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How To Do Immersion: A Day In The Life of Khatzumoto

I often get asked “Khatz, what was your typical day like? Give me a day in the life of Khatzumoto”.

In the long, sad history of dumb questions and requests, this is perhaps the dumbest request/question of all. I hate this freaking question. What good does it do you to know that I like toast and honey? I don’t know what kind of days you think my life consists of, but it just wouldn’t help you to know.

We all live different lives, have different professions and run on different schedules. Knowing what schedule I had when I was an undergraduate student 4+ years ago, will help you about as much as an extra orifice on your elbow. So, not a lot.

I’m sorry to be so flippant 1, but I really, really effing hate that question and the earnestness with which it’s asked. Yeah, it’s not the question, it’s the earnestness. I ran away from authority and having to follow other people’s plan; I want the same for you. I want you to have your fun, live your life, do things your way. Because you can. And because it works; it just works better that way.

Anyway, enough whining from me.

Here’s how you do immersion.

  1. Take a day in your life. Not my life. Your life.
  2. During the parts that your eyes are open, make it so that Japanese letters 2 enter your eyes. You don’t have to understand them, they just have to go into your eyes. See Japanese. Eyes open? See Japanese.
    • Do you look at computer screens? Are Japanese letters showing on them? Make it happen.
    • Do you look at walls? Is Japanese stuff on them? Make it happen.
    • Do you look at pieces of paper with ink on them? Do the ink patterns spell out Japanese letters? Make it happen.
  3. During the parts that you are able to hear sounds, make sure that Japanese sounds dominate your hearing. You don’t have to be listening. Just let Japanese sounds enter your ears. Hear Japanese. Ears working? Hear Japanese.
    • Do you use headphones? Do Japanese sounds come out of them? Make it happen.
    • Do you use speakers? Do Japanese sounds come out of them, too? Make it happen.
    • Do you interact with humans? Find the kind that make Japanese sounds. If in doubt, pinch to confirm. Sounds should be forthcoming.

So if you can see or hear, make sure your see and/or hear Japanese. Whatever parts of your day involve using the senses of sight or hearing, make sure that Japanese stains those parts like Italian food on a white shirt.

Make sure that Japanese is visible and audible in your life.  Perpetually, prominently, repeatedly, more-often-than-not, visible and audible. Ask yourself: “What am I seeing? What am I hearing?“. That is the basis of everything. And when you take care of the basics, everything else tends to fall into place on its own.

The end.

Day in the life of Khatzumoto…give me strength. Screw that guy.


  1. No, I’m not.
  2. Shut up.

  29 comments for “How To Do Immersion: A Day In The Life of Khatzumoto

  1. Mattholomew III, Esquire
    January 30, 2011 at 14:21

    But what about Khatzumoto nights? We need instructions for those too!

  2. January 30, 2011 at 16:33

    Well then!

    I’d think people are looking for different ways to do things, perhaps ways they haven’t thought of. Just the other day I had the thought of doing some reps on my iPhone as I brush my teeth. And the idea of listening in my sleep is one I gloriously took from this site. While you offer a lot, I’d think a one day list would point out some things that you may have not even realized yourself that you’re doing. At least, that’s what I was thinking I’d find when I opened this page.

  3. January 30, 2011 at 18:38

    @ Eric: I think what Khatz is saying is don’t worry about what he does in a day in Japanese,worry about what you do in a day in Japanese. Because AJATT really is just about doing whatever the heck you wanna do,but in Japanese. So if you want to do rep on your iPhone while brushing your teeth, do it. As long as it Japanese, it’s all good…

  4. January 30, 2011 at 23:44

    All I’m saying here is that it could give people ideas that they never thought of.

  5. 悪魔
    January 31, 2011 at 05:42

    Sorry in advance if this comes of wrong, but is it me or does it seem that the newer posts on this site seem to have…a negative tone to them? Like he’s gettin increasingly upset.

    • Chagami
      January 31, 2011 at 08:05

      I’ve noticed this as well.

      I think Khatzumoto’s god-like qualities make us forget he’s human 😛 I think the irritated tone may have less to do with AJATT and more to do with personal issues.

      Nonetheless, whatever the matter may be, it’ll be alright Khatz! And if it really has to do with us, let us know! 🙂

      • Maya
        January 31, 2011 at 10:47

        I think Khatz is just becoming more open/honest.

        When he first started writing for this blog, he needed to be upbeat and polite and encouraging, since he (rightly) assumed that many people who wanted to learn Japanese thought that they were too stupid/white/whatever to do it.

        Now that this site has grown so much, maintaining it and add new (useful) content is prolly becoming more and more of a chore. Dealing with tons and tons of e-mails (many of them from people who don’t read his site first) is also a chore.

        I for one am thankful that Khatz has done so much and kept things upbeat for as long as he has (not to mention that he’s still at it). If it were me, I would’ve gotten pissed/given up long ago.

        Anyway, I’m off to do more kanji reps.


        • Mattholomew III, Esquire
          January 31, 2011 at 15:02

          Let me say what we’ve all been thinking: I think he has been abducted and beamed into a small locked room with a couple of extraterrestrials and an academy cadet so that an alien race can study his interactions with them via team-based problem solving. Meanwhile, blogging rights have been seized by another alien disguised as Khatzumoto, and Riker is getting mighty suspicious. Don’t worry though, LaForge will figure this one out in a jiffy, as usual, then go to sleep alone, as usual. So everyone can just relax.

          • Chagami
            January 31, 2011 at 21:20

            You read my mind! lol 😛

  6. あんど
    January 31, 2011 at 15:17

    Haha, yeah, you seem pretty angry in this one, bro. Still, it’s a great point. And footnote number two made me lol pretty hard. 😛

  7. salem
    January 31, 2011 at 15:30

    I’m about as hardcore as Khatz (I’m immersed at least ~19 hours a day, usually try for 23 – 24) and it really, honestly pays off. It’s hard to even explain; you start learning words and phrases without even looking at a dictionary, monolingual or not. The SRS is a great tool and the best means of retention yet discovered, but if I had to choose between immersion and SRS I’d go with the former every time. I sort of have sympathy for Khatz if he’s a little frustrated because explaining the process doesn’t do it justice. You just have to try it.

    • Chagami
      January 31, 2011 at 21:25

      You sure?? I’ve been at this for like 3 and a half hours and haven’t seen any improvement…

      (Sarcasm, for those who didn’t pick up on it :P)

      • salem
        February 1, 2011 at 09:36

        Another truism that Khatz hammers home often is that if you leave it for too long, you really start to feel it and you end up having to start from a blank slate again. For me that time span is quite literally just a few hours; I have to keep it up or my muscles go flabby.

  8. hermanblue
    January 31, 2011 at 16:31

    Totally agree. It’s like a religion. People are looking for the Messiah. They are always looking for more evidence to proove the method before they would take the first step. The thing is, you’d never know how it actually works unless you are in the method. Sometimes all you need is only to believe in it and do it.

  9. Amelia
    January 31, 2011 at 23:44

    So basically…开卷有益. Yep. That’s the ticket.

  10. February 1, 2011 at 06:00

    Yeah, I think it’s more like we’re the monolingual zombies, and we seek out the polyglot brains to eat. That is we’re instinctively attracted to the living flesh that still retains some of the essence that, for us, was lost long ago.

    Actually, I’m making another honest go at the
    constant listening. My hope never dies. I’d say I’d been watching about an hour or two of Japanese news or anime a day for the last 3 years or so, with the occasional bursts of more intense listening. I had been accumulating random anime off the internet, but my hard drive just totally plugged up. So in order to clear out the massive backlog of files, I’ve been playing these guys on a secondary monitor with a big piece of duct tape, that I can stick on if they have English subs.  

    I am trying to consciously keep my brain from wandering into English thoughts, because I think may be why I have never picked up much from raw TV. It is exhausting. Oddly I find the news easier to take than anime. I think I have just enough reading ability to sort of guess my way through the news, though often I’m completely baffled by anime, and I frequently fall asleep.

    I will make another go at Japanese Harry Potter this year. Honestly, I just got bogged down in vocab when I tried last year and only made it part-way through. I do know for sure that there are words I learned from my last Harry Potter attempt, so I think the ‘novel system’ might be the thing that finally pulls me out of the hole.

    I’ve been writing pretty regularly to lang-8 and getting corrections. My Japanese is still massively textbook-ish but I do find I actually do learn new vocabulary this way, and it keeps my internal dialog from spinning off into incoherent Japanese.

    I have been seeking out meetups and things with Japanese guys, though mostly I fall back to often derided textbook conversation. “どこに住んでいますか” or I totally freeze up and fail. But I have made a go at trying to insert myself into awkward social situations with the idea of hammering language into my brain via extreme social anxiety. Maybe that’ll work.

    What can I say. I’ve been pretty flighty with methods, though I have kept at it. I still suck, but I’m still plugging away.

    • Jason
      February 2, 2011 at 12:53

      Hello, here’s my method for immersion.

      I watch and listen anime/movies/news/podcasts. I usually convert the anime and films into audio files and put them in my IPOD. I listen when I drive to work, sometimes at work. But when I’m work it’s Japanese constantly on my CPU.

      Usually I would play the same audio file again and again. Let’s say I’m watching a Japanese movie and I have no clue what the hell these guys are saying. I would record that part and play it all day everyday, hundreds of times literally. Until I understand what they’re saying. It does work. After a few hundred times, you will just know what they’re talking about. It’s hard to explain. But for me it’s how I do it.

      And news is easier to understand because you know why? The newscasters have to speak CLEARLY to the listeners. That means every word needs to pronounced correctly and no mumbling.

      When you watch a movie or watch a Japanese variety show…these guys mumble, and talk, and mumble, and slur…(which is why I think watching things like Manzai or Jap variety shows are EXTREMELY important, because that’s how people talk).

      Anime is very good as well, but again, the seiyuus talk very, very CLEARLY, the pronounce every word correctly.

      What these guys are saying in a news or anime or variety show isn’t that different.

      What’s different is the pronounciation. A newscaster has to talk perfectly, but a kid off the street would just mumble his words. They could be saying the exact same things.

      • February 2, 2011 at 18:28

        Yeah, I might try something like this with Harry Potter, as I have the Japanese audio book as well as the regular book. Maybe by reviewing the vocabulary in the chapter and then repeatedly listening to the chapter. I’m still having quite a bit of trouble with clear speech, like from anime or news, so I haven’t listened to much natural speech lately.

        In the past, I had been watching this web channel for a bit, where I sometimes heard more natural talking.

        I just checked and I think it’s some kind of infomercial running, which is okay really. I might just let this ramble on for a bit again. I think maybe I am hearing a little better these days, as I can sometimes pick out words via audio and then look them up in a dictionary.

        I’ve tried to force myself to comprehend audio via concentrated listening and it just drives me crazy. The plan I decided on for 2011 was just to listen to random stuff, try to stay awake, and not sweat the lousy listening comprehension, while also pushing ahead with reading. I think a large part of my problem is just vocabulary, and with more words maybe it’ll just fix itself. Then, give a month prior to December for retaking the JLPT N3, which is what I also did for the 2010 JLPT N3, which I’m pretty sure I failed.

  11. stevie
    February 1, 2011 at 10:09

    well, silly Khatz for forgetting that there are no dumb questions (well okay your mileage my vary~), but yeah 🙂 I think there’s a good amount of humour in this post, I mean the tongue is pretty much through the cheek here. at least that’s how I take it.

    And that guide to immersion is pretty much top-notch. I dunno if I’ve ever seen it explained so well, so succinctly, cause that’s really all there is.. without that, the timeboxing, the SRS, and the rest – well it works, but the whole thing is just gonna be a lot slower (speaking from experience). by staying immersed you’re just constantly training your brain, actively or passively, in receiving, understanding, internalizing Japanese. Not just words and grammar and kanji and whatnot, but the whole thing as it relates and fits together. This takes a lot of TIME (not necessarily EFFORT, at least not active effort..), so it’s important to be immersed as much as you can, unless you’re not in much of a hurry :p

    of course… we all know this already… but I guess that’s Khatz’s point.

  12. Amber
    February 1, 2011 at 10:55

    I think Khatz is completely right. The people looking for “a day in the life” are likely to deify him; things worked for him because they were fun for him.

    That being said I think the whole “share and grow” thing can be beneficial.

    I’m sitting here with a cup of green tea, passively listening to the news and leafing through my japanese cookbook looking for a new recipe to try (suggestions? Black sesame chocolate cake was AMAZING!).

    I’ve only been at this for 2 weeks, but already I can see a huge improvement. I’m ~400 kanji in, and its pretty cool to be able to recognize part of the free newspapers my grocery store guy gives me (can’t make much sense of anything but it’s fun to practice).

    A friend of mine lent me two box sets of anime when they heard about my endeavour (Love Hina and Ranma) and those have been fun learning tools for me too. The first week with subs, then again without. I think now that I know the characters and what’s going on it’ll be easy to follow sans subs.

    Anyhow, that’s what’s been working for me… completely different than Khatz, but reading technical textbooks isn’t up my alley; I probably would have quit after about five minutes.

    Diff’rent Strokes for different folks, right?

  13. Chagami
    February 2, 2011 at 00:24

    I’ve (finally) decided to just go at it. I’m in college, so I’ve got to attend class in English, but other then that, I’m going to attempt to spend 90% of my time in Japanese. (What’s with the 10%? Well, there’s emails, ordering food, and reporting this to you I must deal with in English :p)

  14. god
    February 4, 2011 at 21:10

    I actually think that you should share a day in your life. I think a lot of the better observations or ideas that I have obtained from your blog have come from considering some of the things you’ve said in light of the experiences you have shared.

    I do believe you have the right to share whatever you want, and it does seem in this case that you would prefer not to. That said, I would be interested in hearing about your routine on one of your best days earlier on. I think this would put a lot of what you have to say on this blog in to a better perspective and supply many, including myself, with new ideas that we can utilize in our efforts to succeed in Japanese (I feel we could all learn a lot from your self reflection on this and looking at changes you have made over time.) Additionally, it would probably be quite relevant to those that are new to Japanese learning and would allow them to share your experience.

    I’m not saying I want to know what you had for breakfast, I’m saying I want to know what you did in your prime during your early years. It’s not a mystery I imagine, but it’s probably very dissimilar from what you recommend now and in that a lot can be learned by all.

  15. god
    February 4, 2011 at 21:13

    Additionally, you suggest finding your own way above, but isn’t looking at others methods and taking the best that works for you a part of the AJATT concept as well.

  16. t
    February 5, 2011 at 11:32

    The one thing that helped me the most was becoming a seiyuu fan and listening to lots of drama CDs. Listening to the cast commentary and seiyuu radio programs really helped me get used to understanding fast-paced, imperfectly enunciated Japanese. Many drama CDs are based on novels, so I ended up reading a lot of those as well, which improved my reading speed much more than reading manga, and also increased my chances of encountering new words.

    The main reason I like drama CDs is that they are specifically designed to be understandable without any visuals, so it’s way better than listening to audio rips of television dramas. Since they don’t have to waste any time explaining the story with slow panning shots, closeups, and comical montages, you get more Japanese per hour spent listening. It makes immersion easy since all you have to do is put a bunch on your mp3 player and listen all day.

    (I should probably mention that I just download most of these from various online communities, because they aren’t cheap and I can’t afford hundreds of them.)

  17. Rout
    February 6, 2011 at 20:06

    I’m wondering how you people can stand having something in Japanese playing in the backgroud nearly all the time. I prefer silence and listening to something for more than 30mins-1h at a time makes me really tired and gives me headaches. And since I can’t read Japanese yet…


    • Chagami
      February 9, 2011 at 08:51

      I know where you’re coming from; I used to like silence – or just nature sounds. But now, I AJATT nearly 18+ hours a day.

      There’s two things to keep in mind. First, you say you like silence, but do you really sit in 100% silence? Or is there some ambiance? Chances are, within the last 5 minutes, you’ve heard something in English (assuming you’re in an English setting. If not, replace “English” with your current language.) Someone in the next room over said something, there’s a TV playing somewhere. I bet you aren’t in 100% silence for that long.

      So you’ve got to understand that there always will be sound. But instead of letting your environment do it’s thing, you need to force it to be Japanese.

      Secondly, I didn’t just go from zero to 18+ hours of Japanese cold turkey! 😛 It takes about a week or so of increasing the amount of input.

      When creating an immersion environment, you only need to try to get to the halfway point, inertia will carry you the rest of the way there.

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