So you want to learn Japanese ? Let’s be realistic here.

I’m really not trying to sound like a butt. Really. If you’ve ever fancied learning Japanese for any reason (be it to get a gf/bf, play otoges, watch anime without subtitles) I suggest you really think about WHY you’re learning it-or are about to.

I had friends who said they’d learn it because they wanted to watch anime without subtitles. At the time, it was pretty cool. I cheered them on. A few months later, they quit. Whenever I hear someone proclaim this as their sole reason to learn Japanese, I want to run over and tell them all the reasons why that’s a terrible idea.

If you’re a white cracker like myself (or any kind of color), then you already know-I should hope-that romance languages are going to be easier to learn. And yet, I still can’t remember any of my French classes from high school.


I thought Japanese would be manageable.


I’ve been interested in the language for years. I befriended Japanese exchange students in middle school, despite not knowing what they were saying. It wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I went, “Oh, maybe I should try and learn it.”


I started out great. Learned the hiragana all in one week, then katakana. I rewrote those characters until my hand fell off. And then school shoved its butt in my face and I was faced with the fact that college was a thing. Sure, my grades were pretty good, but what was Japanese going to do for me? Hobbies? Yeah. Job opportunities? Eh, maybe.

That’s when I stopped. I focused on my studies and as a sophomore in college, life is creeping around the corner and threatening me. If you’re younger than I, you have plenty of time to study if you want, but if not, as much fun as Japanese is, if you don’t focus on getting some kind of education, well, idk what you’ll do.

Face it-Japanese isn’t particularly useful unless you’re going into translating, games, etc. and even if you could argue otherwise, you’d still have to think about the future. I fought this over and over but life isn’t fair. Even against all these odds, I decided I loved the language too much to quit. And that’s the first thing you need to do: find a reason to keep going.

I began importing manga and novels, video games and textbooks during my summer. I sat down and quickly realized I wasn’t getting anywhere. I’d gotten over the first hurdle, so why couldn’t I commit? I was scared. Of failing, of life, of everything.

Japanese is a monster. It’s freaking beautiful but if you’re going to learn this beast, it’s a lot more to invest in than French. That’s when I imported otoges. Fully voiced (except the heroine) and let’s you repeat the text? Clear text on the vita and enough to keep me motivated? YASSS

Problem was, no furigana. No way to break it down.

I had to sit, stare at the screen, and skip what I didn’t understand basically everything. If you try and translate every sentence it’s going to take forever, especially if you’re not good at kanji, and eventually the game will become more stress than fun. That’s not what it should be.

Kanji have several different pronunciations and meanings, and even more when paired up with others. There’s no spaces between the characters and it looks pretty intimidating.

I’m going to medical school and yet I’m determined to learn Japanese. I had to think about my reasons for doing so, the benefits and disadvantages. Wanting to watch anime without subtitles won’t cut it. Eventually you’ll either quit and continue with subs or discover other reasons to learn Japanese and actually do it.

Grab a textbook, make Japanese friends, discover other things you love about Japan. Maybe it’s dramas, music, fashion, or folklore. Maybe you like that cute Japanese actor/actress? Otoges are a hobby of mine. The language is something I am committed to. If I can learn the language then I can play those games, but even with that fact, I still have so many things I love about Japan that will make the journey worthwhile.

Takeru Sato…he’s so handsome dayum.

I’m not trying to tell you that learning it for anime is bad. No, I’m telling you that it’s unrealistic if that’s the ONLY reason to attempt learning Japanese. Despite my growing love for anime, manga and otoge, these don’t make up a culture. If you’re going to stick to that little bubble, when you do visit Japan, you’ll miss out on a lot. It’s great to have hobbies and interests, but if you think you can learn Japanese just with anime, you have a lot of stuff to think about.

Japanese is freaking difficult at times, but not impossible.

23 thoughts on “So you want to learn Japanese ? Let’s be realistic here.

  1. FantaMinette says:

    All you said is really the truth. Japanese is complicated, you need a whole lot of commitment and time to learn. Unless you have another motive than anime or games, you might not keep up with it. As for me, I’m studying history at university, my goal is to specialize in Asian history (mostly Japan, China and Korea) I don’t know if I’ll keep history of head for anthropology but where I’m from, Asia historians are rare. And learning the languages will really help a lot. I already speak french and I think I’m not failing with English either. Learning Chinese, Korean or Japanese isn’t scary enough for me to back down, what is scary is getting enough time to learn it. But I found a class given at UQAM that could help! That would require me to move there tho…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leafさんの夢が。。。 says:

      Aw thank you! Sorry, I know it’s not the most “uplifting” of posts, but this topic’s been bugging me for so long. I’m getting sick and tired of hearing people claim they’ll easily learn Japanese because of anime. It makes those of us who really appreciate the culture look bad.

      OOOO you remind me of this guy who learned 20 something languages on his own! He studied them because he believed it would help him understand the history and culture better:) And that’s great!! If you have the money to do so, and it really is your passion, go for it! Just make sure you have some kind of backup. No matter how great everything goes, anything could happen:(

      I wish you the best of luck!!!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hinano says:

    Confession time: I decided to learn Japanese so I could watch/fansub anime back in the year 2000 cause most fansubs were still on VHS tape and not many groups were picking up shows I wanted to see translated. I only took maybe 2 classes. The rest comes from grueling time spent translating/timing subs, then I took up a manga scanlation hobby again for a similar reason (no one else is doing this so I will!) Then in 2004 I got into Japanese dramas and those probably helped me learn real conversations (not anime talk desuuu). Also I used to communicate a lot with artists from Japan on various fanart sites of my favorite animes XD.

    So honestly I think if you have the motivation, no matter what it is, you can learn the language. Whether your motivation be anime and manga or just Japanese culture eventually you will be motivated to take time and learn it. So don’t hate on us weebs, the only bad ones are the ones who ONLY learn from anime and nothing else lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leafさんの夢が。。。 says:

      Awesome Hinano! Thanks for you input:D I’m not hating on the weebs lol since I am one myself, I just wanted to share my experiences around people who wanted to learn the language for anime only and never got farther than a few translated scenes. And for a while I too did that…but stopped when my motivation plummented. I was very inspired to learn from anime after meeting my Japanese friends, but turns out I didn’t have enough motivation in the end. I;m very glad that was not the case for you or others! 😀 Just wanted to put it out there that sometimes, even if you think your passion for anime is very strong, you won’t always continue with fansubbing on your own when you realize your initial motivation wasn’t enough to carry you on. And yes to “the only bad ones are the ones who ONLY learn from anime and nothing else lol.” That’s what I was mainly addressing here. If you truly are motivated by anime and can plunge forward and learn it like you did, than I am absolutely fine with that and happy for you! Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts and comment!


  3. Neko-chan says:

    Haha reading this really brought me back to my younger self thinking that learning Japanese, or any language, was a piece of cake because “anime and manga!”. HA. Despite having “talent” for languages, a person can’t just learn a completely foreign-sounding language in a blink of an eye. Sure, as an example, an Italian can at least understand Spanish, but speak it? Then what about Asian languages? People should get real. XD I had to learn that the hard way though, like you. Life happens when you’re busy making other plans and that can’t be avoided. (Of course, I did not give up on learning Japanese, now for a completely less shallow reason than just anime and otoges; I’m actually taking Japanese classes as I go to uni too, so trying to balance that is hard but manageable till now… ).

    PS: Hello btw 8D Nice blog you have here. I’ll be enthusiastically looking forward for your next posts. ^^

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leafさんの夢が。。。 says:

      Awww thank you soooo much! Haha sorry that this post wasn’t so “happy” regarding learning Japanese. We all want a motivating one to let us think it’s easy, but that’s not true. Just wanted to talk about it since it’s been bugging me for a long time. Anyways, thank you SO much for taking the time to check out my post and to even comment! I’m still new to wordpress so if there’s any tips you have, I’d be so happy to hear them! And I will be very excited to read your posts as well! Have a wonderful day!

      Btw, I freaking love your icon. Pandora Hearts is amazing!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Neko-chan says:

        It’s okay. Actually I’m glad that somebody brings awareness towards it; it’s the first time I see somebody actually speak about it ! Once somebody wants to go learn a language, they should be aware of the difficulty and persevere from there.

        Ad for tips, it’s good to set yourself some goals. Like “I’ll make a post every every week.” or “I’ll socialize with the community at least once every 3 days”. The thing with blogging is that it’s easy to get discouraged, mostly when you’re new, so you shoukld consider taking total breaks from blogging too when that happens. I shall direct you to a blog I’m following called Fujinsei ( ). She has some very interesting blogging tips that made me realize a couple of things about myself too.

        Thank you for the reply! You’re very nice ! Pandora Hearts FTW 8D


      • Neko-chan says:

        Oh and also! Keep writing about things you like, the blog is supposed to be something fun and satisfying to do, not a duty! The most important part is to get good feelings from it! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Elly says:

    When I first thought of the idea of learning Japanese, it was just to get to know another culture and world. Everything else was like a bonus to me. I did a few semesters in high school, and I did retain some of it. Now I’ve been doing a few semesters in my university, and it’s been challenging and wonderful! It’s definitely not easy, but not impossible if one commits. Practice is such a huge key; if you don’t use it, you lose it! I’m mainly learning it for possible usage in job opportunities. But for now, I’ve been enjoying diving into learning this language and connecting to another culture! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. crystaliterose says:

    Thank you for this post! I have been learning Japanese since I was a child before I actually got full on into animu(I wanted to learn to sing Japanese songs, so sunday morning anime was great practice). I got so good I was helping kids in my first year in middle school(Japanese was offered to top students, but I didn’t get in haha). Taking classes helped me realize early on that I had to drop “anime lingo”, something I still struggle with even now, so when I hear people learn Japanese for anime, I feel that it’s really narrow minded because, you can’t use it when you actually go to the country, it’s like learning English by just watching Cartoon network. Imo, it’s better to get the basics down and have actual, real life conversation. It’ll help a lot in understanding Japanese media too, bc once you got the hard part down everything else is easy

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leafさんの夢が。。。 says:

      Ok crisis averted! Lol sorry about that my brother keeps apologizing for deleting your comment on accident but I got it back 😛
      Thank you so much for reading as always and wow, you’re experience is really cool! I wish I had started that young! ^^
      And yeah lol the anime lingo is a huge crutch. I’m going to be taking classes this semester so I’m bracing myself for the animu fest but I mean, it’s fine. I really do want to learn Japanese to communicate with other people more than for otoge. Then I can properly communicate with my friends!


      • crystaliterose says:

        I put off a lot of studies due to irl studies so i aim to complete it haha. At least when you get to advanced it weeds out a lot of people who aren’t serious. Haha i felt learning to ask for train timings was more useful than just watching telly, as well as other forms of convo(i dread business lingo it’s a whole new world)

        Liked by 1 person

  6. HijackedCat says:

    This is very true, you need a strong motivation, even if it is because you’re burning to read that sequel of a game/book/manga from your favorite series that never continued being published being official or fan-translated channels. Tho it can be lust for them 2D boys too, as long as it is a strong determination, anything goes~
    I’ll admit I’m doing it for the weeb reasons, like otoge and some series that never got finished translated ;_; /cry
    My motivation flagged from burning out/trying to do too much tho, I was so gungho……that 2 months of grueling from N5 to N4 with some 50 or so kanjis per day really sapped me :’D Now I’ll try to go more nonchalant/easier, even if it means taking longer, it’ll actually mean a sustained practice. A lot of people do just that, they crash because of overdoing it, then it’s harder to return or gain it back. Long term sustain is better than a short-lived one~
    Oop, I think I rambled there, sorry xD;;

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leafさんの夢が。。。 says:

      Haha, don’t worry Cat, it’s fine that you’re chasing them 2d boys ;P
      And agreed. I’ve seen many people crash and burn after getting so into learning this and then realizing that it indeed was more than they expected.
      I wish you the best and don’t worry about learning it for weeby things. I do too, but I find that later you start to expand your interests. I’d definitely consider watching more dramas, like Orange Days.
      While it’s exciting to get into entertainment, I think personally, if you’re already burned from one go, try and find aspects of Japan you like that are unrelated to celebreties or anime.
      For me, I love their folklore.
      If you can find other cultural aspects that interest you, you’ll learn more about both the culture and the language. And maybe find a new reason to keep learning!
      I’d also HIGHLY recommend making Japanese friends. They’ve been so helpful and are people I’d do anything for. It helps that we’ve been friends for nearly 9 years, but really, making friends just makes you really want to learn more about them and their country.


      • HijackedCat says:

        Chasing D is the best~
        I’ll add Orange Days to check out, I don’t tend to watch much TV/Shows/Dramas :’D
        I like the way they see the world, and their stories for things like cherry trees and stuff~
        In my case, I just have to do it slow and steady, instead of trying to do it all in one go :’D
        Ah…Japanese friends…I’m too shy for that, and embarrassed! I don’t know how to approach people to be friends with them :’D
        Maybe when my JP is better and I don’t feel as bad to subject people to it ;v;

        Liked by 1 person

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