Japanese Quest Walkthrough

Japanese Quest Walkthrough

This is the definitive Japanese Language Quest Walkthrough. The goal: take you from zero to fluent to legendary. This walkthrough should be of use to you regardless of what level you are.  Updates will appear frequently. Posts may be shuffled around if I feel there is a better placement for them and time spans may be adjusted.  Quickly read over the guideposts and key terms and let the language adventure begin.



* 1: Worlds should be done in order, but posts within each world can and should often be done simultaneously with each other.
* 2: Length of time provided is an average of how long completing the world may take you. Going slower or faster is up to you.
* 3: In worlds that contain a time span and “Continuous,” the time span is how long you should spend in the world before moving onto the next, and “Continuous” means that you will continue with this world for the rest of your studies even once you’ve moved onto the next world.
* 4: Anything involving Anki is always “Continuous,” as no matter what world you are on, you will always be reviewing what was added from a previous world.

*Key Terms*


* 1. Anki: A popular and powerful flashcard program which sets automatic timed intervals for studying.
* 2. Remembering The Kanji (RTK): A book which teaches kanji in a systematic and extremely fast fashion.
* 3. Japanese-English Sentences (J-E sentences): The period where you will be learning Japanese sentences by using English as assistance.
* 4. Jalup Beginner 1000: Japanese Level Up original J-E guiding textbook.
* 5. Jalup Kanji Assist: Japanese Level Up original Kanji learning addon for the Jalup Beginner.
* 6. Japanese-Japanese Sentences (J-J sentences): The period where you will be learning Japanese sentences only through Japanese with no English assistance.
* 7. Jalup Intermediate/Advanced 1000: Japanese Level Up original J-J guiding textbook.
* 8. Immersion: The environment you create (and constantly expose yourself to) of native Japanese material (books, videos, music, games, etc.) which simulates the idea of you living in Japan and living like a native Japanese person.
* 9. Passive Learning: Learning that takes place in the background without any focus required (ex. listening to a movie while cleaning the dishes, listening to music while running.)
* 10. Active Learning: Learning that takes place where you are directly focused on it (ex. sitting down and watching a movie, reading a novel.)

World 1:  Are you sure you really want to learn Japanese? 
(2-4 days)

Are you sure you want to learn Japanese

Questions to ask yourself:
– What is your motivation for learning Japanese?
- Do you have the dream of living in Japan?
- Is this a New Year’s resolution? Did you fail it already?

Answers you should know in making your decision to learn Japanese:
– Is Chinese more beneficial to learn than Japanese?
– How long will it take you to become fluent? (Are you sure? Other people say it takes less/more time!)
How many hours will you need to study a day to become fluent?
- Is it bad to learn Japanese solely for the anime and manga?

World 2:  What Japanese Level Up is all about.
(2-3 days)

What Japanese level up is all about

Introduction to:
The Japanese Level Up method.
The creator of this site, Adshap.

– Turning your “study” into your “quest.”
- Japanese is your new game.
Keeping track of your progress by level.
- Choosing Your Fighter
Test Your Japanese Might
Jumping Increasingly Difficult Hurdles

World 3: How to use Japanese Level Up efficiently.
(2-3 days)

How to use effectively

– How to properly use inspiration, motivation, and guidance.
- Always be developing your own strategy guide.
– Do you plan on being a power leveler (attempting to learn Japanese in as ridiculously short time as possible)?
– Follow your fellow adventurers, who are experiencing and discussing exactly what you are going through at this current moment.
– Develop the rage to master Japanese
Can You Learn Japanese Simply By Having Fun?
Studying Japanese Should Not Be Painful
Playing With Japanese Study Time

Do not get caught up in asking why.
- Don’t spend too much time developing your writing skill (except in the beginning with Kanji Assist, RTK and Anki) unless it is an important goal personally to you, since it is the least important ability with limited returns.
– Be careful with learning a 3rd language while learning Japanese.
- Avoid being a perfectionist.
- Make sure you are using your Japanese study time efficiently.
Stop Doing What You Hate Right Now

Second Attempt At Learning Japanese
- Already intermediate level? You should go back and complete RTK regardless of your length of study.
– Are you a start and stop learner? Free yourself of study baggage.
– Quit Japanese for a period of time and trying to restart?

World 4: Preparing your first equipment.
(2-4 days)


- The Jalup Beginner 1000
- Jalup Kanji Assist
- If you would rather use a more traditional textbook, try Genki 1Genki 2 or another popular beginner textbook (online or print) that covers basic grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. Do not buy more than a few beginner textbooks.
Remembering The Kanji 1 (But what if you hate RTK?) (Does RTK actually teach you Japanese?)
Remembering The Kana
- Japanese XPNAVI to keep of your progress, level, and experience points like you would in a video
Cheap tickets to visit Japan (this can be done any time, but sometimes it is good to set a specific goal in mind when you are going to visit to boost your motivation). The sooner you can visit Japan, the better.
– Need personalized one-on-one guidance? Try a Personal Japanese Advisor Session with me (see an in depth review here). If you can’t afford it, try the much cheaper Japanese Mini Advisor or Japanese Self Advisor

– Anki, the ultimate online flash card program (But what if you hate Anki? Can you learn Japanese without it?)
Japanese Level Up Mod Anki Deck.
Free Apps for Mastering the Kana

Set Up:
- Language setting on your computer so you can input Japanese characters with your keyboard.
- Color settings on Anki to prevent eye fatigue.
- Your schedule to make sure you are getting enough sleep.

Decide if you:
- Want to take Japanese classes in addition to self-study (and some things to watch out for).
- Should major in Japanese in college.
- Want to do a Japanese-related independent study in college.
- Want to study abroad in Japan.
Will blog about your Japanese experience.
Want to use online Japanese study forums.
Will raise your budget of spending money on Japanese language materials.
Should You Learn Japanese Slowly Or Quickly.
- Want study partners, both as a source of friendly competition, and as someone to forge on together with.
– Want to use some other popular programs and websites to learn Japanese in conjunction with JALUP? See if any of the following might match your interests: 1) Your Anime Teacher Awaits, 2) All Japanese All The Time (AJATT), 3) Lang-8, 4) WaniKani, 5) YesJapan, 6) Reviewing the Kanji 7) Japanesepod101 8) Kickstarter Resources, 9) Massive Cloze Deletions (MCDs) technique, 10) Core 2000

World 5: Mounting your first attack.
(2-4 months)


– Understand how to simply and quickly set up and use Anki. If you want a more in depth guide, check out the official user manual and introduction videos. Interested in the major improvements that went into the new version of Anki? Check out this review of the change from Anki 1 to Anki 2.
Get a mental image of how Anki works at building and maintaining your “Japanese Wall.”
– Keep in mind what role Romaji (English lettering of Japanese characters) will play in your studies.
– Learn how to write and pronounce the kana (the first 2 Japanese alphabets) using Anki and “Remembering The Kana”. Note: their are excellent pre-made hiragana and katakana decks (with sounds + stroke order) on the shared decks Anki server. Use free and fun apps for practice.
Set yourself up with short, specific, and achievable goals
- Understand why Japanese-English (J-E) Is Better Than English-Japanese (E-J)

Task Choice:

1a. Master the first 158 kanji in Jalup Kanji Assist (up until 分)
2a. Complete and review 500 sentences through Jalup Beginner (through Stage 2)


1b. Master the the first 950 of 1901 kanji (the third Japanese alphabet) using the RTK mod and Anki. If you don’t want to use my RTK mod deck and want to use the standard RTK 1 + 3 deck that is provided in Anki shared decks, make sure to delete the unnecessary kanji.
2b. Self-enter and review 500 Japanese-English sentences that you take from your purchased beginner textbooks into Anki.

Decide whether you will:
– Boost Anki’s power with media enhancements: intro, audio, graphics, colorful kanji stroke order diagrams, SRS2Subs, and your Japan Travel Diary.
Add additional kanji not found in the original sentences.
Fine-tune your internal kanji sense by adding a few additional techniques.
Team up with other Japanese learners like yourself and push forward together.

World 6: Setting up and engaging in your immersion environment.
(2-5 days, Continuous)


Understanding The Immersion Method and Passive Listening
- Convert everything you do in English to Japanese, creating a need for Japanese.
Understand how you will utilize the incredible power of passive studying.
- Having immersion learning doubts and the effectiveness of this method?
- Dividing your focus while doing immersion: point distribution.
- Feeling like immersion isn’t working for you?

Create Your Immersion World
– Create your Immersion Ipod (or other mp3 player), and upload the audio only.  You can download video with a program like this and convert from video to mp3 with a program like this or this.
– Clean up the unnecessary parts of what you upload to your Ipod.
- Watch videos and then upload the audio to your Ipod. Use the Japanese Level Up media guide which covers J-dramas, anime, movies, variety shows, comedy, video games.
– Also use video game walk-throughsnewsAmerican movie dubs, and idol-related media.
– Use the most popular websites that people use to watch online Japanese videos.
– Make full use of Netflix, Japanese iTunes, the Japanese Level Up Amazon store, and other video websites.
Leave Your TV On And Say Hello To Your New Teacher
Preparing your Japanese video game equipment.
– How to create your immersion environment when you don’t have any money: 1) Music, 2) Podcasts
Use Statistics To Your Advantage: J-Drama Audience Ratings
Why you should use YouTube for Japanese viewing
Learn the 5-minute rule when watching media.

Dealing with subtitles

– How to block English subtitles.
– If you insist on using English subtitles, how to use them most efficiently.
– Try keeping your immersion pure, banishing any English.

Immersion Confusion

– Is it bad to learn Japanese from anime?
- Does listening to music count as studying?
Think Japanese TV sucks? Think again.
Why You Hate Japanese Variety Shows.
3 Signs You’re Getting The Japanese Immersion You Need
How To Understand Your Very First Japanese TV Series
Correct Your Japanese Mistakes With Variety Shows
Grow Together With Anime

World 7: Delivering your second attack.
(2-4 months)


Task Choice:

3a. Master the remaining kanji (through 269) in Jalup Kanji Assist
4a. Complete and review the remaining 500 sentences through Jalup Beginner (through stage 4)


3b. Finish mastering the remaining 951 of 1901 kanji using the RTK mod and Anki (or remaining RTK 1+3 if using the standard deck, and continue deleting the unnecessary kanji).
4b. Self-enter and review 500 more Japanese-English sentences that you take from your purchased beginner textbooks into Anki, giving you a grand total of 1000.

World 8: Frustration & Setbacks
(2-5 days, Continuous)


Feeling Low?
Understand and come to terms with the 4 phases of language shock.
How your Japanese ability will actually progress.
- Is Learning Japanese Difficult?
Learning Japanese is harder than learning English.
- Japanese is improving your life in ways you never imagined.
When you reach your Japanese breakdown point.
- Remember, you don’t have to learn everything.
Go Watch Lost In Translation
What To Do When You Just Don’t Understand
Long Sentences Giving You A Headache?

Feeling Bored?
How to fight boredom.
The Survival Of The Most Interesting
- Enjoy Japanese Now, Not Later
How studying makes studying more enjoyable.
- Maintaining the Anime hero training mentality
Learn your Anki threshold number (what “reviews due” number pushes you past the point of no return).
Transform your studying chores into studying habits
You wanna learn Japanese like a baby?
Your need for Anki will slowly fade away.
- When Does Anki End For You?

Feeling Demotivated?
- How learning Japanese is not block building, but a game of Tetris.
– Japanese is not impossible to learn.
Start visualizing your Japanese-speaking future self.
- Why is Japanese taking you so long to learn?
Only You Can Build Your Japanese Up
Taking Full Control Of Your “Garden Of Japanese”
- 4 reasons why you will never become fluent in Japanese.
– Lacking motivation and need to remember why learning Japanese is so freaking awesome? Check out the Motivation Power-ups Treasure Chest
- Reminding yourself how important learning Japanese is to you 
– The George Costanza Guide to Learning Japanese
Is Doing Something Really Better Than Doing Nothing?
How To Study Japanese When You Are Too Busy
10 Life-Changing Quotes In Japanese And English
- Getting Into End Of Summer/Start Of New School Year Mode

World 9: Taking the Japanese-only plunge.
(1-3 months, Continuous)


Getting mentally prepared:

Why make the switch from Japanese-English (J-E) to Japanese-Japanese (J-J)?
– Switch from creating J-E cards to J-J cards only using Anki and continue adding J-J cards to your heart’s content. (Check out the level guide to see around how many J-J cards you need to reach what level of Japanese.)
– Acquire use of the branching process when doing J-J cards in Anki.
- If you’ve finished J-E, and feel that you aren’t quite ready for J-J, then use the J-E-J method first.
Maintaining the right mindset while J-J branching.
– Solving Puzzles With Jalup Beginner/Intermediate: Understanding The Game


– Branch Annihilator (the definitive guide on taking the Japanese-only plunge),
Jalup Intermediate 1000
Kanji Assist Intermediate
Jalup Advanced 1000
– The One Deck (my J-J deck that I created and used to reach level 75).
Anime Hunters Study Group Session


– Discover the only J-J dictionary you will ever need.
– Make the very difficult switch from the J-E dictionary to the J-J dictionary (read parts 1-4)
Utilize the most common Japanese words found in the J-J dictionary (read parts 1-3)
Use pictures to aid you in tough J-J definitions.
- Try using a simpler Japanese dictionary.
- Embrace the never-ending dictionary dive.
- Techniques for easier J-J branching part 1 and part 2.
How to approach Anime once the English subtitles are gone.
- Try watching easier anime that you won’t need to resort to English subtitles to watch.
– Learning A Japanese Word In Japanese
The Power of Using 音記号 When Reading Kanji
Same Kanji Compound, Different Reading
- You can still keep a special place for your English entertainment.
Keep in mind the minor exceptions where you can still use English.

World 10:  Enter the reading.
(1-2 months, Continuous)


Developing Ability & Technique

– Only read what is appropriate to your interests.
- Understand the difference between extensive and intensive reading
– Skip parts you don’t understand
Avoid Japanese study in disguise (the in-about ratio)
Rev up your reading rampage: taking up your game
How To Learn Japanese Grammar Like A Winner
- Try some motivating Japanese reading contests to push your competitive self forward

Read Manga

A Transition into Manga Magic.
Finding a different mode of Manga.
Manga is the pinnacle of Japanese learning.
Manga Got A Chance (マンガごっちゃ) Review – Free & Fun

Read Novels

– Why You Should Be Reading Japanese Novels
Consider giving yourself a reading handicap.
-Should you be reading the Japanese classics?

Read Websites

Ameba and Japanese Blogging
- Get yourself following some great Japanese Twitter feeds.
- Fill yourself with Google Plus communities and feeds.
- Enjoy some of Japanese Level Up’s published articles in Japanese by native (or high fluent) speakers.

Read Everything

Making use of Japan’s abundant “Free Papers”
- Video games: powerhouse of written material.

*Some good sources to buy native Japanese reading material: 1) Kinokuniya, 2) YesAsia, 3) Amazon Japan, 4) Bookoff

World 11: Let the conversations begin.
(2-3 weeks, Continuous)


Talking Online

– Register a Mixi account (like the Japanese version of Facebook) and avoid “language exchanges.”
Make friends on Mixi and talk with them on Skype.
- Can’t or don’t want to use Mixi? Try Facebook. An even better way to make Japanese friends.
- Engage in Japanese Twitcasting (live streaming community sites).
– 4 Reasons To Use Japan’s Line App Now
Use Google Maps To Bring Your Home Closer To Japan

Talking In Person
– Prove yourself quickly in any conversation.
Keep in mind some of the confusing things Japanese people will say to you.
– React properly to the difference of between not understanding versus not hearing.
Get used to the background noise you will have to deal with while talking.
Ways To React To Repetitive Compliments About Your “Great Japanese”

Solo Practice

- Learn to express yourself through shadowing and mimicking
Converse with yourself by developing your own inner monologue.

Speaking Struggles

– Japanese speaking mastery: the never ending struggle
- Getting used to the formal language
8 Phases Of Transition From Immersion To Fluent Japanese Speaking
- Don’t shy away from talking with other foreigners in Japanese

World 12: Lack of confidence, burnout, and self-doubt.
(2-5 days, Continuous)


Feeling you aren’t good enough?
– Overcoming the Mid-level blues.
– Your skills will be unbalanced, and that is okay.
- Don’t worry about your Japanese becoming too masculine/feminine.
Experiencing the Japanese Random Level Down.
- Try taking some fun quizzes: 1) Anime Listening Quiz, 2) Manga Reading Quiz

Comparing yourself to others?
- Don’t play the comparison game.
The Japanese fluent illusion: everyone doesn’t sound as good as you think.
Stop any jealousy of foreign halves.
Who Has The Most Unfair Japanese Study Advantage?
Not living in Japan? No big deal.
Are you aiming for Native Japanese Level?
Annoying Excuses Why You Can Learn Japanese But They Can’t
Don’t discuss your study methods with others.

Lingering Worries?
- Get rid of frustration towards kanji?
You will become your own most valuable teacher.
Keeping up your Japanese while travelling on a long vacation
- Why You Really Really Really Shouldn’t Learn Japanese (parody)
- Why Polite Vs. Casual Japanese Is Hard For Foreigners
Deciding Whether To Leave Japan Or Make It Your Home
Gaps In Japanese Knowledge

World 13: Techniques to make your speaking sound more natural.
(2-5 days)


– Develop your inner actor.
- Constructing your new voice.
Slow down; you are the one talking too fast.
Use the English found in Japanese.
- Fully enjoy the abbreviation madness.
– Bad Habits That Make Your Japanese Sound Unnatural

World 14: From student to master


– Be of guidance to others who are just beginning.  Respond to their comments on posts on this site with sage advice, and reveal some of the best examples of your Anki deck.
– Real masters don’t show off abilities.
- Don’t fall prey to the desire to trade in your culture.
- Join the Japanese Level Up Alliance (Write for us!)
- Write published articles in Japanese for JALUP.
Write Japanese manga for JALUP.

Final Words:


Never give up.  You can and will do this.  This is your quest. Make it a memorable one.

(Last Updated 10/4/2014)

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(Adshap) - Founder of Jalup. Spends most of his time absorbing and spreading wild and thrilling (at least he thinks so) information about Japan and the Japanese language to the rest of the world.


Japanese Quest Walkthrough — 20 Comments

  1. Great job on reorganization! I was thinking having a ‘Starter Guide’ that contains a 50 point list was a bit stretching it…

    The whole concept of ‘worlds’ that you stay in until for a certain period of time is a nice one. Helps to cement the concept that there isn’t a ‘right’ order for doing all this stuff.

    Interesting call to place immersion after the 500 sentence mark.

  2. Looking at this timeline… a comment on another post got me thinking… are you an auditory learner?

    I started reading manga (and SRSing it alongside textbook sentences) when I had a little under 500 sentences and started listening to subtitle-less Japanese a little past 1000 sentences. And while it’s partly because I haven’t spent enough time doing it, I’m not gaining much from the listening (don’t worry, I’m not going to completely drop it.)

    It occurred to me that the main differences between what you recommend and what I am finding works well for me could be explained by the fact that I am an extremely visual learner.

    • I found that first watching something with Japanese subtitles (not English subtitles of course) and then continuing to listen to it afterward has really helped me with my listening. Having an idea of what they were saying in the first place helps me recognize things I would likely otherwise miss. As for finding Japanese subtitles… it can be fairly difficult sometimes.

      • Good idea. I’ll try that.

        The other thing I’m thinking of doing is that next manga series I read will be something that has been made into an animé, which I’ll watch after reading.

    • I wouldn’t call myself an auditory learner. However, I strongly believe in the power of listening (something I originally didn’t do much of in my first year of study). I’m writing a post soon that will touch on this topic about about listening immersion and when it finally starts to have its massive positive effects.

  3. Aside from adding Anki sentences with Genki and other formal material, is there any “informal” book, page or something that has examples of perhaps the 100 most commonly used phrases in everyday/colloquial speech (with generally accepted slang words)? If I google stuff like 日本語のスラング it’s kinda hard to tell apart which sites are good and which aren’t.

    • I don’t know of any book that has this (though if anyone knows of any, please leave it in the comments). But I think you’ll be doing a disservice to yourself by continuing to try to learn special phrases from textbooks. This is where you want to expand to natural material.

      Genki 1 + 2 contains most of the commonly used every day stuff already.

      • Isn’t getting phrases from textbooks etc what you’re supposed to do with Anki? I am using Genki I and II as my foundation for my Anki deck, but shouldn’t there be a value in practicing to speak as a person would actually speak if you want to reach for “native” level, and not just practice “formal” phrases? I’m not looking for “special” phrases, just normal phrases. Even if Genki is great, I assume if a native person would speak all those phrases in the book in a normal fashion, letters would be dropped here and there and perhaps some slang would be used?

        I did get a suggestion just today actually. Some book named “Dirty Japanese”. No idea if it’s good or not. Did get some examples from it, like varieties of こんいちわ: こんちゃ for example. No idea if that particular “slang” expression is used more or less, but that was just an example. I just figured adding a few phrases like that would be as valid as adding phrases from Genki.

        • Yes, getting phrases (sentences) from Genki I and II and adding them to Anki is your foundation.

          Yes, you are correct. Those 2 books by themselves will not teach you how to speak just like a Japanese person. Most people add in slurs and slang, combinations and things that don’t appear anywhere in those textbooks.

          However, you pick up all this from using TV, manga, novels, etc. as your new source of sentences. You are taking these sentences, using a dictionary, and learning what everything means.

          I believe that taking it naturally as it comes in real context is better than using a textbook that claims to do the same thing.

      • I’ve owned books that claim to have this but ultimately they were only used for laughs when I had Japanese friends over. Before I handed them over to book-off I flipped through them and you could see a few phrases that were both correct and still in use but there’s no way you could learn the proper usage and intonation just from reading the books. (None of these are serious textbooks either.)

        If you find Genki too dry for your tastes check out the three volumes of Japanese in Mangaland. I ran into these books long after I had learned basic grammar so I can’t speak for their effectiveness, but they do have dozens of plain form examples right from the beginning which is really the basis for slang anyway.

        Stay away from any books with Dirty, Making, Love, Real, or Outrageous + Japanese in the title. Even used they are a complete waste of money and will do more harm than good.

  4. Hi Adshap!
    I really enjoy reading your blog, and I’ve just started learning Japanese a few days ago. I’m done with hiragana and katakana, and at about 100 kanji.
    What I don’t understand is, when do I start with the sentences? Here, it says that
    “- Master the the first 950 of 1901 kanji (the third Japanese alphabet) using the RTK mod and Anki. (…)
    – Self-enter and review 500 Japanese-English sentences that you take from your purchased beginner textbooks into Anki. ”
    This implies that I start before the 950 kanji mark. Also on the “What level are you?” page it says that by level 5 I should have already ” Started J-E Anki: Kanji: ~200, Sentences: ~100″. So at 200 kanji I should already be at 100 sentences? Or should I push through all the kanji first? Please clear up my confusion.

    • I asked the same question when I got started. Adshap recommended doing both sentences and RTK at the same time. 2 months later down that path, I’m glad I listened to him.

      While I have found it more difficult to remember words that use Kanji I haven’t RTK’ed yet, seeing Kanji I do know in context is awesome and helps me stay motivated to do more RTK. More motivation = more success :)

      Good luck on your adventure!

      • Thanks, I’ll start the sentences then. As I saw, there aren’t that many kanji in the beginning chapters of Genki anyway.

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