I've tried learning Japanese on several occasions way back when I was in 7th grade (I'm 23 now) just because I was very interested in the language. I found a good website and used it for a while, but eventually the website went offline and has been since.
So I gave up on learning for a few years, and tried once more when I was in high school by buying some study guides...but studying for school and applying for colleges quickly interfered.
In college I tried learning some more through the Rosetta Stone program that my roommate had. His brother used it to help him study Japanese in conjunction with taking formal classes. His brother is spending a few years in Japan doing Christian Missionary work (not my thing, but at least I got some studying done because of it).
But the Rosetta Stone didn't teach me a lot of things that I felt that I needed to know. Maybe because it was a much older version than the ones today, but I'm not sure. It jumped right in to teaching me vocabulary without even mentioning the Hiragana or Katakana, which I thought was weird. And it seemed like arbitrary words like "horse" and "elephant" were among the first few words.
So I eventually found a great website called Nihongo Resources
. The site has a lot of areas that are not finished, but the section I use mostly is the "Lessons" section.
Start with lessons 0, which will teach you the Hiragana and Katakana, as well as the proper strokes for writing them. I found it extremely informative.
I practiced writing and memorizing them all every day over my sophomore winter break, and eventually moved on to Lesson 1.
Each lessons has word lists, phrases, an introduction, and kanji for the word lists. It also provides history on some phrases, how to properly use them, how it differs from English, etc etc. Very very helpful. I learned a lot from that website.
I think Rosetta Stone and it's counterpart, Pimsleur, are good for an introduction to a language, but the two best ways to really learn it is to either take a formal class or to immerse yourself in the language.
For example, watching probably over a hundred subtitled anime shows over the past 6 years has taught me more Japanese than any book or lesson ever has. Of course, you need to watch them with the plan on learning the language in your mind. Watching mindlessly and reading the text isn't going to be as effective as actively paying attention to what is being said and what you're reading.
You'll quickly pick up vocabulary and eventually verb conjugations too.
Unfortunately, school got in the way again for me and I had to stop learning the language for a while.
I recently started up again because I have more time and I also bought the newest Rosetta Stone lessons for Japanese.
FFXIV or not, I'm definitely going to keep studying the language. Knowing that FFXIV is coming out and with cross-region servers just gives me another reason.
tl:dr version: Yes
EDIT: The website also has a 308 page downloadable (free) book written by the author called "an introduction to Japanese syntax, grammar and language" on the website. I just found this now. Edited, Sep 10th 2009 5:23pm by Finaa