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Propaganda: Run Your Mind Like a Benevolent Dictatorship

You know how people are always “keep an open mind”, “listen to other people’s ideas” and good stuff like that?


Kind of. Here’s the deal. The information that comes into your life is already heavily cut and edited. If nothing else, the finite nature of your life makes it so. You will never see every piece of info that exists. So cut that out right there. You can either control what information comes into you, or have it controlled for you by time limits. I recommend you take control. So far so good. What about specifics?

So, I like living in places where you’re free to think and do and read and write and say pretty much whatever you want — places like Japan. That’s my public life — a democracy. However, my private life is a dictatorship. I only let in the ideas that help me, the rest I passively ignore or actively refuse to let in. Yes, I live a life of censorship. And I censor out ideas that do not help.

My favorite idea to censor out is the “it’s too [hard/difficult]” idea. A lot of people go, “well, Khatzumoto, I’m just being a realist; I’m just stating fact; I’m just making an objective remark on the situation”.

More bollocks. No, they’re not. They’re making a very, very subjective comment on what they think the situation is. And even if they were attempting to make some kind of objective assessment (which they’re not, but even IF they were), it just doesn’t help. It doesn’t help to tell someone “x is hard”. In the mind of a beginner, all it means is “X is IMPOSSIBLE”; it is so discouraging and it prevents people from even starting in the first place, those who do start quit at the first sign of trouble, which automatically reduces the population of successful finishers, which in turn feeds the idea that something is hard, and soon you have a vicious cycle in place.

The real problem never was and never is the supposed difficulty of the task; the problem is people saying its difficult. When people say something is difficult, they don’t really mean it’s difficult, they mean “it’s too hard and only people with ‘talent’ can do it; only people with ‘the knack’ can do it; only ‘children’ can do it”. Just like when you ask someone if they can do something for you and they say “maybe”, they don’t mean “maybe”, they mean “no, but I don’t want to offend you by being direct”.

No one is saying you’re going to be amazing at it on your first day, or even your first month or even your first year. But you know what? The surest way to fail is to quit doing it. If you can’t skate, or program, or speak a language, it’s not because a supernatural white ball of gas in outer space doesn’t want you to. It’s not because of your parents — leave them out of it. And it’s not because of the task itself — don’t be a wusspot. It’s because you haven’t done it enough.

A lot of times we say someone is “good” at something. I think this is inaccurate. It would be more correct to say she is “accustomed” to it. We don’t get good at something so much as we get used to it. So, I’m not “good” at Japanese, I’m just accustomed to it. I’ve seen those kanji before, I’ve heard those words arranged in that sequence before, I’ve seen that sentence pattern a zillion times. When you’re “bad” at something, it’s not so much that you’re bad at it as it is that you aren’t used to it. And the way to get used to it — to get good at it — is simply to do more of it.

No one that I know of was born with any skills other than screaming, eating, and going to the toilet — oh, and blinking, we wouldn’t want to forget blinking. They didn’t know how to speak, they didn’t know the rules of cricket, they didn’t even know what numbers were. They learned them. Humans learn things. That’s what they do. Humans come into this world with no skills — application software — installed, their hardware barely works. All they have is this learning operating system. Guess what? It’s more than enough. As long as you have that OS, you can do it.

So don’t come around here telling me something is hard. Tell me how to get good at it. Give me a step-by-step process for working through it. Don’t focus on the problem, focus on the solution. Don’t blame the game, don’t even blame the player, just fix the technique.

  65 comments for “Propaganda: Run Your Mind Like a Benevolent Dictatorship

  1. nemu
    September 16, 2007 at 10:26

    Yet another motivating post, keep it up.

  2. September 17, 2007 at 14:19

    Anyway, Japanese isn’t hard. It’s just a lot different from English. In fact, Japanese makes more sense (to me anyway) than English. It’s much more logical, and once you get the patterns right, there are hardly any irregularities (that I’ve come across anyway) – those are easy to learn as well. So everyone, stop thinking Japanese is difficult! muzukashikuarimasen!

  3. September 19, 2007 at 00:24

    I like these motivational articles you write – they always pump me up for studying Japanese. Watching our thoughts and discarding the bad/unuseful ones is a good skill to develop. When I miss a few days on my SRS, I often have to push the “596 cards waiting? this sucks!” thought out of my head. 🙂 Do you have any other strategies to cope with that? Aside from not missing days – I was in the hospital :P.

    BTW, most babies are born with the ability to wriggle too 🙂

  4. khatzumoto
    September 19, 2007 at 00:29

    Thomas, nice site and congratulations on the baby! I’ll have to watch all the mean things I say about newborns from now on 😀

    >the “596 cards waiting? this sucks!
    Yeah…I hated that one. So I wrote KhatzuMemo in such a way that it covers that up by rescheduling the reps…Whatever SRS you use, just do what you can. There are just 24 hours in the day and there’s just one of you.

  5. Tina
    September 19, 2007 at 02:49

    Hello, I just wanted to say this blog is amazing. For the first time in my life I truly believe that I am capable of learning any language, not just Japanese. In fact, right now my plan is to go “English all the time” and then move on to Japanese. In any case, your inspirational posts are a great help.

    OK, now that I’ve written the obligatory compliments (:D) here’s my question:
    You’ve written somewhere in your blog that you learned over 4000 characters, right? I’m currently using Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji and I’m having some problems with motivation. So far, I’ve learned 1650 characters and as I’m almost done with the book I find it really really hard to keep going. Every day I would sit at my desk and say: “OK, 30 more and I’m done for today” and then just stare at the screen for the whole day, doing nothing at all because to be honest, making stories at this point is getting terribly boooring.

    So what I’m asking is, do you have any tips as to how make the rest of my learning just a little more fun? Just the thought about learning 400 more of them is really painful and it makes me want to give up. I can’t imagine how painful would be to reach your number of learned kanji!

    Anyway, please update your blog often, as always!

  6. khatzumoto
    September 19, 2007 at 09:58

    >do you have any tips as to how make the rest of my learning just a little more fun?
    When I had trouble doing reps (in any subject), I would eat one or two Jelly Bellies for every kanji or every rep. It got to the point where my SRS “tasted” sweet. Part of the trick was to only eat this candy when SRSing–it wasn’t allowed at any other time–that makes it even more special.

    Also, these links might help:

    You’re really close. Keep going. One at a time.

  7. quendidil
    September 19, 2007 at 22:42

    Khatzumoto, so did you use an SRS to revise for other subjects as well? Have your results been as effective as your Japanese ability?

  8. khatzumoto
    September 19, 2007 at 22:54

    I did. And, when I actually did my entries and practicing on a regular basis, I had stunning results. In the cases where I judiciously used an SRS (at the time, SuperMemo), I never needed to do any separate preparation/studying for exams, because I already knew all the information. Because every day was its own mock exam, for me. I even started to look forward to exams because they were a chance to show off; the teacher wasn’t testing me, I was being an intellectual exhibitionist.

    What I would do was, after each lecture, I would “make up” about 10-20 possible exam questions (some obvious, many tricky-but-fair) from the lecture material. I would do the same from the reading. Since the info was fresh in my mind, it was actually really easy to do; it also gave me the freedom to explore the material deeper, to think about it from multiple angles, to ask “what if?”, to actually enjoy playing with the subject matter, instead of just trying to get by.

    It seems to me that what most students suffer from in exams isn’t question difficulty–it’s acute amnesia. The questions that seem “hard” to people are really just the ones where the information is old and hasn’t been touched since it was first learned. Most students who do review aren’t really reviewing, they are having to re-learn from scratch. Naturally, there’s too little time to effectively review several weeks of material in 2 days, so they find exams difficult.

    Anyway, that combination of question-making and SRSing gave me really good exam results for very little apparent work and zero pre-exam stress. In fact, my only weakness was my habit of reading questions too fast and skipping details. But as for content, the exams were almost too easy. In fact, the final exam in one of my classes was a PERFECT SUBSET of questions that I had made up over the whole semester [of course, the values of the variables were different, but, “same script different cast”, you know?]. In my own way, over the course of 4 months, I had written myself a final exam. Sweetness.

    By the way, doing the SRSing with a buddy really helped. Even though she flaked out on me once or twice, my partner created great questions that I would never have considered, and vice versa. She also kept me on the ball on days when I wanted to quit.

    The most important thing is to keep going, every day. Always. Emergencies will come up, but it’s important to not let them get in the way, to not let the urgent overrun the important.

    By the way, the reverse was also true–without an SRS or some form systematic review, or if I kept skipping practice on my SRS, then I was reduced to cramming and worrying again. The thing about the SRS is you can’t suddenly decide to use if the day before an exam; that won’t work. It needs to become a daily thing and it needs to be done well in advance. As it turns out, a little daily effort is much easier [physically and mentally] than a huge, painful, Mountain-Dew-fueled 2-day marathon of cramming. It’s the difference between saving money slowly, and running up a debt which has to be paid lump sum. Tortoises just keep beating those hares…

  9. quendidil
    September 20, 2007 at 16:13

    Thanks for the long and detailed reply, I’m definitely going to use an SRS for revising my school subjects now. The hard part would be coming up with questions now. Again, thanks a lot!

  10. taijuando
    September 22, 2007 at 08:20

    I’m definitely needing the inspiration on this blog and site. Luckily it is for a good reason–our baby girl was born 12 days ago. Meanwhile, my SRS has accumulated to about 631. Sometimes I get five minutes, maybe this weekend I will get an hour each day when the baby is asleep. Keep the inspiration and cajoling going!!!

  11. James
    September 23, 2007 at 12:58

    Got a question for you and a good link to share with you.

    1) – thousands of audio books with transcripts for you, all in Chinese. They are simplified chars though… (I don’t know what you are currently studying.)
    2) My question is… how do you listen to stuff if you understand only about 70% or so? I’m working through this book (on the site I just mentioned) and I could listen and pause about every 5 seconds to translate a word I don’t know… but that gets pretty old and boring. Or I could listen over and over pausing every now and then only when I absolutely need to understand a word… this way is more enjoyable but I feel I’m just wasting time. Thoughts?

  12. khatzumoto
    September 23, 2007 at 13:42

    Hey James

    1) Sweet! Thanks so much!
    2) I never bothered pausing audio. It’s too hard to cue up [if there were some cool audio bookmarking software out there, things might be different]. With video, at least you can get a visual confirmation. And of course, it’s easy to scan a book. So, yeah, I just listen to audio without really doing anything. In the event that the same word keeps coming up and I just don’t know what it means but it’s being said like every 2 minutes, then, yes, I might look it up. Anyway, all rambling — the most important rule is: “if it’s boring, change to something that’s fun”. I’m constantly changing activities: I switch books, I switch songs, I switch movies (even only partway through) the *moment* it gets boring.

  13. Brian
    September 24, 2007 at 08:23

    Khatzumoto, I wasn’t sure where to put stuff about kanji. So, I’ll ask here.

    So far, I’ve studied about 550 kanji, but when I was testing with my SRS, I realized I’ve only actually learned about 380 or so. Maybe my stories suck, even though I think they’re ok.

    So, should we be able to learn each kanji quickly just based on making an insanely good story or what?

    Of course I practice writing them, but, I just seem to remember about 60% of them, which totally sucks.


  14. Daniel
    September 24, 2007 at 11:29

    I know you asked Khatzumoto specifically, but I thought I would interject anyway (because that’s what I do). Remembering something is simply a function of how many times you have usefully encountered the object in question. I say usefully because if each time you forget the kanji, you don’t specifically try and recall and reinforce your story, you will not contribute anything to remembering it. If on the other hand, you think about it after you forget it, you will undoubtedly eventually remember the kanji. Also, don’t necessarily expect to remember it the first time.

  15. Charles
    September 25, 2007 at 11:52

    Congrats Taijuando!

  16. September 26, 2007 at 00:49

    Congratulations on the baby girl taijuando! I just had a baby this month too, but based on my experience so far I have much LESS time to do SRS than I did pre-baby. I think I’m going to start holding the kid in my lap and reading my Japanese sentences to him. Kill two birds with one stone 🙂

  17. james R
    September 26, 2007 at 01:58








  18. JDog
    September 26, 2007 at 02:28

    Up until this point, I have only really learned about 20 kanji because I quit for a while. Now that I figured out (last night) how to enter kanji into my computer by writing them in by hand on my Palm T|X (with PADict) and then entering the readings into the computer, I am ready to start learning them with my SRS. My question is, what do I put in my question and what do I put in my answer? I am guessing that the best thing to do would be to put the English keyword in my question and the kanji and the story in the answer. I know that going from English into the target language is harder, therefore better to do. At least this was the case in Spanish.

    Thanks in advance,


  19. JDog
    September 26, 2007 at 08:26

    Well, OK, I thought I posted something and the system said I did (because it wouldn’t let me double-post, too, but I don’t see my post and it’s been a few hours. Anyway:

    I finally figured out how to enter kanji into my SRS. I use PADict on my Palm T|X to enter the kanji, then type the readings into my computer to bring up the kanji on my computer. That has been stalling me from jumping into my kanji studies, and now it should be just grand. I have a couple of questions, though:

    1. In my SRS, what should I put for the question and what for the answer? I’m guessing the English keyword would be good for the question, and the kanji and the story for the answer, since English to the target language is harder therefore better (at least in my 4.5 years of Spanish in school they told me that).

    2. What is some good paper to practice on? I noticed there are some free alternatives out there. I think I just want blank paper with squares on it. I noticed a free download of specifically “kanji practice paper (large size) here: Does anyone else have suggestions?

    3. While studying kanji, basically the only thing I should be doing (according to Khatz’ method) is listening to music and watching TV (input), right?

  20. khatzumoto
    September 26, 2007 at 08:38


    1. Yeah, in the case of kanji, English keyword question–>kanji+story answer.

    2. Anything squared. Like math/engineering paper, or whatever.
    3. Yeah, not as “punishment” or anything, but just to get the kanji done as quickly as possible.

  21. JDog
    September 26, 2007 at 08:54

    Great. Thanks for the quick reply!

  22. khatzumoto
    September 26, 2007 at 09:00





  23. Jeff
    September 26, 2007 at 23:26


    Sorry this is off topic, but I was just curious if you knew anything about the annotated Mononoke Hime script at

    I just ordered the japanese VCD from for $9 and it seemed like this is combination with the script would be a great learning tool. I just wanted to make sure that the script wasn’t full of mistakes before I started using it. Thanks!

  24. khatzumoto
    September 27, 2007 at 08:08

    Looks fine

  25. JDog
    September 27, 2007 at 14:10

    OK, yet another question: before, in Khatzumemo, I seem to recall seeing a button called “Do 10 more reps” or something like that. I only have 29 entries so far, but today and yesterday after I got to the end, I still wanted to do more, but when I clicked on “Do more reps,” it just redirected me to the “You’re Done!” page. Is there a way to actually do more reps after you’re done, or do I need to add more entries, or what? BTW, I had only done like 15/29 reps when it said I was done today. Then I clicked to do more, and the counter went back down to like 3/29. Weird. Maybe I need to add more?

  26. khatzumoto
    September 27, 2007 at 14:14

    29 items is not a lot. That sounds like normal behavior given that there are only 29. So, yes, add more stuff.

  27. JDog
    September 28, 2007 at 00:39

    I definitely will add more. Thanks!

  28. beneficii
    September 28, 2007 at 15:34

    OK, this is off-topic, but I’m getting desperate. Your site is very difficult to search for things in! I’ve tried numerous search terms, digging through clicking random links, and now I’m going absolutely insane! Here:

    On which one of your pages is there a paragraph that mentions how non-native speakers are very crisp and clean and almost robotic in their choice of words while native speakers are very sloppy and inefficient. Then you give two examples, one by a native speaker that used a lot of unnecessary words and filler (to buy time mainly). I’ve tried searching any search term that might come up in this, but I cannot find it! Nai! Nai! Nai!

    But I know I’ve read it here before (I think within the last couple days), and I don’t know of any cases where you delete your articles. So, knowing that, can you point me in the right direction?

  29. khatzumoto
    September 28, 2007 at 15:38
  30. khatzumoto
    September 28, 2007 at 15:58

    I’ve just added a plugin that extends search capability to comments as well, so you should have more successful searching in future 😀

  31. beneficii
    September 29, 2007 at 03:10

    Thank you. ^_^

  32. beneficii
    October 3, 2007 at 13:13


    I’m curious, How long did it take you to learn the readings, not the meanings, of the Kanji and how did you do it?

  33. ジェームス
    October 4, 2007 at 07:54



    1)勝元は、講義や授業中などで先生がお話をあげるうちに日本語でノートを取りましたか?どうやって学業を完全に日本語化することができましたか? すこしでも説明してくれれば嬉しいです




  34. khatzumoto
    October 4, 2007 at 08:55

    1) 講義や授業中などで先生がお話をあげるうちに日本語でノートを取りましたか?



  35. ジェームス
    October 5, 2007 at 02:17




  36. khatzumoto
    October 5, 2007 at 07:12


  37. beneficii
    October 6, 2007 at 18:01

    BTW, for all you math nerds out there, check this out:

    This is a good resource for elementary school level math; what is so good about it is that it’s pretty wordy in its descriptions of the problems, which is a good chance to pick up more sentences and math terms (including the ever-elusive operator names!) in Japanese.

    BTW, Khatzumoto, I’m not sure what happened to the previous post that I made, but you said you learned the Kanji by the _meanings_, using the Heisig method, while excluding the readings. When and how was it that you picked up the _readings_? Through sentences and osmosis?

  38. quendidil
    October 6, 2007 at 18:26


    I noticed you haven’t had any new posts for close to 2 weeks now, could I request that you post something on using an SRS for school subjects? seeing that quite a few readers here are also students. I’m particularly confused on how to input Maths problems into an SRS.

  39. khatzumoto
    October 6, 2007 at 19:29

    Yes, I learned kanji readings through sentences. Osmosis only started working for me from about 3-4 months ago. Like the guy said–in order to do something with ease, you must first do it with difficulty.

    Having said that…learning readings through sentences was much easier and more enjoyable than learning them on an isolated, kanji-by-kanji basis. It also helped me see patterns of which readings were appropriate when — you can’t get that kind of contextual knowledge learning isolated readings.

  40. khatzumoto
    October 6, 2007 at 19:47

    I’d enter math problems just like I’d enter anything else. EXCEPT, I’d have to adjust the notation in order to enter it into a computer as text (assuming no MathML or anything).

    For example, I would enter things like:

    Integral[terms, lower bound, upper bound]. So, like:

    Integral[x^2, -inf, inf].

    Now that I think about it, it’s a lot like how you might enter things into a TI calculator.

    Also, I would make several variations of the same type of question, simply by replacing numbers or variables, that way you get to practice solving the question many times, you strengthen your comprehension and iron out minor calculation errors that result from not being used to solving a particular type of problem. Like I said, no one ever gets “good” at anything, they just get used to it. The exam is not a time for thinking or working out, it’s a time for showing off.

    Anything else you’d like to know?

  41. Nivaldo
    October 6, 2007 at 20:52

    Hi, Khatzumoto. I’d like to say that I’m loving your blog. I thought it was impossible to ever learn japanese on my own and 2% of confidence. You helped me with the other 98%. Really cool.
    Well, on to my question, I’m mozambican(Africa) and I’m learning kanji from Heisig’s book, however, I’m not an english native speaker and some words are just confusing instead of helping. I’ve looked for them in dictionaries and nothing. Some explain badly and other just don’t contain the words. So I thought I could ask not only you but any english native speaker for the real meaning(you know, with examples). The words are: reed and happenstance. Well they are not so many words, so I think it should be easy. I’ve learned 375 kanji so far. Also, I’d like to say that in Mozambique, learning japanese is REALLY impossible(there are no books, no movies, no music, no anything. I had to download Heisig’s e-book but I’ll surely buy the real book as soon as I can). So you can know your blog is my only chance of beating all the obstacles to fluency in japanese. Also, I’m sorry for this VERY LONG comment, but you are in the same professional area like me so I thought we could exchange some ideas about that too. I’m still studying computer engineering in university, 2nd year. Once more sorry for this LETTER! See you!

  42. quendidil
    October 6, 2007 at 21:11

    Alright thanks a lot again,
    another question: Let us say you prepare some essay questions in advance, do you break the answer essay into parts and memorize the sentences, or do you memorize the paragraphs of each section in advance?

    Also: do you use only questions or do you ever memorize pure facts (etc definitions)?


  43. khatzumoto
    October 6, 2007 at 21:55

    Perhaps consider Heisig’s “Kanji para recordar”–it’s the Spanish version, but maybe the similarity with Portuguese could help?

    Also, you sound like a native speaker of English to me, even if you aren’t. I know many native speakers (Iincluding myself) who learned words they had not previously known, through Heisig. I learned the word “halberd”. So, I think you’ll be just fine.

    Anyway, yeah, if you have any questions or anything, please feel free.

  44. khatzumoto
    October 6, 2007 at 22:05

    Hmm…essay answer…interesting.
    Well, I once read somewhere (I believe it was in Adam Robinson’s “What Smart Students Know”, a book I highly recommend), that the main problem people have with essay answers isn’t knowledge or grammar, but forgetting to cover specific points.

    Also, remember that an SRS is built for small chunks of info, not large tracts. So try to break things up into small parts.

    So, what I generally did with an SRS question that required an essay-like answer was simply to mention the bullet-points of my answer (my answer was the points). Filling-in can more or less wait for the real thing. For example:
    Q: Discuss the main causes of WW2?
    A: Territory, boredom, apathy, resources, pride.
    Each of those answers would have its own paragraph…If more detail is needed then you might need a better question. Anyway, my point is, don’t overload any single question-answer pair, you can only answer so much in one go…

    >do you ever memorize pure facts (etc definitions)?
    Yeah, but as question. E.g. “What is the name of the process whereby [blank]?”

  45. quendidil
    October 6, 2007 at 22:44

    Lol, I have that book, I bought it a while ago but just browsed through it, I find it rather time-consuming to go through all the processes that the book recommends. Yeah, specific points, I sort of agree with that but sometimes, even when I know the points, my bloody Social Studies teacher doesn’t accept my “explanation” of the points, I really dunno how to solve this problem so I’m just leeching essay answers to similar questions of past-year papers and memorizing them. This is just a problem I have with Social Studies (as it is taught here in Singapore), my English essays are fine and consistently can get 25/30 or more.

    On a side note, I’ve found a site with アニメの台詞集

  46. quendidil
    October 6, 2007 at 22:49

    Ah my Bad, Its just a few lines per episdoe followed by commentary.

  47. quendidil
    October 6, 2007 at 22:54

    Another site, this is just episodes 15-37 of Death Note, but it’s useful methinks. Especially since I’m currently shadowing Death Note. There seems to be very little such 台詞集 for anime, I’ve only found another site with the complete FFVII:Advent CHildren script.
    This is by a Chinese guy, he copied down the complete scripts for the episode by ear, there might be some errors.
    advent children

  48. khatzumoto
    October 6, 2007 at 23:03

    Yeah, teachers don’t generally want to hear the truth so much as they want to hear their own opinions recited back to them (no disrespect intended). Just write what the teacher wants to hear–write what the teacher believes; agree with the teacher’s pet theories in your essays, even if you think it’s bollocks. That worked for me gradewise. The other thing I tried (where possible) was writing good essays that are relevant but outside the teacher’s expertise, such that you have more freedom to write what you want without running counter to the teacher’s opinions and thereby hurting his/her ego.

  49. Nivaldo
    October 6, 2007 at 23:39

    Well, although there are similarities between portuguese and spanish, there are many differences that make spanish tough to read or speak even for a portuguese speaker. Besides, I’m OK with the english version. Only those two words are problematic for now. Thanks for the help anyway. Huh, Khatzumoto, how did you get a job in Tokyo? I’m also trying to go to Japan as quickly as possible but I’m afraid I have no sustaining base there, you know, programming skills and so on. I mean, my dream is to work at Sony Corp. But is there any real hope?
    Also, my native-looking english is due to a sort of unconscious immersion environment I ran into and I’m still in as I have to write, read, speak, and understand english everyday(for example: windows and important textbooks that I can only find in english).

  50. khatzumoto
    October 6, 2007 at 23:45

    >how did you get a job in Tokyo?
    Japanese bilingual career forum

    Your English is amazing. Do the same thing for Japanese and you’ll be all set.

  51. beneficii
    October 7, 2007 at 12:40


    “Yes, I learned kanji readings through sentences. Osmosis only started working for me from about 3-4 months ago. Like the guy said–in order to do something with ease, you must first do it with difficulty.”

    In that case, what is osmosis to you/

  52. khatzumoto
    October 7, 2007 at 13:01

    >what is osmosis to you
    Essentially, picking up and/or inferring words and readings and being able to actively use them without any specific, conscious, direct or indirect effort for the word or reading in question (so, without even having SRSed it), just by being “soaked” in the Japanese environment. It seems like I’ve picked up a lot onomatopoeia that way, and lots of slang…I think the ability to learn words this way (i.e. more or less unconsciously) may always be there, but only really blooms into direct usefulness after lots of conscious effort.

    I’m sure we mean the same thing? Or don’t we? Do you have a different definition for it?

  53. Nivaldo
    October 7, 2007 at 16:47

    Hi. I was asking myself constantly if I should thank you because I thought I would be drawing your attention to a simple “thank you” message. But, I decided to write it. But I don’t like sending useless messages so I’m posting some questions I would be glad if you answered:
    1. I’m a big fan of anime and I know that anime is the biggest attraction in Japan, otherwise, I have wrong information. Anyway, Khatzumoto, how is the anime reputation there in Tokyo?
    2. One day, I watched a brazilian reporter(in a brazilian TV Channel) there in Tokyo say that fruits can cost really high there. Is that true? Does it have anything to do with the “religion” of food you where talking about?
    3. Also and at last, how is technology in Tokyo? I see only small pieces of it(for example: the tiniest TV in the world) but I know or at least think that there should be much more that I’m just not able to see.

  54. khatzumoto
    October 7, 2007 at 19:15

    1. Most people know the anime that play on normal, terrestrial TV. Anything else is the domain of supergeeks. So, everyone knows “Naruto”, but almost no-one knows “Cowboy Bebop” because it was only aired on premium cable. Most people in Japan don’t even know (and if you tell them, will gaze at you in disbelief) that their culture has spread worldwide, and that there are kids all over the globe like you and me who were practically raised on anime.

    2. Mmmm…haha…no. It’s probably more to do with Japan importing food from far away, and paying high energy costs? You’d probably want an economist for any more info than that :D. Anyway, fruit is more expensive here than you might be used to…

    3. Pretty cool. Lots of LCDs everywhere. Lots of places where you can use digital cash (pay with your cellphone, etc.)

  55. Nivaldo
    October 7, 2007 at 19:26

    Sugoi! Thanks for the info. It only makes me want to go to Japan even quicker. Anyway, it’s going to be tough. Well, I think this is my last comment(unfortunately, bwaaaaaa), because I got to work really hard on my immersion environment and at the same time study the hardest way possible to get the best marks(this is the only way to get to Japan as quick as possible). I’ll probably go to Japan after some 3 years from now. Thanks for the blog. See you there(in Tokyo!)!!!

  56. Nivaldo
    October 7, 2007 at 20:28

    Oh, I forgot to say that I’ll keep reading your blog and commenting.

  57. Rachel
    October 12, 2007 at 10:59

    khatzumoto, your blog has been so helpful. I’m a junior in highschool right now, and when I graduate from college I plan to move to Japan and become a highschool teacher. I’m learning Japanese right now. I didn’t really know where to post this comment, so I figured I’d drop it here.

    I’ve decided to change/bend everything in my life so that I’m surrounded by Japanese culture, and language. I’m really focused on learning this language. There are no excuses now, it doesn’t matter if there aren’t lessons avaliable anywhere, or I don’t have that much money, I can do this. So thanks for the encouragement (^-^)!

  58. Mikomi Rae
    April 2, 2009 at 08:43

    I have to admit, a lot of your philosophies intimidate me to no end, but I think what you say in this post is VERY motivational… I think I might put it up on my wall or something… XD “The surest way to fail is to quit doing it!”

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