Japanese phonetics by Dogen

Has anyone spent much time watching these videos on phonetics? I spent the $10 to become a patreon, but I’ve been seriously overloaded by the amount of content. I’m not really sure how to integrate the knowledge into my current studies, and could use some help from anyone who has some experience with this resource



Basically studying Japanese is working on several pillars of knowledge.

  • Listening comprehension
  • Vocabulary
  • Kanji / Reading
  • Grammar
  • Speaking / Building sentences
  • Pronunciation

Many people studying Japanese usually overlook the pronunciation part of the studies and in my experience even the Japanese teachers let a lot of pronunciation problems completely slide. However, if you don’t work on it you will find yourself having a hard time making yourself understood in many cases where your grammar would otherwise be fine/good enough.

Practicing your pitch accent is definitely important and while I wouldn’t take it to the extremes of Dogen (putting all other learning to a halt and trying to sound as native as possible), I would still definitely recommend watching one or two of his videos per week and do shadowing exercises! Get some Japanese audio, imitate it as perfectly as possible and then listen to a recording of yourself and check. If you can, have a Japanese person check your pronunciation as well.

After a while you will get a much better ear for its nuances and not run into as many “but that’s exactly how I pronounced it!!” moments.


I would definitely recommend committing a few of the rules of thumb that Dogen covers early on to memory, and right from the start you’ll have a leg up on other people’s pronunciation. You won’t have as many bad habits.

It’s not as necessary to commit all the many, many rules that exist to memory.

But it’s kind of shocking how much a few tweaks can change the way a person’s accent sounds, so tweaking them right away makes sense.


It’s a lot of info, for sure. Just take it a little bit at a time.

I think the most important thing is to be aware that these pitch patterns exist, and to listen for them both when you hear native speech and when you hear yourself talk. Some of the general rules presented in the early videos are really good.

If you pick away at it a little bit at a time and keep it in the back of your head, your pronunciation and ability to be understood in speech will improve - I’m quite certain.


I would actually recommend starting from the later pronunciation series, which is a bit more hands-on and probably more accessible. It is also a bit easier to apply immediately in your own speech than pitch-accents (although it’s good to know the basics about those, too).

The linguistics of the sounds were very interesting, but I ended up not finishing, since I was mostly doing the stuff Dogen was talking about already. Also the fact that the series is aimed at English learners, and I do have a small advantage over them regarding pronunciation.


Thanks for the replies - I guess the awareness alone can help make a big difference. I think I was getting caught up in all the rules and whether I should be looking up all the words I know and trying to memorize them or not
I think the shadowing is something I will have to incorporate into my daily studies

Thanks for everyone’s help


What video would you recommend starting from?

Personally I would start from the pronunciation course, which comes after the 20 or so pitch-accen episodes. If I recall correctly.

Question here for those who have taken the course. How long does it take to complete? Could you reasonably do one lesson every single day and not get too lost? Or more?

Asking b/c I love the idea of this series, but I’ve already got some monthly subscriptions and adding one more to the pile just isn’t in the cards right now. But 20 bucks to knock the whole thing out in two months, for example (then end my subscription), would probably be doable for me. Would love to support content creators like him more but I’m a working class guy counting every penny over here. I really prefer buying lifetime memberships when available, as monthly expenses can get hefty over time.

You could probably download the videos and not feel too bad about it, since you paid for them? Not sure if patreon has something against this in their TOS, though.

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It keeps growing…

I think the most important bit is the first set of lessons on pitch accent which covers the main nouns adjectives, verbs, and the basics of how it functions in a sentence…you can probably go over that in a month or two and then work through the Anki deck someone has helpfully put together (there’s a link in the patreon somewhere).

The bit on phonetics is probably the next most useful, and then he starts going into more in depth PA, which is probably less valuable but still interesting…(stuff like how to guess PA for names, how PA works with numbers etc).

The whole thing covers a lot though so I wouldn’t try to rush through everything.


Cool. I see. Maybe I will be able to afford it later on after I have a lifetime membership to Wanikani and am not shelling out for it monthly. I think basic pitch accent lessons (and just general awareness that it’s a thing) is the most important for a beginner like me, and I have the WK plugin that shows pitch accent visual patterns with all the words on WK which is very helpful. Knowing what to look for and shadowing goes a long way. Not sure I’m at the level where I need to get too deep into it but it is something to keep on the radar.

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