Is JapanesePod101 A Good System for Japanese Listening Practice?

By Donald Ash | The Japan Guy Reviews...

Are you struggling to get in some solid, Japanese listening practice? Is a problem that a lot of people struggle with. Today we'll take a closer look at JapanesePod 101, one of the better systems out there for really improving your Japanese listening skills.  

Make sure to watch this video until the end as I have a special bonus that I've included:

Better Japanese Listening Practice - 
A JapanesePod101 Video Review


Donald: Are you struggling to hear a Japanese that's coming at you at native speed? Yes. Well, I know all about that. What we're going to do today is we're going to take a closer look at a very popular Japanese self-study system that just might help you out. 

Hey, do you ever feel like listening to native speed Japanese, makes you feel like this? Or this? Well, you ain't the only one. Well, today guys, let's take a closer look at JapanesePod101.  That's a product that I'm currently using to become a better Japanese listener, so let's take a look at some of the pros, some of the cons, and hopefully, by the end of the video, you'll have a better idea of whether or not it's right for you.


One quick housekeeping item before we start the review. Yes, I am an affiliate for JapanesePod101. What the hell does that mean?

What it means is that if you click one of my links and you go over to JapanesePod101 and you make a purchase, yes, I do earn a commission. I wanted to be very upfront and honest about that.

 But as I mentioned earlier, I am currently using JapanesePod101. That means I do pay a monthly fee for that service, and I wouldn't be recommending or probably even reviewing this product if I didn't think it would genuinely help you.

Whew. Now that, that's done, let's do a deep dive into JapanesePod101.


My very first pro for JapanesePod101 is really, really simple. It delivers. It delivers. All right, guys. It's truth time. When I first heard about JapanesePod101, my first thoughts were that it was going to be some scammy-ass rinky dink product that somebody had just thrown together to make a quick online buck.

"Oh God. I guess it's going to be another scam,"

but once I actually got in there and tried JapanesePod101, it completely exceeded my expectations. I thought JP101 was well laid out. It was well though out, and the lessons were really high quality, so I tested it by just taking one of the intermediate lessons to see where I was, and that one intermediate lesson that I took made me realize, A) that I was getting great value for what I was paying and B, maybe my listening wasn't as good as I thought it was.  

There was all kinds of stuff in there that I found was really, really useful. There was stuff about tenses that I was struggling with or shaky on. There's stuff about honorifics, keigo and just so many other things that I just found so useful.

My second pro for JapanesePod101 is line-by-line audio. I know they market this thing pretty heavily, but it is so useful. It's probably my favorite thing about JapanesePod101.

All right. Maybe somebody listening will  feel me on this. Sometimes, when you're listening to a Japanese conversation, sometimes, stuff is coming at you so fast. It's like a barrage of words, and you can pick out some of them, but sometimes, there are words that you can't quite catch, or there's grammar that you can't quite connect while you're listening. 

What ends up happening is you end up losing the entire conversation because your brain is keyed in on this word or this grammar that you don't know. Then, you forget there are a bunch of words that you do. That's where line-by-line audio because really, really useful because you could pick out those words that you don't know. You can pick out the grammar points you don't know. Then, once you go through and listen to it line-by-line, you can go back and re-listen to the whole conversation and understand everything in context, and it's beautiful.

My third pro about JapanesePod101 is PIFT. Okay. P-I-F-T. That just stands for practical, interesting and funny topics.  I find personally that when I'm not interested in a topic or if I don't feel like I can apply it in the real world or something like that, it's harder for me to stay motivated to keep doing it. 

With JapanesePod, one of the things that really hooked me was, it was things that I was using in my everyday life, like something as simple as ordering a pizza here in Japan or like sometimes, when you're working a lot, you're not at home to pick up packages, so you'll get that redelivery notice. There is a great, absolutely fantastic lesson on redelivery notices. I think I learned the word "fuzai renrakuhyou" from JapanesePod101. I remember that. Topics that are interesting and/or funny like I remember hearing one lesson about how this guy was trying to get back with his girlfriend because she just won the Lotto.


I'm going to say that information overwhelm is probably one of my biggest downsides to JapanesePod101. Having a ton of information is great, so on one hand, it's a strength, but on the other hand, it can also be a weakness. If you're jumping into JapanesePod and you have no idea of what you want to learn, of what you want to study, you've never looked at Japanese before, it can be a bit daunting. That's me being honest.

But one thing that JapanesePod does to combat this is they have something called My Pathways. My Pathways are just ... It's a set of lessons that they've put together.  It's like a roadmap that they've created for you, so that way, you know what lesson to go to next. You don't get lost in all of that information.

My second downside is really, really a minor one, and it's going to be the small talk between JapanesePod staff members throughout the lesson. It may be because of the language barrier between American staff members and Japaneses staff members at JapanesePod, but sometimes, jokes might fall a little bit flat or feel a little bit forced.   It might come across as a bit cheesy because of that barrier, but that being said, if you can get past that, the lessons themselves are amazing.

For my last con with JPod101, this is something to be mindful of. I don't feel like the grammar explanations are always as detailed as they could be. If it's a grammar point I'm really struggling with, JPod101 isn't the go-to place. Even if I've listened to a grammar point on JPod101, sometimes,  I find myself going to one of my textbooks that might explain it in a little more detail if it's a tougher concept.

If you're also interested in becoming a member of JP101, you can visit, and I'll leave some links in the description below, so that way, it will be easy for you.

How Much Does JapanesePod101 Cost?

JP101 has three levels: basic, premium and premium plus, and in the interest of time, we're just going to take a look at the premium plus or the mid-range option. This one is going to be slightly more expensive because you have more features offered to you.

You get access to pretty much everything with JapanesePod101 on the premium subscription, and it's currently the one that I'm using. 

  • By default, it's at the $240 every two years plan, but your other options are
  • $180 every 12 months,
  • $120 every six months,
  • $66 every three months, which is the plan I'm using
  • or $25 per month


This system is for you if you're trying to really improve your listening, improve your grammar and improve your vocabulary. JapanesePod101 is definitely geared towards the auditory learner, so if you're a big fan of popping some files onto your smartphone and then listening on-the-go, it is absolutely perfect for you.


I'd probably say JapanesePod isn't for the person who's looking for that Japanese magic bullet
"Because magic bullets don't exist."

Keep in mind that JapanesePod is like a tool or a collection of tools.

Like any textbook or like your Memrise or WaniKani or Anki, these are tools, and you're going to get out of it what you put into it. If you decide to study JapanesePod once every blue moon or once every two, three months, guess what? You're probably not going to get a lot out of it,

But for those people that use it properly, apply it regularly and do consistent review, it can make a really, really big difference. If you're not an auditory learner, I probably say that JapanesePod isn't for you. As far as who it's for and who it's not for, I can't judge that for you, but a good thing about JapanesePod is that they do offer a seven-day free trial, so it's a good way to test it out to see if their teaching style suits you.


To wrap this all up, guys, if I were to give JapanesePod101 an A through F grade like the ones we got in school, I would give it a very strong B+. That's like saying, that's almost like 4.5 out of five stars. I know JapanesePod101 isn't for everybody, but if you're still on the fence and you needed a little more info, not to worry. 

I've written a longer, more detailed review over at the, so if you're interested in checking that out, you'll find a link in the description box below, along with a free demo lesson of JapanesePod101 with me if you're interested. 

Listening is only one part of the Japanese equation. There's speaking. There's reading. There's writing. There's grammar, and all other nuances associated with each of those, but if you're interested in improving your Japanese this year and finding a community of other self-study learners just like you, please join me at Japanese Mavericks. I'll leave a link in the description to that as well.

If you enjoyed this video, let me know about it by hitting that like button, subscribing, commenting and sharing. It really helps me out. Well, thanks for watching, and I'll see you in the next video, guys. Bye.

If you're interested in doing a JPOD 101 preview with me, click the play button 🙂

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Donald Ash is an Atlanta, Georgia-born, American expat who has been living in a Japanese time warp for the last ten years. While in that time warp, he discovered that he absolutely loves writing, blogging, and sharing. Donald is the creator of blog. Wanna know more about this guy? Check out his "What's Your Story" page.
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