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[REVIEW] Tuttle’s Intermediate Japanese

If you are looking for a low-intermediate Japanese textbook that uses English explanations, furigana and also dedicates a section to teaching Kanji, you have found the one.

Personally, I find that Japan-published Japanese textbooks tend to focus on a certain area (e.g. speaking / reading / writing / listening / grammar / vocabulary / kanji) and I haven’t quite found a book that does somewhat everything. I think this one quite hits that sweet spot of serving as an all-encompassing main textbook for low-intermediate Japanese learners.

Each chapter consists of the following section:


I found it interesting how the same dialogue is presented in both comic strip and the usual prose form. The comic strip form comes first and it does not include the furigana, which serves as a good exercise for the learner to try to figure out how to pronounce the kanji, and can check it against the prose form dialogue (with furigana).

New Words

Basic but useful glossary as it comes with kanji, the parts of speech (e.g. noun / verb), and the English explanation or equivalent. The book comes with the CD, and this section also comes with audio. Thumbs up. But I have no idea why the audio does not follow the order of the glossary!! Weird.


This section is the reason why I would recommend this book to English speakers. I love how it teaches you the order of the strokes, the meaning and also trying to break up the word into parts and radicals and teaching you how to remember it.

Language Detection (Grammar)

The grammar section is not the most detailed, but does a decent job of introducing a few new grammar points per chapter. While this is touted as an intermediate book, I thought that it wasn’t that challenging or fast-paced. Perhaps a low-intermediate level?

Self Check | Practice Time

Designed for classroom activities, I don’t find this section particularly helpful for self-learners. I usually will skip such sections – pair practice etc.

Culture Chest

Good section to introduce some culture tidbits.

メール (Reading)

Extra reading in the form of emails from one character to another.

Overall thoughts

Quite a decent textbook, especially suitable for those who need more help with Kanji. The content is relatively interesting and the book is well-structured. Suitable for the self learners. Will recommend if you are looking for a main textbook for the low-intermediate. The only con? It’s a heavy book – don’t think you would want to bring it out to be read on the go.

What I like:

  • Well-structured
  • Good section on Kanji
  • Interesting content
  • Furigana – convenient, makes reading easier

What to be improved on

  • Grammar section, while adequate, is not very detailed
  • The textbook is quite heavy (weight-wise)? 😛

Get it on Tuttle.

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  • Reply
    19 April, 2020 at 1:23 PM

    Hi Shanna! I’m hoping to start self-learning Japanese and thought this book sounded more interesting than Genki or Minna no Nihongo.

    If I can already read kana and some kanji, do you think that I can start out with Tuttle’s Intermediate Japanese instead of its Beginning Japanese textbook?

    Also, as I can understand Mandarin as well, I’ve been looking around for Japanese textbooks written in Mandarin, but can’t seem to find any. May I ask where do you search for such textbooks? Thank you!!

    • Reply
      19 April, 2020 at 3:10 PM

      hi J! mmm unfortunately I haven’t seen the beginning Japanese textbook so I’m not too sure where it is in terms of level! But I would think it covers more than just the writing system (likely some basic grammar too), so you may still wish to consider a beginner textbook if you are just starting out 🙂

      I stay in Singapore so Japanese textbooks in Mandarin are readily available at Kinokuniya! I’ve used a couple before too, but offhand I cant remember any good ones. ><

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