Fallynleaf's study log

Hello!

As my language learning journey has gotten more and more involved, I started to see the benefit of keeping a study log to track my progress. And so this thread was born!

My motivation for learning Japanese:

In 2019, I got into Japanese pro wrestling. For someone who had spent my entire life up until that point hating wrestling, I fell pretty hard for it. There’s just something about pro wrestling as a storytelling medium that is so beautiful, and the creativity and emotion of it grabbed me by the heart. My introduction thread goes into a little more detail about the specific kinds of wrestling that I watch.

A lot of wrestling transcends language, but if you want to truly understand the stories and the characters, you really need to be able to understand what the wrestlers are saying (both in the ring and in places like twitter). I started to get frustrated by my heavy reliance on the work of other translators in order to follow these stories, because only a few companies are really accessible to English-speaking fans, and even in those companies, there is a lot of material that goes untranslated.

Eventually, I managed to work up the determination to learn how to translate things myself. I started learning Japanese on September 29, 2020.

The steps I’ve taken so far:

  • Learned hiragana (using an Anki deck)
  • Learned katakana (using an Anki deck)
  • Started using WaniKani on December 26, 2020. Currently at level 4 as of the start of this study log.
  • Started using KaniWani alongside WaniKani to practice recall
  • Started learning how to write kanji as I learn them through WaniKani

I’m waiting until I’ve reached level 10 to properly start learning grammar (as well as more useful vocabulary), because I want to develop a solid foundation of kanji first. But in the meantime, I’m studying grammar very informally. This is about as far as I’ve gotten:

I’m not actively studying or practicing grammar yet. Right now, I’m mostly just starting to familiarize myself with Japanese sentence structure and some basic grammar, and if any of it sticks, great! If it doesn’t, hopefully seeing it now will help make it easier for me to learn it later after more dedicated practice.

When I reach level 10, my plan is to:

  • Start Minna no Nihongo. I’m planning on buying the main textbook, plus the translation and two of the workbooks (skipping the kanji one). Hopefully having some levels of WaniKani will give me a leg up with the kanji and some of the vocab, and having at least a little understanding of basic grammar will make it easier for me to dive into the Japanese text. I tend to do better with more structured learning, so I’m hoping a textbook will provide that, and since the book is written entirely in Japanese, it will give me lots of reading practice, which should theoretically scale in difficulty with my ability level.
  • Continue with WaniKani, KaniWani, and practicing writing kanji as I go

Currently, this is as far as my plan has gotten. I’m taking this one step at a time, so I’ll have to see how things go once I’ve started Minna no Nihongo (assuming I make it to level 10 in WaniKani!).

Right now, I am not prioritizing:

  • Learning how to speak Japanese. I have no plans to travel to Japan, and currently don’t have a great need to speak the language myself.
  • Becoming proficient in writing Japanese by hand. I’m learning how to write kanji because I’ve found it makes them easier to remember, and it’s easier to read handwritten kanji if you have some understanding of how they’re formed, but I currently don’t plan on devoting significant time to practicing my handwriting beyond that. However, I’ve learned some western calligraphy while studying book arts, and if my knowledge of Japanese becomes advanced enough, I could see myself getting really into Japanese calligraphy as well haha.

My daily routine:

I don’t currently have a set amount of devoted study time each day. I try to do my WaniKani reviews at least twice a day: ideally once after I wake up, and once before I go to bed. I prioritize keeping up with my reviews over learning new lessons, and I don’t want to go too fast through the levels, because I worry about the future workload. I generally do only 5 or 10 lessons a day, and aim for at least 80-90% success rate on my review sessions. If I’m struggling to learn the new material, I slow down and focus on just reviewing until I’m more confident. KaniWani and learning how to write the kanji helps reinforce my learning a bit.

I’m definitely progressing more slowly than other users, but I’m fine with that. I want to make sure that I have room in my daily schedule to eventually include studying with a textbook, and learning from materials outside of what I’m currently using for kanji practice.

I spend a lot of time each day looking at written Japanese (primarily in tweet form), though I’ve spent the past couple years relying on machine translation or translations by other people in order to read anything.

I also spend a lot of hours a week listening to spoken Japanese in the form of wrestling commentary, and words spoken by wrestlers. Some of this gets translated and subtitled, but most of it does not.

Those two things are my main daily exposure to Japanese outside of learning materials. As I start to become more proficient in Japanese, I will probably start reading manga and other mediums for further practice, but my twitter feed and Japanese wrestling watching habits are part of my normal daily routine (and have been for over a year before I started attempting to learn the language).

My ultimate goals:

  • Be able to read tweets and articles in Japanese, as well as handwritten Japanese
  • Be able to understand Japanese pro wrestling commentary and words spoken by wrestlers in the ring, as well as Japanese podcasts and spoken interviews

The purpose of this study log:

I don’t think I’m going to update this thread on a set schedule, but I think it could be handy to update it when I reach major milestones in my learning (like reaching a new level in WaniKani), or if I discover or acquire a useful new resource (or if I choose to abandon one).

I liked the thought of having a public study log for accountability purposes, as well as potentially helping inspire others as we set out on this path together. Encouragement and advice are both welcome!

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Thanks for sharing! It’s been really useful for me to see other learners’ study techniques/routines. 頑張って!

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Just reached level 5! It took me 14 days, which isn’t a bad rate of progression.

I’m also working on my Spanish at the same time, and since I’m much further along with Spanish, I started reading my first novel in the language (El Alquimista, the Spanish translation of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, which was originally written in Portuguese). It’s slow going, but I’m able to understand more than I thought I’d be able to. Eventually, I’m probably going to replace the time I’m spending on this each day with reading Japanese material instead, but for now, I’m getting in the habit with a Spanish text.

I was really excited when I learned 石 last week, because I recognized it as kanji that was part of NJPW wrestler Tomohiro Ishii’s (石井 智宏) name. All of the sudden, his “Stone Pitbull” nickname made sense!

I also learned the kanji for mushroom: 茸 (きのこ). I posted about it in the thread on non-WK kanji we’ve learned, and received a very fun reply that taught me something else about two kinds of Japanese candy haha!

Onward to level 6!

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Made it to level 6!

I spent a little over 16 days on level 5, but that’s okay; I’m more concerned with establishing daily habits that I can keep up instead of trying to tear through the material super fast. And so far I’ve succeeded! I feel comfortable with the amount of work ahead of me each day, and I don’t think it’s too much of an imposition on my life, which I hope will lead to me being able to continue working on my Japanese even if/when my life gets a lot busier than it is now.

I’ve watched about a dozen of the videos in the Japanese Ammo with Misa absolute beginners playlist, and I’m amazed at how much grammar I’ve learned already. I haven’t tried to apply it much, beyond just passively looking at tweets on my twitter feed, or at Japanese text shown on screen during wrestling shows, but it has really helped demystify the structure of the language a lot for me.

My current daily tasks:

  • Do WaniKani reviews at least twice a day
  • Do 10 WaniKani lessons (except if the lessons are radicals, I do them all in one batch)
  • Do KaniWani reviews (and any new lessons) at least once a day
  • Learn how to write kanji as I learn them
  • Watch one episode from the Japanese Ammo with Misa absolute beginners playlist
  • *Read one scene from El Alquimista

*This is for studying Spanish, not Japanese, but I want to get in the habit of reading daily in a language I’m in the process of learning, and my Japanese isn’t far enough along yet for me to attempt to read books in the language.

Fun encounters with Japanese outside of WaniKani:

DDT Pro-Wrestling has a faction that used to call themselves “Sauna Club,” but they recently changed their name to “37 Kamiina,” pronounced “Sauna Kamiina.” I was really excited when I realized that my knowledge of 三 and 七 allowed me to understand why “37” could be pronounced “sauna”!

I was struggling a little bit with the reading for 林, but while watching Stardom, I realized it was the first kanji in the wrestler Utami Hayashishita’s (林下詩美) name. After that, I didn’t have any problem remembering it. Wrestlers make good mnemonics.

I’ve started to pick out occasional words that I understand while watching wrestling video packages, untranslated live promos, and wrestling commentary. Dates in particular, I’m getting better at! I heard 2020年 and 2021年 and realized that I understood what had been said, as well as recognizing 4月4日 when I heard the date mentioned. There was a fun moment in one match when I heard a commentator yelling 早い haha!

These examples probably sound so silly to everyone else, but these sudden flashes of insight are so exciting to me. I think the first WaniKani word that I heard in wrestling and understood was when I was still level 1 and I heard a wrestler say 人工 in a promo after a NOAH match, and I had enough of a summary of the translation to know that the word I recognized was what he was actually saying.

Reading in Spanish:

Summary

I’ve made decent progress with El Alquimista. Since this is my first time attempting to read an entire book in a language other than English, I wasn’t exactly sure how to go about it at first, so I ended up deciding to try sort of a blend of extensive and intensive reading. The scenes of the book are separated out like chapters, and each one is only a few pages, so I’ve been reading one of them a day. For my first readthrough, I don’t look up any words, and I try to just read it and understand what I can from context alone. I underline any word that I’m not familiar with, or which has a meaning I can’t remember. Once I’ve finished reading the scene, I go back and look up all of the words I didn’t know and write them in the margins of the book along with their meanings. Then I read through the scene again, this time aiming to comprehend as much as possible.

I was very intimidated at the beginning, and unsure if this was an effective strategy at first, but now that I’m 70 pages into the text, I’ve found a rhythm with it. It’s a little embarrassing to sometimes have to look up the same word over and over again when I know I already wrote it down in a previous chapter, but it occurred to me that this method is sort of replicating the SRS process. And sure enough, I’ve definitely learned some new vocabulary by doing this! I’m amazed that I’ve been able to keep up this reading habit without missing a day. It often takes me an hour to get through a scene, so reading the entire novel is quite the time commitment, but I’ve been able to stick with it thus far!

I’m feeling very encouraged by my progress, and optimistic that I’ll be able to motivate myself to read Japanese materials in a similar manner one day when my skill with the language is good enough.

New resources:

I discovered WaniKani Statistics, which, well, does what it says on the tin: it lets you view your account’s statistics, including how long you’ve spent on each level and your overall accuracy, as well as other statistics. Very handy!

I found this website with a bunch of free graded readers: https://tadoku.org/japanese/en/free-books-en/. Hopefully I’ll be able to start reading some of these by the end of the year!

I also discovered koohi.cafe, which is a website for pre-learning kanji and vocabulary from specific Japanese works. It also allows you to input your WK level, so it automatically removes kanji and vocab that you have already learned here. I’m really interested in trying this out once my Japanese is far enough along for me to start reading actual books! For now, this is a resource that I’ve put aside for later.

I installed a couple more userscripts, and realized that I had enough at this point that it might be a good idea to compile a list of them all. So here is a list of the scripts I currently have installed:

Scripts that I think significantly boost my learning:

  • Jitai Font Randomizer — This script randomizes the font used for radical/kanji/vocabulary in reviews. It’s really helpful for exposing you to a variety of different ways that kanji can be written, which is useful if you ever attempt to read handwritten Japanese or any digital fonts that appear different from WaniKani’s default font.
  • Vertical Reviews — This script randomly makes short words appear vertically during reviews, providing a little practice for reading words vertically.
  • WaniKani Pitch Info — This script displays pitch info for a given vocabulary reading.
  • WaniKani Rendaku Information — This script adds rendaku information to the lessons information for each vocab, trying to explain why it does or doesn’t rendaku.
  • WaniKani Katakana Madness — This script transforms all on’yomi readings to katakana, including on the dashboard, and all the overview and infopages in addition to the lessons and reviews. It’s useful for helping distinguish between the readings, and also just good practice for reading katakana, and it matches the convention used by many dictionaries.
  • Stroke Order Diagram — This script inserts stroke order diagrams into reviews, lessons, and kanji pages.
  • [KaniWani] KaniWani Audio — This script plays the original audio from WaniKani when you get a review item correct in WaniKani. I have WaniKani set to play audio by default after every correct review, and this does the same thing in KaniWani.

Scripts that I’ve found useful to have:

  • Double-Check — This script allows you to change your answer if you made a typo that WK didn’t accept, or if it accepted an answer that was actually wrong.
  • Progress Percentages — This script calculates the percentage of kanji you have learned for each JLPT level, Joyo grade, frequency bracket, and various other sources, and displays it at the top of the dashboard. I’ve found it helpful for putting my WK learning in perspective.
  • WaniKani Heatmap — This script adds a heatmap to the bottom of your dashboard that tracks how many lessons and reviews you did each day, and how many you have coming up. It also provides several other statistics.
  • Niai Visually Similar Kanji — This script is handy if you’re getting any kanji mixed up with each other.

Next steps:

I ended up buying Minna no Nihongo Shokyu 1, along with the translation & grammatical notes, and two of the workbooks (I bought Hyojun Mondaishu and Bunkei Renshucho). I also bought a copy of A Dictionary of Japanese Grammar.

Just flipping through it, Minna no Nihongo looks very good, and I’m excited to get started! I’m tempted to start working through it before I hit level 10 on WK, but I decided that I should wait until I’ve at least finished reading El Alquimista, and that will take me over a month at the pace I’ve been going. Once I’ve finished reading that book, I’ll decide if my kanji knowledge is good enough to properly start using the textbook.

I downloaded an Anki deck with all of the vocabulary from Minna no Nihongo, separated by lesson. I think I might use this deck to help me pace myself with the textbook so that I don’t try to go through it too fast, and only move on to the next chapter after I feel like I’ve confidently learned all of the vocabulary from the previous one.

I’m a little apprehensive about doing more than one (I guess two if we’re counting KaniWani, though it’s the same material I’m already learning here) SRS programs at the same time, so I’m not going to attempt to work on any extra vocabulary or try Bunpro or anything like that. My plan is to just replace the time I’m currently spending daily on Spanish with studying from my Japanese textbook instead.

Onward to level 7!

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Just dropping in because your link automatically pinged me

I responded to a post by a beginner interested in using the website here btw (it has some gifs)

In addition to the “easy resources filter” there’s also a “has a wanikani book club” filter. So this includes several of the easier novels (Kino no Tabi, Majo no Takkyubin, etc.) as well as Yuru Camp (which is a manga).

So yeah, check that out when you feel like you’re ready if you want.

Good luck with Japanese!

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Thank you for adding this! That’s really helpful!

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Made it to level 7!

Took me about fifteen and a half days to get here, but I made it!

I came across a few discussions on the forums concerning 里心 and its relative rarity in everyday use. I got curious, so I looked up the word to see what it meant, and then it showed up in my lessons the very next day! I understand why some people would rather spend their time learning more practical words, but words like this make my heart sing. I love how I can look at it and feel an instant connection to its meaning. I feel like I’ve felt 里心 far more times in my life than I’ve felt “homesick.” This is what we miss out on in English by not having a writing system based in logograms!

Another favorite of mine is 毛虫, which made me laugh out loud in delight when I learned it (when I type it into a Japanese keyboard, it always brings up this emoji as the number two suggestion, and it always makes me smile :bug:). I’m here first and foremost to learn Japanese for practical usage, but I don’t mind occasionally getting caught up in the beauty of it, too.

Changes in my daily routine:

I finished up the level 5 vocabulary at my typical rate of ten lessons a day, but when I started on the level 6 kanji, I tried using the self-study script after every lesson, and I found that my ability to retain the lessons went up by a lot! So, I now make a habit to drill the new kanji a couple times with that script immediately after my lesson.

I also realized that my number of daily reviews was dropping, and I had time/energy to do a little more, so I went up to 15 new lessons a day if I’m just learning vocab. We’ll see if I can continue this pace in the future, but for now, it doesn’t seem too bad! I’m not going to go above 10 lessons a day for kanji, though. I started also doing a self-study script quiz after every vocab lesson, and I can’t believe how much it helps!

Fun encounters with Japanese outside of WaniKani:

I saw a post criticizing WaniKani’s choice to introduce 里 at level 5, saying that it’s relatively uncommon, but I was actually really excited to learn this one, because it’s in the name of two wrestlers that I really like! It’s in Riho’s name (里歩) as well as Syuri’s (朱里). Which just goes to show that “common” and “uncommon” are entirely subjective and depend on what you happen to be exposed to in your daily life. I actually learned the reading that WK teaches with the kanji because machine translation occasionally mistranslates the first kanji in 里歩 as “sato.” After level 6, I can now read all the kanji in Riho’s name!

I was very amused when I learned the word 金玉, because suddenly a joke from a NJPW storyline last year made a lot more sense, haha! In the summer of 2020, Dangerous Tekkers (the tag team of Taichi and Zack Sabre Jr.) feuded with Golden Ace (the tag team of Kota Ibushi and Hiroshi Tanahashi), and Taichi liked to call them “Golden Balls” instead (he says “Golden Balls” in English, not “金玉”). The joke still comes across in English, but it’s way funnier knowing that it’s specifically a play on 金玉.

An episode of Japanese Ammo with Misa offhandedly mentioned that the command form ろ is very rude to use, and I realized I’ve heard wrestlers use it loads of times, and laughed. I don’t know how much practice my textbook is going to give me in being rude, but it’s certainly a lot of the speech I hear and see in the Japanese I’m exposed to on a daily basis! I’ve also noticed things like wrestling commentators using the ます form. My vocabulary is still too low for me to understand many words when listening to unsubtitled spoken Japanese, so I’ve been trying to pay attention to how polite the speech is instead. I was proud of myself for noticing when one wrestler briefly used the ます form sarcastically in order to provoke another wrestler.

I did learn a new word from watching NJPW recently, though! It’s 世界, which is a level 9 WaniKani word that means “the world.” NJPW recently unified their top two championship titles into one belt (this was not an uncontroversial decision), which is now named the IWGP世界ヘビー級王座 (IWGP World Heavyweight Championship). I recognized 世, then learned the reading of 界 just by hearing the word mentioned many times during shows. Before I looked it up, I wasn’t sure of the distinction between 世 and 世界 in meaning, but I suppose it makes sense that the IWGP title holder is the champion of THE world and not just any world!

I learned the level 6 word 全て in WaniKani, and I realized that I already knew this word thanks to the NJPW wrestler Evil! “Everything is evil” is a frequent phrase in his promos.

Reading in Spanish:

Summary

I’m 130 pages into El Alquimista now (out of 190 total)! I’m very proud of myself for making it this far, and for not losing a single day of reading.

A few months ago, I backed a comic called La Mano del Destino on kickstarter. I haven’t read it yet, but from the description of the project, the story incorporates themes from mesoamerican mythology, silver age comics storytelling, 1960s lucha libre, and Mexican culture. It is also formatted as a bilingual flipbook, with half of the book telling the story in Spanish, and the other half telling it in English. I only have the PDF copy, so I can’t physically flip it over, but it’s still very cool! I’m excited to read it because the story looks like a lot of fun, and it’ll also probably teach me a lot of wrestling terms in Spanish, which I’m very eager to learn.

I’m thinking I might try to read this book after I finish El Alquimista. It should go quicker than that text because I have the advantage of being able to glance over at the translation instead of having to look up words individually, but I’ll have to be careful not to use that as a crutch. I think maybe for this text, I’ll attempt to read through the whole story in Spanish (or perhaps just work through it one issue at a time), then go back through it afterward and reference the translation to double-check parts that I was unsure about.

I also have a young adult book in Spanish that I’ve owned for over ten years, but have never read! I bought it when I was taking classes in the language, thinking that I would try to read it, then never managed to work up the motivation to try. It should also go a lot faster than El Alquimista, I think. The text is much shorter and the sentences seem uncomplicated, though there’s a fair amount of new vocabulary for me, since it’s a fantasy novel.

I’ve tentatively committed to reading these additional books in Spanish before dedicating that time to studying Japanese instead. I feel like if I don’t do it now, I’ll never actually read them. And my confidence with reading in Spanish has increased a lot over the past month or so that I’ve been working on it every day.

I’m actually really grateful to the WaniKani community for being so enthusiastic and encouraging about reading materials in the language that you’re trying to learn, because I feel like I never would have tried that with Spanish, and it absolutely has improved my comprehension of the language by a lot!

New resources:

I discovered Satori Reader, which is another tool for reading and listening practice. It has a free version and a paid version. I’m not exactly sure what the different versions entail, and am not yet at a point where I can really get much use out of either, but it’s something to potentially try in the future.

NJPW launched a new podcast titled 新日本プロレス presents プロレス聴こうぜ!Chris Charlton, who does translation work for NJPW, recommended the podcast, saying: “Great for Japanese listening students. 30 mins is digestible, @baron_yamazaki is clear & at a good pace. And there’s a quiz to test comprehension at the end.” My Japanese is nowhere near good enough to give this a try yet, but it looks to be potentially an amazing resource for practicing listening comprehension if you’re a fan of wrestling.

I installed Yomichan in my browser, which is an awesome tool that displays a popup when you mouse over Japanese text, containing definitions and information from multiple dictionaries for each word, including some information on frequencies. The “Innocent Corpus” dictionary number indicates how many times the words occurred in the set of books, so the higher the number, the more common the term is. It even gives you audio pronunciation!

You can also use Yomichan to instantly create Anki flashcards from words you find in the wild, complete with attached audio. I’ve been using this feature to manually add audio to my Minna no Nihongo vocabulary deck, which is a little tedious, but not too much work.

New userscripts:

  • Self-Study Quiz — This script lets you quiz yourself on WaniKani items outside of the review schedule without affecting your SRS times. I installed it for just one reason, which is to get a little more practice on new items immediately after doing the lessons. It’s especially helpful for kanji, because I often struggle to remember their readings upon initially learning them. It’s difficult to remember them all when I’m learning them in batches of 10! The script is also handy for learning vocabulary, because it does more to test your listening recognition and recall than WaniKani does on its own.
  • WaniKani Lesson Filter — This script lets you specify the number and type of lessons you want to do. It also allows you to reorder your lessons so that you can study radicals or kanji before completing the previous level’s vocabulary. Like all reorder scripts, it’s a dangerous tool, and must be used very carefully. I only used it because I started to get worried that I would run out of lessons before I could guru the new kanji and unlock more, so I used this script to do my radicals and then the first set of kanji two days earlier than I was on pace to do them. In the future, I might use it to intersperse kanji lessons with some vocabulary lessons so that I’m not learning the kanji in huge batches (with a corresponding huge batch of new vocab lessons when I guru them).

Next steps:

I’m so eager to start Minna no Nihongo, I almost can’t believe it. I’ve never felt this excited to start working through a literal textbook before! Someone in the forums linked this article about studying and motivation. According to the article: “By telling yourself and making yourself not do something, it becomes more desirable, and you’ll want to do it even more.” This is absolutely where I’m at with Minna no Nihongo. I’m sure the actual process of working through the book is going to be rather dry and dull, but as a carrot being dangled in front of me, I can’t wait to try it!

Now that I’ve prepared my Anki deck for the first chapter vocabulary, I actually did decide to start Minna no Nihongo before reaching level 10, but I’m starting with learning the vocab before I actually sit down and try to read through the chapter. Thankfully, some of it I already know! As I went through the flashcards, I deleted the furigana on the kanji I have already learned. I’m going to familiarize myself with the vocab while I’m level 7 in WaniKani, then probably start with the textbook when I reach level 8. My hope is that if I get a couple weeks head start, I’ll be able to read the sentences in the chapter without needing to reference the translation text.

Onward to level 8!

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I like what you said about 里心! I think it’s a good way of looking at it. Words are enjoyable outside of commonality, and like you said that varies so much on context anyway.

You’ll learn the other kanji in 朱里 at level 44 it looks like. And come to think of it, she might help you distinguish that from a lot of very similar looking kanji… I didn’t think about it until now, but she sure does wear a lot of red!
That made me kind of wonder if 里歩 was the wrestling-related name readable with the fewest wanikani levels. Then I remembered 田口…
oh, and 木村花!

I’ll have to check out that podcast! That sounds like exactly the kind of thing I oughtta challenge myself to consume.

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I think 里歩 and 木村花 are the first wrestling names I’ve been able to read in full, yeah! Though I hadn’t seen Hana’s name in a long time (at least, not in kanji), and didn’t notice until now that I can actually read it…

And 田口 was one of the first names that I could read! I realized that when looking at it written on the screen during a show a couple months ago. That’s the only part of his name I’m able to read, though. I think the first wrestling name I could read was the 山下 in Miyu Yamashita’s name (山下実優), though I still can’t read the other half! 山 was actually the first kanji I learned (I figured it out before I even decided to learn Japanese) because it’s so distinctive looking, I realized that it was in Miyu’s name as well as Jun Akiyama’s (秋山 準).

It’s honestly really motivating for me to learn kanji purely so that I can read wrestlers’ names haha! I feel like each level, I learn at least one kanji that is part of the name of a wrestler I’m familiar with. It’s fun to look at the names on screen during shows, or on twitter, and suddenly realize that I can read another part of them now.

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Yeah with how names are I was struggling to think of any full name that’s 100% early kanji, until I remembered Hana…
I believe 実,優,秋, and 準 are all on wanikani, so just keep at it!

I can definitely relate to enjoying picking out kanji you’ve learned on the screen! It really is a great sensation feeling meaning slowly bleed into incidental things you used to ignore like the text NJPW leaves on-screen during matches.

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Made it to level 8!

It took just 13 days this time. For several days, I did 15 lessons a day instead of 10, but I’m not sure I like that pace. I think I’m going to stick with 10, but add 3 kanji lessons a day when I have them available so that I spread out the kanji learning a little instead of learning them in bulk, which is a lot harder.

Initially I planned on spending this level just working on the vocabulary for the first chapter of Minna no Nihongo, but I ended up working through the entire chapter! I considered doing separate update posts when I finish MNN chapters, but since this is the WaniKani forum, I think I’ll stick to one study log post per WK level, and then also talk about whatever else I’ve been studying in the meantime.

Fun encounters with Japanese outside of WaniKani:

I ran into 金玉 in the wild yet again. Same culprit as last time: NJPW wrestler Taichi made a pun with it in his post-match comments to insult his opponent. This time, he used it to refer to Tama Tonga. This one doesn’t translate as well to English. Whoever subtitled his comments didn’t quite know what to do with it, and just translated it as “Tama gonads.”

以上 is another word I had learned from wrestling, because it’s a common phrase in wrestlers’ post-match comments. NJPW’s trainee wrestlers from the LA Dojo (most of whom do not speak Japanese fluently, and who train primarily in the United States) are particularly fond of ending their post-match comments with this phrase. Often it’s the only bit of Japanese they use.

I heard 海外 during the opening announcements of a DDT show! Wrestling is very global, so overseas fans and excursions are frequently talked about.

I saw the book arts program at my old university advertising a “kami ito” workshop, and I got really excited, because I suspected I might know exactly how to write that with kanji, and sure enough, a quick google search seems to confirm that I was correct! 紙糸 is paper thread, which refers to thread that is spun from fine strips of Japanese paper.

This sent me down a bit of a kanji rabbit hole. I’ve done a fair amount of Japanese papermaking, so I suddenly wanted to know how to write all of these words that I’d previously only ever seen in romaji. I was disappointed (but unsurprised) to find that a lot of these kanji are not in WK!

Long Japanese papermaking digression

The word for Japanese paper is 和紙(わし) (two WK kanji! exciting!). Jisho then sent me to 洋紙(ようし), which means western paper (this word was new to me). The differences between them are too much to go into here, but there’s a major distinction between Japanese-style paper and western-style paper. Japanese papermaking can also easily be done by hand (unlike western papermaking, which is a very machine-heavy process), and this is one of its strengths if you’re a hand papermaker and don’t have access to a lot of expensive equipment!

A very important word for papermakers is (こうぞ) (it has its own kanji!). Kozo is one of three plants that are typically used as fiber for Japanese paper. Kozo is the most famous of the three, and paper made from kozo, 楮紙(こうぞがみ), is commonly used for book conservation. I’ve gone through the whole process with kozo, from harvesting it to processing it to making it into paper (on a mould that I made myself). It’s a very cool plant! However, I’ve been warned that it can be invasive when grown in America, so I’ve opted not to grow any of it myself. The plant takes a few years to mature, and the part that is used for paper is the inner bark. Kozo fibers are very long, which gives a lot of strength to the paper, but the downside is that it needs a special beater to process the fiber in a machine. I’ve only ever beaten it by hand.

Mitsumata is another plant that is typically used as fiber for Japanese paper. In kanji, it’s written as 三椏(みつまた) (using the kanji for three and crotch of a tree), though Jisho informs me that it’s usually just written in kana. Mitsumata paper is 三椏紙(みつまたがみ). The highest grade mitsumata fiber is used for banknotes. Japanese money is very difficult to counterfeit partially because it’s made with special watermarking technology that is heavily protected and difficult to reproduce.

The third plant that is typically used as fiber for Japanese paper is gampi. It’s written 雁皮(がんぴ) in kanji (using the kanji for wild goose and skin), though it is also apparently usually just written in kana. Gampi paper, 雁皮紙(がんぴし), tends to be rarer and more expensive because the gampi plant is difficult to cultivate, though it happily grows in the wild in its native habitat.

Japanese papermaking requires formation aid, which is a slimy, viscous liquid that causes the water to drain slower during the sheet forming process. It’s a very unique substance that allows for a very unusual papermaking technique! With most other types of papermaking, you have to keep the mould very level, and if you move it at all after lifting it out of the vat, it is to gently shake it with very soft, controlled motions to align the fibers. Japanese papermaking is the complete opposite. The mould must constantly be in motion! You tip it back and forth, letting the water and pulp rush over the surface of the mould. Formation aid is what makes this technique possible. The Japanese word for formation aid is 粘剤(ねり) (using the kanji for sticky, glutinous, greasy, persevere, and the kanji for dose, medicine, drug).

粘剤 was traditionally made from the roots of the 黄蜀葵(とろろあおい) plant (using the kanji for yellow, green caterpillar, and hollyhock), though it’s apparently more common for it to be written with kana alone. I’m about to plant some of my own tororo-aoi plants to harvest this fall! To get 粘剤 from tororo-aoi roots, you have to smash them and then let them soak for a while in very cold water. If you’re working with tororo-aoi and not synthetic formation aid, you have to constantly keep the water in the vat as cold as you can handle it. Since the process of papermaking requires you to frequently submerge your hands in the water, this can be very unpleasant!

I was also curious about the names of Japanese papermaking tools. I didn’t have any luck finding a kanji spelling for まぜ, which is a large wooden comb-like contraption that you attach above the vat and push it back and forth to stir the vat, separating the pulp fibers and distributing them as well as mixing in the formation aid. So this might also be a word that is written in kana. It did occur to me when I was trying to look it up that perhaps it comes from the word for “mix,” because that is indeed the purpose of the まぜ! And a () is the bamboo mat that, together with a wooden frame, forms the papermaking mould. After forming a sheet, you open the frame, then lift the 簀 out of it and couch the freshly formed sheet onto the post (in other words, you transfer the sheet off of the bamboo mat by pressing it on top of a stack of fresh sheets of paper). I learned that there’s a word for the combined frame and mat: 簀桁(すげた), combining す and けた, which is the word for the frame.

Those were all of the Japanese words that we used regularly in my class, at least! I’m excited to eventually be able to read about Japanese papermaking in Japanese!

みんなの日本語 Lesson 1

I started out with just focusing on the lesson 1 vocabulary, without trying to read the chapter text or start any of the exercises. I learned that I can’t just throw all of the vocab into an Anki deck and hope to memorize them from that alone! Trying to memorize vocab with unfamiliar kanji was a huge struggle for me. I ended up making a list of all of the words with kanji I didn’t know, then I looked up all of the kanji in WK, and practiced writing each of them.

Following Misa’s study tips for learning Japanese, I started keeping a physical journal for my Japanese studies. I got a journal with nice quality grid paper, and I’m reserving the first half of it for grammar (combining information from my textbook with notes on informal usage from Misa’s videos), and the second half for writing down vocab words that I’m trying to learn (the grammar side starts from the front, and the vocabulary side starts from the back, with the book flipped upside down). I’m probably not going to write down any WK vocab in here, because I’m getting a lot of practice through WK’s SRS anyway, but for words that aren’t in this system (especially words with kanji that I don’t know yet), it’s beneficial for me to break them down a bit. I don’t need to fully learn how to read the new kanji ahead of time, but I do need to at least be able to recognize them and know how to read them in these specific words.

My vocab notes have three sections: the first has the word written in kanji (with the kana above it), the second has the meanings of the kanji, as well as the definition/translation of the word and some context, and the third is currently blank, but it’s where I’m going to write an example sentence containing the word after I’ve gone through the chapter in the book.

Here’s a picture of my notes. Forgive my stumbling handwriting!

Writing full words and sentences in Japanese is difficult! I’m excruciatingly slow at it, and I have to frequently look at charts to make sure I’m forming the characters correctly. I’m sure it’ll get easier the more I practice, but for now, everything takes probably twenty times longer than it needs to. I tried writing all of my answers to the exercises by hand, but ended up switching to typing them because it took way too long. I think I’m going to handwrite my answers in the workbooks so that I still get a little writing practice, but am going to type everything else.

It occurred to me that this process of pre-learning the vocabulary before reading each chapter is basically the same concept of websites like koohi.cafe. So far, my comprehension has been excellent, and I haven’t had any trouble remembering the vocabulary once I’ve started applying it, so I’m a big fan of this method of learning! It’s really cool to be able to focus on just the vocab or just the grammar without having to struggle with both at the same time. Then, once you’ve gotten the basics of both down, you can practice both together, and they’ll reinforce each other.

As far as the grammar goes, I had no problem reading the text in the book without referencing the translation for grammar help, but I also have a huge advantage from having been exposed to grammar through Japanese Ammo with Misa. If you’re considering getting MNN, I’d recommend watching some of Misa’s videos before you start the textbook.

I really like MNN so far and think it’s the right textbook for me, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. I would recommend it if: 1) you’re pretty self-motivated and dedicated to learning, 2) are pretty comfortable reading hiragana and katakana and have some knowledge of kanji already (if you’re on WK, you qualify for this), and 3) you have a bit of understanding of grammar already (even if you’ve only poked around a few of the free resources available, like the ones that I’ve linked).

Working through MNN is a bit like solving a puzzle: you have all the tools to decipher it, but if you don’t have a teacher or a tutor, you have to figure out how to solve it on your own. I’m already pretty used to being way in over my head with Japanese, so MNN feels refreshingly solvable to me in comparison to my twitter feed, but it’s not a text that is friendly to absolute beginners. You could probably figure it out eventually, but it would be really scary and hard.

I managed to finish the first lesson in about eleven days! I also started the second, though I’m still on the first step of the studying process.

Changes in my daily routine:

The big change is that I added みんなの日本語 to my routine! Instead of setting aside a particular amount of time to work on it every day, I’ve just committed to doing at least one thing each day to further my progress on whichever step I happen to be working on. Some days that will be more work than others, but that’s okay.

Right now, here’s my plan for working through each lesson in MNN:

  1. Learn the vocab with unfamiliar kanji slowly, word by word, by writing them down into my journal over a period of several days. Don’t rush this part.
  2. Once I’ve familiarized myself with all of the vocab with new kanji, add audio to the next set of Anki cards, then add the new chapter’s vocab to my Anki deck.
  3. When I’m comfortable with all of the new vocabulary, attempt to read the lesson, trying to understand as much as I can without referencing the translation.
  4. Work through exercises A, B, and C, at whatever pace makes sense.
  5. Thoroughly read the translation of the lesson and check my work to make sure my understanding is solid, then attempt the practice conversation and the practice questions.
  6. Complete the exercises for that lesson in both workbooks.

Once I’ve gone through the entire process for each lesson, I will move on to the next one. There are 25 lessons total in the first book, and I’m expecting the process to get faster as I learn more kanji and get quicker at writing, but it will still probably be fairly slow.

Reading in Spanish:

Summary

I finished El Alquimista! I didn’t love the book, but the story was compelling enough to keep me going, which is all I asked of it. It’s definitely a book that’s structured well for Spanish learners (and I’m assuming the same is true of the original text in Portuguese). I’m very proud of myself for successfully reading an entire book in a language other than English!

The next book I’m going to start is a fantasy children’s novel titled Busca Fieras: Ferno, el Dragon de Fuego. It was originally published in English as Beast Quest: Ferno, the Fire Dragon. I know absolutely nothing about the book except for the fact that it’s a fantasy novel, and it’s written for children. There are only nine chapters and the font is gigantic, so it should be a quick read.

New resources:

Someone on the forums linked this article: “Mastering Transitivity Pairs – Remembering Japanese transitive and intransitive verbs the easy way” by Cure Dolly. A lot of it is still a little above my head, but this was helpful for remembering some of the transitive and intransitive verb pairs on WK.

New userscripts:

  • Forum: IME2Furigana — This script allows you to add furigana to forum posts.
  • Keisei Semantic-Phonetic Composition — This script adds a phonetic compound information section to kanji and radical pages, lessons, and reviews. I really wish I’d discovered this one earlier! It adds some information that can be really helpful for remembering kanji readings and for guessing the readings of unfamiliar kanji.

Next steps:

Nothing left to do at this point besides keep proceeding forward! Hopefully I’ll get through lesson 2 of MNN before completing level 8 of WK. I think if I manage to complete at least one MNN lesson per WK level, that’ll be a nice, balanced pace. I suspect that it’ll take me just over two years from now to reach level 60 in WK and complete all 50 lessons of MNN, which would hopefully put me at an intermediate level.

I regret not having started last summer, when I was stuck at home for month after month, doing nothing except watching wrestling, but I suppose that age old quote applies here: “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now."

Onward to level 9!

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Made it to level 9!

I’m actually really enjoying handwriting kanji, even though I’m still very slow at it and my handwriting isn’t very good. There’s just something soothing about writing the characters. It reminds me of all the time I spent practicing western letterforms for my western calligraphy class. I often have trouble motivating myself to practice calligraphy (which is the only way to improve), and I’ve slipped a bit behind on my kanji practice, but I’ve been making progress in catching up! I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten quicker and more accurate at writing a lot of common radicals, which helps a lot when I’m practicing the more complicated kanji in some of the Minna no Nihongo vocab that are from higher WK levels.

I came across my first few new kanji in WaniKani that I’d already seen in MNN vocabulary, and having practiced them before made it a lot easier to remember them in my WK reviews, which was nice!

I’m starting to get some words in KaniWani that are synonyms with each other, or which have very similar meanings, which keep tripping me up. My personal rule with KW is to only add synonyms when the descriptions give you no way of telling the words apart, because otherwise, I run the risk of adding words as synonyms when they’re actually different parts of speech, or don’t have equivalent meanings. This forces me to spend some extra time with the words that are causing me trouble and figure out more precisely what they mean so that I can tell them apart! I already did this with the different words for “girl” and the words for “round,” and that was really productive. Now I have to spend some time going through the various words for “life.”

Fun encounters with Japanese outside of WaniKani:

While watching an old Stardom show, I heard Kamitani say 未来 in reference to “the future of Stardom”! Just a small thing, but it still made me happy!

I saw Yu-Gi-Oh’s title (遊☆戯☆王) written in Japanese, and realized that the “Oh” is 王, which makes sense, considering that it translates to “King of Games”! It looks like I’m eventually going to learn the “games” part of the title, too, but nearly at the end of my WaniKani journey, as 遊戯 is a level 58 word. I guess it’s another incentive to make it to the very end of the program.

DDT wrestlers Chris Brookes and Antonio Honda changed the name of their tag team from the European Connection to The 癒されるズ, because 癒される is apparently Chris’s favorite word in Japanese (according to Mr. Haku’s translation, it means “to be healed emotionally or feel at peace”). This word isn’t in WK, but the kanji 癒 is! It’s another one I’ll have to wait a long time for, though, because it’s introduced in level 55.

I still have very low listening comprehension (even during the very rare occasions when I know all of the vocab being used) because I’m still getting used to Japanese grammar! But I did notice that I’ve gotten a lot better at hearing particles in Japanese speech. Instead of all of the words in a sentence running together into a blur of sound, I hear it as word-particle, word-particle, word-particle, verb. So that definitely feels like progress, even though I’m still nowhere near being able to actually understand spoken Japanese. I guess all of those hours of listening to unsubtitled Japanese commentary and post-match promos are paying off!

みんなの日本語 Lesson 2

I encountered my first textbook word that isn’t the most commonly used term for something. MNN taught me that コンピューター is used for computer, but according to Japanese Ammo with Misa, パソコン is more commonly used. I’m sure this isn’t the only instance of textbook Japanese I’m learning that is less useful in everyday life (though, as I’ve mentioned before, I still believe it’s valuable to learn words that are more uncommon), but I suspect it’s something I’ll only be able to recognize with time and exposure! Eventually, once I have a greater base of knowledge to work from, I’ll rewatch Misa’s videos and take some detailed notes on the differences between textbook Japanese and casual Japanese.

The Keisei Semantic-Phonetic Composition script is extremely helpful for remembering the readings of some of the unfamiliar kanji that I’m encountering. Often, I haven’t learned the kanji yet, but I have learned the phonetic and/or semantic components! Even though the kanji all have furigana in MNN, it’s helpful for me to visualize how the kanji and sounds are connected.

It took me a little longer to learn the vocab for this chapter because it was more kanji-heavy with kanji that I haven’t learned yet. But I did get there! So far, I’m continuing to have absolutely no problem remembering or understanding the vocabulary while reading the MNN text, so the time I’m putting into pre-learning the vocab is paying off.

I also like the speed that MNN is introducing new grammar concepts. It might be slow for some people, but I appreciate having more time for everything to sink in, and more opportunities to practice each point instead of rushing through it.

Another thing that I like about MNN is that the structure of it encourages you to think in Japanese, not in English. Maybe I’m still too much of a beginner for there to be much of a difference, but I appreciate how the lessons teach by giving examples so you get a sense of how the language works intuitively, on its own, without trying to work through English translation.

I did have to modify my MNN Anki deck so that it was more effective. The premade deck I downloaded had the information directly from the textbook, and like the textbook, only had one card with formal and informal versions of words with the same meanings. I realized while completing the workbook exercises that I was only really getting practice with one of the versions and not the other, so I split up all of those cards into two separate cards.

Reading in Spanish:

Summary

I’ve almost finished reading Ferno, El Dragón de Fuego, and have been able to understand the book pretty easily so far, though as I suspected, there’s a lot of new vocabulary because it’s a fantasy novel! I spend a lot of time looking up words and repeatedly forgetting most of them haha. The sentence structure is definitely simpler than El Alquimista, so in that sense it’s easier to read, but the downside of reading a novel meant for young children is that the content is less interesting. I haven’t really had a problem motivating myself to work on it every day (except for a few days when I wasn’t feeling well enough to read anything), but the story doesn’t compel me.

The book does have some illustrations, which I greatly appreciate! At one point, I was pretty sure that a sentence said that a character was standing on a bench, but I wasn’t entirely sure. Then I glanced down at the illustration, and sure enough, he did indeed appear to be standing on a bench! Ah, the beauty of children’s literature!

I came across the word “pergamino,” and I tried to guess its meaning based on the fact that there’s a store called Pergamena that sells bookbinding leather. I thought maybe “pergamino” meant leather, or perhaps skin? But I couldn’t figure out why a character would be carrying leather or skin! Then I looked up the translation, and it gave me parchment or scroll. It turns out that Pergamena also sells parchment, ahaha!

New resources:

I read Tofugu’s page on transitive and intransitive verbs, and it was helpful but also left me largely in the same place I was before! I liked it better than Cure Dolly’s article, though. It seemed more complete, whereas Cure Dolly was offering some tricks that seem handy at first, but which aren’t always reliable. Maybe her approach just isn’t for me. I think figuring out transitive and intransitive verbs is something that will come with practice and using the words in context. I haven’t got there yet with MNN. Until then, I’ll probably continue failing a lot of WK reviews of transitive/intransitive pairs until I memorize them the hard way.

Someone started a new website called Natively, which is a free website for Japanese learners to find and share books that you’re reading. I have a profile there now, though my page is very unexciting because the only book I have is Minna no Nihongo! There are some Goodreads-type features, and users can additionally grade books based on difficulty. It’s still a very new website, but it looks like it might potentially be a good resource to help find and choose new books to read.

New userscripts:

  • Expected Daily Reviews ⁠— This script calculates the number of reviews you should expect in a given day with the current SRS distribution and displays it beside your review forecast. The number fluctuates throughout the day as you do review sessions and lessons, but it’s still a good rough indicator of your current workload. Mine currently says 71.

Next steps:

I started making a list of all of the kanji that show up in MNN, organized by WK level. I looked for a list like this before I started MNN, but couldn’t find one. I think a resource like this might help others decide whether they’ve learned enough kanji to start using the textbook. I’d been keeping a partial list myself, but it was missing everything from the levels below mine because I didn’t need additional practice for any of those kanji. It wouldn’t be too much trouble for me to also add the lower level stuff as I go, though it’ll be a long time before the list is complete at the pace I’m going through the textbook!

If this list is useful to you, or if you’re just curious, it’s located here! If I manage to complete it, I’ll make a separate thread for it, but for now, it’s just an informal resource for anyone following along with my study log. I’m interested to see the WK level distribution of the kanji that show up in the textbook. Apparently the kanji book has 530 kanji total (or at least it teaches 530 kanji? I found this chart, but since I don’t own any of the MNN kanji books, I’m not entirely sure what this corresponds to, since it doesn’t contain all of the kanji that appear in the vocabulary for each lesson).

Honestly, I haven’t found many resources with tips on how to get through MNN as a self-learner. If I manage to complete all 50 lessons, I might try to write up a guide on what worked for me. I will say that focusing on the vocab first definitely does work, and being forced to wait to read the chapter honestly makes me get really excited to actually read the lesson and see the words in context. But if your life is more exciting than mine, you might find this less thrilling, haha!

Onward to level 10!

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Made it to level 10! Almost a sixth of the way there!

Even though it took me 16 days to level up, which is a little longer than usual, I didn’t actually slow my pace at all (I actually did more lessons total, haha). I did all of my kanji in batches of 3 lessons on top of 10 vocab lessons a day. By the time I leveled up, I had more of a head start on the vocabulary than I typically have, so it should save me a little time, going forward.

I got tired of my terrible handwriting when I tried to write hiragana and katakana, so I spent some time properly practicing writing the characters. This is a very nice youtube channel if you are interested in beautiful writing. I don’t have an actual notepad for practicing, so I’ve just been printing off practice sheets and using those. I feel like putting in a bit of time on this early on will help me form good habits instead of having to correct my bad ones after they’ve already become established.

Honestly, I regret not learning how to properly write hiragana and katakana when I initially learned them. I skipped that step because I was in a hurry to get to the point where I could read both syllabaries, but I think skipping it only made things harder for me later on. I think it’s good to have somewhat of a balance in your learning. Even if you can technically skip steps to reach a higher level of understanding sooner, your knowledge will only be skin deep. Learning how to write kana and kanji not only makes it possible for you to take handwritten notes (as well as teaching you stroke order, which can be helpful for reading handwritten Japanese and looking up unfamiliar kanji), but it also gives you kinesthetic learning practice, which is really helpful for actually cementing knowledge in your memory.

I’ve read Tofugu’s article on quantity over quality, and though I do think it makes some good points overall, I think it’s important to have a balance between the two. Quantity will get you more proficient at the language faster, but quality is how you get the things you’re learning to stick. WaniKani and Anki flashcards are only effective if you apply the knowledge. Seeing the words in context is how you’ll remember things after you’ve burned them. And anything you can do to draw more connections to the things you’re learning will help. Viewing kanji in a bunch of different fonts, learning to write them, paying attention to their semantic-phonetic composition, seeing them in actual words in actual sentences in media that you enjoy, etc. Those all form different routes to the information in your brain. Besides, it’s really frustrating to learn a bunch of words and have to rely on a computer to communicate in that language in writing!

The full quantity over quality approach would be going full speed in WaniKani and devoting all of the time I’m spending on handwriting and KaniWani and such to instead powering through more WK flashcards a day, or reading through MNN without any studying beforehand and just looking up every word or grammar bit that I don’t know. And I’m sure that some people have done that and have gotten to a point where they can start reading native materials as soon as possible! But I’d rather complete WaniKani and MNN at a slower pace and be in a better position to actually remember most of the knowledge I’m learning instead of completing it faster and having to spend more time in the future looking up things that I have forgotten.

Maybe in two years, I’ll have realized that this approach was foolish or a waste of time. But I think I’m happier with a mixture of different kinds of learning instead of going all in on just one thing. It keeps my study schedule varied, which makes things a little more interesting, and I’m already making all kinds of connections with the language that I’d be missing out on if I wasn’t exploring so many aspects of it all at once.

Fun encounters with Japanese outside of WaniKani:

I saw Sanshiro Takagi’s Big Boss shirt, and realized that I could actually read all the kanji! 大社長 indeed!

I looked up how to write 新 again for my MNN vocab notes, then realized that I actually already learned it with the word 新聞(しんぶん) (newspaper) in the previous lesson! Practicing it again was enough for me to recognize it later that night it in New Japan Pro Wrestling’s name: 新日本プロレスリング. I’ve heard the name said aloud so many times, I shouldn’t have any trouble remembering that reading for that kanji!

I learned 和 this level, and was glad that I did a bit of a deep dive into Japanese papermaking kanji a few weeks ago, because I’m able to remember its reading thanks to 和紙(わし)!

I heard NJPW wrestler Kazuchika Okada say “みんな元気?” in a recent NJPW show! He was addressing the crowd at the beginning of the show to talk about his recovery from covid-19 and announce his challenge for the IWGP世界ヘビー級 belt. We didn’t have subtitles for the promo until the day after, so I was proud of myself for being able to understand that full sentence, even though it’s a short one!

本当に is another very common word in wrestling. As soon as I learned it, it immediately stuck for me because I’ve heard it in so many promos! I also finally memorized the meaning of 正直 after seeing it in the (Japanese) subtitles for a wrestler’s promo in English.

I also see お前 in subtitled wrestling promos all the time now, after learning it. It’s fun seeing how very rude English gets translated into Japanese haha!

I actually saw かき氷 in the wild! It showed up in one of NJPW wrestler Hiroshi Tanahashi’s virtual date ads on twitter. In the video, Tana prepares かき氷, and fans have the option to choose either “美味しかった♪” or “まだ寒かった…” in the poll asking how it was.

I heard 次々 in DDT, NOAH, and TJPW’s combined supershow, CyberFight Festival! The show featured a delayed entry battle royale, where the wrestlers entered the match one by one at set intervals. The announcer used 次々 while explaining the rules to this match.

Taichi once again made a joke with 金玉 in his backstage comments in a NJPW show a few days ago. He’s actually recycling the same joke he made last year, where he referred to the tag team Golden Ace as “Golden Balls,” but this might be the first time 金玉 actually made it into the English subtitles:

The translator chose to put the word in romaji instead of translating it, ahaha

I watched NJPW Dominion while the show was airing live, and I did a quick WK review session during the main event because I wanted to hit that review interval, and to my delight, 世界 showed up in my reviews during the match for the IWGP世界ヘビー級王座 belt!

Is it cheating if a word comes up for review when it’s literally onscreen in the other window you have open?

みんなの日本語 Lesson 3 – Lesson 4

I continue to be very grateful that I’m pairing MNN with WK, because my kanji knowledge is proving very useful for not only knowing some of the vocab already, but also making it much easier to pick up new vocabulary, assuming I take the time to break it down. Lesson 3 had 階段(かいだん) (staircase), ー(かい) (-th floor), and 何階(なんがい) (what floor), and even though I haven’t learned 階 yet through WK, once I realized that all three words had it in common, I only had to learn the reading once to learn how to read it in all of them, and the meanings of the vocab were all very intuitive if you know the meaning of the kanji.

自動販売機(じどうはんばいき) (vending machine) was a tricky one for me at first—five kanji! And I only knew two of them! But, looking at them individually, it makes sense: self, move, sell, sell, machine. I knew 自 and 売 already, and could remember 販 because of its semantic-phonetic composition. Which leaves only 動 and 機 for me to remember. Much easier than trying to memorize just a string of context-less sounds!

地下 was one of the lesson 3 vocab words (with its meaning listed as “basement”), and seeing it in this chapter turned out to be just the push I needed in order to learn how to differentiate its meaning from 地中 in my memory! Hooray for learning vocabulary with context!

I struggled a bit with the vocabulary for numbers. Thanks to WK, I know the basics, but I don’t have a lot of practice reading numbers that aren’t the ones WK teaches me, so my listening comprehension of numbers is very poor, and I have to think a lot when trying to read them out loud. One of the audio comprehension exercises in MNN tripped me up, so I looked up the numbers chart in the appendix of the translation text and tried to memorize the irregular numbers. I was wondering if there were resources out there that would help me practice, but then it turned out that the 文型練習帳 workbook had me covered! There were several exercises specifically for practicing numbers, and I did surprisingly well on them!

I ended up adding flashcards to my Anki deck for numbers that rendaku that I hadn’t encountered on WK (600, 800, 3000, 8000). I’m hoping that seeing them occasionally will help me remember them!

After lesson 3, I completed review A, which covered material from the first three lessons. So far, my understanding of everything is still pretty good, though I do make occasional mistakes. But I have yet to miss a question and not understand why the correct answer was what it was.

Lesson 4 taught me the days of the week, and it blew my mind when I realized that they have the exact same correspondences that we do! I probably wouldn’t have realized this if WaniKani hadn’t taught me the planets before it teaches the days of the week, haha!

日曜日 and 月曜日 are Sunday and Monday for us, and their names come from sun and moon for both! 火曜日 (Tuesday) comes from 火星 (Mars). Our Tuesday also comes from Mars, but it was named after Tyr the Norse god, because things got, uh, a little jumbled when the Romans tried to bring their culture to the Germanic peoples, so most of our names are Norse-based instead (if you have a little knowledge of Norse and Roman mythology, you’ll understand why those Norse gods got matched up to those Roman gods). In a similar sense, 水曜日 (Wednesday) comes from 水星 (Mercury) in Japanese, and Wednesday comes from Woden (aka Odin) for us. 木曜日 (Thursday) comes from 木星 (Jupiter) in Japanese, and Thursday comes from Thor for us. 金曜日 (Friday) comes from 金星 (Venus) in Japanese, and Friday comes from Frigg for us. And Saturday is the same for both of us! It’s 土曜日, which comes from 土星 in Japanese, and also comes from Saturn for us!

As a side note: after learning the planets in Japanese, the elemental associations in Sailor Moon now make complete sense to me, haha!

I only just finished going through all the lesson 4 vocab, and have yet to actually read the lesson or do any of the exercises, but I’m very excited to start learning some more verbs.

I got tired of the default Anki look and ended up doing a bit of HTML/CSS styling on my cards. I reined myself in from getting too wild with backgrounds or any clutter that could interfere with my memory, but I think even this simple look is a vast improvement.

This is what my cards look like currently

anki styling

I also updated the MNN kanji by WK level spreadsheet. The lesson 4 kanji are on there now! It’s possible to sort the chart by WK level or MNN lesson number, whichever is most useful to you.

Changes in my daily routine:

I changed my Kaniwani settings so that it only shows vocabulary that has reached guru in WK. I was starting to get too many reviews there, so I thought I’d scale down a little so that the numbers would be more manageable. I’ve also been checking KW a little more frequently throughout the day to try and match my WK pace, which generally has three review sessions a day. I’m feeling much better about this new pace!

I’ve also slowed down with watching the Japanese Ammo with Misa absolute beginners playlist. At this point, the videos are far ahead of where I am in my textbook, so I thought it might be more beneficial for me to wait.

Reading in Spanish:

Summary

I finished reading Ferno, El Dragón de Fuego! I do see the benefit of reading books from one series (instead of reading a bunch of unconnected books from extremely different genres like I’ve been doing, haha!), because presumably a lot of words that you encounter will come up again and again, which makes it easier to learn them. With the books I’ve been reading in Spanish, I usually feel like I’ve just started getting the hang of reading it at the very end of the book, right before I move on to another book that reads completely differently!

I didn’t especially enjoy the plot of the Busca Fieras series, but I didn’t hate it, either. It was just a generic children’s fantasy series that I am no longer the target demographic for. If I had more than just the first book, I think I would have had a hard time motivating myself to work through the rest of them. I am glad that I finally read it, after holding onto it for so many years, but I think in the future, I’m going to stick to content that is made for adults, unless it’s unusually spectacular children’s literature.

I read La Mano del Destino next, and wow, right from the beginning, I was hooked, haha! The concept is amazing! My comprehension of the text is decent, and I did not want to stop reading to look things up! I really see the benefit of the comics medium for language learners. Even though I’m pretty confident in my understanding, I think I’m going to try reading the English side of the comic and compare it to the Spanish side, just to see if there were any nuances I missed.

If you’re a wrestling fan who enjoys comics, this is a fun one to pick up if you get the chance. The combined volume of all six issues should be out in print soon.

It occurred to me that if I want more reading practice, I could buy a digital subscription to Box y Lucha, a lucha libre magazine. I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep up with it, but I decided to try out for one month and see how it goes.

New resources:

I discovered BookWalker, which is an ebook store that frequently has a bunch of free titles available for download. I downloaded the first two volumes of ヨコハマ買い出し紀行 at @rodan’s recommendation, so I officially own my first few Japanese books that aren’t textbooks! The series looks to be intermediate, so it’s a little past my ability currently, but I’m hoping I might be able to read it after finishing Minna no Nihongo. I might try to keep an eye out for more free books that seem relevant to my interests. At the very least, I’m going to try to remember to check for free GL and BL series, since most of the fiction that I read these days is LGBTQ. If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll find some works that are also on koohi.cafe!

If anyone has any book recommendations, by the way, I’d love to hear them! I won’t read or watch works that are heavily centered around heterosexual romances anymore, but I’m always down for LGBTQ-centric stories, or stories that don’t feature any romance. I’m especially interested in finding books in Japanese that are good for beginners or low intermediate readers, and which are easily accessible and/or inexpensive.

I also discovered the Nihongo con Teppei podcast, which seems like a good resource for practicing listening comprehension for beginners. I haven’t tried it yet, but I don’t think my vocabulary and grammar are far enough along to get much out of it at this point.

I read a couple articles on the Tofugu site that were helpful. The first was this one on だ and です. I’m going to try to listen for this in Japanese wrestling commentary, which, from what I’ve been able to tell so far, tends to use です, but which probably uses だ on occasion like the sports announcer example in the article. I’m also going to try to look for both in the tweets I see from wrestlers on my twitter timeline.

The other article I read was this one on 中 and 内. Really helpful for starting to understand the difference between them, and conceptualizing why certain vocabulary words use one and not the other.

New userscripts:

  • Leech Training — This script gives you extra practice on items that you’re struggling to learn. I don’t have a lot of leeches right now because I’m still fairly low level, but I thought I might as well get an early start on trying to deal with them so that I avoid accumulating hundreds of them by the time I reach level 60.
  • Lesson Hover Details — This script shows you how many of your lessons are radicals, kanji, or vocab when you hover over the lessons icon on the dashboard. I downloaded this one because I’ve been spreading out the kanji lessons over time instead of doing a huge batch at once, and this helps me keep track of things.

Next steps:

Out of curiosity, I started recording the amount of time I’m putting into MNN each day. After I finish lesson 4, I’ll add it all up and see how long I’m spending haha! I suspect that the vast majority of the time gets sunk into vocab study, which I’ve been going a little above and beyond for. The good news is that as I learn more kanji, this part gets easier and easier (and the work I’ve done already makes it easier to learn the kanji in WK).

Onward to level 11!

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I have a few recommendations that fit the LGBT+Beginner-friendly+accessible criteria:

  • 不可解なぼくのすべてを - an agender/gender-questioning teen finds a welcoming safe haven at a maid cafe.
    Features a lot of well-handled LGBTQ characters with a suprisingly sweet and nice tone (everyone I’ve seen read it is a bit off-put by the covers but enjoys the interior). There’s a book club going through the whole series, spun out of the beginner book club, so if you search for the title on the forum you can find quite a bit of discussion about it. The fifth volume juuuust came out and concludes the series.

  • 弟の夫 - A Canadian visits Japan to meet the brother of his hsuband who passed away (and the brother’s young daughter) for the first time.
    This one’s very sweet too. It’s fun to watch the brother warm to the husband over time. It’s also pretty fun to see a foreigner’s visit from a Japanese perspective!
    If I remember correctly, the author is a gay man himself who also does lewder works, so uh, the men in this are drawn very uh, attentively! (although nothing lewd happens)
    This one also has concluded.

  • うちの息子はたぶんゲイ - A mother observes with kindness her son, who is gay (たぶん) but hasn’t come out of the closet yet.
    Once again, very sweet! Funny story, before I read this I thought たぶん was more like “maybe.” This series helps reinforce the actual meaning very well, because the kid’s poker face is endearingly poor.
    The portrayal of the mom feels very authentic and loving as she strives to better understand and support her kid without pushing anything on him at all.

I have plenty of other recommendations that fill one or more or none of those criteria too! But that might be enough for now and there’s plenty of other good recommendations in the reading section of the forum or threads like the 多読 one.

One last thing to mention - there’s a handful of NJPW-themed manga, including one that I guess is a school manga staring Tetsuya Naito?
I haven’t actually read those (yet), so I have absolutely no idea if they’re good or not, though!

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Thank you so much for the recommendations! I will definitely file those away for future reference.

And I actually have read a fan translation of the first… seven? chapters of that Naito manga! I don’t remember how far the fan translation got, but it was definitely fairly far behind the official release (which is very far behind actual NJPW haha in terms of where it is in the storyline)! I enjoyed what I read of it. But I didn’t know there were other NJPW-themed manga besides that one!

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