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Are You a Three-Day Monk?

Some people, no — a lot of people — have asked me, “18 months? WOW! But that’s a miracle! Isn’t that a bit short? Are you BSing us? You must be really smart”.

Well, let me tell you three secrets. First, I am not BSing you. Second, I am not preternaturally intelligent. I’m just normal, at best. Probably worse ;). The third secret is the most important. It’s the answer to the question: “Why did I achieve fluency in Japanese in such a short time?”.

Because I didn’t stop. I didn’t take a break from it. There was no time off; there was no holiday; there was no hiatus. From June 2004 up until the day I first had a job interview in Japanese (September 3, 2005), and up to the present day, there has not been a single day in my life when Japanese was not THE dominant activity or linguistic force in my life. I have not gone a day without hearing a native speaker of Japanese explain, argue or sing something to me. I have not gone a day without reading some amount of Japanese text. I have tried not to go a day without writing out some Japanese just for the practice.

For all of that crucial learning time, I wasn’t in Japan; I had never been to Japan; I was at a university in the United States, walking around campus in my purple sweatpants. But that was no excuse — so even though I was taking college classes in English, I took my notes on them in Japanese. Wherever possible, I bought Japanese editions of my computer science textbooks. If I were in a religion with a compulsory day of rest, I would have gotten Japanese translations of those religious texts. Total immersion. Overwhelming force. You know what I mean; we’ve been down this road before.

Stop stopping. Stopping is the worst thing. Stopping breaks your momentum. Stopping is the start of decay and regression. When you choose to stop, you set yourself the task not only of getting back up to the same speed as before but also to the same altitude — the same level of Japanese. Taking a break from Japanese will hurt your Japanese. A lot. Each time you stop, you lengthen the road to fluency. When you stop, you quite literally become like Sisyphus: forever pushing the rock of your Japanese ability up the hill, only to have it roll down each time you pause. And just like Sisyphus, you have to retread the same ground to get back up where you were. Always restoring, never progressing; it’s a huge freaking waste of time.

Sure, Japanese is quite different from English. Sure, it’s unique. Sure, it uses more unique symbols than English in writing. But none of that is the problem; none of that is holding you back. After all, millions of very normal human beings have become very good Japanese speakers. The problem lies with the act of and tendency toward, stopping.

I love singing my own praises. And I love casting stones, people, but unfortunately I am not without sin. I’ve been “studying” Chinese since late 1998 or so, but I’ve stopped more times and for longer periods than I care to freely admit in a public forum such as this. From 1999-2001, I didn’t do any Chinese at all (I would sit around feeling guilty about not doing it, but that doesn’t count). From 2001-2004, I took some Chinese classes off and on, but was distracted by my desperate search for tools and methods that would allow long-term memorization of large numbers of Chinese characters (thanks to Piotr Wozniak, Rick Harbaugh, Mary Noguchi, Chris Houser and James Heisig, that problem is now solved). And then since 2004, Chinese has been taking a big back seat to Japanese.

Does that mean it takes “years” or “a lifetime” to study Chinese? No, it means if you keep turning the oven off, the goose will never cook; it’ll barely even thaw. So turn the oven on, and keep it on, friends.

Now, if you have stopped, don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world — just leave stopping behind you for good! No more binge-studying for you! I’m not one of those starry-eyed Japanophiles who’s always like “you know, the Japanese have a word for that”. But, you know what? The Japanese do have a word for that! It’s called being a 三日坊主(みっ・か・ぼう・ず) — a “three-day monk”: being intensely hardcore, committed and righteous in a cause, only to fall back into old patterns after a relatively short time.

You are not a 三日坊主. You are not a three-day monk.. No Japanese learning monsoons followed by Japanese droughts for you. You study (play) Japanese every day. You have a minimum fixed number of new kanji or sentences that you learn on a daily basis. You have a minimum fixed number of old kanji or sentences that you review on a daily basis. Maybe it’s 50 new and 100 reviews. Maybe 30 new and 100 reviews. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you make daily, quantifiable progress. And of course, when you’re not actively playing (studying) Japanese, you have your environment backing you up.

Always remember, this is a race of tortoises and hares. It’s not intelligence or “talent”, but CONSISTENCY that will win the day for you.

OK, end of lecture :). I’m going to go take some of my own advice…

  64 comments for “Are You a Three-Day Monk?

  1. CajunCoder
    April 12, 2007 at 03:21

    I could not agree more with your overall philosophy of studying a language – immersion and persistence truly are the key. However, I’ve been wondering why you don’t write a bit in Japanese? It seems like it would be more fitting (overlooking the fact that the people you are targeting this at most likely aren’t very good at Japanese yet.)

    Nonetheless, I think the more advanced readers would enjoy reading what you have to say about Japanese in Japanese.

  2. Qin Shi Huang
    April 12, 2007 at 04:13

    Yes, that just about sums up the difficulties I’ve faced in studying Chinese. Three-day monk, indeed.

    *hangs head in shame*

    I’m doing much better in this regard nowadays, though. Onward to victory!

    I’m curious, btw, since you say you studied Chinese for awhile: how useful is Heisig’s book Remembering the Kanji in studying Hanzi? Technically, I know they’re the same thing, but I understand that there are important enough differences that using the book to study Chinese characters might be a mistake. Should I still give Heisig a shot if Japanese study still looks like it will be a long way in the future?

    Thanks! Whenever I’m in a language slump, I always find this particular page to be a good morale booster. Keep up the good work. 🙂

  3. khatzumoto
    April 12, 2007 at 09:40

    Hey CajunCoder,

    Thanks a lot for your comment. I’ve been waiting for someone to say that! I kept the Japanese to a minimum, because I was afraid of alienating or intimidating people whose level isn’t as advanced yet.

    Let me bounce a few ideas off you:

    A lot of humor and allusion does survive translation. But quite a bit doesn’t, as well. If I were to post more in Japanese there are two possibilities:

    1. The material would be both linguistically and culturally Japanese.

    2. The material would be linguistically Japanese but culturally Anglospheric or Anglosphere-Japanese hybrid.

    Option 1. When I write for (and indeed speak to) a Japanese audience, I tend to go for option (1), where the entire tone, style and content represent my best efforts to imitate a Japanese person, or at least things I’ve read and heard a Japanese person do. My fear with option (1) is that it will only be funny to Japanese people and/or to people who know a lot of Japanese language AND pop culture. At the very least, elliptical references might require explanation. Not that I would be making deep literary allusions, but things like train jokes/metaphors only make sense once you’ve either consciously sought information about trains in Japan, or ridden on them.

    Option 2. I (try to?) act Japanese in many ways, but I am of course still connected to my pre-Japanese self; I still very much find things like Jon Stewart, Dave Chappelle and Dave Barry very funny. It’s not like my posts are a laugh-a-minute, but there is this occasional hint of humour that comes up in them, plus they have this balanced tone that’s a mixture of (a) formal, (b) colloquial and (c) trying to appear erudite by using Latin phrases. Now, if I were to write that in Japanese, I’m afraid that I would end up with option (2)–essentially English-language style and humor being re-told in Japanese, full of what many Japanese people call アメリカンジョーク (”American joke(s)”)…And this hybrid would only be appealing to English speakers who know Japanese. And I wonder–would it even be real Japanese any more?

    Of the two, option (1) seems like the logical choice. However, there’s plenty of good, funny native-speaker-written Japanese out there, so I guess I’m concerned about the possibility that I wouldn’t be adding value to the world (on the other hand, you are effectively saying that it would be valuable, so I should keep that in mind).

    So let me summarize…my Japanese writing at its best is an accurate and very conscious imitation of  the Japanese writers I have read; which is fine when writing technical material that calls for simplicity and directness above any verbal acrobatics. On the other hand, my English writing feels more like “just me”; even my technical writing in English has sass. In order for my Japanese writing to be really good (or at least for me to feel good about it), it needs to be equally very Japanese and equally “me”. But I worry that that “me” will fall at either fall at one of the extremes of (“Japanese-Japanese”/”foreign-Japanese”), OR fall in between and thus appeal to no one. The question is on of voice. What is my voice to be?…I guess I’m being arrogant in assuming that Japanese-style-Japanese won’t appeal to non-Japanese people, especially since that’s a core idea of this site–that people learning Japanese can and should learn Japanese that is as authentic as possible. Perhaps I am making that great mistake of textbook writers: underestimating the capabilities of readers.
    As it is, I had felt that the best Japanese-language contribution I could make was in the form of a basic/intermediate beginners’ reader like “Dick and Jane”, since there aren’t nearly enough of those around, not even in “real” book form; I haven’t posted the new episodes precisely because they seemed to be drifting in the direction of option (1), and they lacked enough repetition, which is especially bad since it is repetition that makes readers tick, I think.

    Anyway, that’s what’s going through my mind right now. What do you think? Please do let me know your opinion, because it’s something I would definitely like to start if it will be of value to people and fill a desire that’s out there. I know that this is, ultimately, something I need to sort out alone, but your input (and anyone else’s) would be very much appreciated.

  4. khatzumoto
    April 12, 2007 at 09:58

    Hey Qin Shi Huang

    Thanks for your comment!

    >I’m curious, btw, since you say you studied Chinese for awhile: how useful is Heisig’s book Remembering the Kanji in studying Hanzi? Technically, I know they’re the same thing, but I understand that there are important enough differences that using the book to study Chinese characters might be a mistake. Should I still give Heisig a shot if Japanese study still looks like it will be a long way in the future?

    Nes (“no and yes”). Heisig’s book is useful for Chinese, but not directly so. In fact, let me confess something to you: I did not learn out of Heisig’s book. I used Heisig’s *method* and applied it to just about all 4280 or so characters in Rick Harbaugh’s dictionary at; I was at the time pursuing a sort of simultaneous mother-of-all-scorched-earth-lighting-wars strategy to learn both Chinese and Japanese. The first stage of this strategy was to learn a lot of kanji in the “write out the character from memory when given an English keyword” fashion of Heisig.
    1. Since Chinese actively uses more kanji/hanzi than Japanese, it made sense to learn the characters of a larger set.
    2. Since fantizi (traditional characters) are still considered official characters in Japan (they are not COMMON, but technically you are still allowed to use them; they are still acknowledged as the “official” or “actual” character, of which the post-WW2 simplifications are merely “abbreviations”–略字(りゃく・じ, abbreviation characters); this, at least, is my understanding of the law/policy), it makes sense to learn the fantizi. In my experience, one can write fantizi and be understood anywhere in the Sinosphere (even in Mainland China), but jiantizi (brutalized characters…ouch…that was harsh) often do not provide enough info to be useful. I don’t want to get into the jianti/fanti argument, suffice it to say I am a fanti bigot and I use them exclusively.
    3. Since it’s easier to make the jump down from fantizi to jiantizi than the other way around, it makes further sense to learn fantizi first.
    4. Finally, because of this information carry-over and because most kanji remain fanti in Japanese, when you learn a lot of fantizi, you do not need to go back and “relearn” using Heisig’s book.

    So, Heisig’s book is a useful reference for a hanzi learner, but since the J-govt decided to do things like abbreviate 擔 as 担, “Remembering the Kanji”, it don’t think one should use it as the primary learning book, lest you be led slightly astray.

    I’ve made up all these stories for the hanzi on; I was wanting to put them together in a real/online book. When I heard James Heisig and Timothy Richardson were planning the same, I shelved that idea, but it’s been a while and their book still isn’t out, so maybe the time is ripe to do something…

  5. konta
    April 14, 2007 at 09:14

    >I was wanting to put them together in a real/online book.

    That would be awesome! Please do!

  6. james
    April 16, 2007 at 05:55

    Hello kahtzumoto,

    I’ve also been wondering when you were going to start writing in Japanese on this web page. Pehaps you could write one of your next articles in Japanese and see how the response is.

    On another note one problem I have been encountering is that my speaking ability is still lacking considerably, My understanding of written/spoken Japanese has increased hugely since I started following your method but my speaking is still frustratingly idiotic sounding.

    Whenever I speak I always try and thik of the sentence but the word just never seem to come out right .

    What did you to alleviate this problem? (if you ever had it)james

  7. khatzumoto
    April 16, 2007 at 13:14

    >Whenever I speak I always try and thik of the sentence but the word just never seem to >come out right .
    >What did you to alleviate this problem?

    Hey James,

    Yeah, at any given time, there was (IS) always this lag between what you can read/hear/understand (input), and what you can output. But, you can and will bridge the gap. One partial solution is to ramp up the input–watch, read and listen to EVEN MORE of the things you want to say. A problem I had was that I was trying to say the latest, coolest most complex words and sentences I had learned. But that’s really no good. Of course, you’re going to say more complex things as you go on, but in my experience, a lot of it just comes naturally. Like, when you’ve finally seen a commercial so many times that you know the words, or when you’ve seen a movie so many times that you know the dialogue; because of your extensive exposure, it will almost just come out. Having said that, I definitely suggest you force nature’s hand slightly, by exposing yourself heavily to the kind of words you want to know. Get dozens of sentences of the same word. Watch and re-watch shows. I had to watch a TON of nature documentaries (sometimes the same one over and over and over again) before I was able to casually roll off words like “順風満帆(じゅん・ぷう・まん・ぱん, smooth sailing), “脊椎動物” (せき・つい・どうぶ・つ, vertebrate)” and “節足動物” (せっ・そく・どう・ぶつ, arthropod) in a conversation. I had to watch a similar amount of news before I was able to parody journalese (“逮捕されたのは・・・”).

    >Whenever I speak I always try and thik of the sentence but the word just never seem to >come out right .
    So, to repeat, input precedes output. A LOT of input precedes output. It will come out correctly and virtually effortlessly, but only once it’s gone in “deep” enough. (See Stephen Krashen for details here: and here: and of course here:

    Another thing you can do is actually learn more of the simple, native-Japanese (as in, non-Chinese-derived) words, especially action verbs (引く、引っ張る、貼る、くっつく) and physical relation words (傍(そば)、横(よこ), because these are powerful in allowing you to explain your way through even the most complex of concepts. Also, they get a lot of mileage–just as the words “get” and “set” in English get heavily used, a word like 掛ける(かける) or 合う(あう) will take you far; I used to be upset that one word could be so loaded with different meanings, but I imagine that the reason why such meaning-heavy words came to exist in the first place is because native speakers forget words, too, so they just turn certain words into workhorses.

    Remember to keep it simple and straightforward; don’t do what I did and always try to pull off clever turns of phrase–sure,they sound cool, but using them is popping language wheelies where just cycling will more than do. Think of a child (say, age 6 to 10) who is a native speaker of Japanese or any language–they probably don’t have that big of an active vocab, they may understand a lot, but they speak plainly and correctly…you might try aiming for that simplicity.

    That, at least, has been my way of dealing with it…I know it’s not the fastest or sexiest of solutions, but it works in the end. If anyone comes up with something better, let me know! And don’t worry, just keep learning things and one day soon, they’ll be ready for primetime.
    >My understanding of written/spoken Japanese has increased hugely
    That’s something to be very proud of. You’re on the right track.
    The methods on the site owe a huge debt to AntiMoon. See what they said about this, here:

  8. khatzumoto
    April 16, 2007 at 13:50

    Hey James

    And another thing! You once very astutely named this method the “文章方法”. How right you are. One great way to bridge the gap between your input and output is through manga.

    But not just any manga. You need family-comedy manga like あたしンち and クレヨンしんちゃん, and any 少女漫画 (しょう・じょ・まん・が, girl-oriented manga) like 「春よ、来い」(はる よ、こい). In other words, you need manga containing real-daily-life dialogue. Unfortunately, this rules out most 少年漫画(しょう・ねん・まん・が, boy-oriented manga), and military/sci-fi manga like 新世紀エヴァンゲリオン (しん・せい・き・エヴァンゲリオン、Neon Genesis Evangelion), because they have a HUGE proportion of lines like “正体不明の物体、海面に姿を現しました!” and “只今から本作戦の指導権を碇司令官に移った。” which is totally cool, except that it simply won’t make it’s way into everyday speech. I know. I tried. Of course, Evangelion has normal dialogue, too. But, if you’re anything like me, the geek in you is too strong and the draw of kanji words like “正体不明” too powerful to resist. You need to bring balance to the Force; you need to go for something that’s ALL normal dialogue.

  9. April 19, 2007 at 16:18

    Hey khatzumoto

    You say to read girl’s manga, but just a word of warning. I know someone who studied Japanese at university and has spent some time being paid to translate manga into English. Because of this her reading is great, but speaking is poor. Now she’s in Japan so getting lots of speaking practice, but keeps saying very male phrases as that’s what she’s been reading all the time.

    I’d be worried about sounding feminine if I read girl’s manga…

  10. khatzumoto
    April 19, 2007 at 22:13

    Hey Matt,

    You’re absolutely right, there is the danger of speaking like the opposite sex. One way around that is to make sure you only imitate the speech patterns of characters of the same gender as you. When distinctly opposite-sex speech comes up, be consciously aware that it’s not something you should imitate, and then you should be fine.

    Also, I said “girl manga”, but what I really should have said is “love manga” or something. The line can be blurry, but…girl manga is just plain gross and girly (and seems to me to lack boy dialogue), whereas “love manga” is more soap operatic in a “The O.C.” kind of way. Whatever the classification, manga without the three ‘S’ words; no swords (i.e. no period manga), no sports (incuding martial arts) and no spaceships (including robot spaceships) and with a decent gender balance in dialogue, can make for enjoyable learning of everyday speech.

    When I sit back and think about it, perhaps we’re being too prescriptive. Since we’ll need to understand the opposite gender anyway, then even though it may have the effect of skewing your speech patterns one way or another, reading even girly girl manga isn’t the worst thing in the world; speaking from experience as someone who used to sound a bit weird (I used to have only two voices: “polite phone operator” and “yakuza”) it does wear off; you tune your speech and find balance, and in the process, you’ll learn all kinds of cool ways of speaking Japanese.

    As always, I think that input and comprehension of input matter most, and output will eventually take care of itself with little effort; we need only pile on the input. So don’t let fear of being “soiled”, or even the humorous memory of your boyish-sounding female friend, lead you to limit yourself in terms of reading materials; ultimately, nothing’s going to “mess you up”, nothing’s going to hurt your Japanese except lack of comprehension; in learning a language, more knowledge is never a disadvantage; ignorance always is. You sacrifice a lot to study Japanese; you deserve fun and freedom of choice in return. So if you enjoy something and it’s in Japanese, then fundamentally it is good for you.

    It doesn’t really matter what you read, only that you do read.
    Thanks for your comment! A lot of people can benefit from your advice there.
    Your opinions, personal stories and insights are always welcome :).


  11. Dagur
    September 17, 2008 at 08:44

    > (I used to have only two voices: “polite phone operator” and “yakuza”)

    That really made me laugh.
    I just want to say that I think your website/blog/book is really inspiring and well written and I can’t wait to get to work. I’m also on the market for an mp3 player that’s not an ipod.

  12. Ryan
    September 20, 2008 at 23:39

    Great website. Well written.

    To the people who are learning japanese:
    What are your reasons for studying Japanese?
    Is it work related?
    Or maybe you have interest in it?

    This is for those who have interest in japanese, not for those who have to take it for mandatory reasons.

    If you REALLY are interested in japanese then I don’t see how it can become boring to you as far as studying goes. I believe there is no perfect method. Just take what works for you from experience and drop the ones that don’t help you improve.

    For instance I took the SRS method that I read about in this website and incorporated it into my studies. I also learn new verbs by writing sentences out from japanese songs.

    If studying japanese becomes boring for you then you have a flase sense of interest.
    My interest in learning japanese should not even be called an interest, it’s a passion.

    But I guess I can see how it may become boring. So the only advice I can give for those that find it boring is to switch your routine up and to actually start thinking for yourselves. If you’ve been studying for 1 year and you have not seen alot of improvement then think to yourself about what you’re doing wrong and what you can do to fix it. Don’t stick to one method of studying.
    The main thing to do is to always learn something new everyday wether it be vocab, verbs, a new kanji, or new grammar.

    So now I would simply like to thank khatzumoto for this great website and the new ideas that I got from it. The SRS method works for me.

  13. Ryan
    September 20, 2008 at 23:51

    I forgot to mention this real quick.

    There is a HUGE difference between quitting and taking a break!
    It’s not good to not take a break. I learned from my own experience. Studying japanese is good. I’ve been doing it for 2.5 years. IF YOU DON’T TAKE A BREAK FROM IT YOU WILL BURN OUT! Taking a break for 2 weeks every 5 months or so allows me to come back to japanese with brutal studying. It’s weird but I feel refreshed after doing so and I seem to retain information better. I guess you can use the analogy of an athlete who sprains his ankle then takes time off to heal and do physical therapy then comes back stronger than ever.

  14. Serik
    December 17, 2008 at 04:23

    Why did you start learning japaneese?

  15. matt
    December 27, 2008 at 04:32

    So, if you studied Chinese first, how many kanji did you know prior to starting your studies of Japanese. Could that have been a factor in how fast you were able to get comfortable with a large number of kanji?

  16. miri
    January 29, 2010 at 04:19

    awesome article, thank you

    btw, I think it’s spelled Sisyphus and not Ciciphus

  17. zapi
    April 30, 2010 at 12:30

    After reading this article (and many more) I am now convinced that I will try this method out, curiously enough it was just one word in this article that pushed me. 三日坊主.

    I read the first 20 or so introductionary pages to Heisigs sample e-book yesterday night, I wasn’t very involved and kind of did it one eye on the text and the other on my phone. and today when I woke up I continued browsing this website for more information and help before I made the commitment to immerse myself.

    In the first lesson of his book, there was a couple of base kanjis, 三 and 日 being 2 of them. And when I saw 三日坊主 I instantly recognized the first 2 characters as “three” and “day”, and my world just stopped right there and I had this weird sensation, like when you stare at an optical illusion for a while before finally figuring it out. The moment when the pictures snap in place and everything aligns in your head. It was the ending of “The Sixth Sense” and Bruce Willis is my Three-Day Monk. It wasn’t very big, but the moment it happened I knew that I had to give this system a shot, to pursue that sensation and attempt to repeat it.

    So I thank you.

  18. Koneko
    June 26, 2010 at 12:00

    I descovered something awefull today… I seem to be a 3-day-monk! I mean, I’ll work diligently for a week or so, 10+ hours of listening, 20 or so kanji, and as many reviews as I can a day… (in the kanji area im not very hardcore, but I do work, at least) Then I’ll have one ‘family day’ where Im out of the house for more than 5 hours and its gone. All of it. My momentum freezes and I sit in silence, or worse, listening to english TV.

    I think the main thing that makes it hard to start back up is imputing Kanji to my SRS… Are there any tips anyone has for making that fun again? Ive just passed the 100 mark but Ive only put in 79 kanji, because it just seems boring. I know I should put them in so I can reveiw them, but I cant seem to focus… I get destracted and start looking up anime or anything else. So if anyone could give me tips I would be more than happy.

  19. アンソニー
    January 20, 2012 at 10:04

    The ‘hare’ from the “Tortoise and the Hare” story is actually a three day monk with a bunny mask.

  20. Eliane
    June 23, 2012 at 05:05

    I found out your site today and I’ve been reading during this afternoon.
    I’ve studyied japanese and quit, and I was thinking on going back cause I miss it. But The reason I’m writing here is because I am a 3-day-monk, and I’ve been struggling with that all my life, I always start things and quit. Like with the gym, I do it during a month and I’m out, always. I love languages, but I wanna improve my english, learn more french and learn japanese again, I’ve forgot most of it.
    The thing is, I’m trying to learn how to not be a 3-day-monk, this was the first time I heard about it but it’s perfect to describe, but I really don’t know how.

    • June 23, 2012 at 23:12

      I understand how you feel! I think the answer to your question – how to not be a 3-day monk – is instead of making Japanese a planned activity, just apply Japanese as the working language to things you already do. Do you use your computer? Use it with a Japanese OS. Do you watch anime? Watch it in Japanese (without English subs). Of course this is easier said than done, but if you continue reading this website, you’ll find a path to doing it that will suit your needs.
      lol I’m not sure if what I said will help or scare you off from trying…. if it makes it any better, remember, you did learn at least one language this way already, so I *know* you can do it again 🙂

    • イリサ
      June 24, 2012 at 04:05

      What’s fun for you about Japanese?  Do that. Do as much of that as you like, but no more. Find other fun things and do them, too. Is there some way you can just make Japanese part of your environment? Do that.
      I tollowed the typical arc of most J-learner-forgetters. I took classes for about a year, they became too much of a chore, I stopped studying.
      But I never stopped watching (subtitled) ドラマ, and years later I re-started studying. I’m pretty sure I’d have stopped again if I hadn’t stumbled across AJATT. There’s nifty stuff here about SRSes and sentence mining and all that but absolutely the most important thing for me here was the notion that I could play. I could eat all the Japanese junk food I wanted. I could chain-click random Japanese music videos until I found stuff I liked. I could spend my free time browsing or other Japanese twitter-like things. The world, it turns out, is my oyster.
      Folks are motivated by different things. There was someone in one of my classes who absolutely loved studying keigo for a month. I found it super frustrating to be stalled on something I had only a passing interest in. (And so I loved in Karei Naru Spy when Tomoya Nagase’s character is told to use keigo when addressing the PM; 「しらねえな、そんな日本語。」) Things that make Japanese not fun will make you want to do something not-Japanese.
      Have fun. Be a mess. Have japanese bookmarks so you can look at stuff whenever. Keep Anki open and do a couple of minutes when you’re idle. Carry Japanese reading material with you. Watch trashy J-TV. Learn Japanese songs and sing in the shower. Make what’s fun about Japanese something that’s always (or as always as you can make it) accessible. A little Japanese every day is better than a lot followed by none.

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