Why are you *really* learning Japanese?

So I had a crazy busy day yesterday. It was way past 11pm when I finally realized I hadn’t done any reviews or lessons yet on WK… and I was actually at the airport about to drive home (dropped someone off). I didn’t think I would be home until past midnight, so I whipped out my phone and did a couple of reviews just to keep my streak going. Sure enough, this morning I had 250+ reviews piled up and having finished level 16 a couple of days ago, I also had almost 100 lessons to do (not that it matters much cause I only do like 10 reviews max per day).

Needless to say, I was a little deps about it. I knocked out about 30 reviews with my morning coffee. But then I guess another 20 reviews became due and it was back up… So I decided to call it quits for a while, and went on to other business at hand, one of which was cleaning out an old moving box from a couple of years ago, one of which was labeled “Chris’s Japanes stuff”… It was full of Manga (in English, bought from Amazon) and Anime OST CDs (bought through cdjapan.co.jp), which is what I expected. But I was surprised to see this…

Surprised because I forgot I even had it… It’s a volume 1 tankobon of Haikyuu in Japanese. It even had the receipt in it, which tells that I bought it on January 13, 2015 (which, I now can read was 水曜日… Thanks WK!). That was my first proper trip to Japan (I had flown through before on my way to the Philippines, but only ever spent a couple of hours there on a layover, but this was my first multi-day actual vacation trip), and I think I bought it to motivate myself to study harder. It was a great reminder of the main reason why I’m on WK in the first place… I want to read manga in the original Japanese.

It got me thinking about asking you all here why you are really learning Japanese… Obviously we’re all doing it to learn Japanese… but is there a specific reason? Let me put it this way, as a former English teacher in Japan, one of the problems I always had with Japanese English learners was their lack of productive (writing and speaking skills). If you’ve ever been an EFL teacher abroad you can probably relate… Most EFL students are pretty good at Receptive Skills (reading and listening). But man, it’s hard to get them talking or writing.

I mention that because I realize I’m basically falling in to the same situation with my Japanese learning… I’m basically only learning receptive skills. And here’s the thing… I’m kinda ok with that, for now… And that’s because of why I’m really learning Japanese… to read Manga. Obviously I do eventually want to write and speak fairly fluently as well, but for now I’d be happy just to be able to read through Haikyuu in its entirety in Japanese.

How about you?


This is awesome. Let us know how the reading goes.

I am actually heading to Japan as an ALT soon so that is my main reason for learning Japanese. I know I can get by without it but I want to enhance my experience there which includes meeting Japanese people, reading manga and just getting around.

I do love learning languages generally as well so the hope of finally getting to an upper intermediate or even possibly advanced in any language is motivating me to continue.


I didn’t choose the language, the language chose me. I have no say in the matter, I’m a mere prisoner.


I spent two years as an English Teacher in Osaka (2017-2019)… My biggest regret is having made just about zero progress in learning Japanese. sigh. Definitely a good idea to learn as much as you can before so you have a strong foundation when you get there.


My love for Japanese games started with Final Fantasy 3, and when internet became widely available a couple of years later I started to learn about Anime, Manga and tons of other Japanese games. Almost everything released here was translated to English without Japanese subs, so again it took a while before I really got into contact with the Japanese language.

But when games and anime with Japanese voices and english subs finally appeared I started to love the sound of the language. It always seemed way to difficult to even bother to start learning it… but now that I’m a bit older (50) I regret that I didn’t start learning it way sooner.

I don’t really have a set goal… I want to learn the language as good as possible simply because I enjoy learning it, and to understand more and more when I play a Japanese game or watch anime.


I’m half-Japanese. That’s reason enough, I guess. Shame my mother didn’t bother teaching the language growing up, but what can I do about it? Study it now.


I’m a big weeb and love finding weird and unconventional stories but there are tons of media (visual novels especially) that are just too long or too obscure for any kind of translation project to bear fruit. So I’d like my interest in discovering new things to not be impeded by a language barrier.

A smaller and more whimsical goal is that I’d like to get to a point where I can translate stuff like webcomics for my friends if they want. It always pains me when good fan content gets an nigh-indecipherable English translation.


I could say I want to watch anime and read manga without subtitles/translation, but that wouldn’t be full reason.

I could say I love the food and the culture, but that’s not entirely it either.

I listened to an exorbitant amount of Japanese music as a teen and I have hundreds of Japanese songs phonetically memorized. I don’t allow myself to look up the translations. That, more than anything, is the actual reason I’m learning Japanese. The more I learn, the more the meaning of the songs begins unraveling. It’s like a super slow burn Christmas unwrapping. I have hundreds of presents to open.

And finally, there are all of the awesome old school RPGs. I want to experience them natively. I want to experience all of the nuance between Locke and Celes. I need to know everything that was going on in Alex’s mind as he left Luna behind to pursue his dream of becoming the Dragonmaster. Did Azala have any other regrets after she was defeated by Chrono & gang? How did Millenia REALLY feel about Ryudo?

All of these things and more, I must know! And I can’t find it out by cheezing it on the translations.


This may seem weird, or like it’s too lame of a reason to keep me motivated, but it’s lasted me a couple of months already.
I quite regularly consume some kind of Japanese media - not to the exclusion of other stuff, but I do like visual novels especially. And visual novels often don’t get translated, or get bad translations. So I want to learn Japanese so I can read untranslated visual novels, right? Not really. That’s part of it, but the main reason that keeps me motivated is subtly different:
When reading about these things, I would often think to myself “Damn, I wish I could read Japanese” in a wistful manner. And then one day, I decided that that was an absolutely pathetic thing to be thinking. If I had made a serious effort to learn Japanese and then decided it was too hard or I didn’t have enough time in the day, that would be one thing… But to just sit there wishing I could read Japanese while having never even tried suddenly seemed really lame.
So that’s why I’m trying. So that I don’t become a person who doesn’t even try to achieve his wishes.


My primary reason for learning Japanese is for my wife, who is Japanese, and our daughter. I’m learning the language to demonstrate throughout her life that the difference in cultures can absolutely be bridged, and there’s no reason to “choose” between the two. I also view me learning Japanese and using it at home as necessary for her to learn and keep Japanese in her life. As for my wife, she went through the trouble of learning English, so I’ll go through the trouble of learning Japanese.

A secondary reason is that I want to be able to participate when visiting Japan and not continue to be left out or a constant source of awkward moments. I have talked with her family and friends in only a very basic sense, but not enough. I would be absolutely screwed if I got lost there on my own lol.

I honestly don’t have a lot of interest in games, manga, or anime, other than One Punch Man and Saiki. I’m hoping that as my Japanese improves, I’ll find some books or something I’d enjoy.


I’m like you in that I want to learn Japanese primarily for the sake of being able to read Japanese media in its native language instead of an English localization (or be able to read it at all when no English translation of it even exists.) More specifically, I’m interested in reading manga/comics I find on Pixiv and text in Japanese video games. I’m a fan of Nintendo IPs in general (a huge Pikmin geek, also a fan of Pokemon and Kirby) and would love to be able to experience the games in their native language and compare them to their English versions (and reading Japanese fan comics of said things I find online would be sweet as well. Take for example this artist that has made the most gorgeous Pikmin art and comics I’ve ever seen.) I can’t really say I’ve found any formally published manga that I’m dying to read in Japanese, but that’s not to say that’s off the table. I would just need to find a series that sparks my interest. Maybe I could try the Mega Man Megamix & Gigamix series somewhere down the line? They’re pretty short at only like 3 books each, but I have no idea how difficult they are in terms of grammar and vocabulary…

Being able to speak, listen, and write Japanese too would be cool ofc, but at the moment I don’t really have any practical use for those skills so my motivation to learn them is near nil. You can always apply reading skills solo, but for the production skills, you pretty much need another person for them to be useful. I don’t have anyone in my life where I need to know Japanese in order to communicate with them, and I’m not planning on going to Japan or a Japanese-speaking community anytime soon. Who would I converse with or write to? If I can’t answer that question, I simply don’t have any reason to care. Plus I already have enough on my plate studying grammar, kanji, and vocabulary with what little free time I have, I don’t think I could handle speaking, listening, and writing practice on top of that.

Edit: I guess I forgot that Japanese anime, music, and spoken dialogue in games are a thing, but in my case I’m not a big anime or Japanese music person, and a lot of the game franchises I want to play in JP rely on text for dialogue. A lot of Nintendo games just use gibberish voice acting (if any at all, looking at you Pokemon) so you have to read everything.


I started watching anime in Japanese with English subtitles back in middle school, but during high school, I looked up the singer of one of the animes I was watching, and instantly became a fan of her - Nana Mizuki. However, the company she is in is strict with copyrights, so it was hard to find videos of her concerts or her appearances with (official or fanmade) English subtitles. I wanted to understand what Nana was saying, so that was the beginning of my motivation to learn Japanese. I was hoping to go to her concert in 2020 (we all know what happened that year), and now I am hoping to go next year, and be able to get around in Japan with all the knowledge I have acquired since beginning my Japanese journey.

Over the years, I also included reading manga and watching anime in Japanese as well, because there are still some that never get English translations (ex. Kono Oto Tomare anime has an English translation, but the manga has never been officially translated). There was one show I watched a few years ago where the 1st 2 seasons were not picked up for translation, but the third one was, and then the fourth season was not picked up, and then the fifth season was, so it was an absolute horror trying to understand what was happening :sweat_smile:.


My beginnings were to read light novels in Japanese. Still hasn’t happened, rather I don’t think I really even tried yet, looks too scary, but hey I’m reading manga at least.


I’ve always had an interest in learning languages, although I’ve only become fluent in one other besides my native language (hopefully Japanese will be my second fluent acquired language) . My specific reason for learning Japanese is to be able to read Japanese books in the original language bc I love reading and a couple authors I’ve been interested in reading either have poor translations or no translations for some of their works.


I think a lot people here are like you and me. Somehow got in to Japanese culture and now want to experience it direct and unfiltered. One of the best analogies I’ve heard of experiencing another culture directly by learning their language is a television… Listening, Watching, or Reading something in translation is like watching a black and white TV… Sure you’ll understand what’s going on, there are skilled translators out there after all that help us. But watching and understanding it directly yourself is like watching TV in Colour, just that much more vibrant and detailed!

Anyway, let me encourage you though, learning another language is one of the biggest tasks one can undertake (I remember someone saying to me learning a second language is pretty much the same work as a Bachelor’s degree). And all big tasks are made of tons of little tasks… So those smaller goals do matter. You may even have them even if you don’t list it out… For me it’s things like reaching a certain level (I’ve just made it, because finishing level 16 gives you all the kanji you need for JLPT N5), or passing a test (hopefully I’ll be able to take and pass JLPT N5 this December), or reading a book… It gives you a sense of accomplishment and movement.

Happy reviewing!


Started off with the typical weeb stuff. I imagined it would be cool to live in Japan once upon a time. Now I’m an adult and still have this indescribable interest in Japanese and Japanese culture, but more realistic expectations of Japan and my future.

Dogen did a really cool video about how difficult it can be to explain one’s interest in Japanese. I really relate to it.


My foray into learning Japanese has sparked an interest in Japanese culture as well, and I think it’s part of what’s kept me motivated to continue my studies despite having an arguably small end goal. I would like to eventually visit Japan someday (preferably when/if ever they lift the restriction on individual tourists) and see the country and its culture firsthand. I’m already aware it’s not really anything like the exotic, weird wonderland that the West tends to make it out to be (if channels like Abroad in Japan are anything to go by) but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be interesting.


Doesn’t sound like a weird or lame reason, even tho you wished for something i think you can’t just wish it, u are still trying to do wut u want, pretty cool. gl!


Me too. I started because I work in Japan once in a while and it would be nice to be able to communicate outside my gaijin/tourist bubble. And I have been able to, thanks in large part to WaniKani (also Genki, and a Japanese close friend). But I find I focus on reading a lot more when I’m not there every day. I’m just not that interested in anime, etc. and not skilled enough yet to listen to news/dramas/etc.

But I’m actually ok with that, because every time I do go back to japan, that lets me focus on conversation already having a grounding in reading. That’s actually a LOT of help. There are just so many things competing for cognitive space at the same time learning a new language, that reduction, or pre-work, or whatever you want to call it, really helps. (at least, that’s my experience)

It’s not so much focusing on only one thing, but only one thing at a time (sometimes for months in a row)


Back in middle/high school, I had a passing interest in wanting to learn Japanese because I had gotten into manga and anime, but it never really went anywhere. I taught myself kana and a few common kanji, and I actually picked up quite a bit (relatively) from character songs in college, but I couldn’t read anything.

Then, I got super into the 2.43 清陰高校男子バレー部 anime soon after it started airing early last year, and when I learned it’s adapted from a LN series, I decided I wanted to read it. It’s almost certainly never gonna be licensed in English, and the ongoing translation on tumblr is. awful. plus they don’t translate any of the short stories anyway, so I bought myself the books and poked around on the official website to find the short stories, determined to puzzle through them with the help of a JP>ENG dictionary app I’d recently discovered. Couple months after I started trying to read the series, I found WK, and I’ve actually properly been studying and learning since then! It’s super slow-going (a year later, I’m only halfway through the 3rd vol), not least because there’s just so much I wanna read and I have difficulty prioritizing, and I end up reading way more manga than any sort of novels, but yeah, being able to read 2.43 is my main motivation right now, and pretty much why I’m really learning Japanese.

Being able to write fic in Japanese would be cool too, but that came later, and it’s more of a far-off goal right now, for when I’ve got a bigger vocabulary and a better grasp of grammar. Reading I can do right now.