Study Log: unseenjapan (Jay)

Following Satogaeru, I’ll just copy a little bit of my first post from the old Koohii forum thread, but will otherwise start my study log fresh.

How I Started

I’ve been interested in Japanese since I was in middle school and saw my first undubbed anime (it was 科学忍者隊ガッチャマン). I didn’t do much with this passion until a mid-life crisis moment in 2012 when I realized I was playing too much Halo and needed some sort of larger purpose. I decided to re-invest my efforts into studying Japanese…which brought me to this forum and its abundance of resources.

I believe in the comprehensible input hypothesis. So I started out with some beginner and intermediate textbooks, found simple texts that I was motivated to read (mainly 昔話), and used those to start creating my own vocab decks. At the same time, I used RtK near the beginning to develop stories and make the kanji stick in my head better. Once I developed more of a foundation in the language, I kept using the same strategy: pick up something from native language, study the vocab and grammar in it, and bring it to the point where it became “comprehensible”.

Where I’m At

Last year, I passed JLPT N1 after about six years of exposure to and daily study of Japanese. Currently, I’m aiming to take on the 漢字検定かんじけんてい. I’m initially aiming for Level 3, but will likely try for 2 eventually.

What I’m Doing

KanKen (漢字検定かんじけんてい)

I’m using Anki to drill practice test questions at 3級 level - vocab, synonyms/antonyms, 四字熟語よじじゅくご, 送り仮名おくりがな, etc.

It’s somewhat slow going, as the deck is all production and handwriting, and thus takes about 60/minutes a day to get through. However, I find it extremely valuable. As I’ve said before, I find this practice is raising what I call my “kanji competency”. It’s a lot easier now to read kanji quickly, to write them, and to visualize the kanji for words when I hear them spoken. In short, I think it’s made my Japanese better by making everything more concrete and available to me.

I plan to finish this 3級 practice book in the next three months, after which I’ll see when the next 3級 exam is in Vancouver.


Reading has always been a cornerstone of my practice. While I love to read novels, I find I just don’t have the time for them. Most of the reading I do now is reading Japanese news for material for I loosely estimate this is getting me at least 10 pages/day, sometimes more.


My mainstays these days are the NHK News Journal podcast, and morning news shows - primarily Ohayon! and Sukkiri! on Ni-tere. My wife and I are also working our way through US shows on Netflix with Japanese dubs. We’re currently about halfway through her current fave, THE BLACKLIST.


Honestly, I feel my production is waaaay down. I do a lot of speaking with my wife as usual, but haven’t been explicitly practicing writing or other speaking due primarily to time constraints. This is something I really want to work on, especially as I’m focusing on speaking primarily in Japanese for the site’s fledgling YouTube channel.

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Since I host the forum now, I guess I should do a better job of keeping my stuff updated. :smile: I’ll try and get into a rhythm of weekly updates here.


This week felt like a slower week study-wise, as I’ve been adjusting my schedule back to include exercising again. That’s something that really slipped when I got busy with Unseen Japan, and as a result, my health and my mood slipped along with it. My wife and I have slowly been ramping up to going to an exercise class 3x/week, and last week, I started going back to the gym 3x/week to do light strength training followed by cardio on the elliptical. Also, my new job is now a 40 minute walk from my house, so at least 3x/week I can get well over 12k steps in just by walking to and from my job.

The net result is I’m feeling a lot better and more energetic again, which is a nice feeling. I’m looking forward to channeling that increased energy back into my work and my studies.

Between caring for my health and my new day job, though, it feels like my Japanese reading has slipped a little bit. This week’s goal is going to be to increase my reading time, while also keeping everything else in balance.


The good thing about walking so much is it gives me an excuse to work on listening, and I’ve been taking advantage of that. I’ve gotten through the NHKジャーナル nearly every day this week. When I run out of that or there isn’t an episode due to a holiday, I generally listen to たまむすび on the TBS Cloud Radio player.

For TV, my wife and I are talking making our way through THE BLACKLIST; I expect we’ll be done with the episodes that have been dubbed in another couple of weeks. I’m hoping I can convince her to move back to J-drama after that; since she’s gotten addicted to BLACKLIST, our J-drama ingestion has dropped to zero :sweat_smile:

I’ve also been trying to listen to more comedy lately. I’ve really gotten into サンドウィッチマンコント. This one that starts off the bat with a kanji joke warmed the cockles of my Japanese geek heart:


Like I said, not nearly as much as I’d like. One issue is that I’m drilling kanji for the 漢字検定3級, which is eating up about an hour/day - and that’s obviously cutting into my reading time. While that sucks, I don’t want to stop 漢検 study, at least not until I clear 2級. After that, I’ll return to extensive reading.

I do manage to keep up on the news through reading, and probably do at least 10 pages of reading for each article I write on Unseen Japan. So it’s not that my reading is non-existent - it’s just lower than back when I was reading a novel every 7-10 days.

I’m thinking I might go back to counting what I read using a page/word counter, and ensuring I get at least 30 pages a week. I think that’s a modest, doable goal that will ensure I continue to keep my reading skills up.


Plodding along. I’m 29% through my 3級 deck. I predict, at this rate, I’ll be close to 100% by June, at which point I’ll take the3級 test on the 3DS and see where I land.

In the deck I’m using, the 四字熟語 have no examples sentences, so I’m taking the time to add some. I’m mainly using to loop up 四字熟語, as they have not only examples sentences, but even example conversations for a lot of words.


At a low right now. I speak with my wife, and speak Japanese at some social events and for my YouTube channel, but not much beyond that. I’m going to try and push myself this week to put some longer posts on Instagram.

That’s all for this week - more next week.


I didn’t do an update this weekend, and have some dead time today now that I’m blocked on some work items, so why not - here’s an update.

I was hella busy this weekend, and didn’t do as much Japanese-ing as I figured I would. On the plus front, I’m back into the full swing of exercising and staying physically active. But after a 30-mile bike ride, a Saturday drinking with friends, Zumba, and yard work, I found myself with very little weekend left. By Sunday night, I basically zoned out and watched several episodes of the 吹き替え of BLACKLIST - which is studying, I suppose, though I wasn’t overly engaged. I’d call it Lazy Japanese-ing.


Still keeping up with the KanKen deck I inherited from karageko. I’m 34% through the 3級 deck.


I’m not adding new cards every day, simply because I sometimes don’t have time/energy. This has been a Good Thing - reviews have stayed decent, and I don’t always have to spend 60+ minutes getting through a deck. (After a day or two of not adding cards, it’s only about 30-35 minutes to finish reviews.) That means it may take me longer before I tackle the 3級 tests, and before I make my way to 準2級. But I’m not in a hurry.

I’m still very deliberate when adding new cards. If a card contains a kanji I haven’t studied in depth up until now, I look it up in 漢字辞典オンライン and study its meaning and its radical. For 二字熟語, I make sure I understand the kanji composition, or 構成. If I don’t, I study the kanji whose meaning I don’t clearly understand. In other words, I’m actually studying them, instead of just adding them and hoping my understanding of them kinda sticks. Which is how I should’ve studied kanji and vocab in the first place, in retrospect…

For 四字熟語, I’ve found 四字熟語の百科事典 ridiculously helpful. It’s one of the best resources I’ve found on the subject.


A little better. I re-started a JP twitter account so I could immerse more in Japanese and strike up conversations with people in Japanese. I’ve been posting to it a little, but not as much as I’d like.

No speaking practice beyond my wife, really. I really need to make some Japanese friends in the area. I’ve reached out to a few folks on Conversation Exchange, and will see how it goes.


About the same - lots of research for articles, and a lot of Twitter. I’ve been saving links I like to Pocket and reading them when I get a chance.

Among the interesting things I’ve read lately:


Keeping pace with NHKジャーナル, BLACKLIST, and - on afternoons when I have no meetings - tuning in to watch Oha4! and/or スッキリ! on Ni-Tere.

That’s all for now. More next week.

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Ugh, been way too long since I updated. Here’s what I’m up to.

Outside of Japanese, things are going well. I’m still full bore back on the health wagon again, so I’m feeling much more energetic and productive. On the Japanese front, I feel I’ve slacked a little, and will be trying to reset my priorities this week and get back to brass tacks.


Since the past few weeks have been busy, I decided to stop adding new cards daily, and only add on weekends when I had the time. The result is that I haven’t made much forward progress: I’m through 41% of the my 3級 deck, with 1,408 cards to go. I’m going to start adding 20 news cards/day again to try and make some more positive progress toward taking 3級 later this year or early next.


Continued article reading. I’m trying to read more JP Twitter as well, as I find it pretty challenging and engaging, so trying to flip over to reading people’s tweets when I have odd moments to kill.

I’m slowly getting back into reading novels again, though not at the pace I used to. I have 物語のおわり by my bed, and am trying to read at least a few pages each night. My informal goal is to try and get at least 10 pages/day done, but I’m not there yet.


Pretty good. NHKジャーナル most days, some TV news, and a lot of drama - especially with the new season starting in earnest next week. My wife and I made our way this week through all 10 episodes of イノセンス、which was pretty good. Sakaguchi Kentarou is becoming one of my favorite actors on Japanese TV; he can actually act, and he takes on a wide variety of interesting roles.


The usual - speaking at home, some online use (Insta, Twitter). A fair amount of talking in my head while walking about, trying to switch my thought from almost all EN to more JP.

That’s all for now. Will aim for a more timely update next weekend.

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Thanks for the heads-up about Innocence! I have it ready to watch but wasn’t sure whether it was worth it or not.

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Definitely check it out. And if you can still find, I also really enjoyed SIGNAL, the last series that Sakaguchi starred in.

Hey, a regular weekly check-in! Fancy that!

I’ve been a little disappointed that I haven’t had much time lately for in-depth studying, so I dedicated a chunk of time to explicit study last night and to today as well. Tonight, I focused on creating some Anki cards from interesting sentences I’ve gathered, and putting them into my deck. I’m re-watching some stuff from the latest drama season with hard subs, and creating cards from them and just adding them into my KanKen deck in a sub-deck so I can study them independently. To keep with the KanKen theme, I’m adding most of the cards as kanji production cards (except for pure kana words, for which I just do recognition.)


I’m also watching these dramas and using VLC to record short clips so that I can listen to harder parts of dramas on the go. I did this last night for the latest ep of 緊急取調室、and am going to tackle an ep of INNOCENCE before bed tonight so I have something to listen to on the walk to the gym tomorrow.

Kanken-prep-wise, I started adding new cards daily again, and I made some progress. I’m now 47% of the way through the current deck. I didn’t get through all of my new cards or reviews every single day, but I always managed to catch up by the next day, so I don’t have a huge backlog.


Reading-wise, still mostly articles for Unseen Japan; that keeps me busy enough that it’s hard to make time for anything else. I did manage to get about 20 pages of おわりの物語 read, which I was happy with.

Production is low atm. I really need to work with interacting more with JP speakers through my Twitter account. I’ve been spending more time building our English speaking following and not enough engaging with native speakers. Thankfully I have my wife to talk to, so I’m not getting zero practice.

Goals for this week:

  • At least 30 pages of おわりの物語
  • Keep up with Anki, adding 20 cards/day
  • Read my JP twitter streams and post meaningful Japanese replies at least five times
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Thought I’d steal a lunch break to provide an update.


Feeling good both mentally and physically. I’ve been reading a lot lately on Medium about how exercise is good, not just for the body and one’s mood, but for cognitive functioning as well, and it’s given me a lot of extra motivation to keep at it, and to continue to watch what I eat/drink.

Exercise combined w/ walking mindfulness meditation has had a positive effect on my concentration; I can feel it both at work, and in my work on my Japanese studies & Unseen Japan.


Production. I want to get more serious about production, so I decided to bite the bullet and start a YouTube channel. I’m working on the script for the first episode now. In order to make sure this actually happens, I scheduled a tutoring session with an iTalki teacher to review it. The session is for this coming Wednesday, and I told her I’d have the script to her by this Sunday. So, yeah - clear line in the sand. I’m committed now! I’ll use this space to update on progress, and will share a pointer to the first vid when I’m brave enough to post it.

Reading. Not as much as I wanted. I’m shifting gears away from setting a hard reading #, and instead practicing on listening to Japanese dramas using the method I discussed last time (making clips from VLC). I have four shows added to my iPhone already, so I can practice anywhere. I plan to add another two-three shows this week.

Anki. Decent progress. I maybe had one or two days since my last update where I didn’t make all my reviews or new words in a day, but in general I’m getting through reviews and adding 20 new cards/day. I’m now 53% through my 3級 deck. I think once I get 80%, I’m going to break out the 3DS KanKen game and see where I’m at by taking the long form 3級 practice exam.


That’s all for now - more soon.

Heh on the subject of exercise, I joined two running groups in Japan. For both exercise and to meet people/use Japanese.

Unfortunately, despite both groups being mostly Japanese; everyone wants to speak English to me! I get some Japanese in, but not much. I find taxi drivers or going on trips outside of Tokyo (or maybe I should just leave 港区) are the best source of random practice!

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That’s one of the cleverest ruses to get Japanese speaking practice that I’ve heard to date! :laughing:

I’m somehow glad this isn’t just me! It always seemed I got better conversation practice on random trips to Tohoku or rural Hokkaido or wherever than in Kanto.


Honestly, I’ve had some really good ones in Tokyo. Usually on 2am drives back from Shibuya after 終電 and a lot too much nihonshu.

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I realize I’ve been batching big updates because it’s the way I did it on the Koohii Forum, and Fabrice had asked us to keep the chattiness of Study Logs to a minimum. I then also realized that they’re my rules now, so - fuck it, here’s a micro-update!

I managed to eke out a script for my YouTube vid in time for review w/ an iTalki teacher today (Manami - The result was a vast sea of red ink. :expressionless: But a lot of good feedback.


I’m going to create a revised script from these revisions, practice it, and then record it. Hopefully, I can then also use these revisions as a guide for the next video, and that will help me ingrain some of the lessons and improve my output. Time will tell…


Thus a tyrant was born.

Good luck with your video. :slight_smile:


I wouldn’t mind if the study logs got more chatty. I’d love to more feedback/comments on them, both for the helpful advice, and because I think it’d help build the community here.


I’m all for it, and I invite others to update as they see fit.

I promise to rule with a velvet fist.

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Almost three weeks?! Daaaaamn. Okay, here we go.

I took the past week off from writing for Unseen Japan to take a breather, get my bearings, and focus on meditation and my Japanese studies. I also upped my biking game, getting up to between 60 and 80 miles/week, and have dropped about 7 pounds in the past two weeks. The upshot is that I’m feeling more calm and energetic - which translates into more energy for studying.

Now onto study progress.

Anki/漢字検定3級. So…that plan to add 20 new cards/week? Absolutely creamed me. :expressionless: I missed a day this week, and when I tried to catch up the next day, it took me two hours. I turned all new cards off yesterday, and today’s reviews alone took me 47 minutes :persevere:

I know the new cards are the issue here. I’m adding them too fast, and then I forget them when they come up for review, which saddles me with a backlog of cards to re-learn. I’m going to keep new cards off for this week, then start adding new cards more slowly. I’ll probably start with just five/day and see how that goes.

This will slow down my drive for 3級, but I’m in no hurry, and I want to make time for other activities, like writing.

Speaking of which…

Production. I’m focusing more now on production as my primary study activity outside of Anki.

I sat down last night with the intent of recording my YouTube video. I quickly realized that I was actively reading from the script, which looks terrible on camera. So I backed out of recording, and instead have been practicing the script yesterday and today in prep for recording tonight. In retrospect, this is a much better approach, as it forces me to internalize the corrections I got on my script from my teacher. It also helps drill common sentence patterns related to things I care about into my head. I’ll post a link here once I do post-production and have the courage to actually post it.

I’ve also gotten active on my JP Instagram account again, and am starting to occasionally post in JP on my Twitter account too.

I’m also committing again to at least four times a week handwriting in a journal. I bought a notebook for it (the folders w/ loose leaf grid paper were too much), and did three writing sessions last week.

Input: Did a little reading, and a ton of TV. Our current drama slate is:

  • 私、定時で帰ります
  • 白衣の戦士
  • きのう何食べた?
  • 集団左遷
  • In Hand
  • ラジエーションハウス (just started; slightly cringy, as one character is fixated on a former childhood friend who, due to a trauma, has repressed all memories of him. But watchable for the medical drama, and the cringe level is perhaps dropping off.)

I also watched some good variety, such as 100まで楽しむつもりです, which I tweeted about last night. It had a segment about a guy who has 619 certifications in a variety of subjects - which, frankly, makes the rest of us look like slackers. I like this show, and am going to try and catch it consistently.

I also watched some silly variety, including ミレニアガール hosted by 藤田ニコル. More seriously, I got into watching News Zero, which is a good combination of news recap and in-depth reporting/interviews with news makers.

That’s all. More next time.

UPDATE: I don’t really like recording the script I wrote with my face as video, so I’m going to try switching to an audio recording, and then I’ll make a video to accompany it.

I made some good progress today with my practice, but the delivery is still not nearly as smooth as I like. I’m going to continue to practice it this week, and will try and record again later in the week. I’m also starting to work on my next talk in my journal.

My periodic update…

Personal goals continue to move along very nicely. I’m up to biking between 80-100 miles/week, and I’m steadily losing weight. I expect to be back to where I was at this time last year by the end of summer.

I participated in my first group bike event last week - a ride around the city of Seattle. The newly re-opened underground tunnel through the city and the express lane of the north-south highway were closed for the event, so everyone got to bike on “forbidden territory,” as it were. Post about the experience from my JP Instagram below.


Production. I bought a new journal a week ago, and made a commitment to try and write three times/week. I’ve done better than that, and am currently on a four-day streak. I’ve made a habit of writing right before I go to bed, which is a great way to unwind at the end of the day and disentangle myself from my phone/computer. It’s also been great for keeping myself motivated with my goals. Beyond normal journaling content, I’m also trying to incorporate discussion of articles I’m reading lately.


In the back of the journal, I’m keeping track of words I want to study. I’m focusing a lot on names recently, as I want to brush up my knowledge of name pronunciation. I like doing this better than just adding to Anki; I have enough to study in Anki already for the 漢字検定、and don’t want to add to the pile. I keep some loose 用紙 grid paper in a pocket in the journal cover for random word writing practice.


As for the YouTube video I was doing…I decided to ditch it, and I posted my work as an essay instead. I just much prefer writing to recording a video!

Anki/漢字検定. No new cards added this week. I’ve been slammed with reviews, so I stopped adding, and I’ve been concentrating on getting the cards I’ve already added closer to mature before I dump more cards in. I’ve kept up every day with reviews, so that’s good.

Input: Some reading for UJ as well as for pleasure. Lots of TV - probably about 12 hours of drama in the past week. Since I had a three day weekend, I settled in and binge-watched 3年A組, which was very entertaining. My wife and I are also keeping up on our usual faves. My goal this weekend is to get back to watching 派遣占い師アタル, and perhaps also squeeze in the adaptation of Higashingo Keigo’s 人魚の眠る家.