Japanese Goals: March 2021

I haven’t written any study updates recently, so I decided to make a stronger effort to make one each month.  I really think that having well thought out measurable goals helps me to improve at a faster rate then I would otherwise.  I also really like to read about how other people are studying and what they have been doing to improve.  Seeing other people work hard always inspires me to do the same.  Since I haven’t written out any of my study goals and progress yet this year, I want to take a second to review of the past two months.


Just want to give you guys a little context to help understand my lifestyle and the amount of time that I am able to put into my Japanese.  I live with my partner in America and work full time.  While my job has absolutely nothing to do with Japanese, my partner is Japanese and we almost always use Japanese when we are communicating with each other.


I made three overall Japanese goals in 2021. 

1. Take the JLPT
2. Read 1 book each week and post a book review for it
3. Work towards reading 2 books each week

I cannot really control whether or not the will be a JLPT test in America this year, I want to take the time to prep for the test so that I can pass it if available.  I was planning on taking N1, but that’s when I felt like I was in a hurry to reach certain career goals.  I have a different mind set right now and would rather take N2 as I 100% want to have some JLPT certification.  With COVID, moving back to Japan seems father away so I am in less of a hurry to reach my previous goal.

I have been meeting my bottom line goal of one book a week but haven’t really been doing much to work on reaching 2 books per week.  I think this is more of a focus issue as I am not able to sit down and knock out books like I used.  I think its going to take time and practice to manage my time and build up focus.

In January, I experimented by using Tadoku.app to keep track of my pages and as motivation to read more.  I think it worked well!  I ended up in 7th place for last round with 1671 pages and 6 novels read to completion.

Books Read in January(6):

星の王子様 by アントワーヌ・ド・サン=テグジュペリ
僕ら生きる by 原田マハ
神去なあなあ夜話 by 三浦しをん
そして、バトンは渡された by 瀬尾まいこ
おおかみこどもの雨と雪 by 細田守
世界から猫を消えたなら by 川村元気


I didn’t really plan out any solid goals for February and it showed. I think my reading speed has gotten up a bit as I find my overall goal of one book a week very easy at this point. I was more focused on using my time on other personal and profession goals outside of reading and was able to get done.  I read only 4 Japanese novels to completion this month.

One thing I did do in February is return to using anki.  I took a few months break as I felt that it was taking away too much time from reading.  But to be honest, I make more progress when I am using anki.  I made more realistic card goals and have been using anki for a few minutes everyday.  I think this will be a great way for me to get prep for the JLPT in December.  While anki doesn’t really help me to remember the meaning of words, it really helps to drill in the readings.  I continue to use books for repeated exposure to words to get a deeper idea of the meaning and usage for each vocabulary term.

In February I checked up my local library system and discovered that they have a decent amount of Japanese novels!  I was really surprised as I didn’t even think to look at the library when I first moved here. I did look at the local university library to find novels, but due to COVID they were not open to the public. This year I ended up creating a library card to make use of museum passes and was shocked to find over 500 Japanese novels in the online catalog! I have only been using the library for about a month now and have already found a lot of books that I want to read. Now that I have discovered that the public library system system has a good amount of Japanese novels that I can choose from, I feel much more motivated to up my game.  I also feel like this gives me more freedom to buy books that I really want to read.  Some of the newer books that I am interested are as expensive as $30 each!  Reading books from the library will help me offset the price of more expensive books while keeping my $500 yearly budget.

Books Read in February(4):

霧のむこうのふしぎな町 by 柏葉幸子
むらさきのスカートの女 by 今村夏子
あひる by 今村夏子
この嘘がばれないうちに by 川口俊和


My ultimate goal for this year is to push my reading speed up to 2 novels per week. Now that I have access to more novels, I want to start working on this goal more seriously.  I think having a solid place to track my pages will really help me out so I made a shopping trip to Kinokuniya and picked up a few things.  I now have a planner and a note book. 

For the campus planner, I want to track how many days I spend on each novels and the amount of pages that I read per day.  It looks like Tadoku.app will have another round this month and I think that I will join that as well for motivation again.  I like that it is every other month as I get a bit burned out at the end after looking at all those numbers

I got the notebook as a place for me to take notes while reading.  I only take notes for translating parts of the story and writing down different topics that I want to mention in reviews.  I usually use my computer for this but find that having such easy access to the internet is a huge distraction and touching my computer pretty much means that I am going to take a break.  I think a notebook might be a great way to keep me more focused while still keeping track of important information for articles.

I want to continue to work on anki and be mindful of having reasonable goals.  I think using anki long term without breaks will really be useful to me in the long run.  I know I wrote about quitting SRS before as I do think there are many fundamental issues with it… but it is a tool and there are ways to experiment with it and make it work for you.  I really do not want to spend more then a few minutes on it per day.

In order to help train myself to sit for longer periods at a time I plan on using the Pomodoro method.  Basically, its a timer method where you set time for studying and breaks. I used it the last time I was a student and it worked really well for studying.  I find that it helps to really cut down on decision fatigue as everything is already planned out.  I don’t have to think about when to take a break or when to start back up again. I plan on starting off with 30 minutes at a time and increasing it from there.

Anyone else care to share their study goals?  Would love to hear what everyone is up to.

My current Japanese vocabulary study style(i.e. Why I’m slowly quitting SRS)

My relationship with SRS

I LOVE anki. It really helped me when I was a student to get perfect grades and succeed academically. It also does greatly increase the progress that I am able to make in learning Japanese. But this isn’t something that I want to do for the rest of my life. My ultimate Japanese goal is to stop studying and I have decided to start working towards it. Due to the fact that SRS is such a powerful tool, it has taken a lot of experimentation and time to figure out what the best balance for me is.

Failed Attempt at quitting SRS

Since I graduated from university, I have put a lot of time into my Japanese to make up for lost time. My major area of study was unrelated to Japanese and I was really academically motivated to do well in school. So I quit Japanese all together or 2 years, only using it to hang out with friends and my partner. After graduating, I started studying Japanese again and really heavily used SRS along with JLPT textbooks. I was able to get back to my previous Japanese level with in a few months and have been trying to work out how to quit studying ever sense.

Late last year I tried to quit anki and just rely on reading novels and watching Japanese TV. It did not work out because I was not reading nearly enough to make up for the loss of anki. While TV helps to reinforce words that I have learned, I found that I do not pick up any new words unless its from an educational youtube channels. I ended up not progressing much in my language ability and decided to get back on anki. I started over. Got rid of my previous homemade decks and just re-downloaded a N2 vocab deck that I was using previously and cram reviewed it. I started making a new J-J vocabulary deck and used anki as much as I could. This was too much tho and while it did help me for a little bit, I still needed to make more changes to really help my Japanese.

My current style

I was inspired by the advice of Stephen Krashen to ditch traditional vocabulary exercises and try to invest my time more into extensive reading. I am finally reading enough to make this a viable path for me. I do still watch JLPT based educational videos on youtube as I am generally interested in grammar and all of the explanations are in Japanese.

I have stopped using pre-made decks. While they are easy to use and really help me get the reading for different words down, its takes too much of a time investment to use anki to teach me the meaning of each word. This makes sense as anki is a review tool and not really a teaching tool. Now I just pick a few words at a time from native media. I try to make as few cards as I can. But sometimes a word will stick out to me where the meaning of the word is very clear, and I just need some sort of reminder to make sure I retain the meaning that I already learned. It seems like an obvious way to use anki, but as I was using anki to cram information for tests in school previous, this is a complete new style for me.

I watch Japanese media and read novels on my days off from work(3-4 days a week). Since I have really increased the amount of pages I am reading, I am finding that I do not need to use anki as much anymore.

If I come across a new word, I just look up the reading, reflect on the meaning, and move one. If I stick to reading one novel at a time, there is a good chance that the new words will pop up again at some point.

Future Plans

Once I feel that I have reached N1 level, then I will start actively studying for the JLPT and then the professional exam I need in order to continue with my career once I move back to Japan. I know that it will take a lot of work and time. I am working hard at my current job too so that I can learn as much as possible and have a good knowledge base to work from when taking the exam in Japanese.

I hope that in the future, I will be able to read books to the extent where I do not even need light use of anki. I think I should be able to get to that level in a year or so. But then I will have to start using anki again if I do indeed end up taking that professional exam in the future.

Do you really need SRS?

If you are not actively reading Japanese novels on a regular basis and want to make good progress with your Japanese, then I recommend using SRS. For me personally, the level that I need to increase my vocabulary consistently without heavy use of SRS is one book a week.

But learning a language is not a race. You should examine your goals and make daily habits that lead to success with whatever your individual time line is. Reading novels is a great way to increase vocabulary.


SRS is an extremely powerful tool for language learners and I recommend it to pretty much everyone. But at someone, studying forever doesn’t seem like a great idea and you might get tired of SRS while still wanting to make good progress with life long learning. It takes a great amount of daily input to make progress without SRS. But it is up to you to decide how you want to design your daily life and how to continue with Japanese as the years go on.

If you are at the point of reading Japanese novels on a regular basis, I think it is worth examining how you spend you time and how much of your life you want to invest in SRS.

My favorite free online Japanese dictionaries

Since I have gotten my electronic dictionary, I have not been using free online resources as much as I used to. While I love my denshi jisho, I know that they can be an investment and that many beginning to intermediate to even advanced students can thrive using free material online. I have spent a lot of time researching the meanings of words online and have decided to introduce the 3 sources that I have used most often.

Continue reading “My favorite free online Japanese dictionaries”

Japanese Novel Review:5分で読書: きのう失恋した Yesterday’s Heartbreak in 5 Minutes by The カドカワ読書タイム Team

I found this book for free on yomeruba.com. I saw from a post on reddit that this website has been doing campaigns where they have a monthly selection of novels that can be read for free. I decided to read this novel to see if it would be a good choice for beginner students. This is my first time reading a Japanese novel online. I really prefer paper based novels as I love everything related to trees in general. But I really wanted to seek out more beginner reading materials and I am interested in find free materials online to help me with my budget. There are some more expensive hardcover books that I am interested in, but my current budget would only allow me one paperback book per week.

Ive heard of this book series before, but basically it is a collection of short stories with the same theme.  Each story is broken up into sections that would take a Junior High School level Japanese student around a few minutes to read. I think that this format would work well for language learners as well! It is nice that it basically tells the reader a good place to stop. While the description might make it seem like its the same thing as chapters in a normal novel, the timing of these breaks is more consistent.

Continue reading “Japanese Novel Review:5分で読書: きのう失恋した Yesterday’s Heartbreak in 5 Minutes by The カドカワ読書タイム Team”

積ん読 Tsundoku – My reading line up

I was inspired to write this blog by Peregrinja’s post over on her blog, The Blog of a Reiwan Lady, on her own habit of collecting novels but in Japan and back home.

I am sure that for most people reading this blog, Tsundoku(積読) is a word that you have seen before.  Its basically the habit of collection books but not actuality reading them. The word implies that the book collector had originally planned on, or still does plan on reading the vast amount of books that they have managed to collect.

When I was younger, I was an avid reader in my native language and would read non-stop no matter where I was. My parents really supported my hobby and got my as many books as I wanted. While I had an extremely large collection of books, they were all books that I had read cover to cover and I never really got into the habit of letting books sit around unread. That changed when I moved to Japan. I started feeling guilty about reading books in my native language when I felt that I should have been using that time to focus on my Japanese. This lead to me putting a pause on reading for pleasure for quite a long time.

Continue reading “積ん読 Tsundoku – My reading line up”

August and September Goals


In this post I want to reflect on the goals I created last month and make new goals for how I would like to move forward in September. Here is what I had planned for August.

I did not read either of the two books that I picked out for myself.  I guess that style does not work for me and I need to be able to pick each book based on my mood the day I start reading it. I think I may have to officially give up on reading Weathering with You(天気の子).  I saw this movie in theaters and really enjoyed it, but I am just not into the idea of reading another novelization of an anime. I think I am just going to give it to a Japanese Professor I know so that she can re-home it.  Having books around that I do not enjoy is kind of bothering me so hopefully I will be able to do something about it soon.

Continue reading “August and September Goals”