How To Learn Japanese In 1 Second

I’ve figured it out, people. I finally brought a magic bottle of Japanese special sauce from down from the mountain. You can learn Japanese in one second, and I will show you how…

Sort of.

OK, so I really wrote that title to make you look (Haha! Made you look!), but it actually has a good deal of relevance to the content of this post. Which is basically this: it only takes 1 second to learn Japanese.

Less, even. It only takes one “moment” to learn Japanese. In other words, the smallest unit of time you are capable of perceiving is all it takes to learn Japanese. Without getting esoteric, I think we can safely define this thing called a moment — the smallest perceptible quantum of time — and this thing is all you really have a hold of in terms of action. Sure, we talk about hours and years and centuries, but those are nothing but way s of collecting moments; they are abstractions. The moment is concrete. The moment is where you live and act. You have never taken an hour to do something as such. You simply did one thing in one moment, and then another thing in another moment, and then called it an hour to spare everyone the grim moment-to-moment details.

So, you’re sitting there, and you’re thinking “I want to learn Japanese”. But, you think it’s going to take forever, the classic “ten years”; you think you’re going to have to live up on a mountain in Tibet (which as we all know is in Japan, just like the Shaolin Temple), wear a kimono and marry a Japanese woman called Kumiko, and all that just so you can get decent at doing every day things like buying milk. As for literacy, forget it! I mean, haven’t you heard? Japanese was invented so that foreigners could never understand it! Not even Japanese people understand it! So why bother, right? Give up! Turn on MTV instead, because TRL is on, and they might show that Gwen Stefani video where she wears a tank-top; that’ll be good. Let’s save time and heartache and watch that instead! Right?

Right.

No, of course freaking not! Let me hit you with some knowledge. All your learning of Japanese is, is simply a string of moments in which you learn something and remember it in the next moment when you’re learning the next thing, such that you know more in the next moment than you did in the previous moment. You know more now, than you did one second ago; you know more one second later, than you do now. You know more today than yesterday and more tomorrow than today. That’s it. The key here is the moment. You don’t have to spend ten years, you only have to spend this moment, right here, right now. Now. NOW! There is essentially nothing else to it, but whether or not you become fluent in Japanese entirely depends on your little choices in these tiny, “insignificant” little moments. Surely two minutes of MTV can’t hurt, you say? No, my friend, those two minutes don’t just hurt: they’re killing you.

All you have to do to climb the mountain of Japanese (newflash: it’s really a hill, by the way), then, is put one foot in front of the other in the direction of up. Come on, how hard is that? All you need do to learn Japanese is learn one kanji/kana/word/sentence and then use that knowledge to learn the next. You don’t need to be a genius, a billionaire, or of Asian descent: you just need to be consistent. To use some really cool metaphors I once heard: Japanese is like rowing upstream, just keep paddling; it’s like warming a rock, all you have to is sit on it. As a reader on KanjiClinic once said: learning Japanese doesn’t take brain-power, just butt-power. So get comfortable on that rock and enjoy your ride.

So, I know I keep saying this, but, Japanese isn’t something you acquire as much as something you turn into. And the only way you’re going to turn into it is by using (all of) what you have. And all you have is this tiny, precious moment that you’re busy wasting on deciding whether or not to watch Gwen’s new video. Solution: don’t watch it. Watch a Japanese video instead. Two years from now, you’ll still be able to go back and YouTube “No Doubt” in about two seconds; but for now, let it go. As Winston Churchill once said to me when we were hanging out: “Gwen Stefani will still be pretty in two years, but if you don’t learn some Japanese right now…then in the morning you’ll still be ignorant”.

Dude, now that I think about it, Winston Churchill would have written a great blog about Japanese: “We shall learn it on the beaches; we shall learn it in the fields and in the streets; we shall learn it in the bedroom…”

Anyway, take care and always always always have fun!

  13 comments for “How To Learn Japanese In 1 Second

  1. Mage
    February 23, 2008 at 05:57

    I had to look just to see what you could possibly write about this topic. =P
    Even though you make sense 100% of the time….

    ~Mage~

  2. July 15, 2009 at 08:49

    > we shall learn it in the bedroom…

    forget timeboxing and SRS, now THAT sounds like the way to learn Japanese while having fun!

  3. Joe
    August 30, 2009 at 20:49

    Characterize is another cool firefox plugin for learning the kanji.

  4. December 2, 2009 at 19:13

    I just finished posting Kanji on my wall got some many enforcements towards my own blog here quoting KHATZ in my posts! I loved this portion so true!

    “o, I know I keep saying this, but, Japanese isn’t something you acquire as much as something you turn into. And the only way you’re going to turn into it is by using (all of) what you have. And all you have is this tiny, precious moment that you’re busy wasting on deciding whether or not to watch Gwen’s new video. Solution: don’t watch it. Watch a Japanese video instead. Two years from now, you’ll still be able to go back and YouTube “No Doubt” in about two seconds; but for now, let it go. As Winston Churchill once said to me when we were hanging out: “Gwen Stefani will still be pretty in two years, but if you don’t learn some Japanese right now…then in the morning you’ll still be ignorant”.”

    Man learning and doing these things has cause me to appear to be CRAZY and people have treated my different but if you keep it up you will be good! I started in March with basic classes in highschool and As I look back i SUCK way less than before! I can have a 100% Japanese conversation and am in a position to pic up more and more! ALways got audio in the background! LIVE everyday like your last!
    GO hard! TIl it over loads!

  5. Libyan Girl
    December 23, 2009 at 02:26

    Nice blog!
    Everything you write makes sense to me, motivates me, and inspires me.
    Also I have this tiny request, would you allow me to translate this blog “How to Learn Japanese in 1 second” into Arabic
    to help Arab learners of Japanese?
    I’ll mention the source of course.

    P.S Sorry for any mistakes (English is not my mother tongue).

  6. PenguinSnugges (Amanda)
    May 29, 2010 at 11:20

    🙂 I was laughing half the time. In the other half (you know, when I wasn’t laughing–or killing. . .whatever), I absolutely understood what you were saying. In this next moment (after I’ve decided just to never look up Gwen), I’m watching another Japanese video.

  7. Aaron92
    September 29, 2010 at 05:39

    Nice dodgeball reference lol

  8. July 13, 2011 at 20:08

    That’s a very interesting interpretation. Making the most of every moment, especially when trying to learn a language, is of the essence.

  9. October 27, 2011 at 07:02

    I LOVE this post. Especially the butt-power part. Cause yup, we have to do a lot of sitting since we watch TV and use the computer a lot haha.
    Today, I had an epiphany. I’ve been studying my target language for almost 10 years (well, 7 years hardcor-ish) and I’m really starting to get it now. I discovered your website about 3 years ago and I’ve been trying to listen to my L2 more ever since. No, it doesn’t (and shouldn’t) take 10 years to learn a language. I was doing it the wrong way. Ironically, studying grammar and vocab worked for me when I learned Italian, but that’s another story.
    I finally feel like I’m fluent. Thanks.

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