How I Learned Japanese: Tips, Tricks and Helpful Links

One of the most frequently asked questions I get on my channel and on tumblr is "How did you learn Japanese?" So finally I decided to make a video in English about it! And just in case you'd rather skim a blog post than watch a fairly lengthy video, here you go! Loading this one up with links, so I hope you find something you like.

My Japanese isn't perfect!

In fact, it's pretty far from it. I'm still studying and trying to perfect it and I've got a long way to go. That said, my Japanese is fairly functional, so I can give advice from that standpoint!

Find a class! (If you can.)

Self-studying Japanese is one of the hardest things I've ever done. If you can find a class, language partner, or study group near you then take the plunge and sign up! Self-studying can be a real challenge and without a teacher to correct your mistakes and put pressure on you to memorise vocabularly you have to be very, very motivated. That said, it can be done, so don't stop reading!


Learn Kana!

Learning how to read and write hiragana and katakana is really important so start from there! Trust me, they're a lot easier than kanji is.

By the way, I learn kanji by rote memorisation. I sit down with a bunch of kanji I don't know and write them over and over. Then I write them without looking. Then I test myself, etc. After memorising them it's really important to go back to them later because kanji love to just up and disappear from your memory. 


Find a Good Textbook!

If you're part of a class then you'll probably have to use what the curriculum is written around, but here's my favourite:
For beginners: GENKI I

This textbook is logically-structured and easy to follow. The grammar points are explained in depth and there are tonnes of exercises to help you! Check it out on Amazon, I page through it in the above video.

Next up: GENKI II 
Like GENKI I this is an awesome textbook and will help to fill out your elementary Japanese knowledge! Check it out on Amazon.
My Studying Face

These books are written to prepare you for the JLPT but even if you're not going to be taking the exam they are pretty good. I particularly like the grammar and kanji ones although I struggle with the vocabulary ones since they are basically just long lists of vocab you have to memorise. It's probably best to page through them at a bookstore (if you can) to get an idea of which level is right for you. 

This is another widely-used textbook series and I think it might include more situational, practical Japanese. However, I have never used this series. If you don't like the sound of Genki, check these out.

Intermediate/Advanced Level Resources
Once you reach a certain level I feel like there aren't any Holy Grail textbooks. It's probably better to move on to things like: Japanese magazines, books, manga, newspapers, and so on. Don't feel discouraged if it's really hard at first and try to find things that match your ability or are just slightly higher. If you try reading NewsWeek in Japanese right away you might just headdesk.

White & Nerdy



You don't actually have to go to Japan to immerse yourself in Japanese but it does help! If you have the opportunity to come here as a student I recommend it 100% but even if you don't have the opportunity to come to Japan right now you can start by surrounding yourself with Japanese media: music, films, drama and anime. If you can make some Japanese friends or work in a places where you get the opportunity to speak Japanese that will help you a lot too!

Change your computer/phone/everything to Japanese (just memorise how to change it back first because all those kanji can be pretty overwhelming!). I have all my devices set to Japanese which is actually kind of tough when you're doing a lot of video editing!!!!

View FaceBook and Twitter in Japanese! Set your homepage to a Japanese website! Just go for gold!

And then check out some of my favourite Japanese things:

Music: LUNA SEA, Utada Hikaru, SID, HY, Otsuka Ai, Morning Musume, Plastic Tree (the links will take you to a song by the artist!)
Dramas: Hana yori dango, 1 Litre of Tears, GTO 
Films: Tokyo Story, Nobody Knows, Children Full of Life, Taboo, All About Lily Chou-chou, Rashomon
(Some of these films have adult themes!)

Now go back to your own favourite Japanese things!



I'd studied Japanese a bit before coming to Japan but when I got here I found it so hard to form a sentence. I was devastatingly shy and terrified of making mistakes. These two things do not go well with language learning! You have to make mistakes in order to learn! I still screw up all the time. I remember how much it hurt when I messed up kage (shadow) with hige (beard) during a job and everyone laughed their butts off at me. But thanks to that I will never make that mistake again! So do not be afraid to say something ridiculously wrong. It's the way you learn. Laugh at your mistakes. Don't take them to heart.

One of the ways I learnt to speak Japanese was by making vlogs in Japanese. Once I had a Japanese audience I kind of had to speak Japanese even if it was really hard. Through this I learnt a lot and was able to keep my motivation up!

(Also talking to yourself is totally cool.)

Use the internet as a supplementary learning tool!

Hannah talks about this in her video below:
There are tonnes of Japanese people who want to learn English and will be happy to talk with you! Just don't invite them to your house or anything :P

Rikaichan is a great addon to help decipher kanji and unfamiliar words (just don't rely on it too much!!!).
Twitter is a great place to practice Japanese and talk to Japanese people.
My favourite dictionary is Jim Breen's WWWJDIC. It's free and really really good. Lang-8 is a site where people will correct your Japanese! I think it's free!
And of course there's always YouTube!!!

Just remember that the internet is a supplementary tool! You're still going to have to buckle down and study if you want to become better than me at Japanese (and I 100% expect you to become better than me, not even kidding around here).



It's so hard sometimes to sit down and immerse yourself in language learning so try not to forget how fun that time can be. Find the place you study best - for me it's in a cafe or library - and find time to go there and study! Carry your textbooks around if you have to! They might give you a backache but that backache will be nagging you to studying. I mean, you don't want to lug them around all day and then not study at all, right?

♥GOOD LUCK♥ or should I say がんばってください!


Line Play Adventures ラインプレイでのアドベンチャー

Line Playというアプリにすごいハマってますよ〜 
「MIMEI 恐竜ハンター」という名前でやっています!
I've been rather addicted to this app called Line Play.
I've taken a bunch of weird screenshots, so I thought I'd show you guys!
I went a bit crazy with the gacha...particularly the Alice one!

Having fun in somebody's heart-shaped spa! Love the way this guy designed his room!
Sleeping in Abi's bed! アビたんのベッドに寝てた〜 いい夢みたぴょん。

Sometimes when you're not connected to the network it freaks out a bit!

Shara's room when it was decked out in sakura! I'm in love with her adorable avatar! 

ダンカンとのペアルック♥ Dressed up to match!
WHAT EVEN!?!?!?!?!ナニコレ!?!??!
ペアルック②! And the same glasses :D

And lastly....

I came across

a really suspicious looking room....



リンメルの新製品GEM DEW EYES Rimmel Japan's New A/W Eyeshadow

み んなのメイクの動ガールたちと、リンメルの新作発表会にいってきました!写真いっぱい撮ってみました☆発表会は英国大使館でやりましたので旅行に行ったよ うな感じでした☆I was lucky enough to be at the British Embassy in Tokyo when Rimmel Japan announced their new eyeshadow!

 リンメルの新しい秋冬アイシャドウ!Gem Dew Eyes! ジェムデュウアイズ♡

アイシャドウの形のGem Dewクッキーたちです!可愛くて美味しかったです♥
They had cookies made in the shape of the eyeshadow and homg they were delicious.

あさひさんの腕です☆ Asahi did a swatch!
こ のアイシャドウのポイントはジェムドロップ処方のジェムデュウカラーが入っています。 ジェルみたいな感じでライナーにも使えますよ!発色がよくて使いやすいです。最近このパレットをよく使ってます。特に紫のジェムデュウカラーが好きです! アイベース(上左)も入ってるからこのパレットだけでアイメイクが出来ます!
The cool thing about this eyeshadow is that it has a primer (the cream square) and also a pigmented "jem" gel shadow (the purple colour above) which you can use to line your eyes. Recently I've been using the beautiful purple shade a LOT. There's also a gorgeous gold shade! I'll have to make a video about it closer to the release date. The palette will retail for ¥1,680 (tax incl).

Here's Miki, Asahi Sasaki, and Chihiro, dancing in the British Embassy gardens. These girls are too cool!

Gem jellies!おしゃれなジェムゼリーたち!

They did a live demonstration of the shadow with a wonderful makeup artist and model!

The model for Gem Dew Eyes is Angelica Michibana who as you can probably tell is pretty much beyond gorgeous. After scrutinizing the picture I really fell in love with the eye makeup. I love the way the gel-shadow is used as catliner (which her cute wink shows off to such perfect effect, ugh!). Just realised catliner probably isn't a word but never mind that! After experimenting a little I was pretty impressed to find out that the shadow actually does work as liner so you really can recreate that effect! To get the sharp line you'd definitely need a pencil liner brush though. Anyway all I can say is I love this palette!


目隠しメイクチャレンジまとめ Blindfold Makeup Challenge

海外のユーチューブで流行っている目隠しメイクチャレンジに挑戦しました! 友達のクララさんが東京にいた間に一緒に楽しくやりました。
I'd been wanting to try the Blindfold Makeup Challenge for ages! But I waited until my friend Clara visited before attempting it.
Suffice to say it was a wonderful disaster.
And then I got my revenge. Actually I was really trying that time. The eyeliner and mascara were the hardest. Not to mention the mess I made with eye primer.

I had so much much making and editing these that I made my boyfriend Duncan do it too.
First he made me into the Joker.
Maybe I was trying to mess this up, just a little.

You're never too old to fingerpaint the hell out of someone's face and this tag has to be my favourite tag ever. Except for maybe Draw My Life. Not only is it hilarious good fun to watch people attempt this, but making them is really fun too. I sat at my computer cackling like a manic while editing these.


ダンテくんの可愛かった頃 Old Pics of Dante

So this one time, a few years ago, I downloaded a bunch of eps of YOUtachi! one of the shows Dante was in when he was in Johnny's.
If I could share the episodes he was in with you I certainly would, but unfortunately I don't think the ones I viewed are up anymore. HOWEVER I did take a bunch of screencaps so I'm gonna dump them here for your viewing pleasure.

 (Talking about a game)
Dante: I had that game!
Dante: But I gave it away. 
 Dante: It was really boring. 
(I think the reaction to this was like: uhhh...Johnny's takes all kinds, don't they.)

 If the Johnny's Jr. won the game, they got treats. Dante scoffed them down like he'd never seen food before. The others showed a little more restraint.


This shots look silly out of context,but Dante was tasked with holding on to the guest's cellphone until she received a reply to a text the hosts made her send. 


YouTube Space Tokyo // The Documentary of PDR

トッポシークレートなミッションでYouTube Space東京に行ってきました。

Me and Duncan got a sneak peak at YouTube Space Tokyo last month.


We went there for top-secret reasons that did not involve making YouTube videos. But we ended up with a lot of time on our hands, so I decided to make a YouTube video.

I love making my usual short YouTube videos, but I'm always trying to push the bar. So this time I have a longer offering, my first short documentary.
This documentary explores PDR-san's inner feelings and thoughts about YouTube Japan and also breaches the topic of product reviews, the most popular videos here in Japan. Aside from condom videos. Those are in a league of their own. It also features popular daily vlogger, Dante (PDSKabushikiGaisha). 

YouTube Space東京の素晴らしい機材は使いませんでしたが、いつか使いたいです。
I hope you enjoy the insight into making videos in Japan, and I hope we'll get a chance to use the YouTube Space soon. For realsies. (This documentary was made with our own equipment and funding.)

For Japanese or English subtitles please hit that "Subtitle" button.


日本のバレンタインデー Japanese Valentine's Day


In New Zealand Valentine's Day is primarily a day for couples to celebrate and enjoy expensive food and gifts. In stark contrast to the West Valentine's in Japan can be celebrated even by children. If you are really into someone you can give them honmei choco, which is often homemade to show how much you like him. You're expected to give giri choco to your male coworkers even if you aren't that into them. Micaela talks about how frustrating giri choco can be in the video below.
Only girls are supposed to give chocolate on Valentine's Day, but boys are expected to return the favour in quadruplicate on White Day a month later. That said there's even a word for when a boy gives a girl chocolate on Valentine's: gyaku-choco.

Then there's tomo-choco, which you give to your friends. Until I met my current boyfriend I'd never had a Valentine. Valentine's Day was something I observed rather than participated in, so the idea of giving a Valentine to your friends, rather than your loved ones, quite appeals to me.

I don't have an oven and I haven't made cookies in a Very Long Time - in fact since I was vegan for five years before coming to Japan, I didn't use eggs or butter when I cooked - but I decided to make the most of what I do have and give deco-cookies a shot.
After watching that you're probably wondering why I even bothered, but I just felt like making them is a lot more heartfelt than just decorating store-bought cookies. Plus if you've watched my channel long enough, you know that most of my cooking videos are disaster zones.

I also tried my hand at a Valentine's makeup tutorial! This is a pretty simple, wearable look focusing on the eyes!

I hope you all have a fun Valentine's Day!


2013年スタバ福袋 Starbucks Japan Lucky Bag 2013

Happy New Year!!! I hope 2013 is a great one!

This year I made a video opening my fuku-bukuro!

中身はこれでした。Here's what's inside!
スターバックスエンボスロゴマグ (イエロー)
ダブルウォール ステンレスカップ
ロゴカップビバレッジカード 2枚

When it comes to fuku-bukuro I really like the Starbucks and drug store makeup ones. You pretty much know what you're going to get.
Fuku-bukuro are pretty fun to open, as you really don't know what you're going to get!