDO RYO (1 Litre of Tears) we can understand each other.. hahaha... because of him i want to pursue this.. :D MARAMING SALAMAT (tagalog).. (Thank you very much)


im from englnd and since i was little had a likeing of speaking japanese


I may be still working with the basics but I am most thoroughly enjoying these lessons

15 mins japanses

very good got me knowing some words so




I have actually been working with a friend that is Native to Japan to learn Japanese, but this was a really nice review and I intend to keep on using it to learn as much Japanese as possible before I go to Japan next year!

AamirButt's picture

I found its very easy as

I found its very easy as compare to ask someone as the pronounciation differs person to person. This 15 min vedio is a good helping hand for me. I hope the best in near future.
Thanks to the team members for such effort.
Aamir Butt

Aamir Nazir Butt, Toyama Ken Imizu Shi

15 Minute Japanese