Learning with Ghost of Tsushima

I’m a complete beginner at Japanese, still only at chapter 3 of Genki 1. But I was wondering, would GOT help me with my grammar? I have no idea if the Japanese is too old fashioned. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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So – to preface this, I played the game in English a while back, but I have no experience with it in Japanese.

Interacting with anything in Japanese? Good idea. But until you have a foundation in the most basic, common vocab and grammar, that is going to be a very large struggle. It still will after, but there’s basically a point where the struggle becomes worth your time. That point is different for everyone, but for me, it was after Genki 2 (very roughly N4), and that seems to be a commonly enough recommended jumping off point. But even to put that into perspective, that’s me mostly slowly reading lines of native material and looking up everything I don’t understand. If I was sat in front of Tsushima, I expect to still do quite poorly.

Some people start immersing and trying to learn from there day 1, but for most, it’s just too much effort to be worth it (outside of specific learner materials like learning podcasts and graded readers). Compared to spending more of that time directly studying, at the level you are at, it’s almost definitely inefficient. And because Ghost of Tsushima IIRC mostly does not pause to wait for you to advance lines, it’s going to be a particularly hard one to pick.

As for the grammar, my guess would be that some of the writing in the game will be simulating perceptions of old Japanese, which is still an added challenge, but not written in TRUE old Japanese style (the way we have Ye Olde English but things don’t get written literally like Shakespeare). This is all purely conjecture though.

So, honestly, being ready and excited to immerse early is great, but I really doubt you’re going to comprehend much of anything, and thus won’t be able to get a whole lot out of it. If you’re very disciplined about your listening you may pick up some commonly used words to look up, which isn’t nothing, but are you ok essentially not understanding a single whole sentence while playing?

I’d pretty much never say don’t do something in Japanese, but from an efficiency standpoint, poor returns for sure, and a high risk to become frustrated. If you’re more interested in early immersion than specifically playing a game, I’d recommend the absolute beginner book club here, as they have simpler material and a really helpful community. What you are interested in and think you can tolerate is totally up to you, though. There’s also never any harm in sampling something and seeing what happens if you want to try it. Even if you don’t have the game yet, you could watch a bit of it on Youtube to get a firsthand impression of what this experience is going to be like.


Thank you for such a detailed reply man. I think ill hold it off until i finish Genki 2 then! By the way, What can i do with genki 1? could i have small talk with Genki 1 or is that too advanced?

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Yeah, you’re welcome! I must admit I’ve mostly put off speaking, myself, but if it’s a priority for you, Genki 1 should definitely at least get you to the point of being able to express things about sort of everyday life, classroom experiences, etc. In one-on-one conversation someone could probably adjust to a level where you’d be able to follow enough. And circumlocution (talking around words you don’t know by describing with ones you do) can take you far with a limited vocab.

I’d consider the 2 books combined more or less the foundational grammar, but that’s not to diminish the amount of learning that does happen in them. It’s just that real native materials will be pulling from absolutely everywhere with no concern about what order we learn this stuff in, so pretty much all of it is going to contain some stuff above where you are… it’s just a matter of making the amount of that manageable to learn from.

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Thanks for the heads up, and thanks for solving my inquiry!

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Hey there! I’ve played the game (twice through) with Japanese voices and English subs, and while it’s an amazing game, I don’t think you’d get much out of it as a study guide.

It made for fun listening practice for me – but I’ve been studying Japanese for about 4 years now, and even then I only catch parts of what’s said, because it’s definitely using older and more formal language.

(Honestly, it’s probably only good “practice” if you want something with a whollllle lot of keigo in it.)

Still, it’s a really fun game! And it has options for Japanese dialogue and English subtitles, so you could definitely use just as immersion/listening practice. At the very least, it’ll let you listen to Japanese pronunciation and intonation in a bunch of different voices, so it’s not like it’d be doing you any harm.

TLDR; I don’t think you should actively try to ‘study’ from it, and you probably won’t understand much of what’s being said, but if you’re interested in the game try playing it with the Japanese audio for listening practice :slight_smile:


Thanks for the heads up, ill just use the audio for practice for now!

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I haven’t played Ghost of Tsushima (at all) but I’ve played Sekiro in Japanese. Yes, fiction set hundreds of years in the past uses pseudo-ancient constructions that are understandable to modern audiences, but still give an impression of being older versions of the language. I see that Ghost of Tsushima is set in the 1200s. The Japanese of this era would basically be incomprehensible to a modern audience, so I’m sure they are doing something similar to Sekiro.


I watched parts of a playthrough in Japanese and it was kind of hard. Quite a bit of kanji even the native player could not read, and they use older kanji in places where it’s commonly kana. Not to mention the speaking is quite old styled.

You do get used to some of the speech patterns, but I think you need to be quite advanced to have a base from where to extrapolate meaning.

Recently got a ps4, so I do probably plan on trying it at some point.