What are your main goals for learning Japanese?

I’ve come to realize that my main goal is actually the journey itself. I find it so enjoyable (and challenging and sometimes frustrating but always fun and rewarding) to be on this journey of learning/practicing/immersing myself in something Japanese everyday that I sort of don’t want the journey to end (you know, like when you’re reading this really great book or watching this really great TV-series and get so involved in the story and the characters that it would leave this giant feeling of emptiness once the story ends?)

Of course, I want to become fluent. Someday. But I also want to keep being challenged by the language for many, many years to come. I like the mystery of decoding the language, one piece at a time. Of being able to have conversations and understand some, but not everything yet. Of stumbling across new knowledge everyday. Studying and immersing myself in Japanese has become so self rewarding for me, at this point. It’s become something quite relaxing, having my day to day goals in Japanese to achieve and just enjoying the ride.

Learning a language is obviously something that is a life long commitment and something that can’t really be achieved at 100% (knowing everything there ever was or will be to know about a language, languages are constantly evolving). But, I kind of don’t feel like I’m in any rush to reach an “advanced/fluent” level of the language either. I want to be able to communicate in Japanese (and I already can, even if I’m still only at maybe an upper elementary/lower intermediate level) of course and one of my goals is to be able to speak and understand more by the time my fiancé and I travel back to Japan (it will be our second trip there) for our coming honeymoon. At first I thought that this was my ultimate goal for learning Japanese and it is what got me started, in 2017 before our first trip to Japan. But in the end it was only the light that ignited the fire.

What are your personal goals for learning Japanese? How are you enjoying the journey itself?


Well… honestly I just wanted to be able to understand my anime without subtitles. :joy:
Now that I’m a little father along (key word ‘little’) I’m enjoying the way the language fits together so well, and how Japanese has words that mean things that english doesn’t have words for.


Sounds like a good goal and nice to hear that you also found that fascination over the language itself! :smile:


My reason is very similar to yours! After finishing school I found I really missed learning and realized I needed to find a hobby that kept me challenged mentally. Part of the reason I’m learning is because I just enjoy learning itself. I’m still very much a beginner, but the feeling that I’m slowly starting to understand things and recognize how the pieces of the language fit together is really fulfilling.

I’m also a manga reader and I follow some Japanese/English bilingual people on social media who point out where various cultural and linguistic nuances get lost in translation. Becoming aware of those differences has really deepened my appreciation for those series, so a more concrete goal of mine is definitely to be able to engage with the media I like in its source language.

I’d also love to be able to one day hold a conversation about more technical/advanced topics that I’m interested in…for example, I have a MA in philosophy of biology, so I think it would be really cool to be able to talk about that stuff in another language!


This sounds fascinating! Could you point me towards some people to follow?


My goal is a very weak one. I simply just want to, I’ve always liked Japan and japanese culture so, why not go for the language?


I don’t even remember what set me off to start learning Japanese last summer. I was interested in Japanese culture for a long time, and was subscribed to a number of Japanese twitter accounts that mostly posted pictures. Sometimes they provided text descriptions too, and I clicked “Translate”. Soon I’ve discovered the fact that Japanese is difficult for machine translation, unlike some other languages. That’s when I considered learning the basics of the language to be able to decipher it - with a dictionary, of course - but to get a better grasp of what is going on in the texts.

Since then, I found other motivations, the language itself is indeed unlike any other I’ve learnt before. It uses different concepts and I feel like internalizing them brings me closer to understanding this very unfamiliar culture.

I’ve discovered that there are many, many resources for learning Japanese today which were not there before - say, 10 years ago - when I first considered learning the language. These resources (WK included) and awesome community that seems to exist around learning Japanese honestly make learning much easier and more fun.

Soon, I’ve started to get to the level when you start picking up song lyrics and pieces of dialogue in anime - and even with very basic understanding, I find that it enhances the experience immensely. I continue my immersion and now it is honestly hard to stop. Ultimately, my goal is still mostly reading comprehension, but now I’m having fun learning the language in general.


TBH I don’t know.

The reason I started was because I’d heard so many conflicting things about Japanese phonology and phonotactics (e. g. absurd explanations for the “La Le Lu Li Lo” thing from Metal Gear Solid) and I wanted to find out how it actually works so I dug into learning hiragana and then I had a bit of leftover momentum and carried on for a while.

I am also increasingly interested in Japan as a country and in Japanese media so knowing the language just seems kinda useful. I am very interested in railways (to the point where I spent several years in a related university course) and have become kind of fascinated with the Japanese railway system, which is highly idiosyncratic and also immensely understudied and underreported on in English-language literature. So, being able to fluently read Japanese language texts on that topic would be very helpful. So far, the things that I do know are at least helpful at interpreting the gibberish that comes out of Google Translate.

I also consume a lot of media from Japan - mostly anime and video games - and would like to a) appreciate it better by understanding the original language (as a non-native English speaker, I am well aware how much most works change even when they’re translated from English into the relatively closely related German language) and b) “unlock” media that just isn’t available in translation. One of the most recent things I’ve read was “Han-Ochi” by Yokoyama Hideo, which luckily has a German translation (but not an English one, sorry :frowning: ) and I’m really interested in diving into more of his work, except much of it hasn’t been translated at all (even “Han-Ochi” took almost two decades to come to Germany). And I recently played the new Densha de Go! game for PS4, for which I did use a lot of Google Translate, but without being able to use a dictionary and figure some things out on my own, even with that I wouldn’t have had much luck with the game.

I’ve also been interested in learning a non-Indoeuropean language for a while and took a Chinese course in my first year at uni (2010) but dropped out of that as soon as I could get credits for it because it just was too hard for me. Japanese is going better because a) it’s not a tonal language, b) you don’t have to immediately learn kanji/hanzi for every. single. word. you come across and c) nobody is making me learn how to write kanji/hanzi by hand, which I found far more difficult than just learning to recognize them.

I have at some points considered if living in Japan for a while would be something I’d be interested in but right now I’m leaning towards “no” due to the horrible situation on workers’ rights, structural racism (e.g. landlords not renting out to foreigners), the reported stigmatisation of mental health issues (which I have been struggling with for the better part of a decade), the slow progress of queer rights, and the general culture of conformism which I would probably struggle to fit in. That’s actually a bit of a bummer and often gives me the feeling that I’m wasting my time by trying to learn the language at all. Well, I intend to go there on a loooooong vacation as soon as COVID-19 is over and maybe my attitude will be less jaded after that. But it’s maybe a bit more of an adventure than I am actually willing to take, even though I deeply envy the people who are.

Maybe in the long run I could be a translator (afaik, the JP <-> DE translation industry is not exactly overcrowded) or it could enable me to research and write non-fiction? For example I can’t really find a single good comprehensive English or German book about the Shinkansen system and that’s not even that much of a niche topic. Who knows.

So, tl;dr: my motivations are vague and i don’t really understand them myself but that is true for most things in my life tbh.


I’ve always been so fascinated by Japanese history and culture. I read a translation of “The Tale of Genji” and even though it was a beautiful read, I wondered what dimensions were missing because I couldn’t read it in Japanese, particularly the poetry. I was aiming to travel to Japan this April (now postponed to next year hopefully) and language will be a key way of immersing myself as fully as I can in a place I have loved from afar for a long time! Also, it’s such a different way of doing language compared to English, French, German etc - it really gets my brain going! Finally, I want to watch some Studio Ghibli without needing subtitles!!


For me it’s the opposite. I can’t wait to be over with it! :smiley:


I want to become a translator. I’m in university right now, a Japanese major (minoring in translation), and I’m also proficient in conversational French, and have studied Spanish 2 years. I know you only really need 2 languages to do translation, but I really enjoy learning the languages, and figure it can’t hurt.

Actually, before starting WaniKani, the plan was to learn Mandarin Chinese, instead of Japanese. I only really started Japanese on a whim. I remember thinking it was kind of a waste of time, I was kind of into anime but that was never really the reason. I guess I liked the way it sounded better, and I figured that since they use the same characters, learning some Japanese would make Chinese easier. I was probably a few months into WaniKani before I realized that translating Japanese-English is just as viable a career path as Chinese, and even if it has slightly less demand, the Japanese language and country interests me so much more than Chinese, which I have no connection or interest in. So I changed my major (that was in between being admitted to my college and actually attending) and went all-in to WaniKani, and started picking up some grammar as well.

Admittedly, my knowledge of Kanji is enormously disproportionate to grammar (I’ve got a basic grasp on Genki I. I’ve worked ahead of my class and done some reading, but I’m taking a freshman Japanese class which is where I’m learning most of my grammar). I’m doing very well in the class, but being on WK forums definitely makes me feel like a bit of an odd man out. Most people on here are studying on their own, which means they’re not waiting on a class to learn new things, and consuming a lot more Japanese media. Granted, I could work ahead (and I have been), but I’m also paying a lot of money for University classes, and I’d prefer not to make them obsolete lol. Although right now I’m playing a Pokémon game in Japanese, which is going pretty well. I’ll be doing a full year study abroad in Japan (hopefully staying with a host family) my Junior year 2022-2023, so I think next year I’m going to do a lot of reading ahead and try to consume a lot of Japanese media in preparation. And that year, I should be able to improve very quickly. Even if I can’t use the vast majority of the kanji I learn on WaniKani just yet, I’m definitely glad I’ve learned them. Without WaniKani, I don’t think I would have made the decision to go all in to Japanese. And hey, I figure I’ll need to know them eventually.


For me, it’s something that has been on the back-burner for so long, I can’t imagine my life without it. However, my immediate goals are to get better at reading so that I’m more easily able to incorporate Japanese into my day to day life. I’ve also always harbored dreams of, if I were to have children, raising them in a multilingual environments (English/Spanish/Japanese) and as my partner and I have started discussing that possibility again, I realize I need to prioritize language practice in advance of that.

My first Japanese fascniation was origami as an elementary student which was close to my first repeated exposure to the language - I had a neighbor friend (people often thought we were siblings at school since we would walk to school together and were in different grades) whose parents were Japanese and they spoke primarily Japanese at home. As I got older (teenager) I was primarily interested in music (J-Rock/visual Kei), fashion, some anime/manga, and (oddly enough) bunraku puppets. In university, I studied Japanese (Asian Studies was one of my two majors) and afterwards, I lived/worked in rural Japan with the JET Program. Some years later, I did a terminal degree in my field (MFA - theatre) focused on Japanese theatre. I’ve since been back to Japan a couple of times (once for an extended period doing farmstays - my partner’s career - and once on vacation).

I’ve never been great at Japanese but have always known enough to converse and get by. In fact, because of that I have very strange, patchy Japanese. In graduate school the Japanese department had a really hard time placing me in a class because it was so patchy. I do have friends I can practice speaking with but reading/writing is definitely my weakest area. Wanikani feels like a good way to work on that, force it to be part of my day-to-day, and help drill some vocab.

Also, I’m hoping to replace some time sucking habits (scrolling instagram) with actual hobbies (language study).


Because when I was a kid 15 years ago, I saw japanese stuff and said “damn, it would be pretty cool to know japanese”

And it is pretty damn cool.


Been interested in Japanese culture since I was in my early teens, but fell out of learning Japanese after high school.

Picking it back up almost half a year ago now, it started off as something just to do on the side, but I’ve quickly become obsessed and now I wanna see how far I can go! It’s an awesome thing to see yourself progress and it’s extremely rewarding so I’m in it for the long haul.


It is great that you are so enthusiastic about it. I personally am not too thrilled forming sentences like “これはペンです”. And yes, while it is true, that my level is above that. It is not too far away from that level. To finish WK I put my grammar studies aside for quite some time now. So I’ll have to go through Genki II again. That idea alone keeps me from starting.

My goals are: Being proficient enough to watch Japanese Films/Anime, play Japanese Games and being able to comfortably communicate with Japanese people. I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy that quite a lot. But until I get there I see my time studying Japanese more as a necessary painful grind.


Once upon I was going to work in Japan. Then I got old. Now its more, I’ve been trying so long, it’d be silly to just give up even if I probably should Who knows, maybe someday I’ll be able to play a game in Japanese, or watch a non-subtitled movie. That’d be neat.


-edward newgate

That’s an interesting interest😆

Pretty much

exasperated sigh

1 Like

Food and cooking.