4 Websites for Japanese Games Online That You Can Play for Free
Who doesn’t love playing a good game?
Believe it or not, games can also be great teachers.
Learning with games—especially word games—is an amazing way to learn Japanese.
I have put together a list of some seriously awesome, super useful and free Japanese games online to help you increase your vocabulary, sharpen your Japanese alphabet knowledge and improve your overall Japanese fluency.
- 1. しりとり — Taking the End a.k.a. “Shiritori”
- 2. Japanese Word Bingo
- 3. Tanoshii Japanese Word Games
- 4. Digital Dialect’s Japanese Word Games
- And One More Thing...
1. しりとり — Taking the End a.k.a. “Shiritori”
しりとり is a classic Japanese word game that is super popular in Japan. To play, you must come up with a word that begins with the last character of the previous word.
Before you begin, you are required to choose your learning level, ensuring the vocabulary that appears will be geared towards your level.
Every word is shown with its hiragana/katakana and kanji, JLPT level and definitions.
If you fail to write in the next word on time, the game presents you with possible words you could have used, along with their definitions. It is a fantastic way to build your vocabulary!
The game even allows you to log in with your Gmail account for detailed records of your past games if you want to visualize your progress.
Since you may need to type in Japanese, it would be wise to have a romaji-to-hiragana converter handy as well as a digital Japanese keyboard.
If you have the chance to play the game analog-style with a native speaker, do it!
When you play with two or more people, take turns saying words. If someone cannot figure out a new word, they are automatically booted from the game.
The premise and rules of the game are simple, whether you are playing against a computer or a real person:
- Only nouns are allowed.
- The character ん is not permitted, as no Japanese word starts with it, making it impossible to continue the game. In some variations of しりとり, accidentally using a word with ん means forfeiture of the game.
- No words can be repeated during a single game.
- Optional: Pronouns and names of places may be permitted.
- Optional: Words can only be part of a particular genre, such as nature or science.
2. Japanese Word Bingo
Everybody has played Bingo before, right?
In case you have not, the rules are simple: When a word is called out, you mark the corresponding space on your Bingo sheet. When you have five spaces in a row marked, you win!
This Japanese word game is a simple version of Bingo, in which you must match the spoken Japanese word with its image at increasing speeds. Just click on the audio button and listen up!
Stay sharp, though: Once you start the game, the audio will read words at short intervals. If you have an image to match the word, click on it. If you do not, wait for the next.
No alphabets or written Japanese is used in this game. It is all audio and imagery, which is ideal for perfecting listening skills. You will also be improving vocabulary recognition by associating spoken words with images.
Any level of learner can play this game, but complete beginners may find it a bit too difficult since there is no writing to rely on.
There is also no way to check what the words mean, so if you find yourself struggling, I recommend that you spend one round simply writing down words you are unfamiliar with and looking them up.
3. Tanoshii Japanese Word Games
Are you a fan of options? So am I! That is why I love this multi-level option-packed resource from Tanoshii Japanese.
On top of offering a Japanese online dictionary, lessons, forums and additional Japanese language-learning resources, this site also has some seriously fun practice games available to play for free.
You can easily improve your reading, listening, writing and speaking skills all in one place. You also have the option to focus on hiragana, katakana, kanji or vocabulary words in either multi-game or single-game levels.
To play, select which alphabet you want to focus on, or choose vocabulary. Then, choose between reading, writing or speaking practice and select your game.
There are matching games, stroke order games, flashcards and more. For most of the alphabet games, you can choose to play based on characters you already know or characters you are currently learning.
To top it all off, you can also select how long you want the game to last.
Beginner, intermediate and advanced students can all gain something from this interesting lesson-based word game.
4. Digital Dialect’s Japanese Word Games
Tanoshii Japanese sure had a lot of options, but this massive flash game section from Digital Dialects really takes the cake when it comes to variety.
This site offers over 20 different word games that focus on improving Japanese listening, reading and speaking skills.
The options are rich in variety and include:
- Katakana, hiragana and kanji games
- Matching and memory games
- Scrabble-like games that focus on vocabulary
- Grammar- and phrase-association games
- Audio and visual options
- After-game quizzes for proficiency
The animations are a little low-budget and cheesy, but if you can get past the corniness you will certainly benefit from these games.
While all levels of Japanese learners can use this site, you may have to search around for a game that fits your particular level.
Like what you see? Digital Dialects also offers weekly parallel text e-books with audio to try out for free.
How rad are these Japanese word games?
To keep growing your vocabulary, make sure you add some authentic content to your studies. You might learn new words with these Japanese games online, but you’ll also want to know how to actually use them when the time arises.
Use a program like FluentU to help you retain new vocabulary through immersive content
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Spicing things up with word games will push you forward on your Japanese language-learning journey—in a fun and engaging way.
Good luck with your fluent future!
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.)