10 Difficulties in Learning Japanese Language

In this article, we are going to talk about the biggest difficulties of learning Japanese language. Knowing this can help us face this difficulty, so don't try to look at the difficulties and think about giving up. Learning Japanese can be a big challenge, but it's really fun and satisfying.

By clicking on the title of some of the difficulties, you will be redirected to a special article on the subject.

1 - Other language

Those who think that learning a new language is simply learning how to say a certain English word in Japanese are completely mistaken. The Japanese language has an entirely different vocabulary. There are words that only exist in Japanese and words that only exist in English. Some Japanese expressions may not make sense for someone who is studying the language, on some occasions you will really have difficulty understanding some expressions.

Where to start studying Japanese? Like? In what order?

2 - Kanji

I think that everyone who thinks about learning the Japanese language, knows the Chinese ideograms present in the language, it is one of the biggest difficulties.

You have to learn at least 1,000 kanji to be able to achieve a certain fluency, or 2,000 to be able to read anything in the language, but the total kanji is over 4,000. 

Besides the huge amount of ideograms and dashes, a Kanji usually has several pronunciations. Other than that, there are still many kanji that are similar to each other, making studies more difficult.

Similar-looking ideograms and kanji
Similar-looking ideograms and kanji

3 - Small words

Japanese is only 106 syllables, so many words are usually only 1 syllable, this can confuse inexperienced students.

Words like 目 (me, eyes), 手 (you, hand), 愛 (oh, love) 名 (na, name) might get mixed up with other syllables and you might think you're hearing another word.

4 – Same words

Japanese has many words with the same pronunciation but different meanings. This can drive you a little crazy if you haven't paid attention to the context.

Words like “Kami” can mean God, Hair or paper. There are pronunciations that can mean up to 50 different words.

Different forms of Japanese language writing.

5 - Speed of conversation

Besides the words being similar, the Japanese speak very fast. For you to understand and speak Japanese at standard speed it's a big challenge.

Trying to read a Japanese text and a English text will take a long time in Japanese because you cannot read at the correct speed.

Japanese actually has more words than English in a sentence, sometimes you'll hear thousands of anata and watashi in a text.

6 – Grammar

Although Japanese grammar is simple compared to English, it is still difficult. You will have to record the particles and know when to use it.

Come across thousands of quirks. Japanese grammar is really very simple, but unlike English, this can cause a good difficulty in the beginning.

Word orders, sentence endings, the fact that there are no genders, plural and future, all of this can make it difficult to understand the language.


7 – Keigo – Formality

Japanese is an educated and polished language. In addition to the standard spoken language, there are polite and polite ways to speak to certain types of people, known as Keigo

It is used to converse formally with people of different levels. It uses totally different vocabulary, structures and grammatical expressions. It's like an intellectual Brazilian who speaks complicated words we don't understand.

8 - Dialects 

Even if you learn the standard Japanese language, dialects can become a nuisance in certain regions of Japan. The country is divided into 47 states, each with its own different dialect or accent. The problem is that these dialects can change a lot of the words and grammars of the language, making it difficult to understand a conversation.

9 – Numerical counts

Another challenge that can be tackled is when it comes to learning the numbers. It's easy to learn to count from 1 to 1,000. however the Japanese use a form of counting for each object or thing.

They use a suffix after the number to indicate that they are counting something, in addition to changing the pronunciation of some numbers. Examples: 五匹の猫 (gohiki no neko – 5 cats) 二人 (futari – 2 people).


10 – Words with the same meaning

Japanese has many words with the same meaning, which may or may not be used in certain situations. For example, there are different ways to say “I” and other pronouns.

There is the Americanized version of some words, such as milk: ミルク (Miruku) or 牛乳 (Gyūnyū) and several other words that can have the same meaning and different pronunciations, especially words in kanji, some usually have their reading abbreviated in just one syllable.


No matter the difficulties below, learn japanese it is very satisfying and fun if done right. If you have difficulty studying, our site is committed to helping you with articles about the Japanese language and about Japan. It's up to you to put it into practice, dedicate yourself to some study method, and never give up!

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