Master Japanese Black Friday Sale!

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Learn Japanese Anywhere

Using fun content you love

(And without the hassle of moving to Japan, enduring expensive classes, or slogging through boring textbooks.)

If you’re learning Japanese on your own and you’re looking to reach fluency and speak confidently with real native speakers, then you probably already know that immersion (being surrounded by the language all the time) is the best way to do that.

You probably already know that practicing speaking with real native speakers is the key to getting better at speaking.

But here’s what you might not know.

You don’t need a plane ticket, new zip code, or classroom to immerse yourself in Japanese. With the right methods, materials, and attitude, you can reach a high level of fluency anywhere in the world.

Master Japanese shows you how to create an immersion environment almost as good as being in Tokyo, even if you’re in Tacoma or Topeka.

Getting started is the hardest part

We all know we need immersion. But knowing and doing are very different things.

So where in the heck should you start?

The sheer number of resources available on the internet today is completely overwhelming for any self-directed learner. As a result, you’re probably feeling at least somewhat clueless and confused as to how and where to approach your study.

Learning a new language is hard enough. Adding the extra challenge of choosing the right methods and materials can leave learners bewildered and lead to most to quit before they even begin.

Here’s why most Japanese learners abandon their journey:

Without using the right methods and materials, most Japanese learners feel out of their depth, bored with the materials, and frustrated that they aren’t making any progress.

They might study for months or even years and still not be able to order a coffee in Japanese.

They might just think to themselves:

  • “I guess I’m not good at languages.”
  • “I’m probably too old to learn Japanese.”
  • “Japanese is too hard of a language. Maybe I’ll try something else.”

The truth is that these are all myths.

So what then are the real reasons so many fail to learn Japanese? There are many, but here are the main six reasons I have seen firsthand over the last two decades as both a language learners and teacher.

6 Reasons Most Learners Fail


Putting off speaking

Most people don’t practice speaking enough due to fear of making mistakes. They busy themselves instead with memorizing vocabulary, tapping away in language apps, or watching YouTube videos. These activities can help, but practicing speaking directly is the key to―you guessed it―being able to speak.


Not having a strong enough WHY

The path to fluency isn’t necessarily complicated, but it DOES takes consistent practice, day after day. You need to get crystal-clear clarity on your reason for learning Japanese, or your WHY, that keeps you going on the days where you feel bored or unmotivated.

Not enough time on task

Some people just spend an hour a week on learning a language, then wonder why they aren’t making progress. To reach fluency, you need thousands of hours of input (listening, reading) and output (writing, speaking). That might sound impossible in your busy schedule, but there are many ways to squeeze in time each day through “habit stacking” and using “hidden moments” throughout your day. Then you have to keep putting in the effort, day after day. Think of your learning in terms of number of hours, not weeks, months, or years.

Not practicing skills directly

Practicing “directly” means practicing the skill you want to be able to do. If you want to get good at speaking, you have to practice speaking. If you want to get better at comprehension, you have to practice listening and reading. Most people get stuck in studying ABOUT the language rather than actually practicing the language itself. Many apps or classes will give you indirect skills (filling in a blank, multiple choice, putting words in order), but those skills don’t build fluency and won’t help you in actual human-to-human communication.


Using boring materials

Fun gets done, so you need to select methods that YOU will enjoy. It’s natural for language learners to sometimes feel bored and not want to keep going. This is why it’s extra important to use materials that are fun to use and fit your unique interests and goals.


Analysis Paralysis

On the other hand, many language learners feel overwhelmed when considering all the materials they could use, and as a consequence, they never actually get started. Finding just a handful of tools you love to use, and sticking with those consistently, is the antidote. Less but better.

If you can avoid these mistakes and put in the required time and effort, you will reach fluency in Japanese. The key to all of this is creating a fun, immersive environment―from home―that will actually get you to fluency.

About the Author

Hi, I’m John Fotheringham, a linguist, teacher, and the author of Master Japanese.

I taught myself both Japanese and Mandarin, and now teach others to do the same―no matter where in the world you are.

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.


Master Japanese

How to Learn Japanese through Anywhere Immersion

I’ve taken everything I’ve learned teaching myself how to speak both Japanese and Mandarin Chinese fluently (plus over 20 years of experience teaching thousands of adults how to learn languages the fun way) and distilled the lessons into a comprehensive, detailed guide to empower you to do the same.


Use code BLACKFRIDAY50 at checkout to get 50% off.

A Navigation System for Independent Learners

Master Japanese isn’t a grammar textbook or a formal Japanese course. It’s a navigation system for independent learners that shows you exactly how to learn Japanese through Anywhere Immersion, what methods and resources to use, and what pitfalls to avoid.

① You will learn strategies for effective language-learning.

② I’ll take you by the hand and walk you through all the best methods and materials you can choose for yourself.

③ And most importantly, you’ll learn how to create an immersion environment in your own home that accelerates your fluency and is totally tailored to YOU:

  • Your schedule.
  • Your interests.
  • Your preferences.
  • Your learning style.
  • Your likes and dislikes.

And THAT will be your teacher.

The end result: Being able to speak Japanese for the rest of your life and deeply engage with this fascinating culture.

The Only Book of its Kind

Master Japanese is the only book of its kind that:

  • Helps you conquer your fear and focus on the specific speaking habits and tools that will actually move you towards fluency.
  • Helps you uncover your WHY so that you’ll stick with it in the long run.
  • Teaches you how to learn and use the hidden moments in a day to get enough input.
  • Helps you practice skills directly by giving you resources for speaking, listening, reading, and writing.
  • Focuses on the specific tools you need, fun and tailored to your personality, all in one place.

So if you’re finally ready to get fluent in Japanese without expensive classes, boring textbooks, or internet overwhelm, here’s how I’ll help you get there.

My method is called Anywhere Immersion.

What’s my “Anywhere Immersion” Method?

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.

“Master Japanese is the most helpful book I’ve found in my two+ year effort to learn Japanese.

The book is focused on helping a Japanese language learner be successful by providing practical hints, tips, tools, apps and advice. There are hundreds of links to excellent resources.

The author provides learners with helpful strategies to approach the learning process, which can be overwhelming unless you can figure out how to make sustainable progress continuously.

This is a very comprehensive book. Want to learn Japanese by watching movies, listening to music or podcasts? The author provides links to all these resources, along with specific tips for success. I am so grateful for this book. Need to figure out which of many learning resources to choose? The author provides an in-depth review of what’s available and how it works.”

Carolyn Strong

Retired technical writer

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.


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:

  • Beginners: Master the Basics
  • Intermediate Learners: Sharpen Your Sword
  • Advanced Learners: Get Your Black Belt


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.
  • How to leverage the power of social and financial stakes.


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:

  • Busting common myths and limiting beliefs.
  • Facing your fears.
  • Increasing and sustaining motivation.
  • Developing diamond-tough discipline.

This chapter shows you how to do all four.


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:

  • Maximizing your exposure to Japanese through Anywhere Immersion.
  • Learning Japanese through fun activities instead of boring textbooks.
  • How to improve all four language skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing).
  • How to maximize “myelin” (our neural insulation that drives skill acquisition) through deep, deliberate practice.
  • How to optimize memory through mnemonics, spaced repetition, and effective note taking.
  • How to optimize brain function through nutrition, sleep, and movement.


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
  • Japanese podcasts
  • Japanese music
  • Japanese video games
  • Japanese anime
  • Japanese TV shows
  • Japanese movies
  • Japanese books, eBooks, and audiobooks
  • Japanese comics
  • Japanese newspapers
  • Japanese magazines
  • And much 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

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.


PDF Book

You get the beautiful, print-ready PDF version of Master Japanese, which can be read on nearly any device or operating system.

Kindle Book

You get the book in AZW3 format which you can read on your Kindle or in any of the free Kindle apps on iOS, Android, macOS, etc.

EPUB / iBooks Version

You get the book in EPUB format which you can read in the iBooks app on iOS, macOS, and any of the numerous EPUB readers available.

How Japanese Works

The 350+ page bonus guide explains the patterns, words, and sounds that make Japanese tick.

Expert Interviews

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


Worksheets & Cheat Sheets

The 12 print-ready PDF worksheets and cheat sheets help you apply what you learn and optimize your language learning time.

Lifetime Updates

I frequently update the book with new resources and recommendations. You get free updates of the book for life!


Use code BLACKFRIDAY50 at checkout to get 50% off.

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. Thank you for your great work and kindness.


Sales Associate, Oakland, CA

Bonus #1: How Japanese Works Guide

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 (“Polite Language”), sonkeigo (“Respectful Language”), and kenjougo (“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

Bonus #2: 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 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 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

Bonus #3: 12 Print-Ready Cheat Sheets & Worksheets

You get 12 print-ready PDF worksheets and cheat sheets to help you apply what you’re learning and 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, katakana, and roumaji.

Jouyou Kanji List

A comprehensive list of all “common use” kanji 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. 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.

Bonus #4: Free Updates For Life!

I am a big believer in kaizen, 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


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.

Use code BLACKFRIDAY50 at checkout to get 50% off.

Master Japanese is well written, and made me laugh quite a bit. It was 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

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