Japanese Language Quest Walkthrough

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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.  Quickly read over the guideposts and key terms and let the language adventure begin.


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1. Worlds should be done in order, but posts within worlds can/should be done simultaneously with each other.
2. Lengths of time are averages of how long completing the world may take you. Speed is your decision.
3. Even when you advance in worlds, what you learn and engage in will continue with you to later worlds and the rest of your journey.

*Key Terms*

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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): Learning Japanese sentences by using English as assistance.
4. Jalup Beginner 1000: Japanese Level Up original J-E textbook.
5. Jalup Kanji Assist: Japanese Level Up original Kanji learning addon for the Jalup Beginner.
6. Japanese-Japanese Sentences (J-J sentences): Learning Japanese sentences only through Japanese.
7. Jalup Intermediate/Advanced 1000: Japanese Level Up original J-J textbook series.
8. Immersion: The environment you create (and surround yourself) 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: Starting Your Journey  
(4-7 days)
World 1
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Questions to ask:
● What is your motivation for learning Japanese? Start writing down your goals.
● Do you have the dream of living in Japan?
● 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?
● Is Learning Japanese Difficult?
● What does a simple overview of learning Japanese to fluency look like?

The Jalup Approach:
● Turning your “study” into your “quest.”
● Japanese is your new game.
● Keep track of your progress by level
● Setting your “Random Battle” rate
● Develop the rage to master Japanese
● Jump increasingly difficult hurdles
● Developing your own strategy guide
● Play with Japanese Study Time
● Studying Japanese Should Not Be Painful
● Prepare for the 4 phases of language shock.
● Maintain the Anime hero training mentality
● Using this site’s posts as inspiration, motivation, and guidance.
● Grow Together With Anime
● Don’t play the comparison game.
● The full Japanese learning story behind Adam, the creator of Japanese Level Up.

Not a beginner? Making a 2nd attempt at learning Japanese?
● Test Your Japanese Might to see where you stand.
● Already intermediate level? You may want to go back and complete RTK regardless of your length of study
● Do you feel you are an eternal start and stop learner?
● Quit Japanese for a period of time and trying to restart?

World 2: Buying & Preparing Your First Equipment
(2-5 days)
World 1
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Purchase from Jalup:
Kana Conqueror
  Jalup Beginner 1000 - Store Icon  Kanji-Assist-Beginner  XPNavi Final  Motivation Power Ups
Textbooks you may want/need:
Remembering The Kana 2  Remembering The Kanji -  Genki Textbook  Other Textbooks
Download for free:
Anki Image  RTKMOD  Daily Defender  Kana Apps
Decide if you want to:
Take Japanese classes in addition to self-study (and some things to watch out for).
● Major in Japanese in college and do a Japanese-related independent study.
Study abroad in Japan.
 Use online Japanese study forums (if you do, you might want to keep your study methods quiet)
● Find study partners here on Jalup.
● Practicing your handwriting skill.

● Learn how to use Anki, what it does for you, and why using pre-made decks are so powerful. Need more instruction? Check out the official manual and intro videos.
● Set up the Japanese language on your computer so you can input Japanese characters with your keyboard.

World 3: Beginning Your Training
(3-5 months)
World 3
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● Learn how to read, write and pronounce the hiragana and katakana (first 2 Japanese alphabets) using Kana Conqueror (if you want some extra practice, try these songs or apps or games)
● Master the first 158 kanji in Jalup Kanji Assist (up until 分) and/or Master the the first 950 of 1901 kanji (the third Japanese alphabet).
● Complete and review the first 2 stages of Jalup Beginner and/or self-enter in Anki and review 500 J-E sentences from your purchased beginner textbooks.

Decide whether you will:
● Boost Anki’s power with media enhancements: 1) intro, 2) audio, 3) graphics, 4) colorful kanji diagrams, 5) SRS2Subs, and 6) Japan Travel Diary.
● Add additional kanji not found in the original sentences.
● Fine-tune your internal kanji sense by adding a few additional techniques.
Plan on being a power leveler or learning Japanese as fast as possible (read one person’s experience of getting to level 40 in 8 months)

● Is RTK actually teaching you Japanese?
Why go from Japanese to English, and not English to Japanese?
● What if you hate doing RTK? Now what?
● What if you hate using Anki? Now what?
● What about using romaji (English lettering of Japanese characters)?

● What do you do when you have trouble understanding your sentences?
● Transform your studying chores into studying habits.
● Learning Japanese is a game of Tetris.
● Trust me, Japanese is not impossible to learn.
● How your Japanese ability will actually progress.
● Pump yourself up with 10 Life-Changing Quotes In Japanese And English.
● Avoid being a perfectionist.
● Do not get caught up in asking “why?”
● Was learning Japanese a New Year’s resolution? Did you fail it already?
● Try changing your color settings on Anki to prevent eye fatigue.
● Make sure you are getting enough sleep.
● Should you learn Japanese slowly or quickly?
● Set yourself up with short, specific, and achievable goals. Can’t figure out good goals? See what everyone here is aiming for.
● Bad reasons why you think you can’t learn Japanese.
● Be careful of trying too many new tools and methods

World 4: Entering The Immersion Realm
(4-7 days)
World 5
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What it’s all about?
● How to utilize the full power of Passive Listening.
● Properly dividing your focus.
● Use the 5-minute rule when watching videos.

Setting everything up:
● Use the Jalup media guide to find videos you like (J-drama, anime, movies, video games, etc.)
Watch videos > download > convert to mp3 > upload the audio (cleaning up unnecessary parts) to create your portable immersion device.
● Add other audio like music and podcasts.
● Just leave your TV on.
● Use material that matches your level.
● Make Japanese follow you even when you think you’re too busy.
● Improve your listening ability just by using earphones.

Dealing with English subtitles:
● Try keeping your immersion pure, banishing any English.
● How to block English subtitles.
● If you insist on using English subtitles, how to use them most efficiently.
● Getting used to anime once the English subtitles are gone.

Confusion and doubts:
● Having doubts about the effectiveness of immersion?
● Feel like immersion isn’t working for you?
● Is it bad to learn Japanese from anime?
● Is anime binging good or bad?
● Does listening to music count as studying?
● Does Japanese TV suck?
● Why you think you hate Japanese variety shows.
● Signs you’re getting the Japanese immersion you need.
● Is it okay to use American Japanese dubs of America movies?
● Immersion is to be enjoyed now, not later.
● Craft your want into need.
● Don’t visualize Japan as some insurmountable obstacle.
● When do you stop translating into English in your head?

World 5: Continuing the Early Battles
(3-5 months)

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● Finish the remaining kanji (through 269) in Jalup Kanji Assist and/or finish mastering the remaining 951 of 1901 kanji in RTK Mod.
● Complete and review the final 2 stages of Jalup Beginner and/or self-enter in Anki and review 500 more J-E sentences.
● Take the Power Level Tests to see how your progress is coming along.

Feeling demotivated or bored?
● How to fight boredom.
● Found whatever textbook you chose just not interesting enough to you?
● Studying will make studying more enjoyable.
● Go watch Lost In Translation (really, that’s it)
● Start visualizing your Japanese-speaking future self.
● Japanese is improving your life in ways you never imagined.
Take and keep full control of your own journey.
● Reminding yourself how important learning Japanese is to you.
● Think differently: try the George Constanza or Mr. Miyagi approach to learning Japanese.
● Balancing fun vs. study.
● Think you have it bad? Imagine studying Japanese if it was 1899.
Buy tickets to Japan! The sooner you can go for even a small trip, the better.
● Writing out kanji feel boring? Check out this motivational kanji writing video masterpiece.
● Follow the chronicled adventures of others like you following the methods here on Jalup: 1) Coco’s Journey, 2) Ninjam’s Mission

World 6: Stepping Into Japanese-Only Dungeons
(2-4 months)
World 10
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Branch-Annihilator Image New  Kanji-Assist-Intermediate  Japanese Mini Advisor  JALUP 1000 Intermediate Icon 2  Jalup Advanced 2
Getting ready:
● Why make the switch from Japanese-English (J-E) to Japanese-Japanese (J-J)? Does it really matter?
● Change your training from J-E to J-J in Anki.
● How the branching process works and techniques for easier branching.
● Despite your readiness, be prepared for a challenge.
● Embracing the J-J dictionary dive.
● It’s all about solving puzzles.

● Get used to using a J-J dictionary (I recommend any internet dictionary), and learn the most common definition words. If needed, try using pictures or a children’s dictionary, and know how to deal with words not found in the dictionary.
● Use Jalup Intermediate/Advanced to progress through J-J (Feeling completely overwhelmed? Try completing the first few hundred cards using the J-E-J method).

Experiencing burnout:
● You will be reaching the Mid-level blues. Accept and embrace it.
● What to do when you reach your Japanese breakdown point.
Avoid long sentences that give you a headache.
● If you start slowing down, doing something is better than doing nothing.
● Learn what number of reviews due in Anki makes you not want to do them.
● Your need for Anki will slowly fade away.
● Why is Japanese taking you so long to learn?
● Reasons that will prevent you from ever becoming fluent in Japanese.
● Stop doing what you hate.
● Use your Japanese study time efficiently.
● Allow the minor exceptions where you can still use English.
● You can still keep a special place for your English entertainment.
● Not living in Japan? No big deal.
● When will you reach the point where everything feels great?

World 7: The Reading Rampage
(2-4 months)
World 7
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Best ways to read:
● The difference between extensive and intensive reading
● Only read what is appropriate to your interests.
● Skip parts you don’t understand
● Read in Japanese, not about Japanese.
● Step up your reading frequency. The reading contest Tadoku is popular motivation.
● Block out the non-Japanese reading distractions.
● Good sources to buy native Japanese reading material: 1) Kinokuniya, 2) YesAsia, 3) Amazon Japan, 4) Bookoff

Read manga:
● Why manga is the pinnacle of Japanese learning.
Transition into reading manga.
● Finding different places to get your manga fix.
● Read free manga on “Manga Got A Chance”

Read novels:
● Why You Should Be Reading Japanese Novels
● Consider giving yourself a reading handicap.
● Feeling guilty for not reading Japanese classics?

Read websites:
● Ameba and Japanese Blogging
● Follow some great Twitter feeds and join Google+ communities.

Read everything:
● Making use of Japan’s abundant “Free Papers”
● Yes, video games count as reading.
● Turn your password-remembering-stress into Japanese reading practice.

World 8: Embarking Upon Speaking and Conversations
(2-3 months)
World 8

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Talking online:
● Register a Mixi account (Japanese version of Facebook), make friends and talk with them on Skype.
● Can’t or don’t want to use Mixi? Try Facebook.
● Try Japanese Twitcasting (live streaming community sites).
● Use Japan’s massively popular mobile app “Line.”
● Use Google Maps To Bring Your Home Closer To Japan
● Use Twitter as an easy way to chat, make friends, and start a conversation.
● Get involved in Jalup’s monthly Creative Captions: 12
● Turn World of Warcraft into Japanese and join a Japanese guild.
● Have a surprisingly entertaining conversation with Siri.

Talking in person:
● Prove yourself quickly in any conversation.
● Some of the confusing things Japanese people will say to you.
● Understand the difference between not understanding versus not hearing.
● Get used to the background noise that clouds listening ability.
● How to react to repetitive compliments about your “great Japanese”
● Don’t shy away from talking with other foreigners in Japanese
● Why you should avoid tempting “language exchanges.”

● Practice expressing yourself through self-talking and shadowing/mimicking.
● Slow down; you are the one talking too fast.
● Develop your inner actor.
● Construct your new voice.
● Use the English found in Japanese.
● Fully enjoy the abbreviation madness.
● Get used to the formal language.
● Avoid bad habits that make your Japanese sound unnatural
● Correct your Japanese mistakes with variety shows

Confidence and struggles:
● Japanese speaking mastery is a never-ending battle.
● The 8 phases of transition from immersion to fluent speaking.
● Learning Japanese is harder than learning English
● Your skills will be unbalanced (with speaking weakest), and that’s okay.
● Don’t worry about your Japanese becoming too masculine/feminine.
● Prepare for the Japanese Random Level Down.
● Don’t let others’ speaking ability intimidate you.
Polite vs. casual Japanese is hard for foreigners.

World 9: Travelling On Alone
Final World
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Jalup Expert3
  The One Deck Pic  Theme Language Package

● Continue working through J-J until you reach your desired level.
● Enjoy as much fun native media as you possibly can.

● Will you blog about your Japanese experience?
● Should you keep going with Anki for years to come?
● Do you plan to aim for native Japanese level?
● If you are living in Japan, should you make it your permanent home?

Do you want to work in Japan or get a job using Japanese in your home country?
● Become an English teacher.
● Join the WWOOF farming program.
● Become a part-time worker (and enjoy the benefits of the job immersion environment that comes with it)
● Become a TV actor, or join a variety show as a cast member or guest.
● Is taking the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) necessary?
● How may potential jobs test your Japanese?
● 7 ways to prepare for and pass a Japanese job interview.
● Take a boring job to boost your Japanese.
● 12 Unique And Fun Jobs Using Japanese

Things to remember:
● No matter how high you go, always remain humble.
● You can keep up and improve your Japanese, even when you are away on vacation.
● No matter how much you love Japanese culture, don’t throw away your own culture.
● You don’t have to learn everything.
● There will always be tiny gaps in your Japanese knowledge.
● You will become your own most valuable teacher.

Final Words:

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Never give up.  You can and absolutely will do this.

(Last Updated 2/21/2015)

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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 Language Quest Walkthrough — 22 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.

  5. I really like this idea! I have been trying to get into the groove of learning Japanese but I never really stuck with some of the methods of people because they made me feel lazy after a week. I love gaming and I definitely want to learn Japanese, so bring it on!

    I do have materials to work with that I really want to incorporate since I want them to be useful. Haha although it might be a bad idea, I’m not sure, but I also want to keep an “adventure log” (almost like a save file I can refer to after each level or so. Like in the Final Fantasy games! 9 especially since you can have (i believe) 50+ saves in your memory card!). I want to use the adventure log as a reference just in case to see where I stand and what I already know (along with future modifications).

    Thanks for this method! I never would have thought of it in a million years actually!

    • I think an “adventure log” sounds like a great idea. Any time you can use an idea from a game you love to help with your Japanese progress I say go for it. If it turns out well, come back and let us know about it.

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