Study log of Jintor

Hi, I’m Jintor. You may have seen me in the Absolute Beginner and Beginner book clubs. I’ve reached something of a slump in my current studies, so I thought a study log would be a nice way to procrastinate type things up and see if something shakes out, as well as just generally seeing where I’ve come from and where I intend to go next – and just maybe how to get there.

Latest post





or, a history of learning by banging one's head against a wall

Feel free to skip or just come back to it 'cos I sort of want to ramble here.

I’ve been learning Japanese on and off for more than two decades now, I think, having taken modules in primary and high school and in uni, but it never really sticking. That last one did end up with me on the JET program, so I spent two years in rural Japan in a ninja town with basically no Japanese for the entirety of that first year. That proved intolerable, but by the end of my second year I did manage to qualify for N3 just before I returned home.

And then life happened.

Fast-forward to now and at the beginning of 2023, I realised despite literal years of SRS I wasn’t actually putting any of it into practice in a systematic sort of way (I just checked and my Anki deck account has stats from nearly 10 years ago, wtf). My head exploded. Inspired by new years’ resolutions, I suddenly felt the urge to try and read something, anything. I found Natively and its forums and took off running with Tadoku readers and some simpler (relatively) manga.

Which brings us to now.

Current level

Where I'm at (Sep 2023)

I have an N3 qualification which I attained… uh… about 7 years ago at this point and was always very ギリギリ anyway. But I have actually reached the level where I can read a decent amount of manga at around the lower N3 level, given sufficient time. I would say I can get through a volume of natively 15-19 manga in 30min to one and a half hours, 20-23 in two-two and a half, and 24-26 in probably three and a half plus hours.

I can also read most NHK Easy articles at this stage, though I probably need to get back to reading it regularly and drilling a few of the more common vocabulary (I checked back in recently and realised there was a decent chunk of common news vocab I had forgotten or was missing, since you don’t see it day-to-day in manga etc).

In terms of slump… it’s not so much that I’m not getting anything out of study, so much as I just feel overwhelmed at the enormity of how much more there is to go. I know there really isn’t any solution other than to chip away at it, but it’s sort of rough right now.

My routine

My basic setup is I do roughly 30 minutes of Anki immediately after I wake up, or otherwise in the morning (on a commute, etc). Decks and cards are my own creations largely mined from whatever I’m using as study material, as well as some legacy stuff. I have a slightly complicated system I’ve come to over time that I might detail in a future post, but the core of it is that I think of Anki time mostly as just ‘keeping words in my head’ as opposed to a way of really baking a word into my long-term memory. I try and add stuff to it at a rate that I only spend around 30 minutes a day on it, which means my progress is sort of slow.

I also try and do at least 15 minutes of reading a day, though these days it’s often more, usually 30min to an hour+ (especially if I do multiple sessions over the course of a day). One of the “read every day” threads either here or on Natively recommended I use a big ol physical stopwatch and for whatever reason tying reading to an actual artifact has really helped me keep it up – well, that and Natively as a logging site. I’ve been keeping this up (with rare exceptions) for 9 months now, since the start of 2023.

In terms of ‘actively studying’ (ie looking up new words, grammar structures etc) I find I do most of that when adding new cards to my Anki decks.

I also very occasionally listen to a podcast, Let’s Talk in Japanese, and a few other pods aimed at learners, though I haven’t listened for a while.


  • I have a goal of being able to read a full book of text this year (so not just picture books, and not counting graded readers). I originally had a goal in Jan of this year of reading 魔女の宅急便 1 , but it proved too exhausting for me at that time. I have tried a few children’s books but so far I have been defeated each time. I think I need to try some short story collections, or maybe something nonfiction (but still probably aimed at children).
  • I really want to be able to easily read manga at around the N3/Natively 24-27 range. At the moment I can get through an Natively25 given enough time, but spending 3-5 hours on manga is quite tiring even when spread over a few days, and doesn’t quite give the dopamine rush of reading something in a few sessions and getting 85-90% of it (like I can with Natively15-19 range manga).
  • I would like at some point to start watching TV/anime without subs. I’ve tried this before but it’s hard for me to carve out the time for whatever reason – or perhaps more accurately, to be okay with not understanding every line.
  • Vague urge to do N2 next year but not sure if I’m built for that or if life will allow it.

Various projects not related to language learning I have on the boil.

  • Get through an anatomy/form construction drawing book and then get through the full digital painting course on Ctrl+Paint
  • Make a fully-fledged short game in Unreal Engine 5
  • Learn to model, paint and rig low-poly assets and models in Blender (for use in UE5)
Stuff I'm not focusing on
  • Production (writing especially). I do get a little writing practice in from time to time – usually writing notes for myself in Anki (adding context for cards), asking or answering questions on Hinative or just writing the occasional Tweet, but I’m not as interested in that right at this moment. Re speaking, I don’t really have anyone I feel confident enough to speak to around, besides my wife (who is N2 and generally better than me at JPN)
  • Not super interested in doing textbook study, unless it’s to look up points I encounter elsewhere, mainly because I find it boring. (This is one of the reason I am more of a vibes-based translator and get bogged down whenever book club discussion turns really technical)
  • I am not currently interested in a language tutor, though that may change in future.

Questions for any readers

Stuff I'm thinking about doing
  • I love Japanese music (JPop/JRock mainly) and I’m wondering if it’s a good use of my time to be trying to sort of focus a bit more on reading lyrics while singing or something.
  • This isn’t really language related, but I feel like I really should be listening to more J-albums, ever since discovering I absolutely love EVE, Bump of Chicken, Yoasobi, Frederic, Man With A Mission etc…
  • Maybe audiobooks are a way into novels? If anyone has any advice here, I’d love to hear it.
  • One question I have is with my current Anki study method. Basically I go through a manga (or whatever) and hoover up literally every word and grammar construction I don’t know and jam it into an SRS. I’m okay with my reviews attritioning/leeching out words that don’t stick in my head, but I’m wondering if it’s just more efficient to only stick to adding words I know I’ve seen before multiple times and didn’t get… that way I could probably make SRS decks faster, for a larger variety of media, which would bring the creation time closer to when I read it (for instance, with book clubs). What do ya’ll think?

Useful Tools

Language tools
Other useful links

Lists and stats

For latest completed and actively reading books, see most recent post.

Active clubs
Manga I've read

Last updated: Nov 5 2023 | Natively level at time of adding first vol

Title Natively level Volumes Status
ティアムーン帝国物語 30? 1/6 Will continue (one day)
ぼっち・ざ・ろっく! 28 1/5 Will continue (one day)
トナリはなにを食う人ぞ ほろよい 27 1/11 Will continue
ゆるキャン△! 26 1/14 Will continue
トナリはなにを食う人ぞ 25 4/4 Complete
その着せ替え人形は恋をする 25 2/12 Will continue
スーパーの裏でヤニ吸うふたり 24 1/3 Will continue
気になってる人が男じゃなかった 23 1/1 Waiting for new volume
NEW GAME! 23 1/13 Will continue
ド直球彼氏×彼女 23 1/7 Will continue
ギャルとオタクはわかりあえない 23 1/6 Will continue
大学ではじめて恋人ができた人の話 22 1/4 Will continue
ロジカとラッカセイ 22 1/3 Will continue
のんのんびより 22 1/17 Will continue
新米姉妹のふたりごはん 21 4/10 Will continue
声がだせない少女は「彼女が優しすぎる」と思っている 21 1/7 May continue
おねぇちゃん日和 21 1/2 May continue
14歳の恋 21 1/12 Will continue
声がだせない少女は「彼女が優しすぎる」と思っている 21 1/7 Might continue
疑似ハーレム 20 1/6 Will continue
隣のお姉さんが好き 20 1/3 Will continue
ルリドラゴン 20 1/1 Waiting for next volume
ヒナのままじゃだめですか? 20 1/2 Will continue
ふらいんぐうぃっち 19 12/12 Waiting for next volume
加瀬さんシリーズ 19 1/8 Will continue
怒りっぽいギャル~白石浩平短編集~ 19 1/1 Complete
瞳ちゃんは人見知り 18 3/8 Will continue
リューシカ・リューシカ 18 1/10 Might continue
みらいのふうふですけど? 18 1/2 Dropped
姫乃ちゃんに恋はまだ早い 17 7/7 Complete
今日から始める幼なじみ 17 8/8 Waiting for new volume
よつばと! 17 5/15 Will continue
からかい上手の高木さん 17 1/19 Will Continue
ひとり暮らしのOLを描きました 17 1/6 Might continue?
絶対に風呂に入りたくない彼女VS絶対に風呂に入れたい彼氏 17 1/2 May continue
キリング・ミー! 17 1/1 Complete
桜井さんは気づいてほしい 16 2/4 Still reading
ハピネス 16 1/10 Dropped
からかい上手の 元 高木さん 16 5/18 Will continue
ちいさな森のオオカミちゃん 15 1/2 Dropped
チーズスイートホーム 14 1/12 Dropped
女子かう生 12 1/9 Will continue (when it’s cheap)
Past clubs
Image code when writing update posts
![caption|200x290, 50%](paste_img_url_here.jpg)

Welcome welcome welcome to the study log crew, glad to have you here!

Huge mood. This tends to be me as well when I’m reading more for fun :laughing: Not that I don’t think there’s any value in dissecting sentences every once in a while, but I’d usually rather just keep reading if I’m pretty sure I have a rough outline of what was said.

I’m of the opinion that pretty much anything you enjoy doing in the language that gets you spending time interacting with the language is beneficial, even if it might not be as directly “efficient” as some other forms of studying. Maybe not a bad idea to pick out a list of like “karaoke songs” that you learn the lyrics to pretty well, and then whenever you hear those songs you’ll be more prepared to listen to the lyrics (I like for this).

There’s quite a few words or grammar points I see sometimes and I can immediately recognize them just from how often I’ve heard them in songs i learned :laughing: EVE sings kinda fast for me to keep up with, but bump of chicken and frederic are much more approachable like this, also really enjoy ヨルシカ songs (言って。 was actually I think the first time I ever really wanted to learn japanese, and I hear it every time I hear もっと)

Especially if they are words/grammar in the choruses of songs, you get built in repetition! (or just play em on repeat a bunch)

That’s just the trick ain’t it? But that’s one of the reasons finding stuff you enjoy doing is so important in my opinion. It’s a lot easier to start studying when it’s “oh boy I get to read this new chapter of manga I want to read!!!” than it is to go “aw man I have to read another textbook chapter today…”

There’s a balancing act between doing stuff you enjoy and stuff that’s more “efficient” sure, but it’s way easier to keep chipping away at the impossibly big task that is becoming proficient in another language if you’re having at least a bit of fun while doing it :smile:

As for SRS efficiency questions, I tend to just not enjoy doing SRS at all so can’t really help there :sweat_smile:


Interesting… I have similar goals, but at least for now they’re on the back burner.

While it’s a bit off-topic, if you have found any terrific ‘getting started’ resources for those, I’d be interested in seeing them.


Audiobooks are to anime, what regular books are to manga. It’s about the same step-up in difficulty. It’s quite hard, much harder than just reading a book. You get the same problem of no pictures to give you context clues, but you also can’t look at the written text to infer what the actual words used are. But, if you also read the book at the same time, that can usually help somewhat (still quite hard, because of the speed). The main benefit of them I noticed is if you aren’t sure which pronunciation would be used in a given situation, it will clear that up.

However it’s certainly worth a try. Audible Japan is a very special place, because unlike the western counterpart, it’s more like a Netflix subscription, once you have it, you can listen to most books for free, and it does have a 1 or 2 month free trial. Also, a lot of Japanese audiobooks are more like a radio drama, with multiple voice actors and sound effects and everything.


While you say you don’t really want to delve into textbooks, I had found tobira a good way to move past that barrier while I was also reading. They bounced off each other pretty well.

Speed wise I’m still slow, but I’ve not really been focusing on that. Last two years was all about consistency, this year it was more laid back and reading whenever I wanted.

Your goals are gonna change each year depending on your progress and I’m hoping to see more of that. This is really why I stick around, sharing our experiences and growing. I don’t really have any sage advice other than keep at it and over time you’ll see the results.


Thanks for the response and the warm welcome, all.

Oh, I love ヨルシカ、and yes, I already did learn the lyrics to 言って!I might just delve into it a bit casually I guess. Probably won’t SRS it tho lol.

I’m really into Grant Abbitt’s approach to teaching Blender, he is a really good teacher I think who tells you why you’re doing things and gives you moments to consolidate knowledge, etc. (Actually, language learning often flows into other forms of learning, funnily enough…). Just don’t start with that bloody Blender donut tutorial, it’s awful.

Unreal I have less straight up recommendations. Most people recommend UnrealSensei but I think he’s too overwhelming to begin with. I knew I wanted to do something from a 3rd-person perspective so I started with this 3D platformer course which went at a nice calm pace and had similar ‘this is why you’re doing things’, not just ‘do the thing’.

Unreal is definitely an area where there’s a lot of hacky tutorials up there that will teach you how to do something but not why, which will develop into problems later, so it’s sort of a difficult place to navigate…

Two resource I have found useful are Matthew Wadstein and his “WTF is” series, where he explains what various parts of Unreal do with example projects in a concise way that easily illustrates certain points. Ryan Laley along similar lines is also very good at illustrating and explaining points.

Yes, I think being able to tell who is actually talking might be one of those things that is super helpful, and I definitely plan to read along to the audiobook in most cases. Might be a way in…

I actually already used Tobira and did find it definitely the most helpful of all the various textbooks I tried over a long period. That said, I still find it relatively, well, boring compared to just reading these days… I probably should finish it off though properly just so I can exorcise it and put it away.


Btw, you can try reading one of the beginner book club light novels. They tend to be both quite short, and at the very least light on story. Night Cafe I remember being quite manageable, and I read it very early on personally.


Thanks for the great info on Blender and Unreal…

I will check them out.

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[Week 1] 2023 – Sept 15


  • Finishing and getting up to date on ふらいんぐうぃっち 12 was very satisfying, as was finding it actually has a new volume due out next year! I thought it was the end of the series. As one of my favourite animes and indeed mangas - and as a series where the official English typesetting sucks, in my opinion - it feels really nice to get through it all in JPN and expand my vocab at the same time.
  • 声がだせない少女は「彼女が優しすぎる」と思っている 1 is a bit of an oddball; I’m pretty sure it was a pixiv manga and it feels pretty rough in some ways, up to and including the language used. I may have to see if there is a scanlation or etc to check my work against, because I’m beginning to think it’s a vital component to my reading when stuff gets more complex or complicated. (Another reason to be grateful to the book clubs here!). I might continue it, but it isn’t high on my priority list.
  • I also read a graded reader. Not much to talk about there other than Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland makes even less sense simplified in another language. There really is zero story structure to it, huh?

I’ve noticed a shift in my reading manga patterns; before, I was basically only reading below Natively Lvl 19 or so; now I’m largely reading whatever I feel like and just dropping it if it’s too hard. (Well, whatever I’ve picked up for cheap or free on Amazon/BookWalker etc). It’s an interesting change. I still like the below Lvl 19s though just because they’re so much more relaxing to read through, usually.

I also had a slight mindset change, which is I’m not locked to only reading whatever book I decided to start with! If I get bored with my ‘current’ book, once I’ve done my 15min, I just go read something else if I feel like it! Revolutionary.

Me and wifey have been on a anime OP/ED spree recently through the wonders of spotify/youtube browsing on the telly … I think I will actually try and start singing a few, since when we watch the lyrics videos I can often recognise most of the kanji (if not read or understand them, given the speed at which they’re flying by). My main candidate is the first season OP for Gundam Witch from Mercury by YOASOBI, since we finished that up recently.

Don’t think I will really focus on understanding or mining from lyrics, since the context is so foreign, but even pronounciation and quick-reading is practice, right…?


  • Weird q, but is there a way of like putting watched topics into a folder or something? I want to add a bunch of other people’s study logs but I don’t necessarily need a notif on those ones… should I just bookmark them?
  • Also vaguely wondering if I should start trying to read 逆転裁判 for Switch. I started many moons ago but dropped it as it was too hard for me. I know it would be a project and a half, though… maybe I should start with that Shin-chan 僕の夏休み instead lol.
  • Someone over on Natively mentioned a pen-pal club with JPN exchange. I feel like that might be fun. There was a website mentioned, I’ll have to look into that.

[Week 2] 2023 Sep 16-22



  • Started adding Yoasobi’s 祝福 to my ‘random internet stuff’ Anki deck and practising singing it at .75 speed. Wifey is very into impromptu karaoke sessions, so it’s fun bonding time, but it’s easier if I can at least recognise all the kanji at a glance (not super concerned with necessarily live-translating the lyrics into comprehensible sentences).
  • Considering doing the same for the much simpler song 強風オールバック because I can’t get the bloody recorder tune out of my head.


  • Started listening to 日本語こんてっぺい and Let’s Talk In Japanese podcasts again. At the N4/N3 level I feel like I understand a decent chunk, but my issue with listening is always if you miss a word or your attention wavers whole portions just suddenly become mysterious and difficult to understand… not sure that’s going to change much. But it’s good for confidence.


  • Got mad at not being able to understand Amazon UI options at a glance, will probably start adding UI vocab to my review list at some point (lots of additional contextual markers for these).
  • Wanted to start thinking about cooking club with @javerend but haven’t had a lot of time to sit and think this week for various reasons - didn’t even get in all my regular gym sessions, alas :confused:

Oooo that’s a fun one :laughing: There’s been so many good covers and memes with this over the past few months, it’s been inescapable for me, and I’ve found the recorder melody similarly infections :laughing: (apology in advance for the youtube embed spam)

(Basically everyonein hololive has done this song too)

There was another song that got a similar level of meme treatment a few years back (w the same voice-bank, too, coincidentally):

Which, thankfully, wasn’t left out of the オールバック meming either:

Plenty of time to think about it don’t worry, no rush :laughing: I’ve only just barely started going through my youtube history for recipes, and started making a list of all the manga and books I remember containing cooking as a theme, haven’t even really begun to think about how to structure all of that into a club yet


Maybe we should get a shared google doc together lol. I know you had one just for the shallot growing or something - I’m busy most of this weekend but I’ll see if I can throw some thoughts together at some point.

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I haven’t really found a useful way to save topics yet. Seems the best way is just to bookmark stuff? You could do that and search ‘study log’ in the bookmarks folder to filter them, but that just seems a tad inelegant.


That seems like a great idea! I’ll see if I have time to put something together this weekend and find a way to share it.

If you set a thread to “tracking” instead of “watching” you don’t get notifications, but they will show up in your unread topics whenever someone posts!

Bookmarks also work, but there’s no real organization system and they overflow kinda quickly. That’s one reason I made my study log originally–to have a list of threads and resources I wanted to have quick access to, and then I put my own study log in the bookmarks so I would be able to easily access that list :laughing:


I must have been living under a rock to not have been aware of this song and meme…

Thanks for sharing it…

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An hour later and I can’t stop that tune from repeating over and over in my head.

Will it ever stop, or am I doomed to keep hearing it for eternity?

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I’m sorry to have to tell you this… but it does not stop


The best way I’ve figured out how to get it to stop is to replace it with another infectious jpop/vocaloid earworm, which then has to get replaced by yet another one, and another, and another and another and another, thus beginning and endless cycle of musical violence.

Thankfully, vocaloid producers really got the earworm melody formula down pat so there’s no shortage :laughing:


[Week 3] 2023 Sep 23-29

I’m going to start adding some book/manga front pages to the post because it makes it more visually interesting, methinks.



  • Finished ギャルとオタクはわかりあえない。 1 | L23 and really liked it. I guess I have a thing for people hiding one side of themselves from society but only showing it to one other person? Will look out for the next few in a sale.
  • Finished トナリはなにを食う人ぞ 3 | L25. One of the series I really wanted to learn to read in Japanese, feel super accomplished to finish it! Next is the even longer slice-of-life sequel! I need to internalise more words from it first though.
  • Finished ヒナのままじゃだめですか? 1 | L20 and really liked it, I think I will recommend it to the ABBC. It’s about puberty, but deals with the concept very maturely imho.
  • Went insane on and bought like idk 30-35 manga. This keeps happening even when I restrict myself to the 200y and below tabs, oof. Hopefully one day I run out of on-sale manga to buy (haha). Oh well, at least it’s mostly stuff I’m interested in… I did go to my city’s Kinokuniya and for the same price as the stack of jpn manga i bought I could have gotten, like, 3 physical eng manga. So it’s still better, I guess.
  • Finished another reader, どんどん読める! 日本語ショートストーリーズ (1) | L22. Despite the rating I found this one relatively easy, which I hope is a good sign, apart from some vocab. I’ve borrowed another two readers from my local library so will go through them as the week permits.


  • Still haven’t found time to think about cooking, but haven’t given up!

[Week 4] 2023 Sept 30 - Oct


  • Finished キリング・ミー! 1 | L17. A nice little simple read with some vampire vocab I hadn’t encountered before. I’m generally finding stuff below Natively 20 to be getting easier and easier (that is, taking less time and needing less lookups), which is nice. Probably also an ABBC recommend I think.
  • Finished おねぇちゃん日和 1 | L22. I’m finding that a lot of Japanese comedy manga, especially non-sequitur comedy, are really difficult, largely because the vocabulary is often quite random and they don’t always follow very logical throughlines (and especially if they have strong rural accents, as is often the case in manzai-style comedies, for whatever reason). I was struggling with this one a bit but came around on it by the end.
  • Finished 桜井さんは気づいてほしい 2 | L15. As I note below this series is one of the easiest I’ve ever read (besides ちいさな森のオオカミちゃん), but it’s so nice to be able to just blast through a book in less than an hour. A definite recommend to the ABBC in future.
  • Started multiple book club reads (スーパの裏でヤニ吹ふたり2、舞妓さんちのまかないさん 1), continuing ホリミヤ1 with the club, started a new reader in the どんどん読める series and started a new read I’ve been wanting to for a while, その着せ替え人形は恋をする 1, which is definitely difficult but I can get through a bit at a time.

A remarkably basic theory of learning

I was thinking about this while adding flashcards for one of the easier series I’ve read, 桜井さんは気づいてほしい 1 | L15, and it’s basically that doing lookups really effs with your flow. For this one, there was something like only about 13 words/grammar points total I didn’t already know or that needed a review for the entire volume, meaning I could really concentrate on pure reading and internalising the grammar structures.

I mean, this is a pretty basic revelation, but as I’ve been pursuing harder and harder manga it’s nice to come back and just… read through something. Like, it’s still difficult, it’s still a foreign language, but the mental stack is just lower and that means I can devote more resources to other parts of the learning process.

I guess I would say it’s like knowing all your buttons in a fighting game and having all the execution muscle memory down, meaning you can just focus purely on spacing, reading your opponent and prediction. It’s interesting. Learning is learning, I guess, whether it’s fighting games or languages.