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HABU Yoshiharu’s “The Big Picture”, Part 5: Why You’re Wrong to Have Intermediate Angst

  • 「最も悩む局面が、最も面白い」 1
  • “The parts of the game [situations] where you worry the most are actually the most fun and interesting parts”.
  • 最も=もっとも
  • 悩む=なやむ
  • 局面=きょくめん 2
  • 面白い=おもしろい

“The parts of the game where you worry the most are actually the most fun and interesting parts”. Now, on the face of it, this sounds very un-AJATTy, being as it is that our Prime Directive here is to “have fun”. It sounds like masochism, and not just the all-for-show, binge-in-private, wishy-washy, pseudo-Darwinian, Anglo-Saxon kind (ASM), but some of that hardcore, under-the-table, suffer-in-silence Yamato Japanese stuff 3.

But that’s where you’re wrong.


Yoshi Habs’ insight, the way I read it, that is, the way it hit me, actually relates to intermediate angst. And it’s basically saying this: the fact that you still have a lot of phrases to learn in order to reach the stage of “not sucking” 4 means that you need never be bored.

Being an intermediate learner, therefore, should not be a source of consternation, but rather one of relief. The relief of ALWAYS HAVING SOMETHING TO DO. You always have a newspaper headline you could be MCDing. You always have a YouTube video you could be watching. You always have a word you could be looking up — and it doesn’t matter what word it is; you can pick any one.

Retired people wish they had your problems. People at the top of their game 5 miss having your problems; they don’t miss sucking, but they do miss the purity, simplicity and clarity of purpose that you now enjoy (assuming, of course, that you are currently at some intermediate level). Because not only do you have a direction, a purpose, but you also have degrees of freedom. If you’re learning Japanese, virtually any and every direction you pick that contains Japanese 6 is good, will send you up, will help you improve. Seriously. Anything.

And that’s why enjoyment matters, because enjoyment leads to repetition. Repetition leads to continuation (habit). And continuation leads to unlimited power (muahahahaaa) #ItouMakoto. It’s a pretty sweet deal. Yoga said all these things in the prequel, but they got edited out so there’d be more Jar-Jar scenes #choices.

That’s all for now. More later!

Series Navigation


  1. [【1094冊目】羽生善治『大局観』 – 自治体職員の読書ノート]
  2. It’s interesting to note that the words 大局観 — which is in the title of the book (大局観(たいきょくかん)) — and 局面 (きょくめん) are related in terms of sharing the 局(きょく) character. A “局” can mean a single game of shogi. A 局面 is a situation (both in shogi and more generally). The 局面 is a dynamic, small-to-mid-size picture where the 大局 is the big, overall picture. HABU wants uz to take the big picture view (the (世界)観((せかい)かん)in 大局観), because, like looking down on a city from a mountain, it clears the mind of extraneous B.S. and helps uz think and act clearly.
  3. (Japanese masochism, in its societal ubiquity and personal intensity, is literally off the chain [most stereotypes about Japan are false, but the ones about (over)work are more than 100% true — far from being exaggerations, they even understate the severity of the problem], but that’s a story for another day)
  4. (because, remember, we never stop learning, but we do stop sucking — improvement is an infinite process made up of finite parts (winnable games), but suckage, non-suckage and even excellence are all finite)
  5. (if they have a good memory of their origins in suckage)
  6. except for romaji, because f### romaji lol

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