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JapanesePod101 Review: Is it Worth Paying For?

In this review, we will be taking a closer look at JapanesePod101 and all it has to offer.

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JapanesePod101: Our Verdict (2020)

Platform Rating

4.5 / 5

In this JapanesePod101 review, we'll evaluate the online Japanese learning platform to see how it competes with other online Japanese language learning platforms such as Rocket Japanese. In our rankings for the best online Japanese courses, JapanesePod101 came out on top at a solid third place.


  • Lots of extra features
  • Teaches practical language skills
  • Frequent updates
  • Smartphone app available


  • Some of the content is outdates
  • Amount of content can be overwhelming

Table of Contents

When I started learning Japanese quite a few years ago, JapanesePod101 was the first serious learning resource that I stumbled upon. My Japanese vocabulary was very basic at the time, and I found the resource very useful. However, since that day, my Japanese language level has improved considerably. Keeping this in mind, I decided to revisit this learning tool once more about six months ago in order to see it from a different perspective. Apparently, a lot has changed on JapanesePod101 since I first saw it. Or, I could say – a lot has improved. In this JapanesePod101 review, I will highlight my experiences with the Japanese online learning platform. I’ll cover the things I liked about the platform, as well as some of the things I found which could use some improvement.

Overview of JapanesePod101

JapanesePod101 is a Japanese language learning website that hosts loads of in-depth Japanese lessons for all experience levels, starting from beginner level all the way to advanced. Besides the website, JapanesePod101 also has a helpful YouTube channel to go along with the main sites’ lessons. The channel has tons of high-quality content, for example, this lesson on introductions in Japanese.

Pricing of JapanesePod101

The pricing of JapanesePod101 services is based on a subscription model. They have three different plans which offer varying levels of access to the resources:

  • Basic
  • Premium
  • Premium PLUS

If you’d like to know more about the differences between these three levels of subscriptions, you can read up on them on JapanesePod101’s pricing page.

Personally, I would recommend going for the Premium plan. If you are serious about learning Japanese, you can’t go wrong with that plan. I personally use premium, and I am very satisfied with the value of the plan. So if you are ready to take your Japanese learning to the next level, definitely check it out.

JapanesePod101 offers a “free lifetime account,” but you’ll soon find that most useful lessons require you to pay for a subscription. Before committing to a purchase, though, testing out the platform with a free account is always a good idea. The service also offers a free 7-day trial on sign-up, so you can even try out the premium lessons before having to pay for their services.

Another aspect worth mentioning is the so-called “1$ offer”. It is a chance for new users to try out a premium account for one month for one dollar. This is a one-time offer and only valid for new accounts on the JapanesePod101 platform. Just make sure you cancel the subscription if you do not like the service. Otherwise, it will automatically renew to a Premium plan.

However, my experience has shown that with JapanesePod101’s reasonable pricing and high-quality Japanese lessons, the paid subscription is worth every penny. It’s always a good idea to test it out for yourself though – the $1 offer is an excellent way to do so.

Now, I will walk you through the features I have grown to appreciate during the course of this JapanesePod101 review.

How does JapanesePod101 work?

First off, when you first sign-up for the service, you will be asked a few questions to assess the Japanese language level you are currently at. Don’t worry; it won’t lock you in any level – you can still see all of the lessons, and you can swap them whenever you want. All they do is serve as more of a recommendation. These levels are as follows: 

  • Absolute beginner
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced
JapanesePod101 language levels

Additionally, there are lesson paths that show you a recommended course of lessons based on your goals and needs. For example, are you learning Japanese for travel? Business? Looking for a job in Japan? Do you want to consume Japanese culture and media in its original language? No problem! There’s something for everyone.

Japanesepod has loads of extra resources as well, like cheat-sheet PDFs, worksheets for Hiragana and Katakana, courses for JLPT levels, and more. Definitely worth checking out.

What are the lessons like?

Each lesson is built on an audio track, which you can listen to on their app, website, or even through iTunes. Each audio track is paired with lesson notes, a transcript of the conversation in Japanese and English, and loads of other nifty features, which will help you learn the vocabulary used. You can adjust the playback speed of the audio, and if you are a beginner, it is often a good idea to slow the dialogue down.

Additionally, there is a feature for pronunciation practice where at first, you hear the speaker say a sentence. Then, you click a button, and you have to repeat the same sentence. After this, the software compares how close you are to a native Japanese language speaker. Plus, you can hear yourself pronounce the word/sentence.

It’s also worth a mention that the teachers are all great – they know what they are doing, and they have a real talent for making difficult topics easy to understand.

Now, to give you a better idea of JapanesePod101’s lesson structures, let’s take a look at a beginner-level lesson:

As mentioned before, the central part of a lesson is the audio track with many extra features. You can see from the previous gallery that you have audio clips for every piece of the dialogue used in the clip itself, which you can re-listen as many times as you want with all the vocabulary shown in kanji, kana, and English. Additionally, you have really helpful lesson notes, as you can see in picture 3, and a full lesson transcript in English.

Pros & Cons of JapanesePod101

As with any service, there were features we liked and things we didn’t like. Here’s a quick rundown.

Pros (advantages) of JapanesePod101

  • There is a substantial amount of material on the service for every skill level.
  • Progression between levels is structured just right. There are no steep jumps in difficulty, and it flows naturally.
  • Vocabulary is well-curated and based on the language you actually need in everyday situations.
  • Lessons are well structured and easy to follow.
  • The website and mobile app are well designed and intuitive.
  • There’s a wide variety of useful extra features on the site, as mentioned above.
  • The service is updated regularly.

Cons (disadvantages) of JapanesePod101

  • They should update some of their older lessons, especially the videos. Some of the content is slightly outdated especially compared to their newer lessons.
  • I need to list the amount of material as a negative as well, depending on what level you are because it can be slightly overwhelming at times. Finding the lesson that is right just for you may be quite a chore at times, especially if you are trying to study something very specific.
  • The conversations in the lessons can be a bit short at times, which for beginners is totally fine, but for someone at a higher level, it could be a bit too lackluster.

Conclusion: Is JapanesePod101 Worth it?

JapanesePod101 is an excellent resource for learning Japanese. It is a versatile tool with many features, and it’s flexible, so you can tailor the learning experience however you want. I can strongly recommend it to anyone who is serious about the language regardless of skill level. The pricing is reasonable, and the service is easy to use.

The lessons on JapanesePod101 are well-structured, and they are easy to understand and memorize. Practicing Japanese pronunciation is often overlooked in online Japanese courses. However, JapanesePod101 is special in this regard as it does an excellent job at covering both Japanese speaking and writing practice.

I’ve personally used JapanesePod101 for a long time, and I have never been disappointed by it. In fact, not only have I never been disappointed but I have always been surprised by the constant updates that add new features to the platform. Overall, my experiences with JapanesePod101 have been overwhelmingly positive, and I will continue to use it in the future.