How do you keep the inspiration for learning Japanese alive with no "Japanese hobbies"?

I live in the countryside and hence need the Japanese language to a point that it is one of the survival basics. But just the “need” isn’t sufficient sometimes. I sure struggle to keep the inspiration alive every once in a while. After a visit to the dentist or a paediatrician and for that matter a drugstore, I feel the urge and spend more time for the language but that gradually fades and daily chores take priority.

I see that many people here on the community learning language for the love of games, anime, manga etc. I personally do not enjoy (or as a matter of fact cannot afford the time) reading manga or watching anime. I am interested in cultural aspects but not crazy about it. I am married and have two young kids at home which limits my time going out with friends. Anyone has similar “need” but “just need”? How do you keep up the interest? Any suggestions are more than welcome please.


What do you like to do? You can find things where Japanese people talk about those things, not because they are “Japanese hobbies” but because Japanese people just happen to be doing them.

If you like to cook, there are cooking channels in Japanese, for all kinds of different cuisines.
If you like to play a sport, there are sports channels and blogs.
If you want to stay informed about news in Japan or around the world, there are news channels.



What kind of hobbies do you have (not specifically Japanese related)? You can always indulge in your own hobbies in Japan by watching Youtube shows or videos about them/ it, practice reading posts or even magazines or books relating to your hobby in Japanese, and even talking to people about them?

Sometimes I practice Japanese by making a post on twitter or instagram, to see how naturally I can think and post in the language. And then I always have friends to correct any mistakes.~

If you’re not really into social media, this may not be useful though, sorry. :pensive:


I live in the US but my SO is Japanese and I have two small children so in terms of needing Japanese, well, I don’t need it right now. But, whenever we’re in Japan I hate that I need him around to translate for me and I’d rather just be there and communicate on my own. This leads to a plan of one day staying longer than for a vacation so I want to be able to go to the store, the dentist, the pediatrician, as you wrote above. The everyday things, which for me would be crazy awesome to just be able to handle.

In terms of ‘Japanese’ hobbies, I don’t have any, but as Leebo wrote above, I do have things to do/needs that I am challenging myself by doing them in Japanese. Nothing fancy, but something as simple as (trying to) reading through a cookbook, which is a skill you might find helpful in your everyday life if you want to try out new recipes, for example.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that language learning doesn’t have to be tied into entertainment or have to entertain you to have value. This doesn’t have to be your motivation. Keeping up an interest in learning is very personal. However, if being able to communicate in Japanese at all times to create ease in your life isn’t a big enough “WHY” then I don’t know what is.

Are you interested in interacting more with others? I know it’s hard with kids, but maybe being able to communicate more will help you build a community.


I am sorry if it’s not a proper usage to say “Japanese hobbies”. By that, I meant karaoke, anime, manga, or even nomikai.
I try to stay informed about the news. My language ability is low and I can only read NHK news easy but nothing more complicated. Could you help with more resources like that?
Food may not be a good idea for a vegetarian in Japan :frowning: :pensive:

I think I understood. If my quotation marks made you think I was making some kind of value judgement, that wasn’t the case. I was just distinguishing between what you mentioned and hobbies that Japanese people do.


Thank you for your suggestion. I shall try using some Japanese on social media posts. That might help in practicing natural usage as you suggested.

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I agree with this. And it may sound funny too when I say this, but whenever I miss adding an element of fun or curiosity to the learning process, it starts being an additional chore in my daily to-do list.
I am not sure if anyone else experiences this but, I feel understanding half of the conversation is more dangerous than understanding nothing at all, especially when that conversation is with a pediatrician.
I end up feeling more frustrated than encouraged in real life scenarios like that.
With respect to kids though, do you use any Japanese material for them? Please suggest any resources for short stories or so that can be included in the family reading time.


I agree with @Leebo on the cooking thing. I’m mostly vegetarian/vegan too and there’s definitely ways of eating Japanese while being vego. There’s a few Facebook groups and Instagram pages out there on this topic. I also just found out recently that my 30-something year old Japanese friend actually grew up mostly vegetarian, so it can be done!

Also re @jeeminas suggestion about watching YouTube, I found a channel that is a Japanese girl woman living in Australia and just vlogging everyday life. I’m Aussie so it’s nice to see how she talks about things that I grew up with, but unusual to a foreigner.

For me personally, my hobby used to be taiko drumming, which was heaps of fun and allowed me to meet others that could speak Japanese/ were interested in the culture. Perhaps there’s a Japanese language exchange group somewhere near you that you could meet people through?

Finally, planning the next Japanese holiday is always good motivation :wink:


Thank you for your suggestion. I shall look for Instagram pages related to food.
And the YouTube channel also seems interesting. I hope to find some content that I can relate to.
Could you suggest some YouTube channels where the language used is not extremely difficult to follow for an intermediate level.

Admittedly I don’t follow a lot of Japanese channels. In the past I’ve maybe just searched a topic and seen what’s come up. Here are the few I’m subscribed to, although for the most part I haven’t watched many videos from each of them.

  • 大家族フォーサイス家 - ETA Turns out a friend of a friend (Iori) who I met recently has her whole family doing a YouTube channel! They’re half Japanese-half Australian and all the videos seem to have both Japanese and English subtitles as you need.

  • Buzzfeed Japan - Short viral videos with subtitles. I see their latest series features kids, so they will likely use simpler grammar and vocab.

  • Life Where I’m From - This is a really enjoyable channel presented by an English speaker, who lives with his Japanese family in Tokyo. He talks about interesting cultural things and everyday Japanese life, and you’ll sometimes get to hear Japanese language.

  • Tokyo Llama - This doesn’t have so much spoken Japanese, but it’s really interesting from a cultural perspective. This man lives in the Japanese countryside and is renovating a traditional house. There’s a great episode where they do a cleansing ritual to make peace with the spirits.

  • That Japanese Man Yuta - Street interviews on various topics, especially Japanese perceptions of foreigners/English and vice versa. Yuta is good at explaining aspects of conversational Japanese.

  • Mine - Sweet little channel centred around budgies (I’m a total bird person, which is how I found it). It’s got short anime with Japanese dialogue. Otherwise it’s got videos of budgies with occasional Japanese subtitles.

  • Dogen - American guy with perfect Japanese. It’s bizarre how good he is. Probably better for advanced Japanese though.

  • Chichiki Channel - Linked in my post above. Japanese woman living in Australia. Almost entirely in Japanese.

  • Max D. Capo - ETA new discovery! Max is half-Japanese and has some cool interviews with other mixed race Japanese people. I watched a great video with a black woman named Tiffany who grew up in Japan, and they talk about living as multiple identities, all the while with frequent code-switching between English and Japanese.

  • Abroad in Japan - This is really just a travel and culture show presented by a sarcastic Brit. But he’s been living in Japan for years now so there’s heaps of content and also travel tips for interesting tourism options.

  • Currently Hannah - Similarly, another channel almost entirely in English. It’s an Aussie girl living in Japan and she has a beautiful style of filming for her vlogs.

  • Tokyo Creative - FYI This is a creative collective of foreigners living in Japan. I think it’s mostly in English, but some of the contributors speak in Japanese on their personal YouTube channels.

There are of course channels out there that also teach Japanese (e.g. Japanese Ammo with Misa; Kanji - LINK; masako ng), but that’s a bit different to being able to listen to conversational Japanese.


I used to go to the library with the children I was babysitting in Japan and let them choose a book from the picture book section. They’re mostly written in hiragana anyway so you can stumble your way through it. I would ask the kids what it meant if I didn’t know.

Also, you could try Japanese Netflix for Kids. They have both Japanese and western programs with Japanese dubbing and subtitles.


In my search for resources, this popped up just now. The list you made is really helpful and I was wondering if you would like to give your inputs here?

I can relate to your situation. While I don’t live in Japan I’ve traveled there dozens of times in the last 15 years. I’ve spent about a month a year there for that timeframe and also gotten special permission from my company to work in Japan remotely for a few months on several occasions.

While I grew up with Japanese games (Nintendo, Sega, SNK, etc) and animations (Heidi, Macross/Robotech, etc) I find myself old and groggy and not interested in 99% of anime (the last series I really enjoyed was Trigun ~20 years ago). I’ve spent the New Year’s eve in Tokyo for the last 10+ years and my in-laws are tired of me complaining about how terrible the year old Red vs White songfest is. To the point where my MIL (politely) told me that it’s just a tradition to watch it and I should stop my bellyaching. Basically I “don’t even have a TV” when it comes to anime, manga, etc. I haven’t stepped a foot into Akihabara in over a decade and rarely step into Shibuya, Shinagawa, Shinjuku,etc (though we frequently visit Ikebukoro as a meeting point with friends). Anyhow, like I said, old and groggy. Get off my lawn 40 year old boybands and 24 year old women who are deemed to be too old and get to graduate out of the girlband. :stuck_out_tongue:

With no impetus to learn Japanese, I’ve grown to entirely rely on my wife while traveling there. Doesn’t help that everywhere we go I’m automatically ignored while the staff beams with comfort when they see my wife. I kind of feel like I’m invisible and ignored because of that. It’s funny because my wife feels the same way in the US where store/restaurant staff usually mostly talk to me.

Anyhow, my inspirations for learning Japanese:

  • Speak Japanese with my wife

  • Speak Japanese with my in-laws and BIL

  • Speak Japanese with our friends

  • Possibly move to Japan in the future and not have to rely on my wife for everything

I bought some kid’s books in Japan and I’m trying to read those. But that’s going very slowly. The first time I tried to read “The ugly ducking” I was amazed that the duck ends up as an egg. Then I realized I had ended up in the beginning. :sweat_smile:

But even with all my complaints about popular media in Japan. I love the food there, and the best Italian food outside of Italy is in Japan. I’m also calm and at ease there like no other place. I stick to less crowded areas in Kanagawa, Saitama, and Nishi-Tokyo. All areas a little off the usual tourist hubs where knowledge of Japanese helps just a bit more.

I’m hoping I improve my Japanese enough before New Year’s to really blow some socks off! And hopefully do more than just be able to order at Gusto.


Hahaha. I quite agree because my first experience was trying to make sense of inaiinaiba (peek-a-boo) book

My husband is the most generous one, asks me to have all the glory to excel the language part coz honestly I don’t mind making mistakes and sounding stupid. He wants to speak only when he is perfectly sure of something.

Wish you good luck on that and let us know of any interesting experiences.

Gusto now has a tablet based ordering system and English is available throughout though

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Maybe getting to know your children’s playmates’ parents can be motivation for you?

From my experience with expat parents in Amsterdam, they’re main motivation has been being able to communicate with the child’s friends. Most adults speak English well, here, but the kids all speak Dutch! I don’t know much about playdate culture in your neck of the woods, but havig good relations with the parents around could also come in handy if ever an emergency crops up. Excuse me if you already have good ties with your kids’ friends, though!


I labelled all of my house in Japanese with sticky notes.


Are you familiar with shojin ryori? This is temple cuisine, which is vegetarian/vegan, and might be worth exploring if you’re interested in expanding your horizons. Amazon link to some books. Though it hasn’t been updated in a few years, I came across this blog and here’s one more link for recipes.

You… sound like a mom. :sob: This is why I incorporate Japanese throughout my day to make it less of a to-do, and more a part of my routine.

My in-law sends books, or did before the virus, and there is content on YTube. There’s also this book site that I discovered from starting a reading challenge here on WK. I linked to age six since I don’t know what age your kids are. On this site you can sample books within a limited time frame. Oh, and I don’t know if you can access it, but Audible has some Japanese content for kids.


Thanks! :blush:

As for Gusto, we’ve been visiting a couple of their locations quite a bit in the last couple of years since one of their locations is on the ground floor of a clinic we frequent. And the only time I ordered was when my wife was in the clinic. That was almost two years ago, and the tablets arrived in the location sometime last year. Nowadays even the washoku restaurant near my inlaws where I’ve never seen anyone who looked non-Japanese has an English tablet menu. So they really are everywhere which means less chances of practice for me!

I know it wasn’t directed at me, but…

My goto thing is video game let’s plays since I love video games and can watch them being played even without understanding the comments! :slight_smile: A list of my recommendations here.

Also, the overall sentence complexity is way lower than you’ll find in dramas and the like. If you can understand 危ない! and ちょっと待て! you’re half-way there already :wink:

We even had a let’s play watching club a while back!