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Created by Joe Park

The JLPT, short for "Japanese Language Proficiency Test," will help you determine your level of Japanese grammar knowledge, listening skill, and reading comprehension based on the standard set by the Japanese Ministry of Education (Monbushou).

There are a total of four levels available. Level four is the lowest and therefore the most basic, but to pass level one will require true mastery of the Japanese language. Every December, Monbushou distributes the JLPT at test centers around the globe. Hundreds of thousands register for the test, but they'll gladly make room for you too!

Upon preparing for my first JLPT test, I came across a number of great websites. This is my collection of what I've found on the web, listed here in the hopes that they will help JLPT test takers everywhere.

Here's where I took the JLPT 2001 level 3 test: The Holiday Inn of Torrance, California (Fortunately, I passed).

It all started a long time ago, when I discovered a Japanese language series on PBS called "Yan san & The Japanese people." Though I wasn't interested taking Spanish back in high school, I found that the Japanese language was a captivating and challenging thing to do. Most people back then were learning Japanese because they wanted to take advantage of Japan's "baburu keizai" (bubble economy) at the time. However, I had a genuine interest in the language long after the bubble had "bursted."

In addition to programming the VCR to tape those Yan san series, I would often borrow language books and tapes from the local library. A few months later, I discovered a magazine called "Mangajin" at a comic book store here in Portland Oregon. Not only was it my first glance of Manga, but it made learning Japanese incredibly enjoyable. In fact, I never thought that something educational could be so much fun. I was hooked! There was no way that I'd let it end with one issue, so I subscribed to Mangajin and eagerly waited for my monthly copy to arrive.

Unfortunately, Mangajin went out of business in 1998 but they still have back issues at their website. If Mangajin dot com doesn't have the issue you're looking for, then visit Ebay or "The Japan Shop" (listed below). It was sad to see such a fun and unique publication like Mangajin go out of publication, but my desire to become a life long learner of Japanese continues.

To date, I've graduated from Portland State University with a degree in foreign languages (Japanese, of course), took a JLPT test, and even flew over to Japan as an exchange student. On the non-academic side, I've bought and read a mountain of language books, some of which are rare or out of print, obtained a complete collection of Mangajins, and I have a number of Nihongo Journals. I really don't need my local library anymore, because I practically have one of my own.

The first time I took the JLPT was in December of 2001 in Torrance, California. I applied for level three in the fall, and I was notified in the following winter that I passed. The people at Monbushou make some impressive looking certificates! One of these days, I'll have it framed and it's going to look great on my wall.

One day I might register for the level two JLPT test. For someone like myself who was born and raised in America with only three years worth of experience in Japan, anything higher than the third level is a beastie. Until then, I'll continue to use the resources listed below.

Do you need to know how to apply? Need info on where and when JLPT tests will be held?

Click the logo to learn more about Mangajin:

  Visit the listening comprehension section. A new branch of my JLPT page, added in September 2005.

Here are the lists of vocabulary words that you'll encounter on the test, depending on the level you decide to take.

First, do a "left click" on the icon.

Second, save the vocabulary list to your hard drive.

Finally, open the file offline with a Japanese word processor.

If you don't have a Japanese word processor, Click here to visit a website where you can download a copy of JWPce. It's a Japanese word processor that's almost as good as a $200 copy of NJ Wordstar. The big advantage with JWPce is that it's freeware. In other words, it's perfectly legal to download the program without spending a dime for it. It's a great program, and it's the only Japanese word processor that I use. If you agree, then be sure to send the programmer a thank you e-mail!

Level one
Level one vocab. list

Level two
Level two vocab. list

Level three
Level three vocab. list

Level four
Level four vocab. list

These vocabulary lists are courteousy of Thierry Bezecourt.

Dump your 3x5 cards and use Kantango! Kantango is a gem of a website, allowing you to easily create and organize Japanese vocabulary flash cards online. Use Kantango's built-in dictionary, review your flash cards how you want, and even share your vocab list with the public (ideal for the sensei users). If you look under "providers," I'm known as "taboujoe".

Learn kanji online with these great websites.


Kanjisite dot com has listed all of the kanjis that you can expect on the JLPT test, and can help you practice online.

Kanji challenge

I highly recommend using Kanji Challenge to review kanji. This website is definately worth checking out.

Drill the Kanji
"Drill the Kanji" is a java based kanji website. It's swell!

Kanji game
Another website that can help you out is "the kanji game." Easy to use for all of your Kanji needs!

Nihongo Journal

The Nihongo Journal

Every issue of this monthly magazine features a practice sample of the JLPT test. Included with the Nihongo Journal is an audio CD to aid you with the "listening comprehension" section of the exam. In fact, the entire magazine is transcribed onto the disc.

Speaking of content, in the Nihongo Journal you'll find conversation training, news from Japan, a "grammar clinic," and even a Japanese novel for your reading enjoyment.

With their latest format, I find it easier to go through the audio disc when practicing my Japanese because they start with the learning stuff first. Long ago, I would have to skip through the fluff in order to get down to business. Now the "main course" comes first and "dessert" comes later.

They've also expanded their reader base to include Chinese and Korean speaking people who wish to learn Japanese by adding explanations in their respective languages. Now people from China or Korea don't have to know English in order to learn Japanese. Now that's what I call a time saver!

My favorite aspect about the new format is the lyric section. Surprise your friends at the karaoke bar by singing a Japanese song (as long as you don't hang out with American Idol's Simon Cowell).

A great magazine that will keep you busy until next month's issue arrives. However, it's made in Japan and the audio disc comes standard. If you're live in North America, Europe, or elsewhere and you want to buy N.J. on a monthly basis then brace for sticker shock. Nevertheless, it's chock filled with useful stuff so you get your money's worth. Furthermore, it's safe to say that Nihongo Journal has helped me prepare for last year's JLPT test more than anything. It may not be as much fun as Mangajin, but it's definately an indespensible Japanese language study resource.

The Japan shop

Japan Shop dot com has the BEST selection of JLPT study materials of any online store that I've found to date. They sell books that contain the correct answers of real JLPT tests from last year, and study material for all four levels. Japan Shop goes far and beyond JLPT material too! They sell electronic dictionaries, gift items, magazines (Mangajin, Nihongo Journals, Hiragana times), music, software, and lots more.


Uwajimaya - Asian groceries & gift store.

If you live in Seattle, Bellevue WA, or in Beaverton Oregon (a satelite city of Portland), then you're lucky because you live near an Uwajimaya store! At this store, I've bought solution manuals for past JLPT tests. As always, Uwajimaya has a nice selection of language textbooks.

It's such a great store that it's nearly impossible to visit without spending more than five bucks. The store in Beaverton makes a delicious bowl of curry rice! Also, be sure to visit Uwajimaya's "Japan Festival" in September.

Hiragana Times

The Hiragana Times

A bi-lingual, cross cultural magazine for all nationalities. Kanji comprehension isn't necessary with Hiragana Times, because the editors use furigana (which is hiragana printed over kanji) and there's always a vocabulary list nearby.

Aside from language learning, it's probably the most popular magazine among the "gaikokujin" (foreigners) because it's the best source for what's going on in Japan: apartment listings, employment opportunities, language schools, social gatherings, and the like. A fine classified section, too!

In addition, Hiragana Times also features articles written by its readers which are mostly views on Japan. No world news or celebrity gossip here, just personal thoughts and ideas which are then translated into English (or Japanese). So with a vocabulary list and a Japanese/English version of each story in place, it's great for translation practice (if you're at the JLPT level one or two) while the available furigana makes it something that everyone can use for reading.

JLPT Friends Forum

JLPT Friends Forum

Remember when I wrote at the beginning of this website that thousands of people apply for the JLPT? Well, here is an online forum where you can communicate with fellow test takers.

Thank you for visiting my JLPT page. I also enjoy reading all of the emails that I've received from fellow Americans and others from around the world (India, Mexico, Hong Kong, Brazil, to name a few). So if you have found the JLPT page to be helpful, I hope you'll let me know. Best wishes to you all!

Comparing yourself to others will only lead to disappointment or arrogance, neither of which will be of positive value to you. Instead, focus on being better than yourself. Make today an improvement over yesterday. And when tomorrow rolls around, find a way to improve even more.

- Excerpt from Ralph Marston's "Daily Motivator" (Aug. 18, 2003)

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joepark01 [at] yahoo [dot] com

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