Stories of how/why you began studying Japanese

I read an online article about the Japanese writing system in March 2018. It sounded complicated, but also intriguing. I had previously dabbled with French on DuoLingo and found it stimulating, so I decided to try out Japanese on the same platform.
It was nothing serious, just 5 minutes a day learning hiragana and a few words.
DuoLingo has nailed the gamification aspect, but I didn’t like the actual content that much, so I looked around for other ressources.

I took a short tourist course in Japanese in the fall. It was very fun, so I decided to learn Japanese as a new hobby. I was 45 at the time. I wasn’t that interested in speaking Japanese or watching Japanese content, so I decided to focus on understanding written Japanese.

I began using WaniKani. For me the best thing about it is that there is a clear path forward: do some lessons, keep doing reviews until they stick. Everything is curated, I don’t have to consider what is relevant, etc. As for actually learning kanji, I am not sure whether WaniKani is a crutch or very good tool, but as a hobby it worked very well.

I like BunPro for the same reasons. I am just taking the lessons in order, a few lessons a week and doing my reviews each day.

My goals for 2022 is go through N3 on BunPro and maybe attempt JLPT N3 at the end of the year, just for fun.

I will also try to get a few Japanese pen pals.

My long term goal is to attend the International Congress of Actuaries in Tokyo in 2026. The congress is held every four years, so it would be a good chance to mix some business and pleasure.


I’ve completed Wanikani and I’m pretty confident in the ~2100 kanji it teaches, so I’d say for me (and a lot of others) it has worked very well. I almost never encounter unknown kanji now (and when I do, I find it easy to learn them with Anki now), so these days my problems are just vocab and grammar. (and the speed of talking / listening comprehension for audio)

My goals have always been to be able to understand games/anime/manga/books/movies in the original Japanese as well. Though the further I progressed, the more the language itself started to motivate me. It’s just so fascinating and different from western languages.
Roman(ce) languages are quite similar in many ways, and after having learned German, English, Latin and French, while every language is unique and hard, it’s not as interesting as Japanese. (Russian would also be intriguing)

Still, games are probably what I’m most looking forward to applying myself to. I’m currently playing the original Final Fantasy 7 and having a great time. It took me 45 hours to finish disc 1 of 4, since my pace is often still quite slow and I’m creating Anki flashcards from vocabulary, but it’s very fun and rewarding :slight_smile:

I recently finished my first game in Japanese, Grandia 2. It was great, and easier because I had played it in English before.
I also started my first book, 人間失格 (“No Longer Human”) by Osamu Dazai, but it’s a bit on hold. Not because it’s too hard, even though it is and my pace is turtle-like, but because I want to prepare for JLPT N2 and I feel like a lot of what I learn from the book is too advanced and irrelevant there, and it would mean too many flashcards to make currently. But I loved the book and can’t wait to finish it in Japanese.


I kinda started learning japanese on a whim last December during my christmas holiday.
The Google App Store advertised a japanese learning app (Kawaii Nihongo) to me and I just downloaded it and tried learning japanese. (Kawaii Nihongo is quite ok, but things don’t stick and it is uncomplete, so it is more of a feel-good app)
I hopped around several apps, until I decided to give Wanikani and later Bunpro a try. Now I am considering paying for kitsun as well, as I seriously need some more Vocab training and Anki is not working for me.

Of course I’ve been a huge Fan of japanese Media in general, so I still hope to someday be able to consume games and anime in its original language.
Right now its going ok, I made progress in my first year of learning japanese, so I understand some simple sentences every now and then. Playing or watching in japanese only is still a long way ahead though. I tried it with FUGA after my first playthrough in english, but it was way to stressful an my current level.

I also bought some japanese retro games that were either to expensive to get in a localized version or were japan exclusive to keep me motivated. (Baten Kaitos 2, Fire Emblem Path of Radiance, Nintendo Puzzle Collection, all GameCube Games)
I still need to buy the japanese console though. (Gamecube or Wii, prolly Wii, so I can get Captain Rainbow and other JP Exclusives as well)


@Wippo Japan exclusives are very motivating indeed! One of my near-future projects is Tokimeki Memorial, which Tim Rogers aka ActionButton made a huge video about.


I am in the midst of watching the Action Button Video (little by little) and now I wanna play it too.
I feel a bit ashamed that I have not heard of this game before, as it seams to have left quite the mark on the videogame landscape.

Edit: I finished the video (skipped the let’s plays) by now and I think I’ll keep an eye out for the PS1 Version.


In short, I started learning Japanese (Kanji and grammar), because I moved to Japan!
Initially I was planning on spending perhaps a year or two here, then move back to my home country; however I happened to meet my now wife and mother of our son.

Originally I had a fleeting interest in Japan and it’ culture etc. I began watching YouTubers in Japan (I can’t remember how or why I started?), this grew my interest in the country. Then I taught myself how to read Hiragana and Katakana. I also accidentally was introduced to anime via another YouTube channel. Intrigued, I dabbled in popular anime shows and enjoyed them enough to move onto less mainstream anime. I still watch the occasional show, when I have some ‘rare’ spare time.

Anyway, learning Japanese is now a necessity for me really. Hard work, but must be done!


Back then in 2013 I started liking Japanese boyband Arashi and their variety shows. It was so hard to get their subbed variety show unlike korean variety. It motivated me to learn Japanese so I could understand their show without sub.


Mi history with Japanese goes back to when I was 12-13 (I am 19). There’s no specific reason to why I decided to learn Japanese, I was starting to get into anime and was interested in the culture and all that, so I started learning the lenguage without much thought. Of course I wasn’t aware of the huge variety of resources online (and English isn’t my first language so by that time the options were very limited). I learned kana and started Minna no Nihongo but eventually lost all motivation.

One day I came across Heisig’s RTK and discovered Anki. Once I had finished 80-90% of the book (which took me a lot more time than it should have due to my lack of consistency) I stopped doing reviews and during the first coronavirus lockdown I did Genki I and started grinding vocabulary (because I had studied RTK, it was then when Japanese words and the way they are formed started to make sense to me).

Later on that year I discovered Cure Dolly’s videos and fell in love with the way she explained Japanese grammar structure. My Japanese comprehension level skyrocketed just by watching her videos. Last year I just kept doing reviews in Anki, and a few months ago I came across the Matt vs. Japan Youtube channel, started to get serious with inmersion and also learned about this website, which has been pretty useful so far.

My long-term goal is to be as close as native fluency as possible. I am planning to apply for a scholarship to do my master’s degree in Japan when I finish university (although I am unlikely to get it), and I’d like to live in Japan for a few years.


As a fan of Johnny’s from the mid-00s, I was absolutely shocked by the amount of K-pop stuff just freely accessible online, even back then.

“You mean this is just on YouTube and not hidden between layers of locked LJ communities?!”

Now that JE is minimally online (such as Arashi being on Spotify), I’m still not used to it!

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This sounds almost exactly like me. I started studying Japanese in around August of 2018. I had just moved back to Australia from Sweden, after learning Swedish in about 6 months (so similar to English that I think a really determined person could do it in less). This was my first experience with language learning, and lo and behold, I loved it.

For me, learning Swedish opened the doors for other languages, as I was always under the impression that I wasn’t smart enough to learn a language. With the newfound confidence I had from that, I decided to try Japanese, having been a massive fan of Japanese games (especially RPG’s) my entire life. The thought of playing them in the way they were intended was a hugeeee source of motivation.

I was lucky enough to meet my now partner, Haruna, only a few weeks after I started studying. Her help and encouragement just gave me even more reasons to focus. About a year and a half after I started studying, I was very slowly reading books, and started to gain a huge interest in kanji, including its history in regard to Japanese.

From then, kanji, playing RPG’s in Japanese, reading, (and now working at Bunpro) has made up my day to day life. The absolute biggest incentive for me at the moment though is to become the best teacher I possibly can be, as I strongly believe that facilitating personal growth in other people is the most rewarding thing I could do with my life.

… Oh and I also immerse a lot :wink:. Usually just listening to anime while I work hahah.


Wow, you really just started in 2018? I’ve been studying…a considerably longer time period. Maybe I need to immerse more. It’s very hard for me to do so while I’m working, even though it is very possible. But in these past few years I’ve probably averaged about an hour of study per day and maybe 1 hour of immersion per day. I guess you really do get out of it whatever you put in. I have been better about it recently though.

It’s nice to be reminded that there is no secret to it, just a lot of input and dedication. Well…tools like Bunpro also help quite a bit.


Definitely no secret to it. Learning is calculated in hours invested, not years. Let’s hope that tools like Bunpro continue to reduce the load of investment required though :sweat_smile: