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Success Story: I’ve finally figured out this AJATT thing

Drewskie sent me this really cool email the autre jour. You may know him from comments 😀 , being as it is that he is incredibly good-looking and has wonderful taste in blogs. Here he is in his own words (links and emphasis added by me):


Maybe it’s that I finally found some really chill Japanese music that fits my taste (I’ve been aching for something besides upbeat pop), or maybe I’m in new-blog-post afterglow, but I’m about to write some sappy thank-yous along with a short life story, both of which I’m sure you get a lot, but I have no idea if you like or dislike. Can’t help it, it’s coming.

I’ve finally figured out this AJATT thing — specifically the “how it teaches you Japanese” part. A little late, I know. I’m coming up on a year since I found your website, skeptically examined articles here and there, thinking how full of [%&#!] this guy was — probably because deep down I really didn’t want to have to do so much for Japanese. But I warmed up to the idea. I made sure my music listening was in “This is almost done” mode as I approached the end of RTK (I took that advice immediately and put off immersion, I couldn’t do it so fast). All of that motivational material just marinated in my brain. People around me noticed a difference.

But I’m an engineer, [Khatz]. I’ve been trained to “figure out” and “understand”. I thrive on that desire to understand and the energy it produces. So when I started sentences, I was constantly struggling to “get it”. I think I went through three separate weeks where I proclaimed I understood the basic particles. They just slid off of me, and I’d do it again, “That’s RIGHT, に is for contexts and を is for targets and blahblahblah”.

I understood the input hypothesis, but I didn’t understand the implications, specifically on our biology. I figured that was just “We learn better by seeing examples than by trying to use grammar to produce sentences” — but that’s only half way there. I’m realizing that we learn better by seeing examples and not attempting to understand them.

The vast amounts of language learning power in our brain get to take over uninhibited at that point, and by forcing myself to take the role of the observer while that happens, I’m experiencing some very interesting things. Everything has a feeling. It feels right or it feels wrong. You’ve said this before, I’ve read it all, it just never clicked. I never stopped thinking, and that was a really big problem.

But all of that energy was just GONE. I was really down about all of this. But I kept going forward (vector normalization is a wonderful motivator). I set a minimum “new sentences” goal of 5 per day, which I never even approached, because every time it was starting to get late or I was busy with other things, I thought “Just read until you have 5,” and by the time I actually stopped I had more like 15. It wasn’t like before though, there was just no excitement, no “I must figure this out,” nothing — but after about two weeks of that, I started to realize that I was enjoying myself again just on a more general level. It wasn’t directed, and that’s why I liked it.

Japanese is now one of the only things in my life that isn’t directed in some way by logic and higher brain functions. It’s now a self-sustaining reaction producing pure spiral energy, and I was suddenly hitting more 30-35 card days, and now I hit spring break and I’ve had four 60+ card days, and the reviews are getting just silly-large, but I just keep going, and I love it. I love it so much.

Thank you. Thank you so much for running the blog, for cracking a whip on Twitter, for not keeping your methodology hidden and safe so your skills stay super-valuable (if this ever hits mainstream, sorry [Khatz], your days of “wow, that guy’s good” are toast). This entire endeavor has had a profoundly positive influence on my life. Thank you.

A most sincerely thankful


  76 comments for “Success Story: I’ve finally figured out this AJATT thing

  1. March 21, 2010 at 00:10

    So, very cool success story, but this is unrelated to this post – I just wanted to share.

    On Monday of this week, I decided to get a part time job – I’m working on my engineering degree and though I have savings from a previous job, I need the money.

    But not just any job – I am going to be a server at a mexican restaurant. I am the only person who is not a native spanish speaker. The other servers and my boss are bilingual, but everyone speaks in spanish when not speaking to customers.

    But basically, my spanish learning was heading downhill and now I am super excited. This will be tons of great exposure!! And I probably wouldn’t of had the guts to take this job if it wasn’t for your encouragement to expose ourselves to the language even when we don’t understand everything. Now, I won’t be forced to speak a lot of broken spanish – and when I do speak I’ll make sure they know I’d like them to correct my mistakes.

    Aaanyway, none of my friends understand my excitement… so I thought I’d tell a bunch of strangers on the internet 🙂

  2. アメド
    March 21, 2010 at 01:46

    I can relate. I was all about breaking it down and making sense of it in the beginning. Before (a few months ago) I was basically not having that much fun in Japanese. It seriously felt like work. Plus I didn’t feel like I was improving as i wanted to.

    But just in these few months i noticed that I have been coming back and back for more Japanese. And I just noticed recently (It’s hit the 7 month mark) that i can understand LOADS and LOADS of Japanese with ease. And my reading is getting good as well.

    In terms of joyo kanji. (2042) I’m around 70% in the reading-level(Got this number from one of those kanji-level checkers online) there plus i know a bit more non-joyo kanji to add to that.

    What I’m getting at is that, it’s likely that once you first start learning Japanese there will be conflicts of “Is this right?” or “I’m I really going to become good in japanese?”. This will eventually dissolve and just become pure fun. And once it’s pure fun, the improvements will become seamless in nature.

  3. Shea
    March 21, 2010 at 01:47

    Drew’s story is similar to mine. I struggled forever to “get it” as fast as possible and in the process was making myself miserable to it. But I just kept at it, whether I was enjoying it or just doing it “just cause” I was just exposing myself to Japanese.

    Regardless of whether I was in Japan at the time or back in America. Now, it’s become part of my daily life. I wake up and instantly do something in Japanese, I do so throughout the day, and end my day with something in Japanese. It’s become part of who I AM now. I can’t ever see myself not doing something in Japanese ever again. It is ME. While I still am not where I want to be, I’ve learned to just go with the flow and it’ll all come to me eventually. And you know what? It sticks better because of that!

    Even at work now, where no one else even knows anything about Japan or Japanese (one of my co-workers refers to them as “Orientals”) I find myself writing kanji on scrap notes or thinking to myself how I was phrase something in Japanese. I work with a lot of Spanish speakers who don’t speak much English. I also have an interest in Spanish so I listen to them talk constantly as well. It’s a pure treat for me to be around another language and enjoy just eavesdropping on people. Not for being nosy, but for the enjoyment of understanding something that I never thought I would.

  4. March 21, 2010 at 02:04

    Drewskie mentions “really chill Japanese music”. What is it? Pre-AJATT the only Japanese music I listened to was DJ Krush, but that hardly has any words in it, so it’s not helpful for language immersion. I’ve got lots of Rip Slyme, but it’s pretty lively compared to Krush. Any recommendations would be good.

  5. Jean
    March 21, 2010 at 02:58

    Awesome awesome story, I check this blog daily for the little bits of inspiration like this that keep my outlook positive. Thanks to the community for sharing your stories, and thanks Khatz for giving us a place to hang out.

  6. Patrick
    March 21, 2010 at 02:59

    Great success story, glad to hear things are going wonderfully for you Drewskie. Us engineers have it hard, as you said, being trained to understand. The active learning of the fundamentals trains our knowledge of Japanese while the dumb, move-forward-and-enjoy, seems to very silently train our abilities of Japanese. This abilities versus knowledge is something I’ve been having fun making completely distinct in my journey. I’ve converted from 95/5 knowledge versus ability JP time to about a 20/80 knowledge versus ability JP time approach pretty recently in the last few weeks. Maybe it’s Springtime, we’re all renewing ourselves!

    This knowledge/ability thing is also a game for me, it gets me away from thinking about the whole process 100% of the time and constant reflection can really weigh me down.

    And Khatz is the man, I watched the QRG movie a few days ago and what a great overall motivator that is! Thanks Khatz!

  7. Drewskie
    March 21, 2010 at 05:37

    Thanks for the comments, guys!

    Phil, before I made the switch to Japanese music, I was way into British indie rock. From my circle of friends the only thing anyone could recommend that was even close was Asian Kung-Fu Generation, and they’re good, but that was pretty much the only band anyone could scrounge up. I finally ran into a music video last week (maybe on Khatz’s twitter, I can’t remember) from a band called サカナクション, and they’re a lot like some of what I used to listen to–their wiki article even says they were influenced by British indie rock. It’s a very drastic shift from the uppy pop I’ve been listening to, and it’s very relieving.

    I have no idea if they’re your taste though. This is the video I saw,

    Actually if anyone has any other recommendations along these lines (really awesome music videos are not a requirement), I’d love to hear them!

  8. Patrick
    March 21, 2010 at 12:12

    Cool music, I had a very tough time finding something to my taste in Japanese. Here’s what I’ve come up with over the years, if anyone else happens to have my taste, I prefer female singers because I can understand them a lot easier:

    Alan (chinese female vocalist, amazing voice)
    Pizzicato Five (nostalgic for me, i listened to this as a jp newbie)
    Dreams Come True (older group but still great)
    Utada Hikaru (probably my favorite, again for nostalgic reasons)
    Home Made Kazoku (hip-pop, male group)
    Angela Aki (female piano player, very talented voice)
    Yoriko (a recent favorite, i like piano chicks, again a great voice)
    Bump of Chicken (male group, more rock-oriented)
    Capsule (female electronica group, think daft punk)
    Marble (i only have one album “kusou jet” but they are good too)
    Mihimaru GT (hip-pop female singer group)
    Misia (recent, i don’t really care for her voice that much but still good)
    Mr. Children (not liking really anymore, but nostalgic reasons)
    Spontania (hip-pop)
    Sukima Switch (decent male singer rock-pop group)
    Yui (female acoustic guitarist, only like a few songs myself though)
    Yuna Ito (female pop singer)

    So these are the ones I’ve come up with over the years and hopefully will help others. I’ve picked a few off Khatz’s list, but some others I wasn’t able to stomach like Rip Slyme which was highly liked by A LOT of people! Hope this helps, if anyone has any musical tastes that match my own with artists that are similar, please let me know! I’m always searching!

    • Dominik
      September 29, 2014 at 19:38

      Hey Patrick,

      could you please tell me where do you download all that music? I usually get everything from kickasstorrents, but could not find the stuff you recommend over there.

      Many thanks!


  9. Got it!
    March 21, 2010 at 12:56

    It may sound silly or obvious, but I actually got what he said! I feel what he means! I’ve been in this blog for a year too already, but only now I really think I can do it, it’s easier then what I was doing!

  10. Steve
    March 21, 2010 at 14:48

    Some music I’ve found interesting over the years:
    Blues Creation, Love Psychedelico, Crazy Ken band, The Pillows, Sambomaster, T.M.Revolution, Luna Sea, Tokona X, Bump of Chicken, Beat Crusaders, Miyavi, Maaya Sakamoto, Yoko Kanno, Tropical Gorilla, Ukadan, Yuzu, Doping Panda, Chara、Ulfuls, Leyona, Small Circle of Friends, The Back Horn, Midicronica, and Shakalabbits.
    There are some more but, I didn’t want to just make a huge list.
    I have a good amount of these bands’ videos as favorites on my youtube account if anyone wants to check them out (saves me from writing descriptions of what I think their genre is):

  11. Tommy Newbhall
    March 21, 2010 at 16:18

    Since we’re talking music… here’s my two yen,

    Tommy’s favorite Japanese bands (that I don’t think have been recommended elsewhere)

    Acidman (alt. Rock)
    -saw them at Summersonic in Osaka, sweet band thought they often sing in poorly-pronounced English

    The Blue Hearts (punk rock)
    -If the Sex Pistols were Japanese… sing the classic “リンダリンダ/Linda Linda” which, due to its simple and catchy chorus is a great karaoke crowd-pleaser for both your Japanese and non-Japanese friends)

    Bump of Chicken (proggy-indy rock)
    -this is my favorite Japanese band. Highly recommend the album “orbital period,” which i have, according to iTunes, listened to no less than 56 times.

    Ellegarden (punk rock for 17 year old boys)
    -sounds kind of like Blink-182, sing alot in english, but its super catchy so I regretfully end up listening to a few select songs (風の日)a lot.

    GreeeeN (poppy hip-hop for 17 year old girls)
    -Super-catchy tunes, that you unfortunately hear playing overhead in supermarkets all the time these days.

    m-flo (electronic hip-hop)
    -Party music. I think Khatz recommended these guys, but they are awesome

    The Mad Capsule Markets (industrial electronic)
    -completely incomprehensible, and makes you want to break stuff, even more so then Maximum the Hormone.

    The Mods (punk)
    -More J punk from the same era as the Blue Hearts

    One Ok Rock (pronounced ワン・オックロック)(modern punk)
    -this is an excellent band, with a great singer and good songwriting.

    People in the Box (post rock)
    -One of the flagship 残響レコード/Zankyo records bands. this is definitely my favorite Japanese band (on days when Bump isn’t my favorite band). Immediately go to the record store/amazon and purchase all the records they have made, especially “Bird Hotel” or check out 完璧な庭 or She Hates December

    Sour (folk-rock)
    -this is a weird band that is hard to find, but I loved when I saw this video on youtube 日々の音色

    Tha Blue Herb (hip-hop)
    -Hailing from Sapporo, the best Japanese hip-hop I’ve heard.

    スーパーカー/Supercar (electronica)
    -Sounds like underworld kind of. Synthesizers+guitars,drums, bass=win.

    東京事変/椎名林檎 Tokyo Jihen/Tokyo Incidents/Sheena Ringo (indy rock)
    -have been mentioned on this website several times, but worth another mention because they released a new album last week スポーツ/Sports which was definitely 期待ing for.

    夢中夢/Mu chuu mu (dream within a dream) (hard rock/melodic metal)
    -This band alternates between screaming incomprehensibly over math-rock drumlines and whispering over orchestral string arrangements. これは始まりでも何でも無い。。。

    9mm Parabellum Bullet (Indy/hard rock)
    -have put out a lot of albums over a short period of time and have garnered a lot of media attention. Good overall band with sweet songwriting “国境は歴史の傷口で、治せる薬を探してる”(Borders are the wounds of history, I’m searching medicine to heal them…)


    • Tarkonis
      June 13, 2011 at 22:24

      Cheers 🙂 Great post!

  12. March 21, 2010 at 17:28

    It’s funny, I saw someone’s blog where they claimed that khatz’s taste in music was “too underground” and yet, when I d/led some of his reccomendations I found them a little too poppy and mainstream for my tastes. I had all but given up on finding j-hiphop that I could enjoy, and was resigned to 18-24 musicless months of listening only to podcasts. And, I like podcasts, love podcasts do not get me wrong. But I didn’t even realize how deeply I was craving, needing my rap until I came across this thread today:
    Dope Japanese Hip-hop
    Especially look for the post in that thread by thatkidperry, every rapper he reccomends is killer. My favorite right now is Gagle/Hunger. I like seeda a lot as well, and a bunch of stuff produced by grooveman spot. But anyways, that whole thread is a wealth of information on j-hip-hop which I’d had a TON of trouble finding much info about at all in eigo. All the anime kids seem to be into the j-pop crap, and there’s lots of people into j-rock, but besides the really mainstream stuff, it just seems like j-hip-hop gets no love. But, a lot of this stuff is better produced than the best sounding american albums. I’ve been happily bopping my beat-rattled head all day long. Word!

  13. セバスティアン
    March 21, 2010 at 18:00

    Great to see another success story! I was thinking about analyzing grammar and such a lot, but after reading this I guess I’ll tone that part down and let it come to me naturally instead. That is, as soon as I’m done with RTK…

    Aside from that, Tommyさん ありがとうございます! That music list of yours was the kick in the rear I needed to start trying out new music (and start posting comments here, ~½year-lurker :P). I checked out a few of those bands, and they sound good.

    Also, my compliments to Khatz for breaking down my resistance to motivational writing, that was not an easy task ^_^

  14. Shea
    March 22, 2010 at 00:36

    Another good J-Rock band is: Love Psychedelico

    They were influenced by the Beatles and Led Zeppelin. Sold me on them.

    • Tarkonis
      June 14, 2011 at 00:14

      Except they don’t sound a thing like either :-/

  15. March 22, 2010 at 01:40

    Very cool story. 参考になりました。

  16. Brad
    March 22, 2010 at 03:16

    @Kendo and other J-Rap/Hip-Hop fans:

    Is a great archive of record reviews from various bloggers. I found reviews of the artists I like already (Kreva, King Gidora, Rhymester) and saw what else that blogger liked. It’s also a great way to read some more Japanese!

    This guy’s list on also fits my taste ぴったり, it’s how I learned about スチャダラパー, which is my current favourite rap group in any language:

  17. March 22, 2010 at 04:39

    Thanks Brad, that is a great resource, and yeah, just started listening to some scha da rapa yesterday and it is most definitely fly.

  18. khaos
    March 22, 2010 at 09:49

    this was really helpful. ill be done with rtk very soon. it was helpful cause i was going to do exactly what this guy is describing, trying to rationalize everything.

    this solved a major issue i was gonna have with the method (wasting the same month or so till i stopped trying to impose rules to my brain). so we just have to let go and be observers (which was very adequately put) of the target language (the same way babies are).

    I have one question though. somewhere in ajjatt it says that we should know what all the words in the sentence mean. what purpose they serve in the sentence. but if i shouldn’t over do it (think too much), then how will i know what purpose X word has in the sentence?

    awesome email by that guy. awesome contribution.

  19. Geoxzs
    March 22, 2010 at 10:39

    hello guys, I’m relatively new to this site and i just have 1 question, How do you guys go about studying RTK, i have the book so I’m guessing that it is just a matter of picking 5 kanji a day and studying them right? I’m trying to approach studying in the right way because I’m trying to up my productivity in every direction( I’m still in high school ). is thee any advice you guys can throw my way. i would appreciate it very much.

  20. TripleJ
    March 22, 2010 at 14:05

    I think I have similar tastes as some people here, I’ll have to check out some of those bands. Here are my suggestions, I was pretty Indie Rock back in my English listening days to give you a reference point, so here goes:

    A recent awesome find is the wikipeida page on 渋谷系 (Shibuya-Kei) namely, Judy and Mary, Flippers Guitar and Shiina Ringo.

    Also pretty good are Supercar, Yura Yura Teikoku and Soul Flower Union. Mass of The Fermenting Dregs are good too, and playing in Tokyo next month! I’m totally going!

    I love the サカナクション video where all the words come together as the guy walks, アルクアラウンド.

  21. March 22, 2010 at 14:21

    AAHH! Amazing. I now have a youtube playlist with 146 tunes and an hour and a half mixtape in iTunes, thanks to recommendations and links here. Thanks everyone.

  22. March 22, 2010 at 15:14

    @Phil–for some really, really chill j-hiphop check out Michita:
    The sound quality in this montage I think a fan made isn’t great, but you can search out a lot of other stuff really easily.
    Actually reminds me a lot of DJ Krush’s heady, mellow flow when he does actually rap in Japanese, except this is even more chill.

    @Geoxzs– Have you read through the articles in the The Table of Contents? If you aren’t up for all that reading yet, and want to jump right in first, I can give you a pretty quick breakdown. First you need to Get an SRS. An SRS is a flashcard program based on algorhythms discovered by neuroscience to enhance your ability to remember things with the least amount of work on recall necessary. Next, check out: How to Learn Kanji Using an SRS. That’s khatzumoto’s sort-of “original” method for studying kanji. However, we’ve done a lot of recent discussion in this post: Lazy Kanji Cards. Besides the article, which is really good, read the comments because a number of people, me included, share their own ideas, methods and insights about how to structure the actual flashcards for review.

    Finally, another really good place for information on it, and to read about the sort of most common, vanilla way to work through the book is Reviewing the Kanji. Be sure to check out the forums there. Hope that helps, it will lead you through all the information I read to develop my own methods, and that Lazy Kanji Cards post will have comments describing exactly how my style and method has evolved as well as a lot of great ideas from other people. If you have any more specific questions afterword, ask and someone should be able to help you. Oh, and when it comes to SRS, I like Anki, but like khatz says, it really doesnt matter which SRS you use, just use one.

  23. March 22, 2010 at 22:29

    kendo. Michita. Yes. Thanks.

    Geoxzs: Here’s how I ‘study’ RTK. First read everything that’s written in it. Read the introduction and the notes and the stories when they are given. Don’t skip and skim because it’s all useful. I don’t mean read the whole book before you start learning the kanji, just don’t skip bits as you’re reading through. For the kanji themselves the key is to make sure that as you get to each new one you visualise a scenario or story to go with it.

    For example, I’m up to 1293 – overdo. That’s the last one I learned the other day. The elements are ‘jawbone’ and ‘road’. So for that one I thought of taking a long journey down a road with someone who never shuts up, i.e. overdoing the jawbone. You stop for a few seconds and really picture that scenario. I write the kanji down once only and then move on. Then you add that to your SRS of choice and review it for the first time either later on that day or the next day.

    I often find on first review I’m not recalling them 100%, but I always remember the scenario I made up and by the second review it’s getting much more concrete. That’s how I’m doing it anyway and I’ve got past the point where I can’t understand how there’s enough brain space to fit all these in.

    Also once you start, don’t stop. In fact adding more kanji generally reinforces many of the ones you’ve already learned because they share so many elements.

  24. Jean
    March 23, 2010 at 00:12


    Agreed with your last sentence; I used to try stopping once in a while to kind of get ‘caught up’ – try to do no new ones for a couple of days and just get all of the reviews solid and packed further back into the deck. However, I found that by not going forward I almost go backwards – somehow it’s harder to do the reviews without having new content, like your mind starts to get bored and stagnate (滞!!) if it doesn’t get fed new things.

  25. March 23, 2010 at 03:51

    Jean, that is exactly right. If we aren’t moving forwards, we are falling backwards. There is no “holding ground” in language learning.

  26. Geoxzs
    March 23, 2010 at 17:55

    Thanks for the advice kendo & Phil. i have already started to study them and i’m going to study 5 a day. I’m going to start small and most likely work my way up, but i’m not going to go too fast. I also started to acquire a variety of J-pop and J-rap thanks to some of the post from previous articles. I’ll be sailing smoothly from this day on.

  27. Geoxzs
    March 23, 2010 at 18:01

    whoops! forgot to mention that i obtained anki as well.

  28. Ed
    March 24, 2010 at 04:21

    Just passing on a relevant quote:

    “If you want more luck, take more chances. Be more active. Show up more often.”
    -Brian Tracy

  29. Brad
    March 25, 2010 at 16:40

    One more resource for music, found this blog where the writer has “Best Album of the Year” lists dating back to 1995. Not everything is Japanese music must, but it is how I found out about くるり which is a pretty darn good band:

  30. Culden
    March 31, 2010 at 23:55

    I’m glad Khatz linked to this on twitter. Since finishing RTK1 a week ago, I’ve just been going through the motions due to a lack of new media. Now, however, I think I’m feeling it again. Anyway, anyone know of a Japanese band(s?) like Tool or A Perfect Circle? It’s killing me not to listen to those two bands and a substitute would go a long way for me.

  31. Dekkun
    April 1, 2010 at 01:00

    Hi, I don’t think anyone has mentioned Ikimono Gakari yet ?
    Female singer has a nice voice and articulates clearly, really good for Japanese listening practice.
    Check them out you might like it !

  32. April 1, 2010 at 02:38

    On the music bit, I really dig the whole shibuya-kei movement, but while Pizzicato Five is easy enough to find, some of these other cat’s aren’t. Might I suggest:

    * Cornelius ( “First Question Award” is the album to get
    * I really dig Kirinji (, mellifluous and easy to hear lyrics
    * Ram Rider is pretty awesome too (

  33. Theo
    April 1, 2010 at 06:16

    Dudes, thnks for the great tips. I must say that Ive been listening to, a lot, Shiina Ringo(trihop, jazz), Flow (rock?), Bonnie Park(woman :P), Ryuichi Sakamoto(woman :P), Shonen Knife(punk woman :P:P), Sonic Highspeed Omega (instrumental :P), Yui(great one, woman ;)), Puffy(women, eletro rock), Michi (woman, pop) and I forgot the rest…. and sorry about my genre conceptions.

  34. Jes
    April 1, 2010 at 07:03

    Some musicians I discovered recently, and old ones I Love (^.^)/
    ET King:

  35. April 1, 2010 at 07:35

    ^^Yes, thank you! Shibuya-kei is awesome, xD and so is RAM RIDER~ only he reminds me of bad fanfiction with Nakata Yasutaka (it’s… disturbing).

    On the same note, more music. These artists are all related to Nakata Yasutaka somehow, he is an electronic music genius =) He uses many influences and different styles… and blends them on his computer (hence why ALL tracks are considered electronic). Includes shibuya-kei, electropop, harder techno, blends with industrial/electro, and yes, even some stock vocal rapping with capsule.

    Recommended tracks in parentheses, small description after hyphen:

    capsule – the one with the most variety and awesomeness, I would say there is something here for almost everyone (JUMPER, Sugarless GiRL, 人類の進歩と調和, Love or Lies, The Music, 神様の歌声, idol fancy, music controller)

    COLTEMONIKHA – idk, lounge-ish electronic with bossa nova influence? Well, they only have 15 songs, and I like all of them. (communiCation, darkness rabbit, SLEEPING girl, そらとぶひかり)

    NAGISA COSMETIC – the music is quite good. Ichikawa Nagisa’s voice… not the best, but cute. (cosmetic happy, strawberry Short-cut)

    Perfume – very popular in Japan recently. They were originally an indies band, and their music back then wasn’t quite what it is now. But these days they have unique pop with some harder songs. Look forward to their new single 不自然なガール/ナチュラルに恋して. (GAME, edge, エレクトロ・ワールド, ナチュラルに恋して, Kiss and Music) Avoid the song “Perfume.”

    Ami Suzuki – not into most of her stuff. I only like her works with Nakata-san. anyway, those are more like… well, pop xD I’ve heard that these works are similar to the likes of Kylie Minogue, although I can’t confirm that. I like. (ONE, FREE FREE, Mysterious, change my life)

    MEG – Again, I only like her works with Nakata Yasutaka. She’s sort of a blend between capsule and Perfume, maybe. (WHY, BEAUTIFUL, TELEPHONE, PRISM BOY) Avoid “FREAK” (“FREAK -yasutaka nakata capsule remix-” is pretty awesome though)

    Nakata Yasutaka – his commercial solo work is pretty much the soundtrack of drama and recently movie of the amazing series Liar Game. It’s… well, dramatic. His solo work is instrumental though. (LIAR GAME, The Force of Gravity, Dope Hedz, Electrode Spark 0101) other good tracks on Season 2, don’t now the names. “XGroove” and “会席料理” he made at age 16 for 3rd XG Data Contest, in which he won the award for best technique.
    Other tracks:

    土岐麻子 – 君に胸キュン。-yasutaka nakata capsule remix-
    SMAP – CHAN TO SHI NAI TO NE! [random!! but cool imo]
    井上麻理奈 – 変な恋
    Leah Dizon – 恋しよう♪ – yasutaka nakata capsule remix-
    dahlia – 水色ジーナ

    sorry for long post and bias, haha. Hope you enjoy.

  36. Barry White
    April 1, 2010 at 10:01

    Greeeeen – Cool Story Bro 🙂

  37. Jonathan
    April 2, 2010 at 04:22

    : “Here’s what I’ve come up with over the years, if anyone else happens to have my taste, I prefer female singers because I can understand them a lot easier:” — Patrick.

    I share your preference for female singers although I understand neither male nor female Japanese singers at the moment. I’ll be looking through your list carefully since I have purchased CDs for a few of your suggestions already and know which I like.

    My newest find is Onitsuka Chihiro. And I absolutely love the live performance of Melodies by Aya Matsuura which is easily found on YouTube.

    Jonathan Paton

  38. Emily
    April 2, 2010 at 09:56

    For those into that crazy energetic J-pop stuff, AAA is pretty much the best!

  39. sanbyakuman
    April 3, 2010 at 03:52

    Three japanese rock bands:


    Thee Michelle Gun Elephant


  40. sanbyakuman
    April 3, 2010 at 04:15

    Also forgot Versailles,,, have some rather nice songs:

  41. Sionydus
    April 3, 2010 at 09:13

    If anyone wants a list of rock, I suggest these:

    Not all easy to find, but I’m sure you AJATTers are resourceful enough to find something. If not, here are some tips:

    Hope that helps.

  42. beneficii
    April 3, 2010 at 18:23

    The _Chibi Maruko Chan_ songs!

  43. Dan
    April 3, 2010 at 23:21

    Hey guys,

    I saw a lot of great bands suggested here but I wanted to add a few more bands and artists that have kept me fired up about learning Japanese. When I was living in Japan wading through loads of bad bad pop music and mainstream rock was hard yards but it is so worth it when you find those songs that you just want to listen to over and over.

    Shugo Tokumaru – joyful acoustic psychedelic wonderfulness

    Cocco – PJ Harvey-esque angsty rock. A simply awesome voice.

    8otto – rock 3 piece, sound a lot like the Strokes. The singer/drummer also has a nice afro.

    Polysics – New wave rock/pop who are quite open about their debt to Devo. Some outrageously catchy tunes, including this one where the lyrics are all based around the English pronoun table

    Boris – experimental Rock/metal. They have loads of albums spanning all kinds of metal, stoner, doom and rock material. Similar to My bloody valentine/Black Sabbath/Sonic Youth/ Nirvana, QOTSA, etc.

    Merzbow – I don’t know if you could call this ‘music’ but if you are into experimental electro/noise then this is pretty visceral stuff.

    Get involved,


  44. HDE
    April 4, 2010 at 11:04

    A lot of good ones mentioned already! 3 more to add:
    Avengers in Sci-Fi

    I also listen to japanator radio as well to learn about new artist.

  45. Patrick
    April 4, 2010 at 23:27


    Thanks a bunch for Onitsuka Chihiro, really enjoying it!


  46. Culden
    April 5, 2010 at 23:57

    I didn’t notice anyone mention スネオヘアー or Radwimps, or Buck-Tick. There’s also Abingdon Boys School, fronted by T.M. Revolution. They sound sort of like Linkin Park.

  47. Culden
    April 6, 2010 at 00:03

    Though I should say less “CRAWWWWWLING IN MY SKIIIIN!!!!”

  48. April 6, 2010 at 12:14

    some things I’ve gotten into other than what I’ve seen mentioned here are: happy end, nagisa ni te, deerhoof, ozrosaurus, plamo, tenniscoats, UA, yukari fresh, YMCK, miho hatori, and lullatone. I love Kiiiiiii, but they sing in engrish.

    & I love cosmic invention playing computa obachan:

  49. ultima
    April 9, 2010 at 03:01

    Why has everyone forgotten about B’z??? Probably the most famous J-rock band (who even have their star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame). Their songs are often in the dorama or movie soundracks.

    I’d suggest:

    -B’z – rock/hard-rock – incredible lyrics and a great voice by the lead vocal Inaba Koshi, they’ve got a lot of songs you will feel compelled to listen and re-listen. Definitely something you should check out: – 恋心 – 衝動 - もう一度キスしたかった
    shouldn’t flood the channel much more, so the last one would be - イチブトゼンブ (Buzzer beat OST)

    -Gackt (ガクト) – the guy you’ve all have heard of; rock/hard-rock. Has got a hell of a voice and his lyrics are great. He used to sing in a Visual Kei band. Quite a face in Japan.

    Mr Children – already mentioned by someone. Soft rock. Quite good to listen to on a sunny day. – Gift – Hanabi

    Of others I’d suggest some 嵐 (though not too much:), ステレオポニー (a few songs which are OSTs) and some hand picked J-pop songs though the list would be too long to include them.

    • 星空と有沙
      April 23, 2011 at 04:23

      Gackt used to be in MALICE MIZER
      which i find to be much better than him alone
      his voice was stronge, his lyrics were more human, more diverse, more different
      and he used to play the the piano. i ask you: WHERE IS THAT AMAZINGNESS NOW??

      tetsu and Gaz dropped out early. whatever became of tehm, look on wiki.
      mana hung around and created Moi dix mois
      Kami passed away, Rest in Peace.
      kozi has an excellent solo project, was in Eve of Destiny and now is in XA-VAT along with a member of caligari
      & Yu~ki kinda dropped off the map
      p.s. Gackt is actually a bit infamous. Unpopular opinion: he has kind of sold out. He is more of a game show host than a musician and has had a lot of plastic surgery.

  50. Phil (Another Phil, haha)
    April 9, 2010 at 08:23

    For Rap fans check out:
    They post new videos regularly from Japanese hip-hop groups. Also try googling the words ” 無料音楽 livejournal ” and see what comes up 😉

  51. Phil (Another Phil, haha)
    April 9, 2010 at 08:32

    Also check out:

    They give free downloads to some albums and pretty underground music like ELOQ (cool album) and Paranel. They also include the lyrics. It’s underground/experimental stuff though so take it into consideration, it’s not for everyone.

  52. Phil (Another Phil, haha)
    April 9, 2010 at 09:35

    I guess while I’m at it (this has nothing to do with music but sometimes I get bored and wanna play some children’s games. They’re REALLY easy but take the seriousness out a little bit and anything you can interact with in my opinion is good.)

    If you wanna check other sites 知育ゲーム is what I google.

  53. ahndoruuu
    April 27, 2010 at 16:01

    Mmm I actually have listened to Japanese music exclusively since I was about 11 years old, long before I had any intention to learn the language. Something about it just resonates with me I suppose, haha. My tastes are like…everything pretty much. I don’t like using genre to describe music though, so I’ll provide a youtube link for each artist. My latest favorites (that weren’t already mentioned by others or Khatz to my knowledge) include:

    Galneryus ( )
    acid black cherry ( )
    ART-SCHOOL ( )
    cali≠gari ( )
    SADS ( )
    Kiyoharu (solo vocalist of SADS) ( )
    heidi. ( )
    nobodyknows+ ( )
    OGRE YOU A$$HOLE ( )
    school food punishment ( )
    soulkids ( )
    the studs ( )
    Tokyo Jihen ( )
    tosinn ( )
    MUCC ( )
    Crossfaith ( )
    Melt Banana ( )
    deadman ( )

    That’s what I can think of off the top of my head…but if anyone wants more music recommendations I can assist. I know like….literally multiple hundreds of different artists.

  54. caribouuu
    May 22, 2010 at 00:05

    Those who as Drewskie enjoy british indie rock might enjoy Monobright, a great japanese band imho.

  55. Tom
    June 30, 2010 at 05:06

    I’m a seriously long time lurker, but I felt the need to post about this. I really like this article, not only because Khatz is talking about just DOING Japanese (Or L2 in general.) but because it stresses it for those of us who tend to try to intellectualize everything.

    I can’t tell you how often I do that. I must find a clear cut method, clear cut instructions, a step-by-step guide that tells me exactly what I need to do and exactly what steps I need to take and what each of those steps are going to do to help me achieve my goal. I don’t know if that was upbringing/education or simply something some people do that others don’t, but when you’re trying to do something like learn Japanese, you really need to just do it.

    Because you won’t understand. Understanding the process is counter-productive to learning the process. This has been said many times before, but it doesn’t matter how many books you read about people who know how to speak Japanese, you’re not going to learn it yourself until you start speaking and listening and immersing. You just need to DO it. Stop thinking altogether!

    Something about the human mind requires you to actually experience before you are able to reproduce. Educational instutes would have you believing otherwise, but you really need to do something before you can do it yourself.

    I haven’t mastered Japanese yet, but I can tell you that I’ve learned the most in the shortest amount of time when I was actively listening and speaking, rather than trying to find out how I’m going to start listening and speaking effectively. You learn on the way; while doing. Not beforehand.

  56. nippyon
    August 15, 2010 at 22:57

    Thank you so much! I was starting to think there wasn’t any good Japanese rock out there!
    Rock on><

  57. August 22, 2010 at 13:56

    Going to add my own suggestions for music as well as one album you should get (even if they have many good albums)

    いきものがかり / ikimono gakari – “My song your song”

    YeLLOW Generation – “Carpe Diem”

    Ore Ska Band – “Wao!!”

    Missile Innovation – “Be a Man”

    All are like pop/hip hop/alt tones. they’re great for learning the language because the vocalists are really clear.

    Now, for my request.

    If anyone knows of an artist named Nujabes. He’s Japanese. Well, was Japanese. He’s the king of jazzical hip hop… but he died. And his music has english lyrics.

    I’m humbly requesting that if anyone knows of anyone of the caliber of Nujabes with beautiful instrumentals and great features like him, please let me know on my blog or in these comments. I beg of you. He is my favorite artist but I can’t listen to him because he’s English lyrics (despite being Japanese! FU!!”

  58. Musashi
    December 3, 2010 at 05:54

    I noticed nobody mentioned HY, so I will. They are a great band, here’s a link
    They are one of my top 3 bands along with RADWIMPS and Bump of Chicken.

  59. Jules
    December 15, 2010 at 16:01

    I just wanted to put my two cents in as far as “sites for music” goes. The one site I go to to get up to date on my fav artists as well as learning about some new ones is

    For most songs (Japanese, Korean, and Chinese), you will have the translated lyrics, romaji lyrics, and then the Kanji lyrics. You can then scroll down and see the artist’s previous hits. Even if there isn’t a video, you can search the artist’s lyrics and some of them will have some combination of the T/R/K lyrics. There is even a section about which songs are topping the Oricon Chart.

    I just started to put music and lyrics into my SRS (and loving it, I had to cut myself off because it was almost 2 am XD ) and I know I’ll be getting a lot of my lyrics and whatnot from Jpopasia.

  60. Ian Long
    September 12, 2011 at 16:59

    I recommend Go!Go!7188.  stumbled across them by accident, but they are great!

  61. 蟋蟀 Devante
    September 27, 2011 at 07:52

    All these JP bands are poppy man.
    Anyone have bands that are more like classic rock or early british punk bands? Or early glam rock?
    Like Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest, London Suede, Sex Pistols, The (Southern Death) Cult, David Bowie, etc?

    • マルク
      July 10, 2012 at 17:14

      Not particularly that I know of. You’d probably have to look at bands from the 80’s.

      However, I highly recommend looking through as many B’z songs as you can find. I’m sure at least a few will fit that style, but if it doesn’t work for ya, sorry. 

  62. Sholum
    November 28, 2011 at 16:12

    I’ve been looking for music to listen to for a while. I prefer metal, but finding Japanese metal that doesn’t have screamed lyrics or English lyrics (or both) has been hard. Though I found two bands yesterday that I’ve been listening to, mostly cause I like their sound, I still don’t understand much Japanese… and they still scream some, but not a lot.
    Thousand Leaves-
    If you want to find more bands (and you like metal) watch these videos,
    there are six episodes out right now. This guy was nice enough to compile segments from many bands for people like us.

  63. Kylie
    January 23, 2012 at 15:51

    Some Visual Kei Jrock:
    Alice Nine is my favorite band. Ever. For reasons.
    Alice Nine’s 2010 single 閃光 –
    Followed by ViViD:

    ViViD’s 2009 single –
    Some Oshare Kei – SuG –
    Acid Black Cherry, Luna Sea, Miyavi, The GazettE, BORN, ScReW, D=out, Kagrra., An Cafe (Oshare Kei), Nega, Deathgaze. Just to name a few.

  64. マルク
    July 10, 2012 at 17:12

    I won’t introduce you to any nuanced/rare bands because I figure if you want those, you’ll have to look deep on your own. But here’s a lot of AWESOME mainstream stuff. It beats most mainstream American music easily.

    B’z — It’s like the contemporary Beatles of Japan. Most people know them, but for those that don’t, you’ll probably find a myriad of songs you like by them (unless you can’t stand rock).

    Asian Kung-Fu Generation —  Tons of songs that are sorta in an alternative rock genre, and they just have a feel that you’d have to listen to in order to understand.

    HOME MADE 家族 — They have some pretty mainstream hiphop/pop/rap-type stuff. Funky beats that keep ya listenin’.

    L’Arc~en~Ciel — They’re sorta like a punk rock scene (god, I’m not good with genres), but they have this really emotional feel to most of their songs.

    FLOW — They do a -lot- of anime songs. They’re mostly upbeat and really catchy. Check ’em out.

    There are more bands I could mention, but I usually just have like 1-20 of their songs because I picked up an album or a few singles from hearing them in an anime opening. That’s one of the greatest ways to find catchy music: watch anime. 

  65. MGM
    December 15, 2012 at 01:03

    From a mainly rock perspective, i’ll provide more support for:

    Asian Kung-Fu Generation – More recent stuff is usually a chill sort of rock, bit like Weezer(?). First album more punk-ish.

    Boris – (I believe they’ve straddled most genres 😉 though I think they’re best playing stoner rock)

    Radwimps – lots of influences here. When done right – (singing along to this one is great)

    Sakanaction – indie/alt electronic. Ranges from more atmospheric songs to songs great for Karaoke (like アルクアラウンド)

    9mm Parabellum Bullet – post-hardcore type of rock, though they have some good slower songs, ie;

    The Pillows – very prolific alt rock band –

    Suneohair – calming light rock –

    Ogre you asshole – calming and often odd alt-rock

    Sukima Switch – jazzy pop/rock –

    YUI – female singer, pop/rock

    and some that deserve a mention:

    DOES – garage-rock –

    Number Girl – alt/indie rock with some great guitar work, very influential –

    Andymori – fairly new band, energetic indie-rock –

    SID – more like visual kei, also good for sing-alongs –

    Ling Tosite Sigure/Rin Toshite Shigure/凛として時雨 – post-hardcore, pretty progressive with lots of tempo changes and still very catchy (probably my favourite japanese band!) –

  66. March 11, 2013 at 13:31

    “It’s now a self-sustaining reaction producing pure spiral energy”
    That is the best possible line, and I needed that. Really. That got me pumped for the now and the future, and although it doesn’t feel like a chore now, it feels weird doing this.

    Today is my 4th day into the AJATT life, and I’m still feeling a bit confused about the whole thing, so I’m trying to pep myself up. Been listening to The Pillows and Bump of Chicken all day [because it’s the only Japanese music I have right now, and although I love them like crazy right now, I will go insane if I don’t get more music, hahaha], and I’m reminded of why I enjoy rock [which I haven’t heard much of in ages, as I’ve been a hardcore techno guy for a few years].

    …and having my OS in Japanese is driving me nuts, because right now I’m only able to use my computer by having memorized the layout of where things are [or hoping the control is in katakana so I can just read it]…

  67. Poder
    November 13, 2013 at 12:32

    Stereopony is a favorite of mine that (sadly) has not been mentioned yet.

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