Kagami's Study Log

I started learning kana sometime back in 2008, have been picking up random bits of Japanese since then but not in a systematic order. I know Mandarin Chinese so kanji is kinda easy for me. Would put myself somewhere around N4 to N3-ish level, should be able to reach N3 this year if I study well enough.

I started learning Japanese because of anime, manga, and music, and would really like to be able to consume untranslated media. I’m focused more on input than output, so I’m prioritizing reading and listening.
One of the concrete goals: to be able to read my copy of Fullmetal Alchemist Chronicle - the book that started my desire to read Japanese, because there’s no sign of it getting translated, dammit.

I’d also like to be able to understand spoken Japanese well enough to understand MC sections of concerts, interviews of music artists etc.

For a shorter term goal, I’m planning to take the JLPT N3 test this December.

Tools and learning process
Right now I’m doing a mix of following:

  • Nihongo Sou Matome N3 Kanji, Grammar, Reading Comprehension - target to be done by October. Will need to start working on listening too.
  • Anki, I use the shared Nihongo Sou Matome decks to review N3 material. I also have a subs2srs deck built with some anime and J-drama I’ve watched before, using Morphman plugin to reorder the cards so that I’m only shown cards with 1 unknown word.
  • I have a book on Japanese grammar that came with audio tracks, I’ve been creating tracks for shadowing using Audio Lesson Studio. I like to use it when I’m driving to work - listen to a sentence, then try to repeat it out loud. I find it forces me to be more aware of the particles used. The N3 sentences are too fast and long for me to repeat while driving, so I’m working my way through the N5 and N4 sentences first.
  • general immersion - listening to songs I like, and watching anime (subbed, but I try to pay attention to what they’re saying).
  • use Yomichan to create Anki vocab cards when I read online articles and see unknown words. I haven’t been reading online recently though.

Other things I have done in the past but have put on hold, will resume when I have the time/are done with the Nihongo Sou Matome books:

  • read the 青い鳥文庫 version of 君の名は - about halfway through the book before I stopped.
  • read some 十分で読める books I picked up at BookOff during a Japan trip.
  • read a visual novel (Narcissu) using JGlossator, and also with the Japanese and English translation side by side - I stopped somewhere in the 4th chapter I think?
  • watch the Nihongonomori YouTube channel N3 grammar and vocab videos - watched about 1/3 of them.
  • read more on the Tangoristo app.
  • rip audio from my favorite J-dramas and anime to listen to while driving, at the gym etc.

Other things I want to try doing in the future:

  • study the lyrics of songs I like. I got some recommendations from @ Maisunadokei1856 the other day too, will check them out.
  • rewatch anime with Japanese subs instead of English, probably using Voracious video player.

I’m planning to update at least twice a month, hopefully this will provide more motivation for me to study :sweat_smile:


Make sure you do several full mock exams under exam conditions if possible.

Thanks for the tip, will do!
I’ve heard horror stories of the listening section being too loud and having echoes…will practice in a slightly noisy environment for that.
I assume you’ve taken the JLPT before? Any other tips?

Yikes, it’s been almost 2 months since my last update?
I’ve registered for the N3 exam in December, still making my way through Nihongo Sou Matome N3 Kanji, Grammar, Reading Comprehension. Progress is…not as fast as I’d like. I’m somewhere in week4/5 for kanji and grammar, week 3 for reading comprehension.
I have a feeling listening is going to be my weak point, gotta start working on it soon.

For listening, I haven’t been doing shadowing enough - mostly because I haven’t been keeping up my processing pipeline so I don’t have new material to use yet. Something to do this month.

Native material input wise, had been reading a bunch of tweets and articles following the KyoAni arson incident…it was just such a shock and so sad. And also finished some anime (subbed) - Miss Kobayashi’s Maid Dragon, Violet Evergarden, few episodes of Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai (the title…turns out it’s actually pretty good with supernatural-ey elements)

New tools/resources I tried out:

  • adding Japanese articles into Japanese.io for reading on my phone browser
  • KanjiTomo to lookup words in Pixiv manga (this tool is so awesome, what have I been missing all this while)

I’m working right now through the N3 Shinkanzen Master Listening Comprehension book.

I read through the whole book first and made notes, and now I’m going through it again doing all the listening exercises.

It’s important to a) do the question, even if it means listening a few times; b) check your answer and the script; c) listen again if you didn’t get everything.

I also have the Matome N3 listening but I’ll do that after I finish the Shinkanzen book.

I also have this listening practice book which again, I’m using just for extra practice just because it’s not as good as Shinkanzen: the hints are all buried in the answer key here and there. It has tons of exercises though:


Neat, if I finish the Matome listening in time I’ll check these out!
Are you taking the N3 this year too @phil321? If so, 一緒に頑張りましょう!

On a side note I just placed an order for the JLPT example test question books, should get them soon :slight_smile:

Whirlwind update:
Been MIA for a while, due to being busy with work, preparing for JLPT N3 in Dec, and then going on a trip to Japan, then the holidays, etc.

Just checked my JLPT results, I passed! :smiley: With a bigger margin than I thought too, I was worried about my listening but ended up getting full marks.

言語知識 53/60
読解 60/60
聴解 60/60
総合得点 173/180

Not sure if I want to prepare for N2 this year or take it easy and do it next year instead…for now I’m just focusing on reading manga and light novels I picked up from my trip in Japan. I missed Tadoku this round, will try to join in the future.


Congratulations! You’re probably in the 99th percentile–please let us know when you get your certificate.

I’m curious: did you understand everything you heard during the listening part of the exam? The reason I ask is I wrote N3 in December and even though I understood almost nothing I got a mark of 29/60.

Thank you!
For the listening portion, I understood most of it, till the last part where they had the sentence-response questions, I really wasn’t sure of that part at all (lots of 50/50 guesses). I seem to recall the section before that had me baffled at some parts too.
Do you know if they do grading curves for JLPT?

I think so; the marking system is a complicated computer-calculated one that awards more points to questions that are difficult (as measured by how many people got them wrong), and I think that as part of that then everything is scaled so N people pass. The official site is not entirely clear about the methodology though.

Ah that makes a lot of sense. Thanks!
It does make the prospect of going for N2/N1 scarier…you basically have to be at a certain percentile to pass huh.

Quick update:
Haven’t been doing much active studying, just trying to keep a certain level of passive immersion at least. Mostly that consists of listening to some podcasts during my drive to work, some anime watching (still with English subs, haven’t weaned that off yet), and some reading (mostly manga).
Trying to track an estimate of the time I spend in immersion and studying, targeting 100 hours this year, should be a doable target.

It’s about time I start studying seriously if I’m aiming for N2 this December though…steeling my nerve to go through the Sou Matome Series and reviewing Anki again. I’ve been letting my Anki cards languish after the N3 exam, not looking forward to the backlog there :frowning:

On a side note, I randomly picked a couple of manga I’ve been meaning to check out to read in Japanese, and somehow I managed to pick manga that has a character speaking in Osaka-ben, heh. (あずまんが大王 and 実は私は). Half of the time I don’t know what exactly they’re saying but luckily there’s enough context in the manga to figure it out. I think I’m going to need to actually listen to (not just read) Osaka-ben to get the hang of it.