The Definitive Review Of All Japanese All The Time (AJATT) — 34 Comments

  1. One thing I think you should have mentioned with AJATT is the organization of the site.

    I went there once or twice because I had seen people say that’s what they were using. I felt lost most of the time.
    And when I did finally find some newbie level posts… I felt that if I wanted any sort of moderation in my learning I was terrible and would never learn.
    I never actually found out what the purpose of the site was – other than to tell me full immersion is the only way to learn. Which could have been said in a paragraph. I still don’t know of anything helpful from AJATT.

    No, I did not read every article. As somebody new to a site, I’d like to find things relatively easy. And when I do find something, I’d rather not be talked down to. I read probably three or four things before I asked “how is this helping?” and gave up on it.

    • I totally agree with you on this. There are actually a lot of great old posts that I would love to recommend to beginners, but just can’t find. It used to be better organized. I think the disorganization also adds to the feeling that the blog is repetitive.

      If you had caught the blog in the early stages of its life, you probably would’ve been better helped out by it.

    • Honestly I find it hard to believe you missed the big “NEW? START HERE!” button that leads you to the “How To Use This Website” article …

      • Have you read what that article says? It says to just jump in and read anything and then apply it.
        Well thanks. That was insightful.

        I didn’t read anything about him using RTK. Or how to get started actually learning.

        I dunno about you, but when I’m at around 400 kanji, it’s pretty hard to just start reading manga or books or anything. I’ve tried. I spent an hour on one page. That stopped being enjoyable by page 2.

        • A month ago that was a like to the table of contents and in the table of contents there was a link to the chronoligical list of articles, including everything… THAT was good I think

          • I did eventually find the table of contents… And the stuff for starting… well I didn’t feel like it gave any actual advice.

            That was where I found the admonishment for not having complete and utter immersion. And where I found that I should be forgoing furniture and silverware. The few articles I read were not at all helpful to actually learning the language. Maybe my selection of articles was poor. But if after an hour on a site I’ve garnered no new information, I have no desire to keep trying. Especially when I find the tone to be somewhat negative.
            It may be a good site for some people, but the clutter and tone do not work for me.

            Compare it with my initial hour on here.
            I found out about RTK, the usefulness of Genki and an interesting way to keep track of my progress.

    • To think that he’s a software developer makes me shudder. His website is definitely on the list for worst made, least organized, looks-like-it’s-about-to-fall-apart sites. Even people with absolutely no technical know-how make better websites than the AJATT site.

    • Yes I agree with you here, for me it was very hard to navigate at first and it was confusing and needs a lot of improvement on organization, however the site provides very useful articles and insights to take into consideration. And just a pointer you can find pretty much everything you have a question about by going to the table of contents and scanning through the titles until you find what you’re searching for.

  2. Very respectful post. If I were running a top site on immersion, I don’t think I would’ve ever had the courage to compare myself in public to any other site.

    AJATT is not for me, though it used to be when I just started out with the immersion method. But I’m one of those certain people who just can’t handle his writing style. I’m sure other people get a kick out of it though or feel really inspired. I feel in the beginning it was less aggressive, or perhaps what I needed at the moment. I didn’t have any other opinions about language learning at the time, so the aggressive tone didn’t sound like it was putting me down or arguing with me.

    Also, I’d say I got turned away from ever reading the blog again right at the moment he started promoting the silverspoon package. I wavered back and forth before then because I disagreed on a lot of his points, while agreeing with others which would bring me back to the blog. If he had named the package something like, “guardian angel package” perhaps even that would’ve given me a better impression. There’s a lot in a name. Not that I would’ve bought it though if the name had been different. It’s just I might have kept reading his blog from time to time.

    I’m not the kind of person who pays for learning materials that aren’t native resources (such as J-J textbooks, manga, etc.). And if I were, my husband would redirect me and say, “You already have Japanese people to help you out.” He’s very frugal and turned me into a frugal person as well. But I totally understand bloggers needing a way to fund their effort. They totally deserve it! I’m just a tough person to sell to. If I really needed it, I would buy it.

    However, I honestly don’t need any of the products neither site is selling. Now, if AJATT or JALUP were able to buy the rights to sell the script of a movie with its language broken apart along with the dvd and other learning aides to go along with the movie and script, I would buy that. Learning aides that use native material, that’s what I’m into. That’s just a harder thing to pull off and perhaps not what either site is looking to make. So it just shows I may not be the target audience for the products they are selling.

    Method wise, I like the diplomatic but firm approach to JALUP more than the extremist approach of AJATT. I did end up using textbooks and classes (as tools though, not primary study methods), which is totally against AJATT’s method. However, did I become fluent in 18 months? No. Though I would attribute that to poor use of SRS (possibly, I don’t know) and at times not being as firm with my immersion environment as I should have been. But I didn’t feel encouraged by AJATT. It wasn’t until I found this site (2011), with it’s RPG theme and leveling up methods, that my Japanese really started to take off. I could actually benchmark my progress and I felt more encouraged to up my game. I’m still not fluent, but I raised from level 20 to level 40 in less than two years, compared to level 0 to 20 in three and a half. And in case my numbers are off, the comparable benchmarks I have obtained are the ability to read manga without a dictionary and watch Japanese movies and dramas without subtitles, which I didn’t have before reading JALUP. I really, really enjoy my Japanese learning environment now!

    So those are my thoughts on the two websites. I hope I didn’t hurt the feelings of any AJATT fans, as in my case it’s just a matter of what motivated me the most.

    • One small correction, since it appears in your comment and one below, AJATT is not against textbooks and there is even a blog post about how to use them. Also several are used as part of the SilverSpoon program.

      • Then perhaps my memory has been twisted overtime? (Memory is fallible.) Or he has changed positions? He has admitted changing positions in some of his blog posts on things (which is totally fine, I think it’s good to be willing to change your ideas rather than be stubborn about something). Remember, I read way early on, and haven’t really read anything around the silverspoon era.

        I think I remember him saying the only use one can get out of a textbook is grabbing sentences.

        But anyhow, thanks for the correction. I don’t want to mislead anyone.

        • Yes, pretty much the only thing he says use textbooks for is to get sentences, and avoid the explanations and just get them and understand them.

        • He’s always been critical of the traditional, classroom based approach mostly because of the insanely slow pace of most US classes. His rant on classes definitely includes some hate towards textbooks because they are an integral part of that whole system.

          The post on how to use a textbook was posted only nine days later and at that time he was still heavily against them but a reader pointed out how they could be useful and he agreed they could be used for sentence mining and not much else.

          Fast forward to the SilverSpoon era and he does recommend a few textbooks but none of them are really classroom textbooks. In fact it’s basically exactly what he advertises under “Phase 4: Sentences” under the main blog.

          While doing SilverSpoon I personally did use textbooks heavily, but they were stuff I had collected from my own classes and roommates who were departing Japan. I skipped the dialogs completely and focused on the grammar point examples and the reading selections. When you are a beginner this kind of material is definitely the way to go especially if you get frustrated with shonen manga like I did.

          • “He’s always been critical of the traditional, classroom based approach mostly because of the insanely slow pace of most US classes.”

            Likewise, I’m critical of the traditional, classroom based approach. I owe that caution to AJATT and am happy I’m not naively trying to rely on classes.

            I think classes can be nice, if you know how to use them. Especially if you already need the classes, it’s simply time you can spend with a Japanese native speaker who’s trained how to teach language (and therefore will most likely correct your mistakes, unlike strangers or friends who let it slide). Also, I feel classes really help when it comes to grammar lessons. It just is a quick way to get a grasp on more grammar.

            Classes aren’t necessary, and I think they can even be dangerous. As AJATT mentioned, classmates aren’t good speaking partners, because they make the same mistakes you do. It’ll only further perpetuate your mistakes. A lot of the time, because of the immersion method, you will be ahead of your classmates and end up guiding them, so it’s no benefit on your behalf (unless you happen to get experienced Japanese learners as classmates who have lived in Japan for quite a time, which happens in the advanced levels, then it tends to even out) In that case, you may actually learn from their extra knowledge. And classes are extremely slow paced. Naturally, through my immersion environment, I learned grammar that my classmates didn’t learn until semesters later because I wasn’t relying on classes.

            It’s best if the class uses a lot of native materials and is taught all in Japanese, however, that’s rare (at least in America). It’s unfortunate.

            I agree with the fact that all the negativity about textbooks comes from the focus their given in the classroom. They are just a guide, but teachers or schools build their whole curriculum on them, and even leave out things they could be using because it’s not in line with the textbook. (Like how Erin’s Challenge is a great program, but teachers will only recommend it as a supplement, not use it in the classroom, because it doesn’t match up with Genki)

            • But I think both AJATT and JALUP have pretty much the same feelings about classes. AJATT just seems a bit more extreme, putting you down for taking them at all. While JALUP gives pros and cons for taking them or not taking them.

            • JALUP seems a lot more organized but AJATT has some great stuff buried deep within and often buried behind the paywalls.

              In particular I think sentences without using clozes feels extremely dated. Whenever I come across a vanilla sentence card in my deck I either convert it to clozes or just delete it. They feel that useless to me now.

  3. My 2 cents

    Back in 2010 when I was in my very ripe and wise age of 13 I didn’t even want to learn Japanese, lol. I wanted to learn Korean. Though I just stopped Korean one day and remembered hearing about AJATT 2 years prior to that. I then proceeded to check it out and then pretty much read from top to bottom and started pretty much the next day with remembering the kanji and Anki, along with my immersion.

    Not sure if I’m correct, but I think this was before JALUP existed (November 2010)

    Either way, I pretty much followed everything Khatzumoto said, like I was a hardcore Catholic who lives on the bible, so I guess I treated AJATT religiously. I still sort of do, hehe :P It gave me a lot of guidance and for me, reading the posts pretty much told me everything to do, like going from point A to B to C, crystal clear. I just followed what he said word for word (for the most part)

    I was really attracted to his method, it was like nothing I’ve seen before.
    Mostly fun stuff + time = fluency, like wtf!?

    I don’t really think much about the money aspect, because I am just grateful for all the free advice he gave me. I mean, sure he has the AJATT+ and the silverspoon, but when you look at it, everything he says for free on his blog is all you really need. He didn’t have anything more than the knowledge he shares for free when he learned Japanese back in 04-06, no silver spoon or AJATT+ forum etc, So I am grateful for a free guide essentially.

    I do agree that his writing styles can be different at times, but no matter how it’s worded, I just look past it and try to find what he’s really trying to say.

    I don’t know, I guess to me Khatzumoto is just a wise man who I look up to like a role model. I’m not trying to sound crazy here but AJATT pretty much changed my life.

    I found JALUP about little less than a year ago (March 2012 or something) and I found it was a pretty interesting approach. Treating learning like an RPG with levels and etc was pretty cool. I like the level system because it sort of gives a gauge on how to scale your abilities. The numbers are a lot better than the, beginner, novice, intermediate, upper intermediate, advanced, very advanced, fluent, etc. More accuracy.

    Now I’ve been learning Japanese a little more than 2 years, and considering that I pretty much follow the religion of AJATT, I find it a little disappointing to say that my current level is around 55. Considering the time I’ve been studying, and since I try so hard to be like khatz, I feel a little upset about my level, but I’m sure that somewhere I didn’t do what I was supposed to. 自業自得。 I guess I should stop comparing myself to Khatz so much :P 

    I’m aiming to reach around 65 before the next school year starts (September 2013, So i have 8 months give or take). It won’t be easy, but at my current speed (trying to make up for my old mistakes in the process), I don’t think it’s impossible.

    I’ve read around 1300 pages of Japanese in the past 15 days (around 2500 pages by the end of this month I am aiming for), and I already felt myself being able to express what I want to say a little better. At this speed hopefully I can 超power level up to 65 in the next 8 months.

    I mean, next year my new school has a lot of Japanese people (compared to zero in my current junior high school), and I don’t want to be known as the guy who speaks average Japanese, I want to be known as the guy who speaks at least good Japanese. Enough so there are no crutches, and we can just act like normal people, instead of fumbling with what I want to say.

    That was longer than it was supposed to be, but whatever. :P

    • Wow, ライトニング, you’re doing some impressive stuff. I never would have taken on a project like this in junior high school (or been so successful with it), as I was more worried about not getting stuffed into a locker. :P

      Do you know about Read MOD? You should join us for the next go ’round.

    • Damn, your post just motivated me a lot! For a few days (weeks) I’ve been slowly dropping my immersion and stopped learning new stuff to catch back on reviews (I had stopped everything for a month I’m not too sure why even now).. but now I’m really motivated to be a bit stricter and do this thing! I’ve started learning mid september 2012 so not too long ago, but still only learned ~1100 kanji (and forgot a lot because of that month I was talking about); even though I was almost always doing 20-25 kanji a day, that’s an average of 8-9 kanji a day… maybe I should reduce that number to 15-20 and whenever I feel like doing more then do it, so I don’t get “burned out” or something! I even made my own exp system (not perfect, technically I’d be level 20-22 by now even though I am not haha but itll catch up as soon as I start doing sentences) so this should help motivate! Thanks!

    • Similar story here, but I was 14 (3 years ago).
      I searched “self-study Japanese”, and I found Khatz’s site. Through this very site I: started using spaced repetition software, began enjoying Japanese media, and utilized timeboxing. (These were Khatz’s most significant influences in my Japanese/academic study, in the sense that he introduced me to these ideas). What I got from the site was the basic structure to learning Japanese, and some tips to make the process more efficient.

      AJATT is inspiring, if you’re not so cynical. Although confusing at times, the “method” is actually pretty straightforward.

      I don’t think of it as “long-winded”, I call it “very thorough”. :D

      Great review btw.

  4. I was yet another person who found AJATT before I found this site, and was blown away by the concepts and ideas at first. This was the first I heard of the idea of immersion, sentences, etc. and I was really flabbergasted by the concepts and jumped right in.

    I like AJATT, but when I tried to use his methods in reality, it just flopped. He told me to just jump in after RTK and start getting sentences, so that’s what I did. I had no understanding of grammar or anything, which turned out to be a HUGE burden, so I just became frustrated and gave up on Japanese for a while. I loved the idea, but my body just wasn’t ready for the immersion yet.

    Just a few weeks ago, I found a link to JALUP. Once I read your description on how to go about mining sentences (first from a beginner’s book like Genki and only learn one new word per sentence) I was blown away and have now jumped back into sentences with resounding success. I think this website is MUCH more clear and organized when you are making your jump into sentences, which is why I stick around here.

    In terms of AJATT selling out, yeah, the only thing that bothers me is when he says things like “you would have known about this earlier if you paid to be in AJATT+/Neutrino/whatever.”

  5. I love AJATT.

    My story: I decided after graduating college that I wanted to teach English in Japan. So in order to prepare for that route I started learning Japanese on my own. I tried literally everything I could think of. I walked around town trying to memorize phrase books line by line. I learned Hiragana and Katakana through repetitious writing, but that I can honestly say was a step completed before AJATT. I also tried learning Kanji and made it to page 5 of my kanji book about 600 times before I started wondering if I might not be able to learn these in a timely manner…

    Then AJATT. Remembering the Kanji, Spaced Repetition, Immersion, time boxing, passive listening, going monolingual, the three-foot radius idea, changing all of my music and media to Japanese, KILLING SUBTITLES on anime and all of that just blew my mind. I can honestly say I began learning Japanese finally after a year of studying it hardcore and solo.

    However I just beat myself up for not being perfect too much. I wanted to be Khatz, not me. I even wanted to learn Cantonese at one point just because he was doing it. You have to tweak AJATT and any method to work for you. You are not the slave of methods, you are the ruthless sultan of a brothel filled with methods and techniques. When they don’t suit you, you just send them away. I think this is the most important post I ever read on AJATT because it finally gave me full control of my results (e.g. I stopped blaming Khatz for my lack of success.) is this:

    Read Khatz, read Benny the Irish Polyglot, read Glossika, 等 and the parts that inspire you when you read them are the things you ought to try out in your own learning. Don’t be a disciple, be a colleague, an equal with these folks you admire.

  6. I think Khatz’s heart is in the right place. He was passionate about learning Japanese, and was young when he started, as well as bilingual, and probably a bit talented. So the only negative I’d note (as I’ve written on Japanese Rule of 7), is that the time frame is unrealistic. Not everybody has his advantages. It will take most people longer than he states, and many people much longer. I don’t think we’ll see any published results from him any time soon.

    People who start out with false hopes end up giving up, and that’s a shame, because they shouldn’t. Not everybody’s going to become fluent in a year or two.

  7. Personally, I found the layout of AJATT to be a little confusing.. It was hard to find useful things to use (especially since I am still very much a beginner). Sure, once I found the tabe of contents, it was easier, but I feel I really needn’t dig around simply to find that. (or maybe I just suck at navigating)

    I found his site much easier to find information in, though, so it’s a little more useful for me (at least so far ^^;)

    Both have their merits, though, I think.

  8. I’m also another Ajatt “fan”, I can relate my feelings with several of the comments above, especially the one from ライトニング, but in the end of the day the progress is only what matters I guess. One of the points that I like the most is about not being perfectionist from this post:

    Since last January when my learning journey officially started I skip several days without doing reps or learning new words but regardless of that I happily reach level 40, probably I could have done things better, learning a little every day instead of quick bursts but I try to not think about it.

    I also had so many doubts but now I strongly believe that is possible to reach fluency in 2 years, I can already smell it, I’m playing bioshock infinite and immersed in all that “advanced” unknown vocab, trying to roughly figure it out by the kanjis while hanging in a skyline and popping the enemies heads.

  9. I’m someone who actually joined Silverspoon back in 2012 and was so far from fluent by the end that I requested a refund. And I have actually been refused most of my refund (He’s sending it out to me in $100 chunks…).

    So think what you will of his methods, but this guy can’t be trusted with your money. I’m not sure if he’s broke or just a piece of shit, but there’s been no explanation on his behalf, so I’m not too happy.

    • I’ve actually thought of buying some of his stuff, but he’s never seemed like a trustworthy person to me, anyway. So your experience just confirms my guts, thanks for posting, I’m sure it will be helpful for people considering immersing themselves in the ajatt rollercoaster experience.

  10. Not commenting on the methodology, just noting that in spite of the site’s no-questions-asked-we-refund-anytime policy, I have now – unusccessfully for three months – tried to obtain a refund of my first month’s payments. They simply ignore my mails.

    • I also had the same problem. The site is not shy about sending me an email whenever he has a new product to shill, but somehow my requests for refunds fall on deaf ears.

      Everything about that site now just oozes greed to me.

  11. The last dealing I had with AJATT left a bad taste in my mouth. I asked for a refund, was told I would get it and, despite their “guarantee”, I haven’t received a cent after more than 15 weeks. Plus, they have been ignoring my e-mails for months.

    Here’s the chain of e-mails I have exchanged with Khatzumoto’s personnel:

    [IMX][Japanese] refund request

    S— Wed, Nov 12, 2014 at 10:24 AM
    I have enjoyed IMX (Japanese) for a year now – since November 11, 2013, the day on which I subscribed to it. However, I intended not to renew it, since one year of it provided me with plenty of immersion material.
    That being said, Paypal automatically made a new yearly payment yesterday, on November 11, 2014. I would like a refund of this latest payment. For that purpose, here is the required info:
    Paypal e-mail:
    Paypal profile ID / automatic payment number:
    Paypal transaction ID:
    That’ it.
    Hope to hear back from you,

    [Refunds] Khatzumoto/AJATT Team Thu, Nov 13, 2014 at 3:04 PM
    To: S—
    Hi S—
    This is Toshi Kiyofuji for AJATT Billing.
    Thank you for waiting.
    We’ve received your refund request.
    Your refund is scheduled for transmission on Dec.15th in the amount of 119.23USD of 357.7USD.
    Please let us know if you see any delay at all.
    Thanks for trying her out!

    S— Thu, Nov 13, 2014 at 5:02 PM
    To: “[Refunds] Khatzumoto/AJATT Team”
    Hello again,
    Thanks for answering my query.
    However, I was expecting a full refund, not a third of it, since the AJATT website clearly indicates that the annual IMX plan comes with a full refund, guaranteed for sixty days. In the present case, the payment was made on November 11, 2014, a mere two days ago. What gives?
    Thank you for your time,

    [Refunds] Khatzumoto/AJATT Team Mon, Nov 17, 2014 at 2:57 PM
    To: S—
    Hi S—
    Toshi again.
    I’m very sorry for my statement.
    Actually I didn’t mean to say we refund one-third of full amount.
    We will refund 357.7USD in three installments.
    It’s our policy.
    I am so sorry for inconvenience and I would appreciate your understanding.

    S— Mon, Nov 17, 2014 at 3:53 PM
    To: “[Refunds] Khatzumoto/AJATT Team”
    Hello Kiyofuji-san,
    Thank you for that much needed clarification.
    Best regards,

    S— Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 10:26 PM
    To: “[Refunds] Khatzumoto/AJATT Team”
    Hello again,
    It’s December the 17th and I still haven’t received that 119.23USD out of of 357.70USD. You asked me to let you know if I saw “any delay at all”, and so here I am letting you know.
    That’s it,

    S— Wed, Feb 11, 2015 at 8:56 AM
    To: “[Refunds] Khatzumoto/AJATT Team”
    Hello yet again,
    It’s been exactly 3 months since my very first message asking for a refund, and exactly 8 weeks since my last message, which I sent to tell you that I haven’t seen any installment of a refund yet — despite what I’ve been told.
    The automated response I last received said that 6 to 8 weeks might be necessary for a message to be answered, which is why I’ve waited this long to send the present message. So, what is going on? Instead of a refund, I am still receiving “IMX” messages which I don’t want, so I am thinking this situation might be linked to a technical mistake…
    I hope to hear back from you… any time now.

    S— Wed, Feb 18, 2015 at 9:23 AM
    To: “[Refunds] Khatzumoto/AJATT Team”
    Hello yet again,
    It’s been exactly 3 months and 1 week since my very first message asking for a refund, and exactly 9 weeks since I sent you a message to tell you that I haven’t seen any installment of a refund yet — despite what I’ve been told.
    I hope to hear back from you… any time now.

    So, as you can see, I have been robbed.

  12. One thing Ive always loved about Jalup is how direct it is. I’ve wasted an hour of my Japanese time (regretfully, though I had Japanese playing in the background) to try and find where khatz thinks you should begin speaking. Or is he just saying don’t bother trying to until you reach 10000 sentences and ‘enough’ immersion. This isn’t a criticism, I’d just like to hear where abouts in his study (he moved to Japan at 7000 cards?) he felt he was ‘ready’ to speak. If anyone else has this information I would appreciate it. I love love love how Jalup has a world level guide (including speaking). Am I missing something, or is this important figure (even an extremely approximate one) omitted from his site. I just don’t understand why he can’t directly say (don’t attempt to speak before 10000 words+x hours immersion. Or any other figure that’s at least around when he started or recommends in hindsight to start.

    The question: how many sentences before khatz attempted speaking? Did he hold speaking until the ”’magical 10000 mark”. Is there any figure (ie. 7000 sentences) that he thinks is approximately where this ‘natural’ feeling to speak will occur.
    I guess the most obvious answer would be 10k sentences. But the closest thing I can find to that is his article titles. Nowhere does he even write anything close to a roundabout figure to start speaking. I would really appreciate a response. I have a burning curiosity!!

  13. Whenever I need motivation, I read AJATT. I read Khaz’s articles in Morgan Freeman Voice. These are two of my favorites: and

    But whenever I need constructive advice, new methods, tips and tricks, I read JALUP because almost every article is bite-sized and informative or entertaining. Sometimes both.

  14. I also enjoy reading AJATT’s articles a lot. I relate well to the low brow humor he brings to learning and I think his writing is quite clever. I haven’t bought any of his products or seriously considered it. He says in his articles that the best tools you need to learn Japanese are free. I don’t get why people get upset at him for charging money for something – if you don’t want it, just don’t buy it. Easy. There’s no doubt in my mind that his products are over priced and there’s cheaper options out there. But he writes really good funny articles which you can read for free.

    Incidentally, he never used RTK and even spoke out against it saying it was a terrible waste of time. There was a big backlash by a lot of his fans so he retracted that. He did speak highly of kanji damage however which is a really similar idea but oriented to help you learn the kanji readings too. I personally prefer RTK, but by the time I found kanji damage I was already pretty invested in the RTK primitives and had learned a ton of stories.

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