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Issue 16: My Japanese Study

April 18, 2010


What books do I use and how do I study? Why let me show you!

whiteeeing my fellow Japanese learning blogger giving insight to his ‘sentence picking’, (yes I’m talking about you Nihongo Noobie), I though it might be fun to give you an insight into my study books and studying. As you might know, in the sidebar I have a chart marking my study progress using these books. So without further due, show me the money…err pictures!
* I confess I didn’t even bother to take nice pictures 😛
** Pictures open in a separate window (just deal with it!)


So there you have it. How about you? How do you study? Show us a glimpse of your books and your study method below in the comment section. (link/picture all fine)

54 Comments leave one →
  1. Jacki permalink
    April 18, 2010 2:41 am

    You are a very inspiring person! I hope you know that. I’m going to take some time to get my Japanese studies a little more organized, hopefully before the end of May. I’d set my deadline sooner, but being a college junior can be so time consuming! @__@

    • April 18, 2010 9:26 am

      Why thank you!! I’m sure you’ll do very good! Just keep a clear focus (don’t buy TOO many books), and whatever you do, don’t give up!

  2. April 18, 2010 5:03 am

    neat! I should set something straight for myself, but I’m just not that organized.
    Which reminds me, I’ve left Minna No Nihongo long enough… I should start going through the chapters again Orz

    • April 18, 2010 9:29 am

      えっ? Organized? I’m anything but organized! Have you see my unreadable scribbling in the books? 😛 C’mon, Kat, get on with the program again! Don’t plateau…!

      btw, now I see here, will somebody please explain that ‘Orz’, I heard it was like ‘arm’ ‘leg’ something something, what is it?!!!

      *I could Google it but I’m waiting for someone to explain it to me

      • April 19, 2010 1:56 am

        hahaha Orz… can’t really explain in words… have to show you with a picture! Let me just say, it’s a classic Anime *OMG* I’m in despair!! pose.

        I’ve heard that Orz is the Japanese “version” whereas OTL is the Korean “version”… not too sure the credibility of that, but… at the same time, it was a friend from Taiwan that explained me what it was (and I kept thinking we have to read it as OOOrrhhhssss!!)

      • April 19, 2010 8:07 am

        Ok that is really WEIRD! hahaha
        Thank you for that lovely drawing (did you drew that?). So basically『Orz 』is not wearing any clothes getting on all fours and bending over submissively? Cus I can see its bum! (I’m a pervert)

        I think I’m lacking in the otaku department

      • April 20, 2010 11:00 am

        I can see how you are a perv, hahaha! j/k
        Actually… that’s just a random image from Google Image search. Whether or not you have to be naked for that, eh, I dunno… is your preference?? hahaha

        Though I have to wonder if that really is an otaku thing. or maybe it is. No normal person in real life would associate that pose with despair, I think.

        i suppose it’s like the Chinese character 囧. It’s a character but since it also looks like a face, people have been using it as an emoticon rather than the actual meaning of the character (or in this situation, “word”)

  3. dodogitu permalink
    April 18, 2010 10:43 am

    Hi, first timer here. Nice site btw 😀 And your textbooks look pretty neat, too bad they’re Chinese-published.

    I’ve been studying on and off for too long and never stuck to any textbooks long enough
    T_T. Used Minna no Nihongo when i was with a sensei for a month, but due to inevitable circumstances i had to stop the lessons and never really touched the book again. So my grammar is basically out of the door. But i do watch a lot of japanese TV shows (which sometimes comes in handy with japanese subtitles to refer to the dictionary when i need to) and read various shoujo manga (with furigana and a lot of picture reading on my part because my kanji is bleah). I can say i understand the materials that i watch/read enough to get the gists or to pinpoint bad subtitles, but i for sure can’t take any JLPT yet ahaha.

    So i’m gonna start over, and your study tips will sure help. Hopefully i can take the test this or next year 😀 Sorry for the long comment!

    oh, and OTZ is the same as orz ahaha.

    • April 18, 2010 12:36 pm

      Thanks Dodogitu-san! Yea on of the biggest to do wrong is to stop learning. So hopefully you’ll be able to stick to it this time around! Ganbatte!!

  4. Katha permalink
    April 18, 2010 12:24 pm

    Wow, 你真努力!
    Are you willing to tell us where you can buy the textbook? 😉

    • April 18, 2010 12:35 pm

      Actually you can buy it at most large bookstores like 书成 (Book City), in China 🙂 Maybe you can even order it off 淘宝 (TaoBao)!

  5. April 18, 2010 12:47 pm

    Well, you’ve got it pretty covered. I have the same kind of concept, so it’s good to see that others are pretty much on the same wavelength.

    One thing I would ask though is: when you’ve highlight everything, how much time do you give yourself to go over it? When do you decide that enough is enough and move onto the next thing? I have my own answers to these questions, just interested to see how other people get there.

    Another cracking post, btw.

    • April 18, 2010 1:55 pm

      Sorry, but your news about going to Tokio trumps every other post now. I bet you won’t be able to sleep the night (week) before! 🙂

      How much time do I give myself? Thats kinda a tough question, I mean, I can say, ok, I’m gonna give myself X amount of time to learn this stuff (for a new lesson for example I usually learn it over 2 or three (sometimes 4 depending how much stuff) days reviewing in between), but there’s no guarantee you’ll still remember it 2 weeks later. This is just because some things come easier and other thing you just need to see it a hundred times before it gets stored.

      I mark stuff covered in the lesson so that I can always glance over it at a later time just to extra reinforce what I had learned (or already forgotten since). I can’t really say, ok, I’ve marked it, learned it a couple times and then move on, never look at it again. Reviewing is equally important as learning, though I must admit, I review too little.


  6. アヤナ permalink
    April 18, 2010 2:44 pm

    かわいい!日本語のきょおうかしょ すきです。I hope I made that sentence right. (I’m such a noob). But yea I love Japanese textbooks. I’ve got 3 right now I think. I’ll make sure to post an entry about my studying. じゃ、ね!:-)

    • April 18, 2010 6:23 pm


      Stop right there!

      You outta finish those 3 first before buying more, trust me, I’ve been there and it ain’t pretty 🙂

      But seriously, too many books doesn’t let you focus and in the end neither will get read.

  7. April 19, 2010 12:50 am

    great design on the website mate!

  8. April 19, 2010 9:00 pm

    Wow, a name drop 🙂 yet another great post.

  9. Hagit permalink
    April 23, 2010 1:08 pm

    i just discovered your site.. how in the world did i got here just now?!!!!!

    well, first of all – your site is AMAZING!!! and i’m not talking just about the beautiful design!

    we share the same Japanese-textbook buying-addiction (though some of my friends would call sickness…) . actually one day one of classmate asked the teacher about what book to buy.. and she was like, “you should ask Hagit, she knows more about books than i do”!!

    funny thing, i discovered your site just by searching for new books to buy :-)))

    so yeah, i think i’m inlove 🙂

    and as for my study method —–>>>>
    – well, until today i was studying in my classroom and the heisig method, combining with reading.
    but today i decided to actually use the books i own and study the kanji in the right way. which is why i even came across this site. which books do you recommend for learning kanji writing?
    except for that – i use my ipod. i have an application which allows me to add new vocabulary and test it, though flash cards. so every time i bump into a new word i add it, and reviewing it each night. apart from that, i’m also using the Anki application for learning sentences.

  10. April 23, 2010 6:30 pm


    Nice blog!

    I study Japanese and English while having fun ! To learn the basics I’ve tried many things like Pimsleur Japanese, still use it occasionally)… there are so many things to find and try on the web!
    I’m always using different stuff according to my mood of the moment. That way I avoid boredom and if I get bored then I allow myself to be bored and take a break for days or even weeks. ( however during these breaks I always have a way to keep my japanese skills alive by writing posts on japanese friends’ blogs for exemple. It doesn’t feel like “studying” but feels like pleasure so even during the breaks I’m still “studying/practicing japanese” .^^ )
    After that when I feel motivated again I resume my japanese study and read mangas with my denshi-jisho, watch animes, drama, listen to radios, play japanese learning games on the DS, read easy japanese tales, read blogs, etc… My idea is to learn the natural way as if I were born a native. Of course to begin with I first learned Hiragana and katakana.
    Here’s a website where Japanese and English learning resources are filed together.

    Also check out my current English listening fluency blog:

    Could you tell me how you make all the designs, pics (and the kanjis on them also), etc… of your blog? It’s really neat and beautiful! love it!

    • April 23, 2010 7:25 pm

      Hi シルバン! I sometimes use Japanesepod101 too, I love the podcasts there, very ‘breezy’ yet informative. Though it’s good using various sources, I do think routine is good. Otherwise one could lose focus and it becomes to scattered.

      Learning if you were a native would include like 12 year primary and highschool 🙂

      I think its great that you’re learning English and Japanese (though, do you really need to learn English? your English is great!)

      I use Illustrator and Photoshop to create the graphics and images. And a box of clay for the chokochokos 🙂

      • May 2, 2010 8:55 pm

        Hi ! I do think routine is good as well, it’s clear there’s a risk of getting too scattered along the way without it!
        However I also think that too much routine kills creativity! One may easily lose a chance to find a new learning tool, a new way of improving from being shackled by the good ole routine. ^^
        That’s maybe why I have mini-routines only 🙂

        I understand you’re joking and that’s a good one 😉 and by “learning like a native” I didn’t mean the “academic way” but simply putting aside my native mindset, my concepts, my native language and just learning with fresh eyes and an open mind…just like we all did with our respective native tongue.

        Thank you! Yes I need and want to learn more English! Now it’s rather a matter of learning new words!

        I see now how you’re making all these cool graphics! Thanks for telling me!
        I have a digital art gallery on deviantart! I can photoshop too ^^ I invite you to check it out:

        The clay for the chokochokos is a very good idea!

  11. April 23, 2010 6:42 pm

    How could I forget to mention one of the most important tool which helps with my Japanese, that is: Rikaichan! I’m always using it ! 😉

  12. April 23, 2010 6:49 pm

    I posted a comment before the “Rikaichan” one but it doesn’t seem to have been published!
    I was sharing my way of learning English and Japanese and gave away some resources:


    Nice website by the way!
    Please could you tell me what software you’re using to make all these cool looking pics (and the kanjis on them)?

  13. April 26, 2010 11:22 am


    Ah, thats to ‘learn kanji’ then, cus you mentioned you wanted to learn ‘how to write them’. If it’s kanji books you want, the “Kanji in Context” series is quite good, I thought about ordering them myself though I haven’t yet. But I heard it’s one of the best books out there, though a bit steep in price but then again, you can’t really put a pricetag if you actually gain something from it 🙂

    But that book also seems really good, I’d say, BUY IT. (I’m really good at telling people to buy stuff 😛 )


  14. Hagit permalink
    April 26, 2010 1:00 pm

    well, of course i will buy it!!
    but i don’t want to order just one book (even though there’s two of them. but they look the same so i need more!! LOL!!).
    that’s why i’m waiting for another one of your posts 😀
    the books look so much better when YOU write about them 🙂

    oh, and the kanji in context always seemed to me as a sort of a dictionary with a workbook. so i don’t think i will buy them..

    take a look at this books – it seems a lot nicer:

    • April 26, 2010 1:17 pm

      Haha, alright. Though I gotta tell you I’m a bit busy lately…! 🙂

      The book you showed seems nice, although the layout is ちょっと…

  15. creativityjapanese permalink
    May 2, 2010 3:00 pm

    Wow!! You are studying really hard!! 頑張って!!

    • May 2, 2010 8:22 pm

      うん、頑張ります!Hardly as hardworking as you! Hows your blog? You’ve been lazy 😛 Give us something new to read

  16. May 19, 2010 3:21 pm

    すげえ~!実はSquireさんはぜんぜん怠け者じゃないようです。If you read and study that much and call yourself lazy… I don’t know what I am ^_^ lols! Thanks for the post! You got us thinking once again about how we go about our studying.

    • May 19, 2010 3:28 pm

      oh, sorry bout that… Here’s me pitching in: I listen to grammar on mp3, attend a Japanese class our company sponsors, watch lots of anime (subtitled) (listening is really my weakness), share what I’ve learned (I heard teaching makes you remember more), and do just about every interesting thing that I can do with nihongo. (Oh, and I think I got a little of the book addiction thing – but for me its manga) Someday, I hope to read and comprehend the bible without an english translation – its got one of the best how many translations for getting what it means right.

      • May 19, 2010 4:19 pm

        Oh I’m 怠けている like you wouldn’t believe it. I have been on chapter 11 in my textbook for, I think almost a month now!!! Can you **** believe it?? I need to stop wh*ring my blog and get back to studying hehe. I’m waiting for someone to knock some sense back into me again.

        Thats really awesome your company is sponsoring your Japanese classes (go get those freebies!). Actually that true, sharing and ‘teaching’ what you’ve learned. I mean, at least you’re paying attention to it by bringing what you’ve learned up again and ‘teaching’ it. Thanks for dropping by!

        Love your new blog layout btw!

      • Anonymous permalink
        May 20, 2010 4:29 pm


  17. Tori & Kyle Sharpe permalink
    May 26, 2010 4:09 pm

    To study? All I do is write and re-write characters over and over to get them in my muscle memory bank:) I draw pictures and make flashcards. On my flashcards I have actual pictures of family members or things around my house when I study. It’s kinda fun! And… I just try to talk to the Japanese people I know as much as I can in Japanese. I’m horrible at it right now, but I BELIEVE in myself:) Thanks for the fun blog!

    • May 27, 2010 11:51 am

      I do that too!!! I write words like a million times over and over. I have a picture-memory, so I also used to draw pictures on flashcards. Goodluck with your studies!

  18. Jessica permalink
    July 20, 2010 3:41 pm

    I’ve been wondering where you get your textbooks. In the image for your main textbook (#1) you mention that you can’t get it off of Amazon, so I’m just wondering where you get them from and where I could get the first one.

    I do have to admit that my introduction to Japan was through anime, Sailor Moon specifically when they began showing it on TV in the U.S.. Now though, I’m more interested in the culture and traditional arts. Anime proved a good introduction, and I still do occasionally read manga that’s been translated into English. I was lucky enough to spend 10 days in Japan with my college a couple of years ago and that just helped to make me more obsessed!

    A relative of mine did purchase for me the Rosetta Stone program for Japanese, but I want something besides that. Kanji with the Furigana readings is an option in the program, but I feel that they don’t really teach you to read it, you just have to pick it up as you go, which I think is probably a bad way to learn how to read the language. There’s also no practice outside of the program.

    The biggest thing is, I love you website, when I first found it, my thought was that it’s amazing, you give such good advice and point out important things. I’ve never had a formal class in Japanese, and it’s something I’ve been working on with little progress for years. I’m hoping I can put what I read here to good use!

    Thanks for having an amazing website!

    • July 20, 2010 4:10 pm

      Hi Jessica, thanks for visiting! I bought my main textbook in China. You can get it at most large bookstores such as Book City. A quick check found that you can actually order it off Amazon China (didn’t know there was one).

      The price is absolutely a steal! And the 1st book got revised just October last year. It’s part of a 8-book series which goes all the way up to very advanced. Do bare in mind that this book is written for Chinese people, so therefore in Japanese-Chinese.

      I would say, while Rosetta Stone is nice and fancy, for that money, you can get a whole bucket-load of great study material. I’d say keep away from Rosetta Stone.

      Now Im using this textbook just because it was used in class, now I wouldnt say it’s the best textbook ever…well I’ve actually never used any other main textbook…I take that back, it’s a good textbook! It’s really straighforward, no bells and whistles. And Im kinda used to it now, so it works for me. The book has a supplementary book with exercise answers and text translations (again, Chinese-Japanese).

      But, I would say, just go on, look for a book that you like and read the reviews. When it comes down to it, there are just a couple of books that are being recommended over and over.

      Good luck!
      *glad you like the blog!

      • Jessica permalink
        July 20, 2010 4:39 pm

        Unfortunately I don’t speak Chinese, but thanks for the link anyways! I wish I could find books that cheaply in the US. I keep hearing about the “Genki” textbooks, and they’re rated very highly on Amazon (almost the full 5 stars!).

        I would have much preferred getting a cash gift instead of Rosetta Stone, because you’re right! I could get so much material for that money, but alas, I was not the one doing the purchasing.

        Amazon does have a wide selection, but I might also go to my local bookstore and see what’s available there. I like to physically look at books before purchasing, and I figure if they have a good online rating and I can get them in store, then I’ll do just that.

        Thanks for your advice!

    • July 20, 2010 6:06 pm

      Where in the US do you live at? Maybe there is the store Bookoff near you. And if you need help studying Kanji, check out (for different methods. I highly recommend you look at this site if you haven’t already) and/or get the book Remembering the Kanji 1 and 2. 1st book helps you learn how to write them and remember the meaning 2nd book helps you with how to pronounce them. Also I wouldn’t recommend Rosetta stone due to the price but you can try Pimsleur. There are tons of products out there just continue searching through.

      • Jessica permalink
        July 20, 2010 7:21 pm

        I’m on the east coast, New Hampshire. I’ve seen before, even have it in my RSS feed. Thanks for the book recommendation, I’ll look into it, I’m going to need all the writing help I can get, especially because I’m left handed and I’ve noticed that some of the motions aren’t natural with that hand.

  19. Warre permalink
    August 28, 2011 8:30 pm

    Ah looks so fun to me 😀 But I’m just starting and I don’t really know how to… 😥
    Starting to learn a bit hiragana now, shouldn’t I ?

  20. April 30, 2012 1:15 pm

    Aaaah, Chokochoko-san, your page is fantastic! I already found 4books here which should arrive today and now I wanna have others too *gaah* your writing style is incredible, it’s so funny! makes my day! Right now I started my own page (well it’s in german *uh*) and I will add lots of japanese stuff there since i’m learning it right now :3 (maybe jlpt N3 with talking and N4 with kanji? hmmmm) kind of missing a guestbook here but it doesn’t matter. since I don’t wanna leave a comment on every single page I like (which would be like.. uh.. every single one?) I will end my looong and nothing-saying post here! But once again – Great Blog (^o^)v

    • April 30, 2012 1:27 pm

      Hi Mangakania,

      Thanks for dropping by and Im glad my blog could be of any help to your book choices.
      Goodluck with your blog too! Writing about it helps your learn better imo

  21. Francesco Gallarotti permalink
    November 16, 2012 9:33 pm

    It’s really sad to see that this blog has been abandoned… not only it was packed with useful and fun information but the layout was simply wonderful! Very “Japanese” even in the layouts, the colors, the font, everything! I hope you left simply because you moved on and found more interesting things to do. Anyways, thanks for creating all this!

    • November 17, 2012 1:06 am

      Hi Francesco, well abandoned sounds a bit harsh 🙂
      I have moved on to other more interesting things to do, not that this blog wasn’t interesting! But right now I’m focusing on photography more than anything else (you can take a look @ But I am hoping that I’ll have time do a new project about Japanese in the future (be it this blog, something entirely new or combined). Thanks for you kind word and stopping by to visit!

  22. August 31, 2013 8:05 am

    I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you make this website yourself or
    did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz respond as I’m looking to construct my own blog and would like to know
    where u got this from. thank you

    • Squire Starsquid permalink
      August 31, 2013 11:19 am

      Hi, well the theme is Vigilance, it’s a basic theme template. But I created all the graphics, colors, photos and images myself.


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