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Anyone Can Learn Japanese With the Right Tools, Attitude & Guidance

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!

John Fotheringham | Color | Small
Yours Ninjetically,
John Fotheringham

The Master Japanese Guide

Of all the resources that I came across in Japanese, my favourite by far was John Fotheringham’s Master Japanese: The Beginner’s Step-by-Step Guide to Learning Nihongo the Fun Way. 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

Founder, Fluent in 3 Months

How to Learn All Four Language Skills

Icon | Speech Bubbles | JapaneseMaster Japanese includes tips and tools to help you master all four Japanese language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing (including a complete list of all standard use kanji).

How to Use Brain-Friendly Methods

Icon | BrainMaster Japanese shows you how to learn the natural way, harnessing your innate language acquisition capabilities (we ALL have them!), and how to work with, not against, human psychology.

How to Save Time & Learn on Your Terms

Icon | Stop WatchYour time should be spent actually acquiring Japanese, not searching for tools and materials. Master Japanese includes a massive collection of suggested apps, books, manga, magazines, and online resources, helping you choose the right tools for your learning style, your goals, and your budget. To help you save even more time, the guide includes clickable links to all online resources so you don’t have to waste time Googling or typing in URLs.

How to Learn Anywhere

Icon | MapMaster Japanese shows you how to create a Japanese immersion environment no matter where you happen to live, while also helping you harness hidden moments throughout the day to maximize your exposure to the language no matter how busy you may be.

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.


Founder, All Japanese All the Time

The Complete Package

Everything the independent adult learner needs to build an immersion environment, get (and stay!) motivated, reach one’s specific fluency goals, and actually have fun along the way: 1) The 400-page guide in 3 formats (PDF, EPUB & MOBI), 2) 9 interviews with experts, polyglots, linguists, and authors, 3) 10 worksheets and cheatsheets, 4) 500+ resources, and 5) free updates for life..

Master Japanese | The Complete Package

The Guide

The Master Japanese Guide is one part how-to manual, one part resource guide, and one part language primer. The 400-page PDF shows beginning Japanese learners exactly how to learn, what resources to use, how the language works, and how to have a lot of fun along the way.

The Complete Package

The Master Japanese Complete Package includes everything the independent learner needs to create a self-guided immersion environment: the detailed guide in 3 formats (PDF, EPUB & MOBI), 9 expert interviews, 500+ resources, 10 cheat sheets, and free lifetime updates.

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

Three Delicious Digital Flavors

Read the guide on your device of choice using the 3 digital formats included in the Complete Package:

Adobe PDF | MJ Sales PageThe PDF Version

Print-ready and viewable on all platforms (Windows, Mac, Ubuntu, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, etc.)

iBooks Icon | MJ Sales PageThe EPUB Version

Perfect for use in Apple iBooks on iOS, Mac OSX, and numerous other e-Book readers.

Kindle | MJ Sales PageThe MOBI Version

Can be viewed on your Kindle or within any of the free Kindle apps on iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, etc.

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

Free Updates For Life!

I continually update the Master Japanese guide as new tools, materials, methods and language learning research findings become available. Whenever I release a new version, Complete Package customers can download it for free!

Free Lifetime Updates

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 book 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 at a Japanese Food Company, Oakland, CA

9 Expert Interviews

Complete Package customers can get inspired with over 3 hours of expert interviews with linguists, polyglots, and language experts.

Dr. James Heisig

James Heisig | RoundDespite a research focus in the philosophy of religion, Heisig is best known by Japanese learners for his book Remembering the Kanji. In our interview, he discusses how RTK came to be, including the heavy doses of skepticism his method first received.

Dr. Jay Rubin

Jay Rubin | RoundJay 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.

Dr. Victor Ferreira

Victor Ferreira | RoundDr. 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.”

AJATT’s Khatzumoto

Khatzumoto | RoundKhatzumoto (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 Lewis | RoundBenny (a.k.a. “The Irish Polyglot”) is one of the most effective and―perhaps because of that―controversial language learners around. He is the creator of Fluent in 3 Months, the most popular language learning blog in the world. I was originally skeptical of his methods, but have come to embrace almost all of his advice. As we discuss in the interview, he is most adamant about the importance of not “waiting until you are ready” to start speaking a foreign language as that day will probably never come…

Steve Kaufmann

Steve Kaufmann | RoundSteve 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.

Simon Ager

Simon Ager | RoundOriginally hailing from Lancashire, England, Simon Ager is the creator of, “the online encyclopedia of writing systems and languages”. I have been a fan of the site for years, and was quite ecstatic to finally have the opportunity to talk with its creator.

Randy Hunt

Randy Hunt | RoundRandy (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. He is not afraid to speak his mind, and his very vocal about his recommended methods (especially his hatred of flaschards). As you can imagine, his blog is no stranger to flame wars…

Claude Cartaginese

Claude Cartaginese | RoundClaude is the man behind The Polyglot Project, a collaborative book project co-written by dozens of polyglots and language learners (including your’s truly).

Master Japanese is smart, fun, and readable (not things an ordinary person would think of a language learning guide). It is a useful and accessible guide to language learning that has helped me realize that learning Japanese is an achievable task even with my busy schedule. Getting a hold of the guide has finally pushed me to try learning Japanese myself, which I’ve wanted to do since high school but never thought was attainable.

Sabrina Hamar

Instructor, Seattle, Washington

10 Print-Ready Cheat Sheets & Worksheets

Complete Package customers receive 10 print-ready PDF cheat sheets and worksheets, including:

Japanese Kana

Icon | PDF | SmallAll the sounds of Japaneseincluding hiragana (平仮名), katakana (片仮名), and roumaji (ローマ字).

Complete Kanji Lists

Icon | PDF | SmallTwo complete kanji lists, including a Remembering the Kanji list complete with the characters, frame numbers, and keywords included in the first volume of the book, as well as a Japanese Ministry of Education kanji list which includes both modern and archaic forms of characters, and the grade in which each character is taught in Japanese schools.

Most Common 1000 Words

Icon | PDF | SmallWhile learning the most common 1,000 words in Japanese won’t make you completely fluent, it will at least prepare you to understand over 75% of the language you see and hear day to day!

Deconstruction Dozen

Icon | PDF | SmallTim Ferriss’ 12 sentences that show the basic essential patterns in Japanese. Think of it as the 80-20 rule applied to grammar.

Verb Conjugation Cheat Sheet

Icon | PDF | SmallJapanese adds quite a few endings to verbs to express tense, politeness, desire, volition, conditionals, conjunctions, enumeration, commands, ability, passives, and causative passives. While you’re still getting the hang of things, use my Cheat Sheet to quickly check how to conjugate certain verbs.

Pronouns & Demonstratives

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

Note Template

Icon | PDF | SmallA simple note taking template to help jot down and review Japanese vocabulary in a fast, efficient manner.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Icon | PDF | SmallThis worksheet helps you to create specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound goals that are much more effective than typical overly ambitious and poorly defined learning objectives.

Study Plan

Icon | PDF | SmallA sample weekly schedule showing how to integrate immersion activities into your life, as well as a blank version to create your own personalized study plan.


Icon | PDF | SmallJapanese 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.

The book 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

Who is Master Japanese 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 an academic, grammar-driven approach to learning.
  • Just want to learn a few useful phrases for travel.
  • Want a highly-structured language course.
  • Need a teacher to keep them on track.

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

Why Should You Get 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 (free lifetime updates, 3+ hours of interviews with language learning all-stars, authors, and language learning experts, and big discounts on language learning products like LinguaLift, Skritter, JapanesePod101, LingQ, and Aaron Myers’ language learning guides)
  • Because the methods and tools I share really work. My growing army of happy customers are proof.

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, Washington

The Guide

The Master Japanese Guide is one part how-to manual, one part resource guide, and one part language primer. The 400-page PDF shows beginning Japanese learners exactly how to learn, what resources to use, how the language works, and how to have a lot of fun along the way.

Complete Package

The Master Japanese Complete Package includes everything the independent learner needs to create a self-guided immersion environment: the detailed guide in 3 formats (PDF, EPUB & MOBI), 9 expert interviews,500+ resources, 10 cheat sheets, and free lifetime updates.

Got a Question?

Got a question about the guide or complete package? Check out the FAQs or shoot me an email and I will get back to you as soon as I can.