About

Hey! Thanks for visiting! This site is about how you can learn Japanese without taking classes, by having fun and doing things you enjoy—watching movies, playing video games, reading comic books—you know: fun stuff! Stuff that you feel guilty about doing because you should be doing “serious things”.

Khatzumoto looking friendly for the camera

I am your host, Khatzumoto. My zits have been photoshopped out of that picture. I learned Japanese in 18 months by having fun. In June 2004, at the ripe old age of 21, all post-pubescent and supposedly past my mental/linguistic prime, I started learning Japanese. By September 2005, I had learned enough to read technical material, conduct business correspondence and job interviews in Japanese. By the next month, I landed a job as a software engineer at a gigantic Japanese corporation in Tokyo (yay! 1).

I didn’t take classes (except for a high-level “newspaper reading” class…which merely confirmed that classes, um, suck); I didn’t read textbooks and I had never lived in Japan.

So how did I do it? Well, by spending 18-24 hours a day doing something, anything in Japanese (“all Japanese, all the time”). That sounds like a lot of time to invest, but I was almost as busy as you are: a full-time student majoring in computer science at a university in the armpit of the US (Utah), physically far from Japan and Japanese people. I had computer science coursework, jobs and even a non-Japanese “significant other”. In other words, I had a life.

So what? Well, my point is not that I’m better than you or smarter than you. I am not. I am not special—in fact, I have an embarrassing history of making incredibly dumb mistakes that other people just never make. But I achieved some good results and there were reasons for that, namely:

1. The belief that I could become fluent in Japanese
2. Constantly doing fun stuff in Japanese

A lot of people have since asked me questions like “hey Khatzumoto, how did you do it?”, and lots of Japanese people ask me “hey Khatzumoto, how many years have you lived in Japan?”. The answer to the first question is this website. The answer to the second question is 4 months (as of October 2006). So this site exists for 2 reasons:

1. To tell you how I learned Japanese by having fun, so that you can do it, too.
2. To give you some new cool tools that I did not have, and that would have made things much faster and easier for me.

Now, not everything works for everyone. But I believe that a lot of what you will find on this site will work for you. I am not telling you that I am going to teach you Japanese. I won’t. No one will. No one can. I am telling you that if you start giving your life to Japanese every-single-day-24/7/365, then you will not just learn Japanese, you will become Japanese. And I am telling you that the way to do that is to do fun things and only fun things: boring classes, boring textbooks and whiny classmates are out! Despite what you may have been raised to believe, boredom is not the same as learning; it’s the opposite; it is by enjoying ourselves that we truly learn.

So, if you’re wanting to learn Japanese but don’t know where to start, or if you already know some but want to take it further, and if you want to not just get by in Japanese but to own it, than this site is here for you, to share with you the tools and information that you can use to learn Japanese to native-level fluency.

OK, let’s get into it!

Notes:

  1. As it turns out, I hate working and really the entire concept of a job, so, “not yay”. But it was pretty cool at the time, fulfilling a childhood dream of making the gadgets I used. Anyway, it’s a long story; I’ll tell it to ya sometime. I think you’ll especially enjoy the part where I burned my suit in protest.

  167 comments for “About

  1. T.G
    November 29, 2010 at 00:59

    Hi,
    Found your website through a random Google search and I couldn’t have found it at a better time. I am indeed very interested in learning Japanese thanks to watching lots of anime!
    Thanks!

  2. December 22, 2010 at 13:58

    Cool site, motivational, shaming (been here some years and the old Nihongo not what it should be) and useful. I am going to search through it more and find a way to link out to it from japandemic. Think my readers (and myself) would definitely benefit from it.

    Continued success dude.

  3. May 3, 2011 at 09:22

    de tantas linguas q tem por ai eu so
    me entereso em
    “japones”

  4. May 18, 2011 at 10:04

    Time to vote for your favorite Language Learning Blog 2011 – Lexiophiles bit.ly/k93Xpi

    And AJATT’s there too.

  5. Sam
    July 27, 2011 at 08:01

    Of course one would learn japanese if following your method. Something interesting to think about in the process however would be:

    why would I want to change myself into thinking, living and acting like a japanese? am I not good as I am? Maybe I have low self esteem?

    How can I enjoy life whilst doing this?

    is my fascination for japanese a mere superficial fascination for orientalism, manga-comics et.c?

    • Chagami
      July 27, 2011 at 22:28

      >why would I want to change myself into thinking, living and acting like a japanese? am I not good as I am?

      Unless you’re speaking and reading Japanese, then no, you’re not. :P

      Reading your other comment – bit.ly/n79NGw – I can tell that you don’t really approve of the All Japanese All The Time learning method, but really, why don’t you just learn Japanese your own way without criticizing how we’re doing it? Of course you’re entitled to your own opinion, but we’re here to learn Japanese, not to have our lifestyle called “disgusting” or ask ourselves questions that would make us feel like learning Japanese is pointless.

      Now, I’m entitled to my opinion too, and I’m under the assumption that you’re probably around 12 years old (you obviously don’t think in an adult capacity) so I’m not going to spend any more time arguing with you.

      *Note to 12 year olds/pre-teens: As you probably know, on the whole, you guys are smart and don’t get the respect you deserve, and the reason is people like this who’s making you look bad…

  6. Carol
    August 12, 2011 at 01:34

    OMG! You’re fantastic, I’m learning(i want to xD) Japanese :D

    I love mangas, animes and all that stuff and i really wanna learn something:)

    Thank you for sharing your experience :D 

  7. August 14, 2011 at 15:28

    Hi, I just wanted to say thank you! Your site is fun, inspiring and, most importantly, REALLY helpful for learning a language.  I’ve been “learning” German for years, but have felt stuck, stuck, stuck.  Yet after only a week of applying some of the things here I have had a fundamental shift in my attitudes and language thinking and have expanded my German knowledge more than I thought possible in that short time. 
    Today I was able to sit with my nearly 90 year old Austrian grandmother and listen to her tell me our family stories about the Holocaust in her mother tongue.  It was incredibly moving, and by speaking in German with her I learned details and nuances I’d never known before.  I am so grateful to have this chance.
    Thanks Again,
    Alissa

  8. December 16, 2011 at 23:49

    You inspired me to learn japanese again

  9. Online Dictionary
    March 20, 2012 at 20:48

    Dear Khatzumoto

    Keep on doing what you do, you motivate a lot of people learning Japanese! It is a great, beautiful language.

  10. Irrel Evant
    November 30, 2012 at 06:54

    Thanks for such a clear summary of what I’ve been bleating at initially skeptical students for years.

    Whether you are 4 or 114, if you learned to speak one language, you can learn to speak as many others as you WANT, and are able to devote your personal time and energy to learning, and you will do a whole lot like you learned that first one: We are human beings, we learn the languages we hear.

    I put “WANT” in all caps because it’s key. And only applicable to languages you learn after early childhood. Those come free. The thing that makes language learning different for adults is that we have to want to learn that language more than we want to do something else!

  11. Livonor
    January 8, 2013 at 12:03

    LOL this picture changes every day

  12. April 15, 2013 at 00:28

    I’m an EFL lecturer at Kwansei Gakuin University in Osaka, Japan, and I’ve developed the following vocabulary-learning game which uses wordlists imported from Quizlet, making the content customizable by teachers/users:
    itunes.apple.com/us/app/lex-word-game/id590379237?mt=8&uo=4
    Online version: www.lexwordgameapp.com
    I wanted to design a game that went beyond the usual multiple choice or drag’n’drop matching kind of game that are the usual CALL game offerings, which aren’t very game-like and only require word recognition from the user.
    I thought you may be interested, and would appreciate it if you could also let others know about it. Any feedback would be most welcome.
    For Japanese, try it out with lists such as ‘yojijukugo’ and ‘Japanese names’
    Best,
    Oliver Rose

  13. July 7, 2013 at 05:14

    Bro! such an irony that you chose japanese! Anyways I really love the picture.. and the …cat lzozozlzlzlzl thanks

  14. August 8, 2013 at 02:16

    This is awesome! I started a language blog for precisely the same reason – only that I haven’t thought about spending just as much time with this (I do Afrikaans, so I haven’t really come across any cool video games or films in Afrikaans just yet and my approach is based on entirely free resources, so I’m taking it a bit easier time-wise).

    Just yesterday night, I went on Reddit, because I didn’t know how to best advertise my own blog and someone recommended you to me. About two years ago, I’d done Japanese and got to an advanced level where I could’ve managed JLPT 3. …But there was no commitment and ultimately, I lost interest too quickly (too many interests, no particular goal).

    Your blog gives me confidence that this can be done! And that, after my Afrikaans Challenge I should keep it up for Japanese – as I’ve still got so much material to go through.

  15. August 8, 2013 at 02:18

    I do admit that I used Japanesepod101 for studying Japanese and watched lots of Anime. Don’t think such thigns exist for Afrikaans. But I’m currently still collecting all kinds of advice I can get, so I’ll make sure and browse your blog a little more! Thanks a lot for the great inspiration!

  16. 吉本荒野
    December 14, 2013 at 13:34

    Is Momoko also a software engineer? :o

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  19. April 20, 2014 at 11:09

    Omg. I used to think that I studied Korean a lot. I can go for like 5-8 hours a day. You have me MEGA beat. I’m trying to understand where you got that amount of time to dedicate to studying. Are your days longer? Do you somehow harness the 36 hour day? Lol, just kidding. Good on you. I hope that I can become fluent in Korean within the next year. Especially since it took you just over a year(?) to develop ridiculously high fluency.

    –Charm

  20. Shironamushin
    May 20, 2014 at 22:06

    hey im moving to Japan in a few weeks and Im interested in hanging out with you sometime… let me know if you have time. Ill be living in Oosaka. I know you live in COBE but Im shore I could come down for a weekend and hang with you.

  21. July 29, 2014 at 07:53

    18-24 hours a day?! Wow that’s amazing and a lot of dedication, but it clearly has paid off. How did you do it whilst studying too?!

  22. August 31, 2014 at 04:52

    Dude, why do you always look so mean in all your pics?

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