Anytime you wanna start learning a language, you go to online sources first, but there’s always a bit of crap to cut through, a little sorting, a little digging, so here’s all of that crap pre-cut.
Teach Yourself Japanese: A website from Shinji Takasugi. This is a classic and the one I first got started on, way back in 9th grade Spanish.
Memrise: Best place to start for any language. The liberation of Rosetta-Stone-style learning. Online. For free. The founder, Ed Cooke, is known as the Grandmaster of Memory.
Wikipedia is always a great place to start, especially the phonology page so you can get the real story on the sounds or at least better than pretty much every resource will tell you. (Lemme know if you find one that uses IPA and proper linguistic explanations.)
Those are the prime sources on the Internet. There’s more, but all the rest require so more digging, signing up for accounts or trials and just aren’t gonna get you started on learning Japanese like the ones above will. The next best step is to check out these books.
Japanese in 10 Minutes a Day: A good introduction to the absolute basics, complete with stickers.
Kanji Pict-O-Graphix: An indispensable book of mnemonics for 1225 of the 1945 kanji.
Barron’s Japanese Grammar: One of the best laid out grammar books out there. I don’t know how much they’ve updated, but the 2nd edition has a less visually oppressive cover, fwiw, but it doesn’t look like the layout inside suffers the same “improvement”.
These are the resources I’ve had experience with and some of them seem to be the best. There are a bunch of other online resources I’ve found or had minimal experience with, so here’s the list of those
Livemocha: This site is about asking qualified speakers language questions. They have lessons too, which are pretty good actually.
Busuu: Has a decent amount of trial material. Not the prettiest site, but it’s not painful.
About.com: They have a ton of articles to explore on all kinds of topics. Really helps with semantics, pragmatics, and culture.
Learn Japanese Pod: Apparently pod is a cool word. You can get some stuff for free on here, but their subscription is way to expensive. They do have a great Space Invaders kana learning game for free, though.
Omniglot: For getting an overview of the Japanese writing systems.
The rest of these sites I haven’t looked at, but they look like you could get some good information out of em. I put them in order of how clean the site looks…
If you want a longer, exhaustive list of resources check out this link.
For dictionaries, so far I’ve found these. I haven’t gone through them thoroughly yet.
I’ll review Youtube videos later.