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This is the amazing and incredible

NihongoShark 1 Year Japanese Mastery
Plan. If you follow all of the guidelines in
this book, then you should be fluent in
Japanese within 1 year.
Nikolai Walker
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Table of Contents
Intro ............................................................................................................................................................... 3
The 1 Year Japanese Mastery Plan ............................................................................................................... 5
Mastery Plan Breakdown .......................................................................................................................... 6
Phase #1 – Prep Your Ninja Tools ................................................................................................................ 8
Pronouncing Japanese ............................................................................................................................... 9
Reading Japanese .................................................................................................................................... 10
Romaji ................................................................................................................................................. 10
Hiragana & Katakana .......................................................................................................................... 10
Vocab Prep .............................................................................................................................................. 14
Ninja Tool #1: Anki Flashcards .......................................................................................................... 14
Ninja Tool #2 – Remembering the Kanji ............................................................................................ 20
Listening Prep ......................................................................................................................................... 37
Ninja Tool #3 – JapanesePod101 ........................................................................................................ 38
Reference Prep ........................................................................................................................................ 39
Ninja Tool #4 – Jisho.org .................................................................................................................... 39
Ninja Tool #5 – Rikaichan .................................................................................................................. 42
Ninja Tool #6 – Smartphone Apps ..................................................................................................... 43
Grammar Prep ......................................................................................................................................... 45
Ninja Study Tool #7 – Bunpou Books ................................................................................................ 46
One Last Thing ....................................................................................................................................... 55
Phase 2 – Fluency Foundation .................................................................................................................... 57
Chain Item #1 – Flashcards (Vocab and Kanji) ...................................................................................... 60
Building Your Anki Deck ................................................................................................................... 61
Studying New Cards ........................................................................................................................... 61
Chain Item #2 – Listening Practice ......................................................................................................... 67
Chain Item #3 – Grammar Practice ......................................................................................................... 68
Phase 3 – Go Jouzu ..................................................................................................................................... 71
Reached Goals ........................................................................................................................................ 72
Focus Shift .............................................................................................................................................. 72
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Focus Shift #1 - Continue Year 1 Studying ........................................................................................ 72
Focus Shift #2 – Start Speaking .......................................................................................................... 81
Focus Shift #3 – Start Reading and Writing ....................................................................................... 82
GanbariShark .............................................................................................................................................. 84
Your Japanese Mastery Checklist ........................................................................................................... 84
Your Phase #2 Daily Study Plan ............................................................................................................. 85
Staying Motivated ................................................................................................................................... 85
Getting Started ........................................................................................................................................ 86
Clarify Your Goal ............................................................................................................................... 86
Get a Study Partner ............................................................................................................................. 87
Appendix A – NihongoShark ...................................................................................................................... 88
About NihongoShark .............................................................................................................................. 88
How You Can Help ................................................................................................................................. 88
Appendix B – Checklists & Schedules ....................................................................................................... 90
Phase #1 Checklist .................................................................................................................................. 90
Phase #2 Flashcard Schedule .................................................................................................................. 90
Flashcard Checklist ................................................................................................................................. 91
Listening Checklist ................................................................................................................................. 91
Grammar Checklist ................................................................................................................................. 91
Phase #2 Daily Study Plan ...................................................................................................................... 91
Phase #3 Checklist .................................................................................................................................. 92
Year #1 Mastery Checklist ...................................................................................................................... 92
Phase #2 Daily Study Plan ...................................................................................................................... 93


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Intro
I grew up as a classic child otaku. I was a ninja for Halloween five years in a row. I asked for swords for
my birthday. Ninja stars. I kept track of the Japanese video game scene like a stalker watching his ex-
girlfriend.
Needless to say, I was pretty interested in everything Japanese.
Still, I didn’t start studying Japanese until I was in my early twenties. It sounds ridiculous, because I
always wanted to learn Japanese. It was my dream. But people had always told me that it was an
impossible language to learn. And I, not knowing the first thing about learning a foreign language,
believed them. Until, one day in college, I decided to take Japanese 101. Just because I had the extra
space in my schedule. Just for fun. That was back in 2008.
2008. The birth of an obsession.
Once I had one taste of the Japanese language, that was it for me. I studied nonstop. It was ineffective
studying, but it was obsessive. Japanese journal. Writing out the same kanji 8,000 times. Buying every
book on mastering Japanese I could find. Watching anime. Trying (and failing) to read manga. Playing
Japanese-language video games. Classes. Flashcards. Leaving my girlfriend of five years to move to
Japan.
What a mess.
It wasn’t until 2010, after about 2 years of studying Japanese and 6 months in Japanese-language school
in Tokyo, that I finally got a hold of my own, ideal Japanese learning system. It’s a system that I’ve spent
the last two years perfecting.
I tested this language study system by applying it to Spanish. In doing so, I learned to read, speak, and
write Spanish fluently… in 3 months.
Keep in mind, Spanish is not Japanese. The vocab and grammar take longer for an English speaker to
learn, not to mention the writing system. So it will probably take more like 1 year to become fluent in
Japanese using this study system. Still, a year is pretty fast for learning Japanese. I remember one time in
Tokyo I met a fellow gaijin (foreigner) that had been living in Japan for 10 years… and he still couldn’t
speak Japanese!
No wonder people always say Japanese is impossible to learn. Don’t listen to what they say, though.
Japanese is not impossible. It’s not even that hard, really. I like to think of it as walking across, say, the
United States. Coast to coast that would be almost a 3,000 mile walk.
It sounds impossible.
But is it really that hard to walk 3,000 miles if you spread it out over a year? That would still be a lot.
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Like 8+ miles a day. But it’s at least feasible. And I think learning Japanese is the same way. It’s not
easy, but it’s totally feasible. You just need to make sure that you’re walking every. single. day.
Ganbatte! (“Keep at it!”)
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The 1 Year Japanese Mastery Plan

This is the most valuable section of this entire ebook. It took me years of trial and error before I realized
which tools were the right tools for me to learn Japanese as quickly as possible.
I’ve taken quite a few Japanese classes over the years, and every single one focuses on four things:
listening, speaking, reading, and writing. This makes sense. That’s what it means to be totally fluent in a
language, right? You can understand it, speak it, read it, and write it. There’s one gigantic problem with
this, though: The definition of fluency is not a method for attaining fluency.
That stuff works eventually. It is studying after all. But it is so, so, so slow -_-.
We want to learn Japanese fast.
And to learn any language fast, you only need to focus on three things: listening, vocab, and grammar.
I still think that speaking and writing are useful tools for learning a language, but they are not tools for
learning a language fast. They are not crucial to becoming fluent until you get really, really close to being
fluent. Now, I should clarify, this is not how I learned Japanese. But it took me 3+ years of a lot of
studying to learn Japanese. Those three, messy years made me do a lot of thinking as to what was the
fastest way to learn a foreign language. This is the system I came up with, and I tested it studying
Spanish for a trip to Peru. I studied for three months using this method: listening, vocab, and grammar.
Well, understandably, when I got to Peru, after this three months of study, I could not speak Spanish at
all. The simplest phrases would get me caught up. However, I understood everything I heard.
Then, within one week of getting to Peru, I was conversing fluently. I spoke with our homestay mom
for hours every evening. My Spanish school removed me from classes, because I was above their
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curriculum, and put me into one-on-one study sessions with the school’s founder.
Coming back to the United States, people think that I’m fluent in Spanish because I went to Peru. That’s
simply not true, though.
“I always say that the only way to learn a language is to just go live in the country where they speak it.
Just get thrown in there, and you’ll pick it up in no time.” – Person who speaks no foreign languages.
This assertion makes the same mistake that curriculums make when they set aside time for speaking and
writing practice in the early stages of learning a language. Yes, writing and speaking are absolutely
essential skills when learning a language. But they are not a productive use of your time until you have
solid vocab, grammar, and listening skills.
I hope that maybe, just maybe, I’ve convinced you to at least consider that these are the three focuses for
fast-track fluency:
1. Vocab
2. Listening
3. Grammar
To shark-learn those three focuses super fast, we have the Japanese Mastery Plan.
Mastery Plan Breakdown
Our Japanese Mastery Plan has 3 Phases and 1 Principle.
The 3 Phases describe the process you will use to learn Japanese, and the 1 Principle describes how you’ll
pass through those phases.
The 3 Phases
Phase #1 – Prep Your Ninja Tools (Months 1-2)
This Phase of the Mastery Plan should take no more than 2 months, and it will set you up for fast track
studying throughout the rest of the year. It will include: setting up your Ninja Study Tools, learning to
pronounce Japanese, and learning quite a few Japanese characters.
If the instructions are followed in Phase 1, you’ll be able to fly through the bulk of this Mastery Plan:
Phase 2.
Phase #2 –Hone Your Skills (Months 3-12)
Phase 2 is all about building up a gigantic foundation for you to achieve fast fluency. This means
learning a ton of vocab, a ton of Kanji, a ton of grammar concepts, and listening to a quite a few audio
lessons. Since you’ll have prepped in Phase 1, though, you’ll be achieving these goals at an incredibly
fast rate.
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Phase #3 –Go Jouzu! (Months 13+)
In Phase 3, you’ll start focusing on the aspects of Japanese that most other curriculums focus on from the
beginning, aspects that, though helpful, would slow down your fluency achievement had you not already
performed Phases 1 & 2.
If you’ve followed through with everything in Phases 1 and 2, then you should be functionally fluent
within 1 month of studying in Phase 3.
The 1 Principle
There is only one principle to this Japanese Mastery Plan: Never stop.
A shark never stops swimming. You never stop studying Japanese.
Don’t get us wrong. You can have a life. You can learn other things. But you cannot go a single day
without studying Japanese at least a little bit.
Swim, swim, swim. You are crossing an ocean.
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Phase #1 – Prep Your Ninja Tools

This Japanese mastery system is all about smart learning. Part of smart learning is building a good
foundation. A less popular aspect of smart learning, though, is not wasting too much time building a
good foundation. So, to the best of our ability, let’s make it so that most of the new things you learn
reinforce the things you’ve already learned.
Phase 1 is all about bombarding you with the ninja tools you’ll need to make it on this journey. In this
phase, you don’t really learn all that much Japanese. Instead, you’ll learn what you need to know in order
to learn Japanese fast (during Phase 2).
Specifically, we’ll prep you for:
 Pronunciation
 Reading Kana
 Vocab & Kanji
 Listening
 Reference
 Grammar
Sound good? Yoshi! Let’s go!
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Pronouncing Japanese
Before you start studying Japanese, you’ll need to know how it’s pronounced. That way, when you read
something, you’ll think the sound of the words correctly in your mind. It’s the first step to learning any
language. Rather than try to teach you myself, I’ll do what you’ll find me doing for the bulk of this ebook,
which is point you in the direction of the ideal study tools out there.
The first thing I would do is check out some YouTube videos, which can be very good (and free!) for
pronunciation practice. This one isn’t bad, for starters:
YouTube Pronunciation Video

http://goo.gl/4u5Hy
That doesn’t give very much background, though. So you might want to use something that has
accompanying text-based guides. There are a lot of options out there for this, but I recommend
JapanesePod101:
JapanesePod101

http://goo.gl/KDdWm
I’ll explain later in this ebook exactly why I recommend JapanesePod101. I’ll be encouraging you to pick
it up a few more times throughout this book, but doing so is completely optional. For now, it’s worth
mentioning if you want to look up an immediate solution for hearing some good examples of Japanese
pronunciation.
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Reading Japanese
So now you can pronounce Japanese. Sweet! I’m so proud of you.
Before anything else, you’ll need to learn Hiragana and Katakana.
Hiragana and Katakana are not hard to learn. They are both used to represent the sound syllables that
make up the Japanese language. So, for instance, ‘ka’ in hiragana/katakana would be か/カ.
Romaji
The early chapters of any Japanese introductory level book will show you the romaji for Japanese words.
Romaji are roman characters (i.e. the alphabet). So, when I write ‘yama’ instead of 山 or やま, that’s
romaji.
STOP USING ROMAJI RIGHT NOW.
If you study Japanese with romaji you are sabotaging yourself. It’s super-detrimental. You must,
must, must learn at least hiragana and katakana before you study Japanese any longer than a day.
It takes maybe 2-5 days to learn hiragana and katakana, so just go get it over with, ya?
Hiragana & Katakana
There are a number of ways you can pick up hiragana and katakana. For me, I like using flashcards and
web apps for hiragana/katakana. If you’re on your computer, this site (realkana.com) has a good
flashcard system for learning hiragana and katakana. There are also a lot of YouTube videos, which can
help with pronunciation. If you’ve got an iPhone, they have apps for this as well.
If you study them a good amount, you should be able to pick up all of hiragana and katakana within a few
days. Though I haven’t read it personally, James Heisig’s book claims that it can teach you both
Hiragana and Katakana in 3 hours total:








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Remembering the Kana

http://goo.gl/guRYF
If it were anyone but James Heisig, I’d probably be a little suspicious of that claim, but he did write a
pretty awesome Kanji memorization book, which I used religiously when learning the Kanji (and will be
discussing later in this section). For now, let’s get back to hiragana and katakana.
Each of these syllabaries (alphabets) has 46 basic characters (sounds).
Hiragana is usually used to represent Japanese words and grammatical elements (e.g. particles), while
Katakana is usually used for words of foreign origin.
So, for example, sumimasen, which means “sorry” or “excuse me,” would be written in hiragana,
because it’s a word of Japanese origin: すみません (su-mi-ma-se-n).
However, a word like nekutai, which means (get this) “necktie,” would be written in katakana, because
it’s a foreign loan word: ネクタイ (ne-ku-ta-i).
Often these loan words will just be English words with a Japanese pronunciation, like the example just
shown. The cool thing about this is that once you learn katakana, you more or less will have learned to
read thousands of words in Japanese. This is why katakana is a great syllabary to learn if you’re just
going to Japan for a short trip. It will come in handy, I promise.
Now, for your perusal, here are the complete lists of both hiragana and katakana characters:





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Hiragana Chart

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Katakana Chart

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Shark attack those dealskis! I’m sure it will take more than those little snippets and charts in order for
you to master hiragana and katakana, but just be sure that you know them by the end of the first week of
Phase #1.
Week #1 Goals:
 Learn to pronounce Japanese
 Learn Hiragana
 Learn Katakana
This Week #1 prep will be indispensable as you continue throughout the rest of Phase 1.
Vocab Prep
Vocab is a numbers game. Not just that, but it’s the most important thing to study. The funny thing is
that a lot of classes gloss over vocab study, because it’s not exactly suited for group study.
To learn vocab, we’ll use Ninja Tool #1: Anki Flashcards.

Ninja Tool #1: Anki Flashcards

Anki Flashcards are the most important language study tool in this
entire guide. If you’re not going to use Anki, then you can go ahead
and throw this guide in the trash. You can also pretty much forget
about learning Japanese in under a year.
Anki Flashcards are intelligent computer flashcards that adjust
according to what you do and do not remember.
The basic idea is that Anki shows you a flashcard right about when
you will be forgetting it. This means that (1) you don’t waste time
studying things you already know and (2) you do spend time studying
things you’re forgetting.
So, you have a flashcard with something you want to remember, like a Japanese word:
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This is the equivalent of side 1 of any flashcard. Anki only really gets going, though, once you click
“Show Answer.” Then you see the side 2 of the flashcard:
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If I didn’t remember that 結論 (ketsuron) meant “conclusion,” then I would click “Again,” and it would
show me that card again in a few minutes. Or, if I thought it was really easy to remember, I could click
“Very Easy,” and it would wait 7 days before showing me this card again.
At the bottom there, you can see a few numbers:
 13 refers to the number of cards I’ve gotten wrong today.
 3,697 is the number of cards due for review today (this is an old deck I don’t use anymore, which
is why it thinks I’m way behind on my cards!)
 10 is the number of new cards that I’d like to see today
 1.3 days is the amount of time that Anki thinks it will take me to finish today’s allotted study
amount (usually this would say something like “40 minutes,” or another reasonable amount of
time)
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When I first started using Anki, it was quite the undertaking. I was already living in Japan, and I had
1,000+ paper flashcards that I had to transfer over to my newly created Anki flashcard deck. It took
forever! I’m so glad I did it, though. I can only imagine how many of those 1,000+ words I would have
forgotten had I not put them into my Anki deck. Also, I can only imagine how much time I would have
spent reviewing cards that I already had memorized (because they were right next to cards I was good at).
To use Anki:
1. Download it at this website:

http://goo.gl/4REHA
2. Create a new deck for your Japanese Flaschards.
3. Start adding cards.
4. Start reviewing!
For detailed instruction on how to setup and use Anki, there is also a 7-Episode YouTube video series:
1/7
Reviewing and Shared Decks

http://goo.gl/Z65B8

2/7
Adding Materials
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http://goo.gl/GnGh6

3/7
Models and Templates

http://goo.gl/XjS7W

4/7
Browsing and Editing

http://goo.gl/J5ZC1

5/7
Syncing Between Computers
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http://goo.gl/d3Ak1

6/7
Statistics

http://goo.gl/mHnwz

7/7
Japanese Support

http://goo.gl/q0Gpq
Anki is especially useful, because by using it we can track our vocab progress. You can have a clear
understanding of how many vocab words you have memorized, which means that you can track how far
along you are in trying to achieve fluency.
Initially, though, we’re not going to use Anki for vocab. Instead, we’re going to use it for Kanji, in
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conjunction with Ninja Tool #2.
Ninja Tool #2 – Remembering the Kanji
Kanji! It’s endless curves, the way they combine to make words, make meaning of concepts in forms I’d
not thought before, the way writing can be a visual art, the incredible depth and history. I hate them.
They are like the most beautiful, fascinating, insufferable lover.
Kanji is the third of the three pillars of the Japanese writing system (the other two being hiragana and
katakana). The characters are actually Chinese characters that the Japanese began to adopt well over
1,000 years ago. The unique thing about Kanji is that the characters have meaning, as opposed to how
hiragana and katakana are simply used to represent sounds. The other unique thing about them is that
there are thousands of them!
The sheer number of Kanji that must be learned in order to obtain Japanese fluency (JLPT N1) is just
ridiculous. Overwhelming. 2,000 plus! How can we ever hope to do it? How can we, in a year, master
something that Japanese people themselves are expected to learn only by the end of high school? I mean,
look at all of them:
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Ok, sorry. That was cruel. Forget you ever saw that picture. It will seem much less atrocious if you
don’t try to take it all in at once.
I know what I always used to think: Is it possible?
The answer is yes.
But how?!
Well…
There’s a lot of controversy about what’s the best way to learn the Kanji. Some study tools help you
learn them fast. Others help you retain the kanji you’ve memorized for longer periods of time. I’ve
looked into a lot of them. And every kanji study method I have ever come across has huge, gaping flaws.
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A concise, effective kanji study system simply does not exist… yet.
For the last 3 years, I’ve been building a kanji system that should fix this problem. Unfortunately, it’s not
ready yet (I’m sorry!). It’s quite a big project, after all. Still, our kanji shark team hopes to have it
released before the end of 2012. If you sign up on our launch page before it’s released, you’ll never have
to pay for it. Ever. Language should be free (says hypocrite charging for his ebook… again, I’m sorry!).
Anyways, here is our forthcoming site:
KanjiTom

http://KanjiTom.com
Until then, I’ll give you my (next best) kanji learning approach. It worked pretty well for me, so maybe
you’ll like it.
Maybe you’ve heard of James Heisig’s book and kanji study system:
Remembering the Kanji. This one causes quite a few arguments in the
kanji study world.
Remembering the Kanji is a kanji-learning system that Heisig developed
back in the 70’s. Yikes! In most Japanese classes, you learn kanji by
order of usefulness. The problem with this is that some of the most useful
kanji are pretty difficult to memorize. At the same time, some of the less
used kanji are incredibly easy to learn, and they show up as parts of all
kinds of different, more commonly used kanji.
Heisig’s method is essentially the polar opposite of what you do in
Japanese classes. He completely disregards (for the time being, at least)
the usefulness of the kanji and instead presents them in an order ideally
suited for memorizing their writing and meaning only. So, you learn how
to write the kanji and what it means, but you don’t actually know any
Japanese words that use that kanji.
He does this by dividing the kanji into primitive elements. Then, he takes all 2,000 kanji that you need to
learn to read a Japanese newspaper, and he puts them in order of these primitive elements.

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So, for example, 隹 (turkey) + 木 (tree) =集 (gather).
By the time you get to 集 in Remembering the Kanji, you’ve already learned the primitive elements 隹
(turkey) and 木 (tree), so it’s easy to remember 集 if you make a story to help you remember it,
something like, “Turkeys like to gather on top of trees.”
The problem with this? You don’t know that the word for “to gather” in Japanese is 集まる (atsumaru),
even though now is a perfect time to learn it. You don’t know that 木 (ki) is the word for tree. You don’t
know that 隹 is not a word at all, just a common element in many kanji. And Heisig expects you to learn
2,000+ kanji before you go worrying about any of that stuff.
But the benefit is that if you spend 5 minutes focusing on your kanji story for 集, you’re much less likely
to forget it than if you just wrote it 500 times, the way traditional kanji study methods have you do.
Let’s look at the different benefits of the two study methods:
Benefit Heisig Traditional
Easy to memorize


Focus on relevant
kanji

Focus on readings


Faster (short term)


Faster (long term)


Fun (for me)



Looks like we’ve got some problems here. As such, I propose a compromise. I’ll share with you the
method that I used to learn the kanji, a method that I believe to be better than both the traditional and
Heisig methods. There are still some flaws in this approach, flaws that will be addressed when our kanji
learning site is released.
The main flaw with the system that I’m about to present to you is that it requires a substantial initial time
commitment. Not as much of an initial time commitment as the entire Heisig method, but still longer
than I’d like. Here are the steps involved:
1. Get Remembering the Kanji:
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http://goo.gl/qe50C
2. Create a word document with kanji story tables
3. Learn the 508 kanji in parts 1 and 2 of Remembering the Kanji
4. Learn vocab with kanji and primitives
Allow me to explain…
Step #1 – Get Remembering the Kanji
I wish I could have it set up some other way, but if you’re going to follow my kanji study method, you’ll
need to get Heisig’s book. I think you can get used copies of it for pretty cheap on Amazon.com. Get it.
Read the intro.
Step #2 – Create a word document with kanji story tables
You’ll want to create a tabled word document to enter your stories into. It should look like this:

Lucky for you, I’ve already made this word document, and you can download it here:
http://goo.gl/uu4Be
Only took me about 3 years to make that!
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Now, every time you learn/write a new kanji story according to the Heisig method, you must enter it into
your kanji word document.
Disclaimer: Your word document must be typed. If you print and write these, you’ll waste hundreds of
hours building this thing. Seriously. Having this word document be digital is a huge element of this
study method, because you’ll often need to use the find function (CTRL+F on a PC) during Phase 2 of
this mastery plan.
Ok, got your word document all set up? I hope so! That way we can move onto Step #3.
Step #3 - Learn the 508 kanji in parts 1 and 2 of Remembering the Kanji
I’m sorry, because this is going to take a while. This small little step will take up 95% of the time that it
takes to complete Phase 1 of this mastery plan. But, believe me, you will learn the kanji faster than
everyone else by following this method.
For each of the first 508 kanji in parts 1 and 2 of Remembering the Kanji, you need to do two things:
1) Enter the kanji story into your word document
2) Make an Anki flashcard for it
When entering the kanji story, I like to write out three things: (1) the primitives, (2) the story, and (3) a
short mnemonic snippet. Here’s an example:
Column Labels
Meaning Kanji (1) Primitives
(2) Story
(3) Mnemonic
Example
Words
Example Setences RTK#

Word Doc Entry






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Zoomed View

Then, we make a flashcard for the kanji story. Here’s how I like to set up mine:
Adding New Kanji

Then, when Anki brings it up for review, it will look like this:
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Kanji Study Clue

Clicking “Show Answer,” will then show this:






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Kanji Study Answer

(Note: I usually also adjust the font so that the kanji shows up bigger/is easier to read.)
For the time being, don’t worry about adding vocab or any Japanese at all whatsoever. I’m not going to
make you wait until you get through all 2,000+ kanji before you start learning Japanese (like Heisig), but
during Phase 1 incorporating Japanese vocab into your studies will only slow you down, and then you
won’t be able to finish this mastery plan within one year.
Phase 1 cannot be completed until you createflashcards for all 508 kanji in parts 1 and 2 of
Remembering the Kanji. I’m not saying you need to have reviewed and memorized all of these 508 kanji
before completing Phase 1, only that you need to have all of their stories filled out in your Word
document and have Anki flashcards created for every single one of them.
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Make this happen in months 1 & 2.
You can do it! Completing this will graduate you from Phase 1. It’s the Phase 1 Kanji goal, and it should
plague you for no more than 2 months if you study like a shark.
Step #4 – Vocab-Directed Kanji Study
Disclaimer: This is a PREVIEW of Phase 2. You won’t be doing this until you’ve completed all of Phase
1.
For a second, I’ll give you a preview of how this kanji study method will benefit you in Phase 2. You
won’t be doing this for a while, but I thought I should explain now, to keep you motivated during the first
two months while you’re still in Phase 1.
In Phase 2, you’ll begin to study using vocab-directed kanji selection with a twist of Heisig. In other
words, you’ll be using Heisig’s method to learn the kanji that are immediately useful to you. This is the
reason that my kanji study system is the best currently available.
Once you’ve made stories and cards for all of the kanji in parts 1 and 2 of Remembering the Kanji, you’ll
shift your kanji-learning focus so that it’s in order of relevance (the traditional way).
So, say you need to learn a new vocab word, maybe one in your grammar book or that you heard in an
audio lesson. You would find its kanji in Heisig’s book (the fastest way to do this is to type the kanji into
the word search of the word document that I provided you), then go backwards to learn its primitives and
make flashcards for the vocab word, the kanji, each of its kanji primitives, and a vocab word for each
kanji primitive.
That sounds pretty convoluted, I’m sure, so let’s look at an example…
In your daily Japanese adventures you come across the word 青い (aoi), which means “blue” (adj). You
now know that aoi means blue, but you don’t yet know the Kanji for it. You need to make a kanji story!
You open your Kanji word document, and you search for 青.







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Find (CTRL+F)

You find that it’s Frame 1534. So, you look up Frame 1534 in Remembering the Kanji, and you see that
it has two primitives: grow up and moon:
You already know moon (月), because you learned it back in Frame 13 in Part 1 of Remembering the
Kanji. You don’t, however, know this primitive called grow up, because it shows up in Part 3. So you
look in the back of Remembering the Kanji and see that it’s on page 328 (or you use common sense and
realize that it’s on the same page as blue, which you’re already on… 328!).
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That’s between Frames 1530 and 1531, so you go in your kanji Word document and write it in there.

Notice that there is no image for this frame in the document, because it is a primitive, and my Japanese
language pack won’t let me type it. Also, I didn’t write out the whole story that Heisig had for grow up,
instead a just wrote a small snippet that I thought would help me remember.
I learn a kanji story for grow up (in this case, just a pictographic note), and then I make an Anki flashcard
for it.
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I could go look up a shortcode to write that primitive, but really it’s not worth my (or your) time. If I
can’t remember what it looks like, then (1) I have my Remembering the Kanji book for reference and my
Word document, and (2) I must not be spending enough time focusing on my kanji stories/images!
Now that I know all of the primitives for blue, I can write a kanji story for it. So I go to Frame 1534 and
write a story.
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Then I make an Anki flashcard for this kanji story.
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I also make a flashcard for 青い, because that’s the reason I started this whole process in the first place! I
make one card with the Japanese word as a clue and one card with the English meaning as a clue.







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Japanese Word Clue









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English Meaning Clue

It was easy to find an example sentence for this word, because I already had one in my kanji Word
document. Awesome! (I hope you like that little addition. It took me about 3 years to fill that document
with examples!)
Here’s a condensed version of all that stuff we just did:
1. New word (青い)
2. Find in Word doc and check for as-yet unlearned primitives
3. Go find unlearned primitives and make stories and flashcards for them
4. Make story for new kanji (now that all primitives are known)
5. Add flashcard for new kanji
6. Add flashcards for new vocab
That probably sounds super time consuming, right? What’s awesome, though, is that after a while you’ll
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almost always know all the primitives for the kanji (vocab) that you encounter in your affair with the
Japanese language. In other words, after a while you will only need a few minutes to learn any
kanji—and, in turn, any vocab word—and retain it. Just like this:

You’re about to be so pro at kanji. OMG.
All you need to worry about for now is the Phase 1 stuff, though, ok? So:
1. Get Remembering the Kanji
2. Set up your kanji word document
3. Fill in document and flashcards for the 508 kanji in parts 1 and 2 of Remembering the Kanji
Go!
With that out of the way, I’ll let you know the Phase 1 prep stuff we’ll be doing alongside all this kanji
business.
Listening Prep
I call this ‘listening prep,’ but maybe what it should be called is ‘Nihongo Saturation.’
I’m always a little bit shocked by the results of listening practice when studying foreign languages.
Maybe because it’s such a passive method of study—I’m not going after books and new concepts and
writing notes and examples, just receiving instruction, honing my ear for Nihongo—maybe that’s why
I’m always shocked at just how helpful listening practice is when learning a foreign language. It really
works though… if you really do it.
What I mean is, if you want to have listening practice improve your Japanese, then you need to Nihongo-
ify your life. It’s a question of priorities. How bad do you want this? Because you’re going to need to
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stop listening to music. Stop watching TV. We’re trying to do something monumental here. Japanese
fluency in 1 year. It’s almost unheard of for someone who’s self-taught. And it’s only possible with a
little bit of sacrifice.
I have, for your perusal, a video:
How bad do you want it?

http://goo.gl/5Dard
If you’re like I was before I knew Japanese, every day is tinged with a little bit of sadness, sadness that
you don’t have this seemingly impossible thing: Japanese fluency. But if every day you move towards
the achievement of that goal, it can allay that sadness. I bring this up now, because listening practice can
be incredibly inconvenient. We like listening to music. We like watching shows. But achieving goals is
about putting future wants in front of immediate wants. And that means listening to lessons while you eat
breakfast, lunch. It means listening to them while you exercise, drive. Language learning is all about
numbers. The more hours of lessons you listen to, the better your Nihongo will become.
If you do a minimum of 30 minutes of Nihongo listening practice every single day, then you should
achieve JLPT Level N2 listening comprehension after about 1 year.
But what to listen to? For that, we’ve got…
Ninja Tool #3 – JapanesePod101
JapanesePod101 is a lot more than a Japanese podcast. Ya, that’s the main focus, but really it could also
be used for your grammar studies. I didn’t use it for grammar, because by the time I discovered
JapanesePod101, I already knew a lot of Japanese grammar. But I have read quite a few of their lesson
PDF’s, and I think they’ve got a pretty good thing going. For now, though, let’s talk about Japanese
listening lessons.
I truly believe that JapanesePod101 is an indispensable resource for learning Japanese. Rosetta Stone,
Pimsleur, other podcasts—none of them are on the same level as JapanesePod101:

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http://goo.gl/KDdWm
The reason I’m such a die-hard supporter of JapanesePod101 is that, after a while, their lessons get to be
very advanced. I still listen to them every day. And every time I listen to them I learn something super
awesome and useful.
I feel a little strange recommending a study program that costs money, but luckily JapanesePod101 is
pretty cheap. I definitely don’t regret purchasing it for myself. Still, if you’re not willing to pay, you can
still find some good, free podcasts through iTunes, though they’re unlikely to be as structured or helpful
as JapanesePod101.
The most important part of Phase 1 listening prep is just that you Nihongo-ify your life. You’ll be
amazed at how much your comprehension increases with constant listening practice.
If you’re going to go with JapanesePod101, then you should download all of the lessons for a given level,
then put them on your computer, phone/mp3 player, and/or burn them onto CD’s. You want to make it as
easy as possible to have them playing when you’re available for listening. There was a time that I didn’t
have hookups to listen to my mp3 player in the car, and I had to burn hundreds of JapanesePod101
lessons onto CD’s so that I could listen to them on my way to work. And I’m so glad I did!
It helps if you only download one level at a time. This keeps them from getting mixed up by your
smartphone or mp3 player. So, maybe start with ‘Absolute Beginner Lessons’ or ‘Newbie Lessons.’
Listen to them. Then maybe listen to them again at 2x speed. Then, when you feel you’re picking up
everything that’s being said, move onto the next level. There’s always more to listen to.
Good? Ok, let’s move on. Hang in there; we’ve only got two Phase 1 preps left! And this next one
won’t require any studying at all. Awesome, ya?
Reference Prep
It may sound a little bit strange to prep your Japanese references, but when it comes time to use them, it’ll
be nice to learn exactly where to turn. This section has 3 Ninja Tools. Get excited!
Ninja Tool #4 – Jisho.org
You may already know this, but if we’re going to become fluent, we’re probably going to need to look up
a couple of words in a Japanese-English dictionary.
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Here’s the thing, though:
Do not buy a paper dictionary.
Waste of trees. Waste of space. Waste of your time.
Instead, use Jisho.org. Here’s why: When you need to look up a word, you also need to make a flashcard
for it, and you also need to add it to your kanji Word document. Jisho.org is awesome because (1) it’s
easy and fast to look up words, (2) most words also have example sentences with translation, and (3) you
can click to see the kanji that make up every word on Jisho.org, and the kanji page tells you what number
the kanji is in Remembering the Kanji… meaning it’s super fast to add it to your word document and see
what primitives it has!
Jisho.org

http://jisho.org/

Kanji Page in Jisho.org

To find the Remembering the Kanji number of a kanji, you would go to a page like the one shown above
on Jisho.org, then scroll down until you see this:
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Towards the bottom you can see the Remembering the Kanji index number, which is 1534, for Frame
1534: blue.
Though I don’t want to interfere too much with your life (like I’m not already with this hardcore study
plan!), you might want to make Jisho.org the homepage in your web browser… at least, until
Nihongoshark.com officially launches! Having your email as your homepage is pretty much just asking
the world to distract you. Same goes for Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. You’re Nihongo-ifying your
life, remember? Which means Nihongo comes first. Those other sites are distractions. They’re already
pulling you away from productivity, from fluency. Don’t make it any easier for them!
Oh, and if you haven’t yet set up your computer to handle Japanese, here’s a little guide:





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Using Japanese on Your Computer

http://goo.gl/m5tPJ
Speaking of getting Japanese onto your computer screen, you should also get…
Ninja Tool #5 – Rikaichan
Rikaichan is a browser plugin that helps you to browse the internet in Japanese. Once it’s installed, you
can scroll over any Japanese words you see online, and their meaning and kanji will pop up, like this:

Awesomeness! Even with Rikaichan, it’ll probably be pretty painful to browse the internet in Japanese, at
least until the end of year one (i.e. this mastery plan). Hopefully it will come in handy, though!





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Rikaichan

http://goo.gl/Cjc41
In all honesty, I don’t use my computer to look up random words that often, as I’m lucky enough to have
a smartphone, and I’m often looking words up on the go.
Ninja Tool #6 – Smartphone Apps
I only use two apps for Japanese. Not many, but I use them all the time.
My #1 Nihongo App: Anki flashcards.
In line at the grocery store, waiting for my food to come out at a restaurant, getting my oil changed,
waiting for my girlfriend to finish her makeup, sitting in the dentist’s waiting room, on planes, trains,
buses, at the beach, in bed when I can’t sleep—I’m always doing my Anki flashcards on my iPhone. I’ve
already logged hundreds of hours of studying on my Anki app.
Anki iPhone app

http://goo.gl/tP4IY
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There’s only one problem with the Anki app: the iPhone one is $25! Most expensive app I’ve ever paid
for. Actually, only app I’ve ever paid for.
It couldn’t be helped. By the time the smartphone app came out, my main Anki study deck already had
3,000+ cards! My thinking is that the dozens of hours it’s always saving me through accelerated learning
is worth well over $25. Still, ouch.
My #2 Nihongo App: Kotoba!
I love Jisho.org, but they don’t have an app (though their mobile site is pretty solid). So, for looking
words up on my phone, I usually use Kotoba. The problem with Kotoba! is that it’s only on the iPhone,
though. Sorry, other smartphone users.





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Kotoba!

http://goo.gl/lIwVb

That’s about it for smartphone apps. I’d recommend some study games, but I’ve yet to come across any
that are actually a productive use of my study time.
Grammar Prep
Japanese fluency grammar preparation. Wow, that sounds terrifying. Guess what, though? Phase 1
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grammar prep only takes like 5 minutes. All you’ve got to do for grammar in Phase 1 is pick out which
grammar study tool you’re going to use in Phase 2.
Now, there are a ton of great grammar resources for Japanese. After all, grammar is straightforward. Ya,
sometimes it’s a little bit backwards for what we English speakers are used to, but it’s at least clear cut.
And it’s well-suited for books.
My preferred approach is to pick out a course for my grammar studies before beginning. This is mainly
because so many Japanese grammar book series have only one volume. In other words, they always end
before you can progress to an advanced level. Good, advanced Japanese grammar books are hard to come
by. I’m guessing it must be because so many of us foreigners start learning Japanese, but we rarely
progress to anything vaguely resembling an advanced skill level… without going to Japan or majoring in
Japanese at a 4-year university. And even that fails sometimes. My experience leads me to believe the
array of grammar resources is something like this:

It probably won’t get too advanced, but we want a grammar series with at least two volumes. The
options aren’t that extensive, but here are a few I’ve come across…
Ninja Study Tool #7 – Bunpou Books
Bunpou = 文法 = 文 (sentence) + 法 (method) = the method of sentences = grammar!
#1 – JapanesePod101 PDF’s
Ok, so Bunpou Book #1 isn’t a book at all. The thing I love about the PDF’s JapanesePod101 publishes
is that they get super advanced. It makes sense: they have a PDF for every audio lesson, and they have
hundreds and hundreds of audio lessons… which means hundreds and hundreds of grammar study PDF’s.
Beginner's Grammar Intermediate Grammar Advanced Grammar Japanese-Language
Books
Number of Awesome Books
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Here are a couple of images taken from a lesson PDF of theirs:

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My main issue with using JapanesePod101 as a grammar study tool is probably the lack of concise,
attached practice material. I think that this makes it, perhaps, a better grammar study tool once you’ve
already completed a couple of standard grammar textbooks, the kind with workbooks and example after
example, the kind like numbers 2 & 3.
#2 – The Genki Series
Genki has a special place in my heart. This one’s pure nostalgia. It was my first encounter with the
Japanese language. I still have my workbooks. Looking through them, you can sort of sense the thrill
with which I was filling in these examples. Every answer written out completely, each character so neat,
each stroke made with care, caution. I was opening the gates to a new world, a world where I sit for five
minutes contemplating the history of the word ‘teaspoon,’ because the Japanese word for teaspoon has the
character for tea(茶) in it! What does tea have to do with a teaspoon? And how did it cross all those
miles to mean that for such geographically distant people?!
Ok, I’ll stop. If you’re reading this, you’re probably already plenty fascinated by Japanese.
If you do decide to go with the Genki series, you’ll be looking at these books:


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a) Genki I
 Text (http://goo.gl/iSbT1)

 Workbook (http://goo.gl/YXVBW)










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b) Genki II
 Text (http://goo.gl/y6sFm)

 Workbook (http://goo.gl/HT7Na)










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c) Intermediate Japanese
 Text (http://goo.gl/Y1BjU)

 Workbook (http://goo.gl/8LKED )

Take a look at some reviews. Or better, flip through them at a college bookstore (they probably won’t
have good textbooks at a regular bookstore). Compare them with some other grammar books. Maybe
compare them with…
#3 – The Minna no Nihongo Series
When I first used Minna no Nihongo, I thought it sucked. I was at an international Japanese language
academy in Tokyo, and there was no English in the books! But then I came across the English versions of
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Minna no Nihongo, and they actually look pretty helpful. Take a look:
a) Minna no Nihongo I
 Text (http://goo.gl/274Og)


 English Translation (http://goo.gl/Shv6E)










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b) Minna no Nihongo II
 Text (http://goo.gl/DQPuH)


 English Translation (http://goo.gl/reTMC)

#4 – The Japanese Grammar Dictionary Series
Warning: Do not use these books as a grammar study course. These books are meant to be used as
references. Only crazy people with too much time to study read these books from cover to cover (in other
words, me). But you might want to go ahead and get them, if you can find them, because it’s great to be
able to look up a grammar item you’ve come across, which all other grammar books are really bad for.
I would put these in the reference section, but really they are a supplement to the grammar study
curriculum you choose. Since we don’t have a classroom, we’ll often need a different way of explaining
a grammar concept in order for us to understand it, and these books are really useful for that, thanks to
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their ordered, detailed indexes.
I’m a grammar nerd, so I love these books.
a) A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar

http://goo.gl/3wCNw

b) A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar

http://goo.gl/44DKa







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c) A Dictionary of Advanced Japanese Grammar

http://goo.gl/D3Kb1
#5 – Books You Should NOT Use
This mastery plan is all about saving time, and there are a lot of grammar books that will cost you more
time than you need to spend. That’s why I recommend starting with a grammar book series. If it only
has one volume, if they sell it at Barnes and Noble or another major chain, if it has a fun twist (e.g. learn
grammar by reading manga), then be very careful. These books may teach you some useful stuff, but
you’ll probably end up restudying that same stuff when you’re forced to switch to a different grammar
book series, one that progresses to intermediate and advanced levels.
One Last Thing
Congratulations!
Don’t ever forget to congratulate yourself for each step of your journey to Nihongo mastery. You did
something great when you decided to learn Japanese. You did something great when you got a hold of
this ebook. And you did something great by reading all the way through Phase 1… which you just did!
That’s right. Phase 1 complete! Well, you’ve still got to do the work laid out in Phase 1, but I’m happy
to say that you now know everything you’re going to need to do in months 1 and 2 in order to become a
master of Japanese this year. Let’s take a condensed look at your Phase 1 Goals:
Phase #1 - Checklist
 Learn Japanese pronunciation
 Learn Hiragana
 Learn Katakana
 Set up your Anki flashcard deck
 Get Remembering the Kanji
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 Set up your Kanji Word document
 Learn up to Kanji #508 in Remembering the Kanji (Parts 1&2)
 Type all stories into Word document
 Make flashcards for every Kanji and primitive
 Get your listening lesson study tools (podcasts)
 Bookmark Jisho.org (and maybe make it your homepage)
 Install Rikaichan in your web browser
 Download smartphone apps (if applicable)
 Pick (and purchase) your grammar study materials
 Be excited about life
 Don’t let this list intimidate you
Sounds like a lot, but you can do all of this in under 2 months. Really, you can. I believe in you!
If you can complete all the things in this list, then in only a couple of months you will have developed
some serious fluency super powers. You’ll be prepped to Great White Shark attack the Japanese
language. You’ll be prepped for Phase 2!
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Phase 2 – Fluency Foundation


The sole purpose of Phase 1 was to prepare you for Phase 2. This phase will take up the bulk of your first
year’s Japanese studies. Assuming you’ve made it through Phase 1, you’ve already entered over 500
kanji into your Word document and made Anki flashcards for each of them. You’ve already switched out
all of your music and TV shows for Japanese podcasts. You’ve already set up your computer to avoid
distractions and help you learn Japanese. You’ve already got a stack of grammar study materials just
waiting for you to dive into them. You’ve already laid all the groundwork necessary in order for you to
become fluent in Japanese at an incredible rate.
I’m just going to warn you now: It will be incredibly hard to make it through Phase 2 without hitting any
major speed bumps. It’s difficult, because it’s going to require that you study—and complete—certain
items every single day. No weekends off. No holidays. No exceptions.
It will require an enormous amount of discipline. Because of this, you may want to adjust the daily goals
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that I’ve set out here to match what you feel comfortable doing. Only you know how much time you can
truly dedicate to your Japanese studies on a day-to-day basis. I can tell you one thing, though, a principle
that is underlying every page of this book: No one becomes fluent in a language by studying
intermittently.
Phase 2—actually, this entire mastery plan—utilizes the ‘don’t break the chain’ system. Here’s an article
about how this system works:
Don’t Break the Chain Article

http://goo.gl/g4y9a
The general idea is that you buy or print a monthly calendar, and each day you have a few recurring tasks
that you must do. And if you manage to complete all of the required tasks for day, then you put a big X
over that day in your calendar. If you only complete 2 out of 3 tasks, then you’re not allowed to put an X,
and your calendar will have an ugly gap in its chain of X’s. So, you would have a calendar that looks
something like this:
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And you would keep putting X’s for every day that you completed your daily ‘chain items.’
I like to think of the ‘don’t break the chain,’ of Phase 2, as a kind of reward system. Each day’s small
amount of studying is building to something grand and magnificent: Total fluency. But it’s hard to keep
that vision in mind. We humans are weak creatures, prone to favoring immediate wants over future wants.
I’m going to start studying tomorrow. I’m going to start losing weight on New Year’s Day. Goals like
these are fun, because we get to imagine ourselves achieving them without actually doing anything right
now. Then, a year later, we end up in the same spot we were in before… and it sucks!
We can beat this by rewarding ourselves with those X’s on our calendar, by building a chain.
For the duration of Phase 2, our ‘chain’ has 3 items:




1) Flashcards (vocab and Kanji)
2) Listening practice
3) Grammar study
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I’ll get into more detail on each one in just a second, but I’ll warn you that this chain will require a
minimum of 1 hour per day. Probably more like 1.5-2 hours per day if you take your time studying.
First, I’ll tell you more about what each chain item entails, then we’ll work on your strategy for achieving
this plan. Let’s get started!
Chain Item #1 – Flashcards (Vocab and Kanji)
This is by far the most important item in the chain. Actually, this is the most important item in this
entire study plan. For your flashcards, you’ll always have to do two things: study and build.
‘Building’ refers to adding new words, kanji, and primitives to your Anki flashcard deck.
‘Studying’ refers to memorizing those cards by using Anki. There are two kinds of cards that you can
study in an Anki deck: (1) new cards and (2) cards due for review.
The reason I say that these flashcards are so important to focus on in your studies is, first and foremost,
that they can help you retain words and kanji at an extremely accelerated rate. However, there is also
another reason we need to focus on them: It’s very easy to fall behind on your Anki flashcards. You pick
an ambitious number of new cards to study each day. You keep up just fine, but then you start having a
hard time keeping up with all the cards that Anki is telling you are due for review on a daily basis, and
before you know it you have 5,000 cards due for review today, a number you’ll never reach, and you’ve
removed the intelligence from your ‘intelligent flashcards.’ Do not fall behind on your Anki flashcards.
If you fall behind on your Anki flashcards, you will not learn Japanese in 1 year. So, if you notice
you’re starting to fall behind on these, you’ll need to make it your #1 priority to get caught up at whatever
means necessary.
As I said, there are two kinds of Anki flashcards: new and review cards. It should be pretty easy to meet
your flashcard quota in the beginning stages of Phase 2, because you won’t have yet accumulated all that
many cards that are due for review. However, a few months down the line, you may have a couple
hundred cards that are due for review, which could take an hour or more to get through. If you happen to
break the chain on that day, then the next day you’d have an even higher number of cards due, enough to
take up to an hour and a half. Then, all of a sudden, you’ve got over 1,000 cards due today, and you
simply stop studying them… which means you stop learning kanji and vocab at an accelerated rate, which
means you stop making progress to Japanese fluency.
This is why we make our flashcard quotas our #1 study priority.
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You will probably fall behind on them, at least at some point during the year. One time, when I had just
moved back from Japan, I let my flashcards get away from me, and before I knew it, Anki told me I had
over 4,000 cards due one day. Ouch. It took me months to catch up on those, and it’s something I don’t
ever want to let happen again. So, keep all of this in mind when you lay out your daily flashcard goals, as
you read the standard goals I’ve laid out for this mastery plan, especially if you plan to increase my
suggested flashcard numbers.
Building Your Anki Deck
You won’t have any flashcards to study unless you are regularly adding more to your Anki flashcard deck.
New cards will consist of two types: vocab and kanji.
Every time you come across a new vocab word or phrase, you must add it to your flashcard deck. You
should never come across a Japanese word and not know its meaning more than one time. On top
of this, every time you add a vocab word to your flashcard deck, you also need to learn the kanji that
make up that word.
Say you came across the word 花(hana), “flower.” Before you go adding it to your flashcard deck, you
need to learn its kanji. To learn its kanji, you learn its primitives. So you take a look at your Word
document, and you find that 花 is Frame #1009 in Remembering the Kanji. Looking at your
Remembering the Kanji book, you see that 花 has two primitives: flower and change. You then go and
make stories for these primitives (if you haven’t already), and you make a story for 花, and you type all of
these stories into your Word document and then enter all of these kanji and primitives into your Anki
flashcard deck.
Yikes.
Needless to say, this is going to be pretty time consuming at first, and the reason is that you won’t yet
know very many Remembering the Kanji primitives. That’s why for the first few months, you don’t want
to overwhelm yourself with high study goals. Once you’ve made it through a few months of this, you’ll
almost always know all the primitives of any kanji you come across, which means you’ll be memorizing
kanji—and increasing your vocab—very, very quickly.
Until then, let’s keep our New Words per day Study quota pretty low.
(By the way, the process of adding new cards to your deck is explained in more detail in Phase 1, if you
recall.)
Studying New Cards
There are two concerns when we finally decide how many new cards we are going to see each day in our
Anki deck: (1) how much can we handle on a daily basis, and (2) how much do we want to learn by the
end of Year #1?
I came up with a New Cards Goal Schedule that should result in the following by the end of Year 1:
 2,000+ vocab words memorized
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 1,500+ kanji memorized
That should put us in a pretty solid spot as far as fluency achievement goes.
Now, here’s the flashcard schedule we’ll need to follow in order to make that happen. First, I’ll talk
about how many words we want to learn per day, and then I’ll explain how many flashcards that should
translate to, approximately. Here’s the schedule I propose for new vocab words added to the Anki deck
each day:
Month #
New
Words per
Day
New
Words per
Month
(est.)
Total
Words
Learned
1 Kanji only Kanji only Kanji only
2 Kanji only Kanji only Kanji only
3 5 150 150
4 5 150 300
5 7 210 510
6 7 210 720
7 7 210 930
8 8 240 1,170
9 8 240 1,410
10 10 300 1,710
11 10 300 2,010
12 10 300 2,310

The reason I didn’t list months 1 and 2 as having any new words to learn is that you’ll still be in Phase 1,
and the only cards you’ll be adding are for the kanji in parts 1 and 2 of Remembering the Kanji.
Then, in Month #3, we begin Phase 2 and start making vocab flashcards. Keep in mind that these are not
numbers for how many flashcards you will study each day/month. I’m simply saying that you should be
adding at least this many vocab words to your deck each day if you want to be sure that your flashcard
deck grows at a sufficient pace for you to learn, according to this plan, 2,000+ vocab words within 1 year
of studying. If that’s confusing, hang in there, because it should become clearer once I explain your New
Cards Study Quota.
New Cards Study Quota
We’ve decided how many words we need to learn each month if we’re going to learn 2,000+ vocab in
Year 1. However, we still need to figure out how many new cards we’ll need to study in order to learn
that many words.
Our vocab study plan has us learning 2,310 words by the end of Month #12. Because of this, we know
that we’ll need to learn a minimum of 4,620 cards (2,310*2). We have to double the number of cards,
because for each vocab word we need to have a card where we see the English meaning and guess the
Japanese word (and its kanji!), and we need a card where we see the Japanese word and need to guess the
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English meaning. So, if we were going to make vocab cards for the word 単語 (tango), which is the
Japanese word for “vocab,” we’ll first make a card like this:

And then we’ll make a card like this:
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By studying our vocab like this, in both directions, we’ll be able to increase our retention. Great!
Only one problem with all of this, though: We don’t take kanji into account. Since we’re going to
become Kanji Shark Masters in Year 1, we’re going to learn every kanji for every vocab word we come
across. This means we’ll be studying a lot more kanji than words in the early stages and a lot more words
than kanji in the later months.
Using the last example, we would already know both the kanji 単 and 語, because they’re both Phase 1
kanji. So we don’t have to do anything other than adding the vocab cards to our Anki deck. However,
had we not yet studied one of those kanji, then we would have had to (1) add it to the Word document
(including any unlearned primitives), then (2) make a flashcard for it.
It’s a little bit hard to say how many kanji you’re going to learn by studying 2,310 vocab words. Really,
it depends on the words. Instead, we’ll just estimate based off of how many kanji we want to learn in
Year 1. I’d say between 1,500 and 2,000 is a good goal, as far as fluency goes. So, let’s add 1,500 cards
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to our Year 1 flashcard total.
This means we’ve got:
4,620 vocab cards (2,310 words *2)
+ 1,500 kanji
6,120 cards in Year 1
In order to get through 6,120 new flashcards in months 3-10, we’d need to study roughly 20 new cards
per day. So, for Anki, let’s set our new cards per day number at 20:

As you can also see from this image, personally I like to have my new cards show in random order and to
spread out my new cards through reviews.
Now all we need to do is make sure that we study everything Anki tells us we need to study, while always
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adding new words and kanji to our deck as we come across them in our studies. This means that our
actual study numbers will look something like the following chart:
Month
#
New
words
added to
deck per
day
(estimate)
New
cards
studied
per day
Old cards reviewed per
day
1 Kanji only 0 N/A
2 Kanji only 0 N/A
3 5 20 Varies (Anki will tell you)
4 5 20 Varies (Anki will tell you)
5 7 20 Varies (Anki will tell you)
6 7 20 Varies (Anki will tell you)
7 7 20 Varies (Anki will tell you)
8 8 20 Varies (Anki will tell you)
9 8 20 Varies (Anki will tell you)
10 10 20 Varies (Anki will tell you)
11 10 20 Varies (Anki will tell you)
12 10 20 Varies (Anki will tell you)

If we follow this study plan, we will learn 2,000+ vocab words and 1,500+ kanji. We only need to make
sure we do a handful of things:
Flashcard Checklist
Phase #1 (Months 1-2)
 Enter all kanji from Parts 1 & 2 of Remembering the Kanji into your Word document
 Create flashcards for every Phase 1 Kanji & primitive
Phase #2 (Months 3-12)
 Study 20 new cards every day
 Study all cards due for review every day (Anki will decide this number)
 Add new words/kanji every day
o (This number is 5 words/day at first, but then it changes as you progress)
That’s it. Study your flashcards like this, and you will know a lot of Japanese by the end of Year 1.
Make sure that you spend more time on going over this part of the book than any other. These
flashcards will be the key to learning Japanese in 1 year. When you start your day’s studies, always
start with your flashcards, particularly with the ones Anki says you must study that day. Everything else
is second to your flashcards. Everything.
ガンバッテ!
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Chain Item #2 – Listening Practice
Each day of Phase 2, once you’ve finished reviewing your flashcards, you can move onto studying Chain
Items 2 & 3, listening and grammar. These items will probably get quite enmeshed with part of your
flashcard approach, because listening and grammar practice will serve as a source for new words to add to
your Anki deck and new kanji to study. Still, you should not study listening and grammar until
you’ve studied all of the new and review flashcards on Anki for a given day. You don’t ever want to
risk missing a day of new and review flashcards, because it will jeopardize this entire mastery plan. It’s
not the end of the world if you go a day without studying listening and/or grammar. It is the end of the
world if you go a day without doing your flashcards.
Sorry if I’m being repetitive, but I’ve felt the sting of not following this advice, of not prioritizing my
Anki flashcards, and it literally stalled my Japanese language progression by months.
With all that flashcard business aside, then, let’s talk about listening practice.
Chain Item #2 is great, because it’s so simple: 1 audio lesson per day, minimum.
As you know, I prefer JapanesePod101, but occasionally I’ll also throw in a lesson by Beb and Alex (not
as good for beginners) or one of the 100 other Japanese podcasts out there.
JapanesePod101

http://goo.gl/KDdWm
Beb and Alex

http://goo.gl/qY0Wz

Disclaimer: Anime is not listening practice. It’s not a form of study at all. It is, however, a fun way to
notice your progress, as by the end of 1 year you’ll understand quite a lot of your favorite shows.
I achieve my daily 1 lesson quota without even setting aside any extra time for listening practice. Instead
of listening to music in my car, I listen to Japanese lessons. Also, if I’m alone, I’ll listen to a lesson or
two while I eat lunch or dinner. That’s all! Listening is by far the easiest part of this study plan, because
all you do is press play and, well, listen! And somehow, magically enough, this makes you better at
Japanese. You should start to notice drastic improvement in your listening comprehension after the first
month of Phase 2 (in other words, after you’ve listened to an audio lesson per day, every day, for an entire
month). Then you get to look forward to your comprehension level after a whole year!
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Ok, time for a confession: I don’t do the ideal kind of study for listening practice. You will actually learn
a lot more if you listen to audio lessons while writing down new words and concepts that they go over,
and then making flashcards for each of them immediately after that. The main reason I don’t do this is
that I do the majority of my listening practice while driving. And, surprisingly, driving is not very
conducive to note taking. So, if you have the time, maybe go ahead and take notes while you listen to
your audio lessons, then make flashcards immediately after. You’ll learn faster than I did if you study
that way!
I’m talking about listening practice in Phase 2, but since listening is not really an intrusive study method,
you can actually start it in Phase 1. You can start right now! You need to learn pronunciation in Phase 1
anyways, and the early lessons of JapanesePod101 and a lot of other podcasts can help you out with that
quite a lot. This means that our checklist looks something like this:
Listening Practice Checklist
Phase #1 (Months 1-2)
 Download listening lessons/podcasts
 Listen to lessons in your free time
 Master pronunciation
Phase #2 (Months 3-12)
 1 listening lesson per day, minimum
Before we move onto grammar, there’s one last thing I want to say about audio lessons: Do not buy them
at a bookstore. I like JapanesePod101 and free podcasts, because they’re worth your time (especially
taking money into account). I’ve also heard good things about Pimsleur, though it seems a little
expensive to me. But those listening CD’s that they sell in the language section of major bookstores are
not worth your time, and they’re especially not worth your money. Don’t buy them! They won’t get
even close to the advanced level that we’re aiming for in this mastery plan. Rosetta Stone, when I used it
for Japanese years ago, was also pretty limited. I have heard that their Japanese product has improved,
but I still have a hard time believing it’s worth the amount of money that they charge for it.
Ok, we’re almost done. We’re almost done! Our fluency foundation is almost complete!
Chain Item #3 – Grammar Practice
Back in Phase 1, you chose the study materials that you’d use for your grammar practice. Now it’s Phase
2, and it’s time to bust them out!
This chain item is also super simple: 15 minutes per day of grammar study, minimum.
Don’t worry about doing five pages a day or two chapters a week or one grammar book per month. That
stuff doesn’t work. Or, I should say, that stuff has never worked for me (at least, not in the long term).
Some grammar concepts take longer to learn than others. Some you’ll pick up effortlessly. Or maybe
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you’ll get enraptured with some fascinating dialogue in Chapter 2 of your Genki I book. I don’t know the
probability of that, but you never know.
The ‘don’t break the chain’ approach is perfect for grammar. Don’t worry about how much material
you’ve gotten through, just be sure to dedicate a little bit of time each day, and you’ll learn a lot. Sounds
easier than our flashcards, where we do have to worry about how much we get through, right?
Grammar Checklist
Phase #1 (Months 1-2)
 Pick your grammar study tools
 Chill out
Phase #2 (Months 3-12)
 Study for 15 minutes every day
Chain complete! Now we know everything that we need to do in Phase #2 in order to become true
Nihongo Sharks:
Phase #2 Daily Study Plan
1) Vocab
 Study 20 new Anki flashcards
 Study all review cards due in Anki
 Add minimum number (variable) of new words and kanji to Anki deck
2) Listening
 1 full audio lesson, minimum
3) Grammar
 Study for 15 minutes, minimum
Do your flashcards. Listen to your audio lesson. Study grammar for 15 minutes. Every day.
Swim, swim, swim. You are crossing an ocean.






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Phase #2 Complete!!

(Image source: Blabyloo229)
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Phase 3 – Go Jouzu

Phase #3 begins at the end of Year #1. Maybe if you hit some speed bumps it will take a little over a year
to complete Phase 2. Or maybe you’re a study master, and you’ll get to Phase 3 in 8 months. Whatever
the case, reaching Phase 3 is an occasion for celebration. If you’ve made it this far, then your mind is
super prepped for fluency. You are officially Jouzu.
Jouzu = 上手 = “skilled; good (at)” = 上 (above) + 手 (hand) = upper hand = pro status; shark ninja-esque
= something Japanese people will tell you that you are the second you learn to say Konnnichiwa, but a
distinction that you won’t feel is deserving until you’ve done a ridiculous amount of studying.
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Reached Goals
Getting to Phase 3 means that you’ve accomplished some seriously amazing goals:
 2,000+ vocab words
 1,500+ kanji
 300+ audio lessons
Honestly, that is amazing. People should buy you presents when you make it to Phase 3. They should
give you high-fives and tell you that you are downright inspiring… and awesome at Japanese.
You will feel differently, though.
Truth is, language learning is a drug. You will want more. You will not be satisfied. “Great,” you’ll
think, “I know a lot of Japanese. But I don’t feel comfortable reading a novel. I’ve never had a deep,
hours-long conversation in Japanese. I can’t yet pass the JLPT Level N1 Exam.” And that’s why we
need Phase 3.
Up until now, I’ve been throwing the word ‘fluent’ around quite recklessly. I’ll be honest, though: I think
‘fluency’ is a meaningless concept. It’s messy, indefinable. Even now, people ask me if I’m fluent in
Japanese, and I don’t feel comfortable answering (You’ll notice that most people who ask you this are
rarely fluent in another language). So how do you answer? If I’m being honest, then, ya, I’m probably
fluent. But I’m not satisfied. I’m not native-level. And so it feels somehow wrong to call myself fluent,
though I may be. That’s why I propose, if you make it this far in your studies, that you forget about
fluency. Think instead about what you want from Japanese. It’s not a numbers game anymore. It’s about
communication, the beauty of human interaction. And it’s time for a focus shift.
Focus Shift
Phase 3 is when your Japanese studies will really start to get fun, because it’s finally time to branch out
into your interests. Finally, after all that work. There are 3 elements to Phase 3, appropriately enough:
1) Continue your Phase 2 Plan
2) Start Speaking
3) Start Reading & Writing
Focus Shift #1 - Continue Year 1 Studying
Ya, sorry, but Focus Shift #1 isn’t much of a shift.
Maybe you won’t add as many words to your Anki deck per day. Maybe you’ll start playing around with
some more topical grammar books. But one thing is absolutely mandatory:
Flashcards
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You must continue to review every flashcard that is due in your Anki deck every day.
Memory is a tricky thing, and these words and kanji are always in danger of slipping away from you.
You can lighten the number of new cards per day so that it’s less than 20, but you must keep up with the
cards that are due for review each day. As much as flashcards are a key to learning, they are also a key to
not forgetting. Actually, that’s the whole purpose of flashcards, isn’t it?
Listening
Listening practice is a little more negotiable. You might want to start incorporating some Japanese music
or Japanese-only podcasts into your audial life. Or maybe you’ll be addicted to JapanesePod101 like me
and progress forward into their more advanced lessons.
Have a little fun. Enjoy yourself. But don’t completely erase listening practice form your life.
Grammar
This is my favorite part of Phase 3. Since your grammar study materials no longer need to be part of a
series, you’re free to pick up all kinds of random grammar topic study materials. There’s so much nuance
and fun that you can tap into in your Japanese studies, and this is your chance to do it. Here are some
examples (I’ve only read some of these, but I plan to read as many as I can find time for):


http://goo.gl/TVJMV
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http://goo.gl/YiZk1


http://goo.gl/G41WJ
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http://goo.gl/bGypW


http://goo.gl/0aoAg
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http://goo.gl/OJRcv


http://goo.gl/ANUh2
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http://goo.gl/eB0cL


http://goo.gl/IJv9A
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http://goo.gl/ALgXQ


http://goo.gl/c3uW6
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http://goo.gl/odFlC


http://goo.gl/MXRBK
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http://goo.gl/d5o8q


http://goo.gl/2wbP9

Disclaimer: Though we’re talking about tapping into all kinds of fun study materials, you should still be
making flashcards for every new word and kanji that you come across. Never see a word and not know
it’s meaning more than once. If you’re not incorporating your flashcards, you’re not studying.
Consider the following graph:
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To recap:
 Rule #1 – Keep doing flashcards
 Rule #2 – Have fun learning more Japanese!
Focus Shift #2 – Start Speaking
The second element to Phase 3 is to get out there and start using this language that you’ve been studying
for the last year.
I expect that one of the biggest issues that naysayers will have with this mastery plan is that it doesn’t
incorporate speaking Japanese until after an entire year of study. So perhaps I should clarify…
You can start speaking Japanese from Day #1 of this mastery plan. I would never discourage speaking
practice of a foreign language. My position, instead, is that you cannot consider speaking practice to be
one of your study methods until you reach Phase 3. You cannot substitute speaking practice for the vocab,
kanji, listening, and grammar practice you do in Phase 2.
Speaking definitely teaches a lot, but it is best if utilized as a supplement to an intensive study program.
Then, once you have a good Japanese foundation (i.e. after Phase #2), it becomes a fantastic study
practice. Not only that, but there is a point (Phase 3!) when speaking practice becomes absolutely
essential to mastering Japanese. Phase 2 taught you how to form sentences in Japanese, fill them with
words, sound them out. Speaking teaches you to form ideas in Japanese.
Make some friends online, on Facebook, Twitter, Mixie, Skype, etc. Get a job at a Japanese restaurant,
look for Japanese Meetup groups. Then start talking. You’ll begin by feeling you don’t know Japanese at
all. Then, after a couple of weeks (thanks to Phase 2!), people will start to tell you that you’re fluent.
Stalking People on Facebook Studying Without Flashcards Studying With Flashcards
Amount of Nihongo Learned
(arranged by study method)
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And it’s so thrilling to be at this level. You’ll want more. You’ll want to keep studying.
Focus Shift #3 – Start Reading and Writing
Really, this one will likely merge a bit with the speaking element, because you’ll be typing and reading
text when you converse on a lot of those social sites mentioned above. But it will also be helpful if you
start reading some actual Japanese texts and writing some of your thoughts down.
Reading
For reading, you might want to start with the Read Real Japanese books. I’m pretty impressed with these
books, and they should be a great aid to your reading comprehension. They might be a little difficult, but
no worries: We have no time limits on Phase 3. Take your time. Enjoy yourself.
Disclaimer: If you’re going to read manga, be careful with what you repeat, as a lot of manga contain
dialogue that is actually incredibly rude when used in real life.
Writing
I have another confession: This is one element of studying that I’m really bad at sticking to. I’m all about
measuring productivity, and that’s not an easy thing to do when writing in Japanese. Why? Because it
takes a long time to write only a so-so amount of text. So I always feel like I’m getting nowhere. There’s
no denying it, though: Writing will make you better at Japanese. It makes you form ideas (like speaking
does), and it also makes you study vocab and kanji (like reading does).
The only way I ever make progress with writing is if I put it into a time-based ‘don’t break the chain’
calendar, something like: “Write for 15 minutes every day.”
You’re totally capable of it at this point, so why not write something? Start a journal. Write a short story.
A secret love letter. Your shopping list. Your life goals. At least if you write something private, nobody
else will be able to read it!
Phase #3 Checklist
1) Continue Phase #2 Studying
 Flashcards every day
 Fun with listening
 Fun with grammar
2) Start Speaking
 Make some friends
3) Start Reading & Writing
 Read books
 Write a journal, story, etc.

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Phase #3 complete! High five!

Now, for some bittersweet news: I have nothing left for you to study. If you make it this far in your
Japanese studies, then I am officially obsolete. Perhaps we can meet in Japan, as friends, and kanpai to
one another’s hard work.
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GanbariShark
You now know everything that lies between you and total Japanese mastery. To close this book, I’ll give
you a condensed version of everything that must be done, a few motivational snippets, and then the rest
will be up to you.
I can’t teach you Japanese. No one can. I can only teach you how to learn Japanese. The bad news?
That means a lot of work for you. The good news? There’s nothing stopping you from progressing
towards Japanese mastery!
Your Japanese Mastery Checklist
 Phase #1 – Prep Your Ninja Tools
 Learn Japanese pronunciation
 Learn Hiragana
 Learn Katakana
 Set up your Anki flashcards
 Get Remembering the Kanji
 Set up your Kanji Word document
 Learn up to Kanji #508 in Remembering the Kanji (Parts 1&2)
 Type all stories into your Word document
 Make flashcards for every kanji and primitive
 Get your listening lesson study tools (podcasts)
 Install Rikaichan in your web browser
 Download smartphone apps (if applicable)
 Pick and purchase your first Bunpou Books
 Phase #2 – Hone Your Skills
 Memorize 2,000+ vocab
 Memorize 1,5000+ kanji
 Listen to 300+ audio lessons
 Study grammar for 15 minutes per day for Months 3-12
 Phase #3 – Go Jouzu!
 Continue Phase #2 Studying
 Flashcards every day
 Fun with listening
 Fun with grammar
 Start Speaking
 Make some Japanese-speaking friends, co-workers, etc.
 Start Reading & Writing
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 Get some books
 Start a journal, story, etc.
 Stand in awe of your awesomeness
Your Phase #2 Daily Study Plan
1) Vocab and Kanji Flashcards
 20 new flashcards
 All cards due for review
 Add new words/kanji to Anki deck
2) Listening
 1 full audio lesson, minimum
3) Grammar
 Study for 15 minutes, minimum
To stay on track, you may wish to use a ‘don’t break the chain’ calendar.
Staying Motivated
As you’re likely already thinking, looking at that giant list I just threw at you, this is going to be a ton of
work. But honestly, I know you can do this. What I’ve come to realize over time is that learning a
language isn’t about being smart or not being smart. Instead, learning a language is about discipline.
Discipline is greatness.
Smart people don’t learn languages. Only disciplined people do. And discipline is not a talent, is not
something you’re born with. Discipline is a skill. And since it’s a skill, it can—like all skills—be learned.
For me, discipline is nothing more than putting future wants ahead of immediate wants. What do I want
more: To watch a TV show I’ve already seen or to be fluent in Japanese? If only it were that simple,
right? Well, discipline is just about brainwashing yourself into believing that it really is that simple.
I cannot think: Do I want to go for a run or do I want to sit here?
Instead, I must think: Do I want to be in shape or do I want to sit here?
And even then, it’s hard to do the productive thing. But honestly, if you teach yourself discipline the
world will open up to you. Part of why I love Japanese so much is that it taught me discipline. And
discipline has allowed me to do things I did not imagine I could do, things like:
Learning Japanese ^_^
Learning Spanish
Teaching myself web design
Starting multiple web-based businesses
Getting in great shape
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Writing this ebook
Feeling confident that I can learn anything I want to learn, do anything I want to do (within
reason!)
It may help if you read this article from the New Yorker:
Procrastination Article

http://goo.gl/TkgA9
Then, after you do, put this on a flashcard:

Future Wants > Immediate Wants

Finally, I have one last task for you…
Getting Started
Taking the first step is often the hardest thing to do. To help out a little, there are two things I have for
you to do: (1) clarify your goal and (2) get a study partner.
Clarify Your Goal
Before you study a single thing, you might want to try a little exercise. Imagine, if you will, that you’ve
already completed this mastery plan. Imagine that you completed it 3 years ago, and you’ve studied
every day since then. How do you use it? What is it like? What kinds of things do you do now that
you’ve mastered Japanese?
Maybe write that down. Then read it once a week. Or just whenever you’re feeling discouraged. You
can’t be disciplined if you don’t stay motivated.
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Get a Study Partner
Study partners are often recommended so that you have someone to turn to when you are faced with
confusing topics. I think that’s helpful, too, but for a study plan like this there’s an even more important
reason: accountability.
Studies show that if you tell someone you’re going to complete a task, you’re more likely to actually
complete it. So find someone to ask you, every day: “Did you do your flashcards today?” “Audio lesson?”
“Grammar practice?” etc.
It doesn’t matter if they’re studying Japanese. You just need to be able to tell someone all the amazing
work that you’re doing. Because you’re really accomplishing something incredible by doing this study
plan. Also, telling a person your accomplishments might be a little more fun than telling your ‘don’t
break the chain’ calendar.
Then, that’s all. You’re good to start!
Ganbatte!
Swim, swim, swim.

You are crossing an ocean.
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Appendix A – NihongoShark
About NihongoShark
NihongoShark is a group that is dedicated to writing the world’s largest source of free Japanese lessons in
existence. Books like this help us fund this effort. The site is not officially launched yet, but you can
sign up to be a beta tester at:
NihongoShark.com

How You Can Help
There are a number of ways that you can help NihongoShark in its goal to build the world’s largest source
of free Japanese lessons:
1. Complete our survey regarding this e-book:

http://goo.gl/etXH5

2. Sign up as a beta tester of our first lessons at NihongoShark.com

3. Sign up as a beta tester of our soon-to-be-released kanji website: KanjiTom.com
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4. Become a staff writer at NihongoShark.
 To apply to become a staff writer, please email nikolai@NihongoShark.com
 Please note that since this is for a free site, we cannot pay our writers, though you will get
explicit credit for each article/lesson written.

5. Tell your friends!
 We always need help spreading the word about our language learning endeavors, and
especially about this ebook, which is currently our only source of revenue.
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Appendix B – Checklists & Schedules
In this Appendix, I’ve copied all of the checklists and schedules that appear throughout the book.
Phase #1 Checklist
 Learn Japanese pronunciation
 Learn Hiragana
 Learn Katakana
 Set up your Anki flashcard deck
 Get Remembering the Kanji
 Set up your Kanji Word document
 Learn up to Kanji #508 in Remembering the Kanji (Parts 1&2)
 Type all stories into Word document
 Make flashcards for every Kanji and primitive
 Get your listening lesson study tools (podcasts)
 Bookmark Jisho.org (and maybe make it your homepage)
 Install Rikaichan in your web browser
 Download smartphone apps (if applicable)
 Pick (and purchase) your grammar study materials
 Be excited about life
 Don’t let this list intimidate you
Phase #2 Flashcard Schedule
Month
#
New
words
added to
deck per
day
(estimate)
New
cards
studied
per day
Old cards reviewed per
day
1 Kanji only 0 N/A
2 Kanji only 0 N/A
3 5 20 Varies (Anki will tell you)
4 5 20 Varies (Anki will tell you)
5 7 20 Varies (Anki will tell you)
6 7 20 Varies (Anki will tell you)
7 7 20 Varies (Anki will tell you)
8 8 20 Varies (Anki will tell you)
9 8 20 Varies (Anki will tell you)
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10 10 20 Varies (Anki will tell you)
11 10 20 Varies (Anki will tell you)
12 10 20 Varies (Anki will tell you)
Flashcard Checklist
Phase #1 (Months 1-2)
 Enter all kanji from Parts 1 & 2 of Remembering the Kanji into your Word document
 Create flashcards for every Phase 1 Kanji & primitive
Phase #2 (Months 3-12)
 Study 20 new cards every day
 Study all cards due for review every day (Anki will decide this number)
 Add new words/kanji every day
o (This number is 5 words/day at first, but then it changes as you progress)
Listening Checklist
Phase #1 (Months 1-2)
 Download listening lessons/podcasts
 Listen to lessons in your free time
 Master pronunciation
Phase #2 (Months 3-12)
 1 listening lesson per day, minimum
Grammar Checklist
Phase #1 (Months 1-2)
 Pick your grammar study tools
 Chill out
Phase #2 (Months 3-12)
 Study for 15 minutes every day
Phase #2 Daily Study Plan
1) Vocab
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 Study 20 new Anki flashcards
 Study all review cards due in Anki
 Add minimum number (variable) of new words and kanji to Anki deck
2) Listening
 1 full audio lesson, minimum
3) Grammar
 Study for 15 minutes, minimum
Phase #3 Checklist
1) Continue Phase #2 Studying
 Flashcards every day
 Fun with listening
 Fun with grammar
2) Start Speaking
 Make some friends
3) Start Reading & Writing
 Read books
 Write a journal, story, etc.
Year #1 Mastery Checklist
 Phase #1 – Prep Your Ninja Tools
 Learn Japanese pronunciation
 Learn Hiragana
 Learn Katakana
 Set up your Anki flashcards
 Get Remembering the Kanji
 Set up your Anki Word document
 Learn up to Kanji #508 in Remembering the Kanji (Parts 1&2)
 Type all stories into your Word document
 Make flashcards for every kanji and primitive
 Get your listening lesson study tools (podcasts)
 Install Rikaichan in your web browser
 Download smartphone apps (if applicable)
 Pick and purchase your first Bunpou Books
 Phase #2 – Hone Your Skills
 Memorize 2,000+ vocab
 Memorize 1,5000+ kanji
 Listen to 300+ audio lessons
 Study grammar for 15 minutes per day for Months 3-12
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 Phase #3 – Go Jouzu!
 Continue Phase #2 Studying
 Flashcards every day
 Fun with listening
 Fun with grammar
 Start Speaking
 Make some Japanese-speaking friends, co-workers, etc.
 Start Reading & Writing
 Get some books
 Start a journal, story, etc.
 Stand in awe of your awesomeness
Phase #2 Daily Study Plan
1. Vocab and Kanji Flashcards
 20 new flashcards
 All cards due for review
 Add new words/kanji to Anki deck
2. Listening
 1 full audio lesson, minimum
3. Grammar
 Study for 15 minutes, minimum
To stay on track, you may wish to use a ‘don’t break the chain’ calendar.