Made it to level 55!
Another fourteen day level, and a couple pretty huge milestones for me! I finished Minna no Nihongo!! Next up:
禁断のとびら! (That joke has such a tiny possible audience … If you’ve been reading my study log long enough to understand that reference, you’re a real one.)
Two thirds of the way there?
I also took a full-length practice N4 test (this one), and I think I passed pretty solidly? My vocabulary score was 91%, grammar/reading was 66%, and listening was 78% (my overall accuracy on the test was 78%). I have WK to thank for doing so well on the vocabulary section! The lack of kanji made the grammar/reading section harder, haha .
I had no trouble at all completing the test within the time limit. I actually had loads of time to spare on both of the non-listening portions, probably thanks to all the reading practice I’ve done. And with the kanji readings, I didn’t even bother to read the sentences for the most part because the readings came to me instantly as soon as I looked at the underlined word.
Just like with the N5, I found the listening exercises on the N4 to be much easier than the MNN listening exercises. The grammar exercises were the hardest for me. I didn’t know a few of the words, but the lack of kanji really exacerbated that, and the style of exercises being different than the MNN ones just really threw me off! I did extremely well on the reading part, though.
Overall, I’d say that if the real test is anything like this practice test, completing MNN 初級 1 and 2 should put you in a good position to pass the N4 safely. I didn’t do any test-specific study or practice beforehand, though I’d just spent several days doing pretty comprehensive reviews in the textbook.
With this, I’m considering myself to have officially graduated out of the beginner phase!
After I complete Tobira, I’ll probably try taking a practice N3 test? I don’t really have an interest in taking any of the lower JLPT levels officially, but it is admittedly nice to have sort of a framework to measure your progress. I’ll consider taking the actual N1 test if I manage to get that far, since I think that one is nice to have actual certification for.
With that aside, a few general comments on the past WK level:
I was a bit surprised that WK teaches 肯くand its accompanying kanji but does not teach 頷く and its accompanying kanji. 頷く is the one I’ve actually seen used in wrestling (I have it in Anki), and it’s the only thing that comes up when I type うなずく on my Japanese keyboard.
I was also blown away by the reading for ginkgo, 銀杏, being いちょう and not, well, ぎんこう (or ぎんきょう, I guess it was supposed to be!). I wondered why our word matched the standard kanji readings but the actual Japanese word didn’t, so I ended up going to google for answers, and according to wikipedia, “ginkgo” was apparently a misspelling of the Japanese readings for the kanji! It’s kind of amazing how language works like that.
Overall, level 54 ended up being a little more workload-heavy for me than usual because for some reason, my review counts ballooned higher than ever for a week or so. For the first time I think ever, my apprentice numbers were around 100, haha (usually they hover in the 70-80 range). I’m not exactly sure why? I might’ve just gotten unlucky and had a bunch of older stuff that I struggled more with all come back at the same time. I worried a bit about it, but after a few days, it seems to have passed, and things are back to normal now. Though even if that was the new normal, I think I’d be able to survive until 60, haha.
My burned item count as of the beginning of this level: 5312 (and 3916 on KW!)
Fun encounters with Japanese outside of WaniKani:
The biggest news by far is that Kota Ibushi’s NJPW contract ended on February 1, so he is now free!! He was immediately announced (literally immediately: they announced it the minute after midnight in Japan on the last day of his contract) to be appearing at a couple of American indie shows during WrestleMania week (it’s America’s イッテンヨン equivalent, basically), which will mark his return to the ring after a year and a half !
Kota’s return match will be on March 30 for Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport, where he’ll be facing Speedball Mike Bailey (!!), and then he’ll also be wrestling at Joey Janela’s Spring Break on the 31 (opponent still unannounced).
Kota vs Speedball is a match that I have been wanting to see for a very long time, haha, ever since I read this interview with Mao (who teams up with Mike Bailey as the Moonlight Express). As the interview points out, there are some parallels between Moonlight Express and the Golden Lovers, which are both DDT tag teams consisting of a Canadian nerd and a Japanese weirdo.
There are some great quotes in that piece, some including words that I think we’re discouraged from posting on this forum, haha. I do like this one: “Some fans call MAO “the second coming of Kota Ibushi” for his physical prowess—and also his affinity for nonsense.”
Moonlight Express will actually be reuniting for a match the day after Kota vs Speedball! So I’m very much looking forward to that as well! (We are so close to getting the Golden Lovers vs Moonlight Express…)
It seems like Kota’s plans are to stay a freelancer and wrestle all around the world in all sorts of different places, sort of like what he did the last time he left NJPW. He’s also planning on starting a wrestling school in Japan! It seems likely we’ll see him in AEW at some point, though probably not anytime super soon.
Kota also has a brand new youtube channel! He has released a few short videos so far, which are all in Japanese. They have Japanese subs, but I was thrilled to see that he released a version of episode 3 which had English subtitles!!! Hopefully there will be more English support for his new projects going forward.
He had an interview (in Japanese) in shupro, which I did not try reading, but I did read the main points summed up in English. I’m just so excited to be getting so much content from him again, now that I’m slowly starting to reach a point where I can actually understand it .
In honor of his contract ending, I also finished a non-Japanese project that I’d been meaning to finish for a long, long time. It’s a gifset/essay (my gif blog returns!!) that’s basically a recap of the Golden Lovers side of Kenny’s AEW/Impact/AAA stories from 2019-2021. I’d meant to finish it at the end of 2021, but, well, a lot of other stuff happened in my life, and I just couldn’t get it together (I prioritized keeping up with Japanese and then taking over the DDT/TJPW translations).
There are a few rare gifs in there, haha. Including one of an instagram story with plot importance (as someone who cares about archiving this stuff, Kenny, why…), which I think I already shared here. There’s also an AAA promo from the era when all of AAA’s stuff was region-locked to Mexico, which the rest of us only got to see thanks to twitter user luchablog reuploading it. This study log got to hear about a lot of the stuff in that post as it was actively happening, haha. But I tried my best to sum up a lot of big stories with a lot of moving pieces and get to the core of it all. I think there’s a strong chance a lot of this stuff will get revisited…
I can’t stress enough that as niche as the Golden Lovers story might seem, the stuff in that gifset was essentially the A-plot of AEW and Impact at that time. Like a million Americans watched Hangman Page obliquely reference Kota Ibushi right at the climax of the story, and the crowd of thousands of people in the building totally understood who he was talking about, despite Kota never having even technically appeared in AEW or been mentioned by name there. It’s just cool to me that a story as complicated and as subtle as that can transcend language barriers and cultures and the passage of time and still persist despite everything.
The story covered in the gifset is in English (well, mostly), but as I’ve mentioned many times on here, one of the most unique things about the Golden Lovers story is that parts of it are only in English, and parts of it are only in Japanese. Judging from my own twitter timeline, I think every single one of those moments managed to reach at least the most dedicated portion of the Japanese fanbase for the Golden Lovers (largely thanks to the work of fan translators!), but I sometimes wonder what it’s like, coming at this from the other side.
I think we’re going to be headed into a really interesting era, where the story is once again getting told in a mix of English and Japanese, and we’re all having to navigate it through patchy translation, both official and fanmade. Well, I at least am more prepared than ever!
みんなの日本語 Lesson 50 – 終わり！！
I did it! I finished Minna no Nihongo!! All 50 lessons and all review exercises in both textbooks and all of my workbooks!
It took like double the time that I’d spend on a typical lesson thanks to all of the extra review exercises, but they were helpful! I did quite badly on a few of the review sections and needed to brush up on some of the old grammar, haha, but overall I did alright! I got 78% on the lesson 43-50 review in the 標準問題集 workbook, and 75% on the lesson 26-50 review (as always, I did them off of my own memory without looking up anything). Then I decided to do a more comprehensive review before finishing the exercises, and ended up rereading all of my physical notes on the grammar before completing the 総復習 exercises in the main textbook.
On the final review section, I ended up getting… 75% right, haha, so my score didn’t actually improve at all .
However, that last review was mostly not multiple choice, so it was a lot more demanding. You had to remember all of the verb forms and what you had to include (or not include!) with all of the nouns and adjectives to use them with different grammar elements.
The last exercise in lesson 50 asked me to: “お世話になった人にお礼のメールを書いてください”, so I wrote one for @rodan! (Don’t feel obligated to correct any of my grammar unless you want to, haha! I’m sure there are mistakes, but hopefully the sentiment comes across regardless ).
上級へのとびら – Chapter 1
I found out that Tobira has premade Anki decks available for all of the chapter vocab lists on their website, which is awesome because it means I don’t have to download a deck made by some random person online which might come with errors. Their decks also come with audio, so I don’t have to add that manually, either. I didn’t really like the default look of the deck, so I slapped my custom CSS for my MNN deck onto the Tobira cards, and it looks much better now.
I already know almost all of the words on the cards I’ve gone through so far, largely thanks to WK. I tend to avoid the “easy” button on Anki, but I’ve been using it for these. I considered suspending known cards, particularly cards which might already be duplicated in the MNN deck, but honestly I feel like it’s less work to just mark them “easy” whenever they come up and let my card retirement addon take care of them eventually. I still treat WK vocab as sort of not really “usable” vocab until I learn it elsewhere, so I don’t mind duplicating those cards because I consider the textbook vocab (and my immersion vocab) essentially my working vocabulary.
I’m currently not planning on making a spreadsheet matching Tobira’s kanji up with their WK level. That was helpful for MNN when I was still in the process of learning all of those kanji myself, but now that I’ve already learned them, I don’t really need that resource for Tobira. Sorry!
(Small petty book artist complaint: I wish Tobira was as beautifully designed as MNN is . The textbook is fine and the design seems functional enough, but it simply does not spark joy… )
I only just started reading the first chapter, so I’m still sort of learning the ropes, I guess, but so far it seems to be going pretty well? I haven’t had any trouble understanding what the exercises want me to do, at least on the first few pages. I’m planning on skipping the conversation pair work practice and the kanji stuff, but trying to do everything else that I can. I also have the grammar workbook.
It’s nice coming into the book with a decently high WK level because I don’t really have to worry at all about reading the kanji in the lesson text. I’m also used to reading exercise instructions and such that are all in Japanese thanks to MNN, so that part doesn’t require much adjustment.
My tentative plan is to complete one chapter about every two weeks. So ideally, I will have completed the first chapter by the next time I update this log! If the exercises end up being a lot harder than expected, I might slow down, but I’m going to try my best to find a good steady pace that isn’t too much effort to keep up with.
Spanish reading: (finished Sí, si es contigo, read a tiny bit of En el jardín de lirios, started Cantoras by Carolina De Robertis)
So, funny story: I thought this book was titled Sí, sí es contigo because that is what it says on the amazon page and the kindle file, but I got to the climax of the book, which had the title drop, and it said ”Sí, si es contigo”! I was like, hey, wait a moment, wasn’t it sí and not si? So I googled the book, and I found out that the amazon page is wrong! The title is actually Sí, si es contigo! It’s a small change, but makes for a much better title, I think, haha.
My reading pace picked up a lot as I got further into the book and more invested in the story. I’ve been trying to fix my terrible sleep schedule, but haven’t had a whole lot of luck, haha. One night, I started reading at 5:30am, telling myself that I’d just read a few pages and then go to bed, then ended up reading for TWO MORE HOURS … I think that’s the first time this has ever happened to me with a non-English book? So on the one hand, it’s really cool that my Spanish has gotten good enough for a book to pull me in like that! On the other hand… it’s not exactly good for fixing my sleep schedule .
I ended up finishing the book much sooner than I expected, thanks in part to reading like 20% of the whole book that one night. Next, I tried picking up En el jardín de lirios, which is that academic study of GL media I linked a while back ago. I got through the prologue and am still interested in reading the rest of the book, but I had to do so many vocab lookups, I’m not sure it’s really worth trying to read it now. I’d look up words like “eje temático” and the dictionary would give me “thematic axis”, reminding me that I sure am reading academic theory . I ended up deciding to put it aside until my vocab is better.
I chose to read Cantoras by Carolina De Robertis instead, which was another book I had discovered on recommended lists of LGBTQ Spanish books when researching possible books to add to the library collection. I tried to look for an amazon preview so that I could see if the writing style looked to be at a good level for me, but they only had an audiobook preview. I listened to that and was able to understand a surprising amount, so I figured it was probably a safe purchase.
So far, I think that was a correct assumption! The book uses a lot of more literary words that I don’t know, but I found out the incredible benefit of reading it as a (properly formatted) kindle book is that I can use my kindle’s built-in dictionary to do instant look-ups, which is way quicker than having to look up words manually by typing them out. Currently, this is the most convenient media format I’ve found for reading in Spanish, and I’m really happy with it.
So, yeah, I’m going very strong on the read every day challenge so far!
I actually technically just finished my first novel in Japanese as well! After I finished lesson 50 in Minna no Nihongo, I started reading 小説 ミラーさん -みんなの日本語初級シリーズ-. I bought that book because I wanted to see what it would be like to be able to basically just read a novel in Japanese without having to stop and do lookups haha.
And sure enough, yeah, I know all the grammar in the book and basically all of the vocab! There are a few words in it that aren’t in the textbook, and some other words that I don’t remember getting taught in the lessons, but which I did learn from WK, but by and large, the only time I looked stuff up was just to double-check that I was on the right track with a trickier sentence. It’s pretty cool!
I’m only sort of half-counting it as my first novel in Japanese, since it is meant for learners and not native speakers. The quality of the actual writing is a little hard to judge. I wouldn’t say that it’s boring, but it’s definitely quite limited in scope.
I’m probably going to try to read the Read Real Japanese parallel text books next. Well, between all of the other reading projects I’ve got going on…
I did read a handful of pages from 女装してめんどくさい事になってるネクラとヤンキーの両片想い 3巻 (and nothing from 大海原と大海原 volume 3), but not enough to really count for much, haha.
I translated three senryu:
日記には上司の名前君付けで (this one was a fun localization challenge)
I also finished two TJPW translations, both of which were on the shorter end.
2023.01.29 TJPW 第3回“ふたりはプリンセス”Max Heartトーナメント — (1 word added)
2023.02.04 TJPW CITY CIRCUIT WINTER～大阪公演～ — (1 word added)
I’m honestly shocked by how few new words I added from those shows! I still have quite the backlog of added cards that haven’t entered circulation yet, though that number has been going down recently, since I’ve been adding more cards from immersion to make up for the lack of new textbook vocab over the past couple weeks.
My big reading/listening project for the first week of February was 大日本プロレス リア王 (Big Japan Pro Wrestling’s 2008 deathmatch King Lear production), though! Here’s a post with all of the info I managed to gleam about the show and some stuff I translated, as well as a bunch of screencaps from the DVD.
Next up, Romeo vs Juliet! There’s some more stuff I want to translate from that program before watching the show, so I’m not sure exactly when that will be able to happen, since I have to fit it around the TJPW translation workload. I’m also considering attempting to translate shupro’s recap of King Lear and including that in one giant blog post about the show. But that’s more of a stretch goal right now, haha.
For reading in Spanish, I’ve discovered that a (properly formatted) book on my kindle is probably the most convenient format for reading practice, because my kindle grants me the ability to do instant lookups with practically the convenience of Yomichan. I’m unlikely to try reading books in Japanese this way, though, because I have a way to read ebooks in a browser with actual Yomichan, which is simply better . As far as I have been able to tell so far, the Spanish dictionary that my kindle has is great for looking up words, but isn’t much help for grammar. My Spanish grammar is pretty decent, so that’s not really an obstacle, but it would be for Japanese.
The Tobira website is pretty neat! I’ve only just started to poke around there, but it seems to have a decent amount of resources. As I mentioned above, I’m particularly grateful for the provided Anki decks. It actually has decks for the kanji it teaches, too, though naturally I have no need for those, haha.
Whew, that was a lot! After working so hard this past level, I’m going to spend the next couple weeks relaxing and—just kidding, I have a Korakuen Hall TJPW show to translate, and a new textbook to dive into, so it’s right back to the grind for me .
(I do actually genuinely enjoy studying, so don’t worry about me! This is literally what I’m doing for fun right now.)
My main goal for this next level, besides the usual stuff, is figuring out how to make the best use out of Tobira, and hopefully completing the first chapter? Ideally I’ll also make some progress on translating stuff for Romeo vs Juliet, but thanks to the aforementioned Korakuen Hall show, that might be asking a little bit too much.
Onward to level 56! 行くぞ！