How to pass JLPT N5 without spending a dime

Zeze C.
2 min readDec 20, 2022


…without a textbook and as an absolute beginner in Japanese

Photo by Ryoma Onita on Unsplash

I decided to learn Japanese after I returned home from my two-week trip to Japan. My initial goal was to enroll in a long-term course, get a student visa, and spend +6 months in Japan while learning the language. If I could land a job afterward, it would be the cherry on top.

With this in mind, I opened my laptop. I went through all the courses listed in Go! Go! Nihon, and prepared excel sheets to compare the cost of living in different cities. This study showed me the following:

  • The beginner level (N5+N4) course takes 6 to 9 months to complete and would swallow a big chunk of my budget.
  • The minimum recommended level of Japanese to land a job in Japan is N2.

I wasn’t ok with this. I had to revise my plans. Here is what I decided:

  • Completing the beginner level before moving to Japan
  • Studying for the beginner level without quitting my current job to save as much as possible
  • Self-study to minimize the cost

I passed JLPT N5 in December 2021, without paying any course fee. All I need was the 3 resources below.

1. JF Japanese E-Learning: Minato

This free online learning platform provided by Japan Foundation is all you need for Hiragana, Katakana, and N5 level Vocabulary, Kanji, Listening, Reading, and Grammar.

There are also speaking exercises where you can role-play and record your answer.

There are different levels of courses ranging from A1.1- B1.2. At the time I took the JLPT N5 exam, I had already completed A2.2 and I was somewhere in A2.3.

2. Podcast: Nihongo con Teppei (Japanese Podcast for Beginners)

This podcast of Teppei Sensei is dedicated to beginner-level listeners. He chooses interesting topics and delivers them in a fun way. I recommend you complete at least the A1.2 level in the Minato platform.

3. Dictionary: JLPT Sensei

This is the dictionary I use during my Japanese studies. The user interface has a minimalist design and therefore is easy to use. What I love most about this website is that users can see whether the word they are looking for belongs to level N5 or N1.



Zeze C.

Articles about food, traveling and learning new languages . Also creating travel guides for food lovers here;