The Master List of Core Japanese Vocabulary: 1000’s of Words to Learn!

My favorite Japanese word is tsundoku—the art of buying too many books and never actually reading them. I’m guilty of this! I enjoy having books, even if they never get read.

What I don’t enjoy is spending time and effort learning Japanese words that I’ll never actually use.

That’s where categorized and themed vocabulary lists come in handy.

Read on to acquire Japanese vocabulary that you’ll actually use—unlike all those books I have piled up on my bookshelf.


Core Japanese Vocabulary

Your core vocabulary sets the foundation for the rest of your language learning. These are the first words you should learn, and you’ll keep referring to them throughout your language learning journey.

In addition to everyday words like greetings and colors, Japan has very specific ways that it uses words. You’ll want to learn how to properly say “sorry” based on the occasion, the right way to refer to “you” without accidentally calling someone “darling” and more quirks unique to the Japanese language.

Common Japanese words





Important specific words








Easily confused words

Days and months vocab

Friends, family and home


Travel and survival Japanese




Food, drink and eating out


Nature-related Words






Anime and Manga

Professional and Academic Japanese Vocabulary

Whether you’re getting ready for the advanced JLPT or you’re interested in teaching or working in Japan, these advanced vocabulary words will get you through it!

Japanese Slang

Yo! How down are you with the lingo on the streets? Okay, sorry, I’ll stop. In all seriousness, your Japanese studies won’t be complete unless you learn some authentic Japanese slang.

From the streets to the internet, these Japanese slang words will add some color to your language knowledge.


More Fun Japanese Vocabulary

Make your vocab learning even more fun by studying some more unique words. You might enjoy stocking up on Japanese loanwords, basking in the beauty of the language or taking a step into the wonderful world of Japanese puns. Take a step further with the FluentU program, where you can find more Japanese vocabulary as it’s used by native Japanese speakers in subtitled videos.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

P.S. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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Japanese Loanwords



Fillers and sounds




Holidays in Japanese

Fun miscellaneous vocabulary






Use these vocab lists to find the most relevant Japanese vocabulary words for you. Then, add them to your mental library and use them often!

And One More Thing...

If you love learning Japanese with authentic materials, then I should also tell you more about FluentU.

FluentU naturally and gradually eases you into learning Japanese language and culture. You'll learn real Japanese as it's spoken in real life.

FluentU has a broad range of contemporary videos as you'll see below:


FluentU makes these native Japanese videos approachable through interactive transcripts. Tap on any word to look it up instantly.


All definitions have multiple examples, and they're written for Japanese learners like you. Tap to add words you'd like to review to a vocab list.


And FluentU has a learn mode which turns every video into a language learning lesson. You can always swipe left or right to see more examples.


The best part? FluentU keeps track of your vocabulary, and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You'll have a 100% personalized experience.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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