Nihongo Sou Matome Series Review (日本語総まとめ)

Nihongo Sou Matome books

I’ve written a review of the Nihongo Sou Matome series of books for the JLPT. This series promises to help you become better prepared for the JLPT. Does it? I’ve been through many of the books for different levels and I can tell you which ones are worth your time.

What is Nihongo Sou Matome?

Nihongo Sou Matome is a series of books that each focus on a different aspect of Japanese study. Reading, Grammar, Vocabulary, Kanji, and Listening. There are different levels available that match the levels of the JLPT. N5 through N1.

Nihongo Sou Matome set
Should I use the Nihongo Sou Matome books?

If you’re just getting started studying for the JLPT, then I do recommend trying this series to help you become familiar with the material you will see on the test. Even though the animal covers are very identifiable and cute, you don’t have to collect them all! In fact, it’s better if you don’t get them all because you might have a hard time focusing on so many books. Choose 1 or 2 and make an effort to study them every day.

nihongo sou matome reading

Nihongo Sou Matome Reading

All levels can appreciate the reading books. I find them to be full of useful formats and vocabulary similar to the real JLPT. Advanced users will probably want to start looking at the “Kanzen Master” series of books when it comes to reading comprehension.

nihongo sou matome reading preview
nihongo sou matome grammar

Nihongo Sou Matome Grammar

I cannot really recommend the grammar books of this series because the translations of example sentences and explanations are really poor in English sometimes. I think N5 or N4 levels could be all right with these books, but definitely, choose a different grammar book for N3 and above.

nihongo sou matome grammar preview
nihongo sou matome vocabulary

Nihongo Sou Matome Vocabulary

nihongo sou matome vocabulary preview

For the earlier JLPT levels, the vocabulary books are really well laid out with different themes in each section. I enjoyed going through these when I did N3 and N4. When you get to N1 level, I think the book ends up being just a big vocabulary list and very dry, so I can’t recommend the vocabulary book for the higher levels.

nihongo sou matome kanji

Nihongo Sou Matome Kanji

For beginners, I think the kanji book is good for practice, but I think you can get more practice by learning words that use kanji in context from learning vocabulary or reading. I didn’t see much of a need for this particular book.

nihongo sou matome listening

Nihongo Sou Matome Listening

The listening books are really nice regardless of level. I highly recommend them for becoming familiar with the patterns used in the listening test. Even if you have confidence in your listening ability doesn’t mean you’ll be ready for the tricky questions that will be thrown at you. Get this one.

My recommended books for each level

For beginners (N5-N3)

The books that will help beginners the most are the Reading, Vocabulary, and Listening books. If you’re on a budget, look at a sample online or in a bookstore. I think it’s better to have one book for reading (vocabulary OR reading) and one for listening.

For Intermediate to Advanced (N2-N1)

The only book I recommend for higher level learners from Nihongo Sou Matome is the listening. At this stage, you need all the reading practice you can get. Studying only vocabulary will not be enough to help you get through tough reading passages. I would recommend looking into a different book series such as “Kanzen Master” or “Try!” for help with grammar and reading comprehension.

Sounds great, where can I buy them?

You can buy Nihongo Sou Matome books from the White Rabbit Press store. I’ve purchased flashcards and reading books from them in the past, so rest assured that they are a decent online store. They also have worldwide shipping, which is nice.

Have you used the Nihongo Sou Matome books before? Did they work for you? Let me know in the comments!

14 thoughts on “Nihongo Sou Matome Series Review (日本語総まとめ)”

  1. Hi, I am about to take the JLPTN3 test upcoming in December 2015.
    Say if i used the entire set of Sou Matome N3 (all the books) to study for N3 test, would you think it’s sufficient? If not, what other materials do you recommend?

    Also, do you have other recommended books for practice tests questions? Given that it’s just 1 month away from the test now.

    Thank you and looking forward to your reply.

    • First off, good luck in December!

      Are you planning on buying all of the Sou Matome N3 books? I don’t recommend the grammar one so much, but if you have looked at it and are all right with the content, then it’s ok.

      I would recommend this grammar book, it’s good at making you practice what you learn.
      Try! JLPT N3

      For practicing the test, I would recommend this book
      JLPT N3 Practice Tests and Strategies

      Hope this helps!

  2. Hi KuroPixel, thanks for your advice. Its me again.

    So I had completed the JLPTN3 books of Sou Matome. I would say I had understood about 90% of the syllabus in this set of textbooks. So as a mid-term check on where I am, I did 1 set of papers from the book of “JLPT N3 Practice Tests and Strategies” (at this point of time, I am about 4 weeks away from N3 test on 06Dec2015).

    To my slight horror, I think the practice test was more difficult than the Sou Matome textbooks. The good thing was that a lot of the answers to the practice tests are part of the syllabus from Sou Matome. But when all these syllabus gets put together into a test, my memory starts to fail and what I learnt gets all jumbled up in my head.

    I think the solution is to do more practice tests and again review Sou Matome after doing these tests.
    Do you have even more practice tests to recommend for JLPTN3?

    Thank you!

    • Hey there! If you need more practice, I would recommend this book “日本語能力試験 模試と対策 Vol.2 N3” I understand what you mean about forgetting things. It happens to me all the time, especially with grammar. You just have to keep working at it and you’ll be fine! 🙂

  3. Hi there – anyone took the JLPT N3 December 2015 paper?

    It was unfortunately disastrous for me 🙁 . The grammar and especially the listening section were way higher level than Sou Matome and I find I had to guess the answer for a handful of questions. Oh well, I hope many will have the same view as me.

    Still I think Sou matome is a good set of textbooks for establishing some ground in the language, but I will also do lots of practice questions to train myself in the various shapes and forms the questions can be presented.

    Let’s see how It goes come end Jan 2016 when the results are out.

    • おつかれさま!

      I would recommend the Kanzen Master series for more intense practice.

      Don’t worry about listening. It always seems to be more difficult than practice. I think that’s due to nerves.

      I took the N1. Hard to say if I’ll pass or not. I wish I could know the results sooner!

  4. Hi, to update this thread, I passed my JLPT N3 written in Dec 2015 using the complete set of N3 Soumatome books as well as the practice test papers mentioned above. A sigh of relief and I will look forward to N2 now.

    Thank you.

  5. Hello, I can’t find Nihongo Sou Matome textbooks for N5 and 4 neither on the White Rabbit store or Amazon. Do you have any direct links? A thousand thanks!

    • Hello Hạ Dã! I looked around on White Rabbit Press as well as Amazon Japan. Those books have disappeared! Either the company is preparing new editions or they have been discontinued due to lack of sales? If you can’t get them, you could look at the Try series for N5 or N4.

  6. Hello Everybody!

    I am planning to take the N3 JLPT Exam on December 2017. I am just wondering if 5 to 6 mos of studying the N3 Matome books is enough to prepare for the test. I never had N5 and N4 exams but I have been studying before. I am open to your honest comments. I hope I could also hear from your experiences. Thank you.

    • If you study consistently every day, you could challenge yourself with N3. N3 is tricky because it’s somewhere in between N2 and the old JLPT level 3 (N4). I would recommend doing a practice test and see how you feel about it. I first started the JLPT with N4 even though I thought it was below my level. I ended up passing with flying colors which gave me the confidence and motivation to go to the next level.


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