Can I learn good enough Japanese to live there within ~9 months, as well as how can I learn to speak and listen to Japanese

That billionaire has a track record of doing things other people think impossible.


No no no it’s all good, trust me this isn’t some kind of call for help. I’m working on my mental health with my doctor (slowly) but I know that some people would consider me to be in a good position (i.e. people from bad spots of third world countries, victims of human trafficking, people wrongly imprisoned). I am a big boy who can handle himself :smiley: .

I will certainly do everything I can to succeed with moving to Japan, but like I said, I’m not putting everything on it so I honestly expect it to not work, since a lot of things don’t. But I mean I’d be stupid to not try and prepare because if it does work then I don’t want to be underprepared yknow? I’ll be sure to come back to this thread or message you or something when either I’m in Japan or I get a guaranteed no. But I’m stubborn so the latter might take a year or two for me to admit defeat.

EDIT: About the prononciation thing, don’t worry I’m not giving up on that already. I just know some people insist upon repeating one word 500 times and writing out the kanji 200 times and just having absolutely no efficiency or intelligence on learning. I am still learning the pronunciations and I’m just waiting till I have a robust enough vocabulary to use small sentences so I can try and make them sound more natural, rather than choppy, but correctly pronounced singular words

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One other harsh reality that I forgot to mention is, you will have a really hard time renting an apartment. I had a guy laugh and walk away once when I asked to see an apartment listed on the wall.

The only reason I got an apartment is because the company I worked for had a relationship with a realtor company. They basically verbally translated the contract into NHK easy style Japanese for me.

Foreigners are considered risk in Japan. In Japan, the entire society is built upon trust and many other countries do not function like that. Japanese people have been burned many times and landlords have this perspective to protect their investment.

Also, I had to interview on the phone to secure my apartment. Talking on the phone is Japanese is really hard.

I have 10 years of input, 3 years of college Japanese, and just good ole self-study and I was still not prepared for this. I’m, uh, really inefficient with my learning but was also better than 60-70% of expats there (fun fact, Japanese level is somewhat low amongst non-Japanese. When you stop getting " Nihongo jouzu", it’s like a badge of honor. I would consider this guest on this Japanese youtuber’s channel amazingly exceptional. For two years, mind blowing.)

I think the general sentiment of the thread is, this will be hard. I’m here to tell you, yes, that’s correct. The only reason I was able to move there is because I have 10 years of experience in my field and my company sponsor had some great lawyers.

I’m also not including the Japan/US visa process which you have to be in the United States to pick up.


I do admit that this will probably be harder than anything I’ve done in life (except maybe dealing with my mother lol) but it’s a challenge I gladly accept, because uh well I don’t even know but for some reason I want to do this and so I’m going to do my best to do it! Also yeah, living situations will be weird but since both me and my sister will be paying the rent wherever we live then it’s fine as long as it’s within a mile of the nearest public transport.

Also, thank you for not mentioning the visas lol. I know alllllll about that stuff :smiley:

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Well, Americans who have ONLY been exposed to their own culture and language is part of it, I agree. The other is that English has different sounds than Japanese, at least in terms of the vowels. Fortunately for the OP he also speaks Spanish. To what degree? I don’t know. But, the better his pronunciation in Spanish, the easier it should be to pronounce words in Japanese given that both languages have similar sounds.

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My web game Kanjiroids is a arcade-style way to practice kanji/vocab learned on WK. Looks like I haven’t added it to that thread yet! Edit: just added it to the Web Apps section


Let’s hope that’s a boon indeed. I have no idea how helpful that is though. ^^

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Well I know spanish well enough to understand someone speaking to me at a moderate speed for most daily conversation pieces, however it’s a bit rusty because well I never use it. It sort of helps due to my recognition in how English isn’t the only language on Earth, but as far as speaking Japanese and learning it, they’re very different so it doesn’t help in the important parts

Again, you don’t have to prove anything to me. In the end, it’s about meeting those visa requirements and that you cannot fake. Just be realistic about it. I don’t want you getting hurt in the process.


If your Spanish pronunciation is not good, then I’m not sure you’ll get the same benefits as a native Spanish speaker would (or at least someone who has correct pronunciation). Understanding it is a COMPLETELY different thing than to actually speak it. But maybe it’ll still help a little? :man_shrugging:t3:

I just want just to make sure you have a clear understanding when continuing to make your plans. You mentioned earlier something along the lines of your sister offering to pay for fees, the plane ticket, and expenses minus a month’s worth of rent, so how could you say no. I just want emphasize that she really can’t actually offer you these things. You are not her dependent, so even when she turns 20 and is seen as a legal adult in Japan she cannot bring you into the country. All the visas and plans for the two of you will be independent. That being said you can try to apply for the visas/ scholarships offered that have been mentioned by others, but you also cannot bring her into the country. Also, with you still being a minor I’m fairly certain your mother will have to be involved with all of that paper work (Someone please correct me if I am wrong) since your sister has no legal rights to do so. This will depend though if the paperwork you need to fill out goes by the Japanese adult age or American adult age, if it’s the American adult age then you should be able to fill it out once 18, but be sure to check on this. As for your sister, from what I can tell she probably cannot get a teaching visa or a work visa, so she may have to compete with you for the same types of student visas (unless you both postpone things for the 2+ years needed for her to meet some requirements for other visas) You seem pretty set on trying to make this work and I wish you luck. I just wanted to make sure it was clear that she cannot bring you, you have to bring yourself.

Also, for renting many places require 1-2 months rent on top of other cost upfront. It is not a deposit, but something specific to renting in Japan, so thousands of dollars could be needed up front to get a place. This is something to keep in mind when planning finances. You’ll also need to hire a company to find a place for you and also hire a guarantor. If you come on certain visas/ programs they may take care of housing for you, but probably wouldn’t allow another occupant nor pets.

Once again, you seem pretty set and I hope you end up in an improved situation soon. This was mainly meant to be an information drop, so you don’t continue making plans with possible misunderstandings or lack of information.


Apologies for being a little stern and grumpy yesterday. Looks like my WaniKani reviews weren’t going too well :stuck_out_tongue: .

Yes, the JLPT at highest levels can be very difficult, relatively speaking, but the thing I didn’t mention is that the JLPT is kind of just the base of the iceberg (or the tip? I always go from the bottom when climbing…). Japanese is so incredibly nuanced that getting it to reasonable proficiency would take a lot dedication, but also time.

I definitely agree with others who mentioned you should aim for some sort of scholarship program to ease your way into the country, but it will still for sure be mighty challenging and *gasp* may not work out. But whatever you learn in the process is yours to keep :slight_smile: .

All the best and fingers crossed!

Apologies, but I really wanted to comment on this. I have to say your 18-year-old self’s mastery of the English language is truly commendable :smiley: . Many of my English native colleagues at even the age of 20 would not know expressions like “to harken back”. Heck, they might’ve even blown a fuse trying to learn one of those :joy: . I think I was way over 20 when I learned all those fancy English words. Then again, I’m not an English native.


yeah i think it really depends on how much of a reader you were as a kid (and i imagine this applies to japanese natives as well as any other language) to how varied your vocabulary might be. imagine the days when latin and the classics were more commonly taught in primary through high school levels; we probably sound like uneducated countryfolk in comparison…but then they’d be lost with tech so trade offs all around i guess.


Sorry to take the thread off-topic, but I couldn’t really translate what you meant :sweat_smile:
Does it mean something along the lines of: “When you recall your youth, you are significantly surprised/taken aback by the fact that…”?
I’m not a native English speaker and it’s actually my first time seeing these words arranged like this, so I’m just guessing.

Yeah, you got the gist of it.
“When I recall my youth (gosh that makes me sound really old), I am quite taken back by the fact that […]”


I didn’t want to comment again, but sorry, I just came across some of your answers that I feel shouldn’t be left like this. And I know we are all listing cons, but please. We know why.

That mindset is kinda scary… It’s not like anywhere else in the world, countries are different and have different cultures. Have you ever been outside of the US? Have you seen other countries and cultures? Or just TV and internet?
And you have to fit in - in Japan more than elsewhere (for instance in Europe), which you will not, because you are a foreigner. (Want to hear a story from my Japanese teacher, who had a daughter in Japan and gave her the name Stellar - and because the name was written in Katakana, she couldn’t stitch the kanji into her school uniform and then even used a smaller font which was the most unacceptable thing to ever happen… led to problems no sane person can imagine. In Japan you just have to fit in which is often impossible.) So you will always lack something.
It might be “cooler” for anime and manga or whatever your interest is, but this is such a small part of your life over there, it’s not worth moving.
So what would be “cooler” about Japan than for instance Ireland? Iceland? Mexico? Brazil? Australia?

Buh, Japan is hard to reach for people who dream about it for all their life. If you say it’s not your dream, you have no idea how hard it will be to adjust, fit in and feel happy. If you want a free life, I would suggest Europe, if you want to leave the US, as others have already suggested. Japan is not a country you just move to for convenient reasons. I think enough people have stated already how hard life is there.

Again… oomph. If someone offered me a ride home in the rain even though they are drunk, my gut would say, let’s walk and get soaked before I end up dead on a tree. Just because someone offers you something doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. To think about it - yes. But sometimes it is better to decline if you can already smell the trouble ahead.

Do you even realize what you are saying here? Alaska is still US. You would move within a country. Mexico is at least on the same continent and from what I could gather you said you understand Spanish? The UK would be similar culture to yours now and very similar language. (Don’t want to say the same, I feel that could lead to aggressions from Brits and Americans XD)
Moving to Japan is definitely not the same.

I didn’t want to comment again, because I really think most people have already said what they think about it and that’s all we can do. It’s your decision. But honestly, if so many people at once would tell me that my approach is not the wisest and will lead to failure and probably even put me in a worse place than I am in now, I would reconsider and make other plans. Like many have said, go for a student exchange. But if Japan isn’t even your dream, then by all means, student exchanges already exist for other countries if you want to leave the US. Try Europe. That is an adventure that might open up new doors for you and maybe you will find your home.

I do get that you want away from your home, but I think there are easier solutions to your problem than running away across half of the planet to a country, which is 1) not really happy about unskilled foreigners, 2) has a language you don’t understand, speak or read, 3) has strict living rules that are hard to adjust to as a foreigner, 4) has a culture absolutely different than your own.


Not had a chance to read all the other responses so might be repeating stuff other people said.

In August 2018 we decided to go to Japan for a three week holiday in August 2019. I decided to learn some Japanese. I didn’t know any Japanese beforehand (although had taught myself 4 other languages). I ended up spending at least an hour and a half every day learning Japanese in the year before I went.

I think I learnt a lot. Got to about level 16 in WK (I didn’t discover WK until half way through the year) and most of the way through Genki I and II.

I managed to have conversations in Japan but I think I was far away from being fluent enough to work there (in a job that required Japanese). For comparison I had taught myself German and managed to move to Switzerland and work in German from day one (even though it was a huge strain at the beginning).

Japanese is in my experience massively more difficult to learn for English speakers compared to other European languages. I’ve spent far, far longer learning Japanese than Spanish or French yet I can pick up El Pais or Le Monde and understand them (despite not having studied French for about 15 years) but reading a Japanese newspaper or novel is a massive challenge that takes a lot of time and a dictionary. I don’t think Japanese is inherently difficult but it is so different from English and the writing is so complex it just takes forever.

That is only my experience. Other people are more gifted linguistically and could learn more quickly.


If your main concern is escaping a bad home life, I would recommend making that your priority, and then focusing on immigrating to Japan after you have a stable living situation in the US. You and your sister would have a much, much easier time finding housing and a job here in America.

You said you enjoyed living in Colorado, why not try to move back there to the city you used to live in? You and your sister could find jobs there, get your own place together, and then work for a few years and save up some money and study Japanese in the meantime. While you’re living there, you could work on applying to programs or jobs that could get you a visa.

Even if your sister is determined to move to Japan, it sounds like she doesn’t have a job or a visa lined up, either, and is also not fluent in Japanese. I think maybe it would be a good idea to talk with her and try to pick a place for both of you to move to in the US instead, at least for now. She’s not going to have much better luck getting a visa than you would have, at least not without putting in substantial work and planning, first. This way, she can keep her car, and you can keep your dogs, and you can also leave your family in Nebraska and get back to the city.

As other people have mentioned, the coronavirus situation in Japan is pretty bad, and has been for a couple years now, and the country is very closed to foreigners at the moment. I wouldn’t expect particularly fast positive change in this regard. They already tried opening back up too early because they wanted to host the Olympics, and paid dearly for it. Basically, the future is currently very uncertain, and I would not plan on Japan even being an option to visit within the next 9 months, let alone living there. Even if you and your sister both somehow manage to get visas, you might still not be allowed in because of the pandemic.

I just think you’re already working against so many obstacles (the language barrier, getting two visas in a country where it’s notoriously hard to get a visa, travel restrictions due to a global pandemic, etc.), you’re much better off planning to go to Japan a few years from now, and then finding a solution for your home life that’s more immediate.

If you move back to Colorado, you’ll no longer be dealing with the stress of your home life, which will make it much easier to study Japanese and work on getting a visa, and you’ll be living in a city that you already know that you like, and will likely be able to reconnect with friends who still live there. You’ll have way, way more options for jobs, and will get to experience what it’s like to live independently as an adult. You can still work towards your dream of living in Japan, and you’ll have a much better chance of actually getting to make that dream happen.


This is what I was talking about, when I mentioned people who promise the moon. From what little you’ve said, I think this person/group is untrustworthy. A bit more skepticism/digging around could save your and your sister’s lives here. There are more than a few WK users who live in Japan already, but I don’t think I ever saw any of them saying they ever had help this extensive when moving there.


I agree with what others are saying so I won’t rehash it. The reason why everyone keeps repeating the same advice is that while you say that you get it, to me, the tone of your replies suggests that you may not be grasping the gravity of the situation. And all of the very well-intentioned people here are taking that seriously.

Speaking from my own experience, even most college students seem to barely be adults upon graduating, which in the US is traditionally about 22 years old. College is a protective bubble, which is why exchange students can come and go to Japan with relative ease. This is a great way for young adults to experience Japan without all the risk.

Everyone is different, but thinking of myself at your age, I didn’t realize how little I knew about the world, and for me to move to Japan would have been unthinkable. Even now as I approach 30, I am taking moving to Japan for work very seriously.

A lot of experienced people replied above and I would definitely follow their sage advice.