How to Learn Japanese 
through Anywhere Immersion

Master Japanese is your step-by-step guide to learning Japanese through fun, effective immersion, instead of boring, tedious textbooks.

The guide shows you:

  • How to acquire Japanese anywhere in the world.
  • How to learn by doing instead of studying.
  • How to optimize your memory.
  • How to overcome your fears and stay motivated.
  • How to choose resources that fit your unique interests and goals.

Today's the day to stop wasting time and start making progress. Are you ready to begin your Japanese journey?

To My Beloved Japanese Learners,

Please stop wasting your hard-earned yen on expensive language classes; save it for ninja stars and salmon onigiri. Stop killing yourself with boring textbooks; use them instead for ninja star practice. And for the love of all that’s Ninjetic, stop trying to use those tired, traditional methods from high school Spanish class to learn Japanese! There’s a reason you don’t remember any Spanish from high school. Well for starters, you were busy trying to look cool in front of Veronica, but more importantly, those tried and not-so-true methods simply don’t work for most people.

Master Japanese shares the tools and resources you need to learn languages the fun, modern way, leveraging technology instead of drudgery, intelligent use of psychology instead of sheer willpower, and fun, free, modern, online resources instead of boring, expensive, back-breaking, budget-busting books. The guide enables you to learn whatever you want, whenever you want, wherever you want.

But please keep in mind that Master Japanese is not a textbook or course that will “teach” you Japanese: no book or teacher can ever get a language into your head. This is not The Matrix, Neo-san. Only you can acquire Japanese by getting enough exposure to—and enough practice using—the language.

Fortunately, the modern learner has more chances than ever to do just that. The problem today is not a lack of resources, but an over-abundance. It can be hard to know where to start. That’s where Master Japanese comes in. I have designed the guide as a navigation system for independent learners, with the aim of saving you time, money, and frustration, while maximizing both fun and efficacy. The guide shows you how to learn and  exactly what resources to use.

I’ve been learning languages for over two decades, and have poured everything I’ve learned (and everything I wish I had known when starting out) into the guide. If only I had a time machine…

Cool beans. Now let’s get busy Japanesing!

Ninjetically Yours,
John Fotheringham

What’s “Anywhere Immersion”?

Once upon a time, you had to two choices if you wanted to get fluent in Japanese: 1) take expensive Japanese classes, or 2) move to Japan. Today, anyone with an internet connection and a little creativity can learn Japanese anywhere in the world. Master Japanese shows you how. While Japanese classes and living abroad can be great, they no longer have to be a barrier to entry for Japanese learners. Moreover, Anywhere Immersion has many advantages over traditional classroom and textbook-based learning:

It's More Fun

The Anywhere Immersion approach allows you to choose fun, engaging materials and activities that you love.

It's More Efficient

Your custom immersion environment allows you to make use of tiny “hidden moments” throughout the day.

It's Less Expensive

Language classes and textbooks are boring and expensive. Choose fun―and often free!―modern resources instead.

It's More Natural

Humans have learned languages through immersion for hundreds of thousands of years. It’s how our brains are wired.

It's More Convenient

Anywhere Immersion allows you to learn anytime, anywhere. You don’t need to travel to a class or move abroad.

It's Personalized

Anywhere Immersion allows you to tailor the learning process to your unique interests, needs, and learning style.

Of all the resources that I came across in Japanese, my favourite by far was John Fotheringham’s Master Japanese. He takes the kind of approach that I like and is incredibly encouraging to beginner Japanese learners. This is a breath of fresh air when most experienced learners were more interested in “putting me in my place” by “warning” me about the mountain of work ahead, and making sure I was aware that Japanese was the one true hardest language in the world.

Benny Lewis

Fluent in 3 Months

What’s in the Guide?

Master Japanese shows you how to acquire languages in a fun, adult-friendly way, with ① detailed tips on creating a personalized immersion environment, ② strategies for working with—not against—how the brain works, ③ tips for how to get—and stay!—motivated throughout your learning journey, and ④ hundreds of John-tested, John-approved resource recommendations to help you reach your fluency goals while having heaps of fun along the way.

Part 1: Start Here

The first part of Master Japanese provides an overview of the guide’s structure, tips for getting the most out of the resource, FAQs, and an introduction to the three learning phases and what activities and resources are ideal for each: 1) Beginners: Master the Basics, 2) Intermediate Learners: Sharpen Your Sword, and 3) Advanced Learners: Get Your Black Belt.

Part 2: Master Your Day

The second part of Master Japanese shows you how to create useful goals and daily systems, how to optimize both your time and timing, why you should rely on habits instead of willpower, and how to leverage the power of social and financial stakes.

Part 3: Master Your Mind

To master a language, you must first master your own mind. If this were a video game, winning the language learning game means defeating the following four bosses: ① Busting common myths and limiting beliefs. ② Facing your fears. ③ Increasing and sustaining motivation. ④ Developing diamond-tough discipline. This chapter shows you how to do all four.

Part 4: Learn How to Learn

Learning how to learn is life’s most important skill. The fourth part of Master Japanese shows you how to supercharge your language learning machine by ① maximizing your exposure to Japanese through Anywhere Immersion, ② learning Japanese through fun activities instead of boring textbooks, ③ how to improve all four language skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing), ④ how to maximize “myelin” (our neural insulation that drives skill acquisition) through deep, deliberate practice, ⑤ how to optimize memory through mnemonics, spaced repetition, and effective note taking, and ⑥ how to optimize brain function through nutrition, sleep, and movement.

Part 5: Choose Your Weapons

In the final chapter, you will select your “weapons,” the tools and resources you will use to build your Anywhere Immersion environment and learn Japanese the fun, effective, natural way. You will learn where to find Japanese reference tools, podcasts, music, video games, anime, TV shows, movies, books, eBooks, audiobooks, comics, newspapers, magazines, and more.

What I love about John’s guide is how detailed it is. John has the patience—that I don’t!—to really take you by the hand and walk you through the resources you will need. If I were clueless and confused as to how and where to approach a self-directed Japanese learning project, I’d definitely want something like this that laid all the tools out in one place. Experienced geeks like me tend to lose sight of how bewildering a new language and electronic resources can be. John has not lost that sympathy for the beginner; John wants to help you, where I want to avert my gaze from your suffering and assume that you’re an anime/computer geek who already knows where everything is, owns all kinds of media and other Japanese artifacts, and just needed advice on how to use them better.


All Japanese All the Time

About the Author

Howdy, I’m John Fotheringham, a linguist, author, and entrepreneur from Seattle. I’ve been learning and teaching languages for over two decades, including studying Linguistics at Western Washington University, teaching adults in the U.S., Japan, and Taiwan, presenting at multinational companies, working as a translator and interpreter for the Japanese government, and now blogging, podcasting, and publishing books on independent language learning. I have dedicated my life to empowering language learners, making language acquisition more fun and effective, and helping others avoid some of the mistakes I made along the way.

I have been featured in a number of magazines, podcasts, blogs, and sites including Experience Life Magazine, Business Insider, Fluent in 3 Months, I Will Teach You a Language, All Japanese All the Time, GaijinPot, Actual Fluency, and more.

Get a Free Chapter

Want to peek inside the Master Japanese guide and see if it’s a good fit for you?

Enter your email to get instant access to a free 88-page sample of the guide, including:

  • A free chapter: Read the entire book’s introduction to get a feel for my writing style, my core learning principles, what to expect, and more.
  • The complete Table of Contents: See a detailed look of everything included in the 550+ page guide, including all chapters, sections, and sub-sections.
  • Complete Notes and References: See the books, studies, and resources that have influenced my thinking and get inspired to learn more.

The Complete Digital Edition

The Complete Digital Edition of Master Japanese includes ① the 550+ page guide in 3 formats (PDF, iBooks/EPUB, and Kindle/MOBI), ② the How Japanese Works companion guide, ③ 8 interviews with experts in Japanese and language learning, ④ 12 worksheets and cheat sheets, and ⑤ free updates for life.


3 Delicious Digital Flavors

Your purchase of Master Japanese gives you access to three different versions of the guide, not just one:

The PDF Version

The PDF version of Master Japanese is beautifully formatted, print-ready, and viewable on all platforms (macOS, iOS, Android, Windows, and more).

The iBooks / EPUB Version

The iBooks / EPUB version of Master Japanese is perfect for reading on smaller screens since you can adjust the font size as desired. You can also turn on Dark Mode for easier nighttime reading.

The Kindle Version

The Kindle version of Master Japanese can viewed on your Kindle or any of the free Kindle apps on iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, etc.

Bonus Guide: How Japanese Works

My How Japanese Works guide includes 350+ pages on the patterns, words, and sounds that make Japanese tick. Though the real learning will happen through the exposure and practice Anywhere Immersion provides, the guide helps whet your linguistic appetite and prime your brain to better notice and grasp Japanese grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. 

Japanese Basics

Learn about the mysterious origin of the Japanese language, the language family it belongs to, and basic characteristics that define the language.

Japanese Honorifics

Learn about the three main levels of formality in Japanese, including teineigo (丁寧語, ていねいご, “Polite Language”), sonkeigo (尊敬語, そんけいご, “Respectful Language”), and kenjougo (謙譲語, けんじょうご, “Humble Language”).

Japanese Numbers

Learn how to count from zero to 900 trillion (yes, you read that correctly), how to say decimals and negative numbers, how to count people, items, and objects using Japanese “counter words,” how to tell the date and the time (from years to seconds), how to use the Gregorian vs. Japanese Imperial calendar, and what national Japanese holidays are observed in Japan.

Parts of Speech

See how adjectives, adverbs, particles, pronouns, proper nouns, verbs, and vocabulary work in Japanese.

Japanese Pronunciation

Read a detailed overview of all Japanese syllables (including how to pronounce and write hiragana and katakana), the most common Japanese dialects, and how pitch accent differentiates meaning.

Japanese Writing

Japanese’s three writing systems are discussed, with details on kanji, kana, and roumaji, as well as text direction, word boundaries, character spacing, and punctuation.

Master Japanese is well written to say the least and quite humorous. I couldn’t put it down. I’ve always been afraid of learning a foreign language, maybe it’s because of fear of feeling stupid, but I’m not sure. Also, I’ve never had a desire to learn Japanese and that could stem from the misconception that it’s really hard. After reading through the guide, I’m actually considering getting more dedicated to languages.

Crystal Anderson

Grad Student, Socorro, New Mexico

8 Expert Interviews

Get inspired with over 3 hours of interviews with linguists, polyglots, and language experts.


Dr. James Heisig

Despite a research focus in the philosophy of religion, James Heisig is primarily known by Japanese learners for his groundbreaking books—Remembering the Kanji, Remembering the Kana, and Remembering the Hanzi—which show adults how to master characters more efficiently using “imaginative memory” instead of tedious rote learning.

Dr. Jay Rubin

Jay Rubin is the author of the must-read book Making Sense of Japanese: What the Textbooks Don’t Tell You. He holds a Ph.D. in Japanese from the University of Chicago, and has taught at both the University of Washington and Harvard. His humorous dissection of Japanese greatly helped save my sanity when I was first battling with the more difficult aspects of Japanese grammar.

AJATT's Khatzumoto

Khatzumoto (勝本), a.k.a. “Khatz”, is the creator of the popular language blog and community All Japanese All the Time (AJATT). Proving that self-guided immersion works, Khatzumoto reached an impressive level of fluency in a very short time by watching anime, reading manga, and having an all around kick-ass time.

Benny Lewis

Benny (a.k.a. “The Irish Polyglot”) is the creator of Fluent in 3 Months, the most popular language learning blog in the world, and is the author of Fluent in 3 Months: How Anyone at Any Age Can Learn to Speak Any Language from Anywhere in the World and the Language Hacking series published by Teach Yourself.

Steve Kaufmann

Steve is the creator of and the author of The Way of the Linguist: A Language Learning Odyssey. As a fluent speaker of 11 languages (including Japanese, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish), Steve has a thing or two to say about effective language learning.

Dr. Victor Ferreira

Dr. Ferreira is a professor and researcher at the University of California, San Diego. He runs the Language Production Lab, which looks at “how language users form sentences and produce words, and how that behavior leads to successful communication.”

Simon Ager

Originally hailing from Lancashire, England, Simon Ager is the creator of, “the online encyclopedia of writing systems and languages.”

Randy Hunt

Randy (a.k.a. “The Yearlyglot”) is on a mission to learn a new language every year, an admirable adventure he blogs about over at Fluent Every Year.

If you decide to embark on the journey of mastering the Japanese language (or any other language for that matter), the most crucial trait you can develop to actually achieve this goal is to become an independent learner. No language course, no software, no textbook and no class will ever show you how to do this. Master Japanese is one of the very few language resources that shows you HOW to learn Japanese instead of trying to teach it to you. The guide is full-packed with tips, concrete steps, advice, suggestions, links and other resources that, if you actually follow and use them, will make your Japanese learning not only much more effective and efficient, but also actually FUN and enjoyable. And the Master Japanese Interviews with all those “language powerhouses” are, to say the least, enlightening. I LOVE Master Japanese and I love John’s work. Having experienced first hand how ineffective language classes and traditional language “learning” methods are, I’m certain that Master Japanese can be a great aid in your journey if you give it a try!

Santiago Madrigal

Translator, Bogotá, Colombia

12 Print-Ready Cheat Sheets & Worksheets

With all three Master Japanese packages, you receive 12 print-ready PDF cheat sheets and worksheets to help you optimize your language learning time:


Goals & Systems

This worksheet helps you to create specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound goals and then translate them into effective daily systems.

Study Plan

Use this sample weekly schedule to get ideas about how to integrate Self-Guided Immersion activities into your life, and then create your own personalized study plan using the blank version.

Deconstruction Dozen

This cheat sheet includes the Japanese translations of Tim Ferriss’ famous 12 core sentences that reveal the essential patterns frequently used in Japanese. Think of it as the 80-20 Rule applied to grammar.


Use this worksheet to create and memorize your self-introduction in Japanese. It’s a great way to learn the language, meet new people, and help put native speakers at ease.

Most Common 1,000 Words

This cheat sheet includes the most common 1,000 words in Japanese, empowering you to understand over 75% of the language you will see and hear day to day!


The conjugation cheat sheet allows you to quickly check how to conjugate common verbs for tense, volition, commands, passives, and more.

Hiragana & Katakana

This cheat sheet includes all the sounds of Japanese in one handy resourceincluding hiragana (平仮名), katakana (片仮名), and roumaji (ローマ字).

Jouyou Kanji List

A comprehensive list of all “common use” kanji (常用漢字表) approved by the Japanese Ministry of Education, including both modern and archaic forms of characters and the grade in which each character is taught in Japanese schools.

RTK List

This cheat sheet includes a comprehensive list of all 2,200 kanji included in Remembering the Kanji, including kanji, frame numbers, and keywords.


Japanese has a number of pronouns (some of which can be potentially offensive) and demonstratives (used to indicate location, direction, type, manner, etc.). Use this handy cheat sheet to help keep them straight.


Japanese expresses formality, respect, and humility using a complex system called keigo (敬語). Use this cheat sheet to see which words are used when.


Japanese has heaps and heaps of “sound symbolic words” (words that imitate sounds found nature, made by the body, etc.). Use this cheat sheet to master the essentials.

Free Updates For Life!

I am a big believer in kaizen (改善), the pursuit of “constant improvement” popularized by the Toyota Production System (TPS). To ensure that Master Japanese is the best possible language learning resource it can be, I regularly release updated versions that include new recommended resources, tips, methods, and more. You can download all updates for free!

Master Japanese stresses that the most important step in mastering a new language is immersion. Rather than splashing the language on, it’s better to soak in it for best retention; preferably with a slice of cucumber over your eyes. The goal is to surround yourself with language so that you can’t help but pick it up quickly, and most importantly,cheaply. Language learning doesn’t require expensive language systems sold in kiosks.

Nate Zimmer

Microsoft, Bellevue, WA

The Basic Digital Edition

The Basic Digital Edition of Master Japanese includes ① the 550+ page guide in PDF format, ② the How Japanese Works companion guide, ③ 12 worksheets and cheat sheets, and ④ free updates for life.


I now work in the sales department of a Japanese company. The only reason why I got the job was because they were very impressed by my Japanese level for someone who recently started learning the language. It’s all thanks to your guide and the tip you gave about taking tutoring lessons. I have been taking iTalki lessons 4 times a week and that has really helped me a lot. Thank you for your great work and kindness.


Sales Associate, Oakland, CA

The Personalized Edition

The Personalized Edition of Master Japanese includes everything in the Complete Digital Edition (the 550+ page guide in 3 formats (PDF, iBooks/EPUB, and Kindle/MOBI), the How Japanese Works companion guide, 8 interviews with experts in Japanese and language learning, 12 worksheets and cheat sheets, and free updates for life) PLUS ① a 1-hour one-on-one coaching call, ② a custom resource list based on your personal interests and needs, and ③ a custom study plan.



Not only is Master Japanese well-written and entertaining, but also jam-packed with excellent advice on how to detour past the frills and trappings of dead-end language education and rapidly reach fluency. Second to living in Japan, taking heed of John’s words and applying them assiduously wherever you might be is perhaps the surest way to yield the results you’re hoping for.

Joshua Owens

Student, Hsinchu, Taiwan


Who is Master Japanese For?

Master Japanese is not for everyone and I don’t want people spending their hard earned cash on something that’s not right for them. Here is who the guide and Anywhere Immersion approach are a good fit for:


Master Japanese is for learners who:

  • Are passionate about learning languages.
  • Believe languages are “acquired,” not “learned.”
  • Want to deeply understand the Japanese people and culture.
  • Are between the beginner and upper-intermediate stages of learning.
  • Want to learn all four language skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing).
  • Prefer learning the fun, immersion-based way (e.g. using manga & anime instead of textbooks)
  • Place a high value on their time and would rather spend it actually acquiring Japanese instead of wasting time finding resources.

Master Japanese is NOT for learners who:

  • Want a highly-structured language course.
  • Want an academic, grammar-driven approach to learning.
  • Just want to learn a few useful phrases for travel.
  • Think language learning should be serious.
  • Need a teacher to keep them on track.

Why Get Master Japanese?

  • Because I’ve poured everything I’ve learned over the past two decades about language acquisition into Master Japanese.
  • Because you should be spending your time actually acquiring Japanese, not wasting time looking for the right methods, materials, and tools.
  • Because you get super sweet reader-only bonuses like free lifetime updates, 12 cheat sheets, and 3+ hours of interviews with language learning all-stars, authors, and language learning experts.
  • Because the methods and tools I share really work. My growing army of happy customers are proof.

Master Japanese is well written, made me laugh quite a bit. It was pretty informative and is full of useful tips, many of those can be applied not only when you are learning Japanese, but also when learning any given language. One of the things I liked the most were the immersion tools developed along its pages and the best way to use them. It gives you an insight on Japanese, not on its grammar but on how you have to learn it, and does so being very specific. Finally, the most important thing here is that is harder to get bored applying this method (Of course you will need to be motivated!). I have advanced quite a lot since then too!

Elohim Falcón

Student, Miranda, Venezuela

Got a Question?

Got a question not answered above? Send me an email using the form below and I will get back to you ASAP.

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