Over the last few years, I have spent thousands of hours (literally) immersing myself in the Japanese language. Over this time I have made use of a variety of different products that have been incredibly helpful on this long journey.
All the products I recommend here are ones that I have used thoroughly and can recommended without hesitation.
In terms of hardware, there are a few things I would recommend to make the whole process more efficient and easier for you.
I’ve had this before I even started learning Japanese and it’s a great little thing.
This amazing device is brilliant for getting extra listening time in when going for a shower. The speaker quality is great and it’s water resistant. It’s really cheap so definitely worth the money in my opinion.
SoundBot Shower Speaker on Amazon.
The NENRENT S570 is every language learners dream earphone. It’s a tiny, super easy to conceal, Bluetooth earpiece with the massive plus of it being available in different skin tones to conceal it even further. MattVSJapan originally recommended this earpiece and I haven’t been let down by it yet. Thanks for the recommendation Matt!
NENRENT S570 on Amazon.
These are also a recommendation from MattVSJapan. Throughout the majority of my journey learning Japanese I stuck with cheap wired earphones for usually around £10 or less.
These would often only last a few months at a time and as you can imagine it was very frustrating having to continuously buy earphones. I’d never really considered Bluetooth earphones before but after grabbing this pair that Matt recommended I won’t ever go back. Of course, that’s not to say that I don’t use normal earphones anymore, I still do because the battery life on Bluetooth earphones won’t last all day, but if I have the choice I will always go wireless.
These specific earphones are fairly priced and of decent quality. I’ve had mine for over 6 months now and they’re brilliant but as I did just mention, make sure you do carry wired earphones with you too as they do only last for around 5 hours (they do charge super quickly though).
As for standard wired earphones, I haven’t really found a pair that has managed to last a really long time. I’ve bought expensive and cheap pairs and besides a slight difference in sound quality, they all only seem to last at most a few months. My recommendation would be to grab a cheap pay for around £10 on Amazon.
SoundPEATS on Amazon.
You can also get sleep “earphones” if you are looking to continue your listening while you sleep. These come in all sorts of shapes and sizes but generally the cheap stuff does the job. I currently own a pair of CozyPhones which I got from Amazon for a decent price and they are not only comfortable but are perfect for sleep listening.
The only downsides is they can get dirty easily and that it’s sometimes hard to position the ear-pads (they are inside the fabric and you have to adjust them to fit your ears). There are also Bluetooth options available if you are worried about the wires but I haven’t had a problem with them as of yet.
CozyPhones on Amazon.
A lot of people also recommend having a separate device from your main workstation for constantly streaming TV shows, anime or dramas.
This is for a number of reasons but the main one being that you can easily flick it on and get some instant Japanese immersion.
There are a variety of different ways of going about this including getting an actual TV and using DVD’s.
However, over the past few years I have mainly made use of the following methods:
- Tablet (iPad) + standing case + speakers or wireless Bluetooth earphones
- Smartphone + cheap phone stand + speakers or wireless Bluetooth earphones
- Laptop + speakers or wireless Bluetooth earphones
- Extra monitor + speakers or wireless Bluetooth earphones
Some language learners even go as far as buying a completely new PC for the sole purpose of streaming Japanese content, which in the long run could work out easier and cheaper than buying a TV so it may not be as ridiculous as it sounds.
Note though that some PC’s and laptops don’t come with Bluetooth built in. You may have to get a USB Bluetooth adapter which are cheap and I recommend (if you’re in the UK) EkoBuy’s Bluetooth 4.0 USB Dongle Adapter for PC which I use on my main desktop. Unfortunately this product isn’t on the American Amazon so you may have to look for “Bluetooth USB adapter“.
I’ve listed the specific hardware I use below, however do note that a lot of this equipment is a couple of years out of date so you will probably be able to find better quality goods for the same amount of money if you search around a bit on Amazon.
Here’s the specific hardware I use/used:
- Apple iPad Mini 2 Tablet
- Samsung S24D300H LED 61CM 24IN WIDE Monitor
- Lenovo Thinkpad T430 Laptop
- EkoBuy’s Bluetooth 4.0 USB Dongle Adapter (UK only) – US options here
- SoundPEATS Wireless Earbuds Headphones
- Motorola Moto X Play XT1562 Smartphone (amazing phone but the battery sucks)
- Speakers – The speakers I used where from ASDA (Walmart) and are around 5 years old so I can’t find them online but pretty much anything with an AUX cable will let you plug into almost any device.
- Forefront Cases Apple iPad Mini Retina 2nd Generation A1489 Leather Folding Case Cover Stand (UK only) – US options here
- Phone stand – My phone stand is from a 100 yen shop in Japan and I can’t find it on Amazon. There are plenty of cheap alternatives here though.
I highly recommend that you separate your listening from your mobile phone and use an MP3 player for the majority of your listening.
Anything will do here really but if I had to buy a new device now then I would go for something simple that has a long battery life and lots of storage.
I am currently using an old iPod which is still a viable option, it’s just that I sometimes struggle to sync with iTunes so I find it pretty annoying to use.
With the amount of Japanese content you are going to consume over the following years, you are going to need somewhere to store it all.
For me a external 2 TB Western Digital hard drive was perfect for the job. 2TB is more than enough to store as much as you want without worrying about memory issues but if you do need more memory then there are plenty of other options available too.
I’ve also put together some helpful resources which I’ve collected from all over the internet and bundled into some, hopefully, really helpful blog posts. This is a compilation of the best resources and recommendations I have found so far.
- Language Learning Resources
- My Japanese Reading List
- 53 Must Know Japanese Language Learning Hacks and Tips!!
- Japanese Books with Furigana
- A Guide to Buying Books That Are Written in Japanese
- Free Japanese Listening Resources
- Japan Only PS4 Games
- Japanese Anki Decks
- 11 of the Best Japanese YouTubers