Learn Japanese the Fun Way!

No boring textbooks. No expensive classes. No tedious memorization. Just fun, effective immersion―anytime, anywhere.

Master Japanese  is your step-by-step guide to learning Japanese through my "Self-Guided Immersion" approach. The guide shows you:

  • How to create a Japanese immersion environment no matter where you live.
  • How to choose resources that fit your unique interests, learning style, and needs.
  • How to use brain-friendly, adult-friendly methods and techniques.
  • How to learn all four language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
  • How to save time, save money, and learn on your own terms.
  • How to have a damn good time along the way!


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

Why Self-Guided Immersion Beats Traditional Study

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, Self-Guided Immersion has many advantages over traditional classroom and textbook-based learning:

It's More Fun

The Self-Guided 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 andexpensive. 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

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

It's Personalized

Self-Guided 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: 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

Fluent in 3 Months

The Master Japanese Guide

The 400-page Master Japanese Guide shows you how to acquire languages in a fun, adult-friendly way, with detailed tips on creating a personalized immersion environment, strategies for working with—not against—how the brain works, tips for how to get (and stay!) motivated throughout your learning journey, a detailed overview of the Japanese language, and 500+ 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 guide, 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: How to Learn

The second part of Master Japanese shows you how to create effective goals and daily systems, how to stick to your goals no matter what, how to make time for Japanese, how to  learn the natural way, how to learn through action, how to work with tutors, how to use shadowing, how to use spaced repetition, how to use timeboxing, and how to take good notes.

Part 3: What to Learn

The third part of Master Japanese shows you how to learn essential patterns, how to learn kana, how to learn kanji, how to master pronunciation, how to learn to read Japanese, how to learn to write Japanese, and how to learn to type Japanese.

Part 4: Build Your Toolbox

The fourth part of Master Japanese shows you how to choose ideal resources and includes 500+ specific recommendations for apps, websites, blogs, podcasts, radio programs, audio programs, audiobooks, music, anime, TV, movies, video games, comic books (manga), newspapers, magazines, books, and reference materials.

Part 5: Japanese 101

The fifth and final part of Master Japanese provides an overview of the Japanese language, Japanese writing, Japanese vocabulary, Japanese honorifics, Japanese verbs, Japanese adjectives, Japanese adverbs, Japanese pronouns, Japanese proper nouns, Japanese particles, Japanese numbers, and Japanese dates and time.

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 Master Japanese Complete Package

The Master Japanese Complete Package includes: 1) The 400-page guide in 3 formats (PDF, iBooks/EPUB, and Kindle/MOBI), 2) 9 interviews with experts in Japanese and language learning, 3) 10 worksheets and cheatsheets, 4) 500+ resources, and 5) free updates for life.


Master Japanese | The Complete Package

3 Delicious Digital Flavors

With the Master Japanese Complete Package and Coaching Package, you get three different digital formats to choose from, allowing you to use the app or device of your choice.

The PDF Version

The PDF version of Master Japanese is print-ready and viewable on all platforms (macOS, iOS, Android, Windows, Windows Phone, Ubuntu, etc.) and within a wide variety of apps (Preview, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Apple Notes, Evernote, Google Drive, Safari, Chrome, Firefox, etc.).

The iBooks / EPUB Version

The EPUB version of Master Japanese is is supported by the largest number of ebook readers and is perfect for reading on smaller screens since you can adjust the font size on the fly. You can open the EPUB version in Apple iBooks on iOS and macOS, and numerous other eBook readers including Nook, Kobo, etc.

The Kindle / MOBI 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. You can also open this version in any eBook readers that support the MOBI file format such as Kobo, InkBook, and Onyx.

9 Expert Interviews

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


Dr. James Heisig

Despite a research focus in the philosophy of religion, Heisig is best known by Japanese learners for his book Remembering the Kanji (RTK). 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 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

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.”

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 Teach Yourself’s Language Hacking series. As we discuss in the interview, he is most adamant about the importance of not waiting until you feel “ready” to start speaking a foreign language as that day will probably never come.

Steve Kaufmann

Steve is the creator of LingQ.com 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

Originally hailing from Lancashire, England, Simon Ager is the creator of Omniglot.com, “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 (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 is the man behind The Polyglot Project, a collaborative book project co-written by dozens of polyglots and language learners (including your’s truly).

10 Print-Ready Cheat Sheets & Worksheets

With the Master Japanese Complete Package and Coaching Package, you receive 10 print-ready PDF cheat sheets and worksheets to help you optimize your language learning time:


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).

Complete Kanji Lists

This cheat sheet includes two complete kanji lists, including 1) a comprehensive Remembering the Kanji list with the characters, frame numbers, and keywords included in the first volume of the book, and 2) a comprehensive Japanese Ministry of Education kanji list with both modern and archaic forms of characters, and the grade in which each character is taught in Japanese schools.

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!

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.


Japanese adds quite a few endings to verbs and adjectives to express tense, politeness, desire, volition, conditionals, conjunctions, enumeration, commands, ability, passives, and causative passives. This conjugation cheat sheet allows you to quickly check how to conjugate common verbs and adjectives while you’re still getting the hang of things.


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.

Note Template

Print out a few sheets of this simple note taking template to help you jot down and review Japanese vocabulary in a fast, efficient manner.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

This 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

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.


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

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

The Master Japanese Coaching Package

The Master Japanese Coaching Package includes everything from the Complete Package (the guide PDF, iBooks/EPUB, and Kindle/MOBI formats, the 9 expert interviews, the 10 worksheets and cheatsheets, the 500+ resources, and free updates for life), plus 1) a 1-hour coaching session with me, 2) a custom S.M.A.R.T. goals and daily systems report based on your unique learning style and objectives, 3) a custom learning plan that fits your schedule and chronotype, and 4) a custom list of tools and resources that fit your unique passions, interests, and professional needs.


Master Japanese | The Complete Package

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

Choose Your Own Adventure

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, 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 Self-Guided 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 language textbook or 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.

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

Why Should You Get Master Japanese?

  • Because I’ve poured everything I’ve learned over the past two decades about language acquisition in general and Japanese specifically into Master Japanese. I’ve made lots of mistakes on my journey and hope this guide can save you time, money, and effort that I wasted.
  • Because ou 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, 10 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.

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, Oakland, CA

Pick Your 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.


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.


Coaching Package

The Master Japanese Coaching Package includes everything Complete Package (the guide in 3 formats, 9 expert interviews, 500+ resources, 10 cheat sheets, and free lifetime updates) plus a 1-hour coaching call and 3 custom learning reports tailored to your needs and interests.


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

Got a Question?

Got a question about the Master Japanese Guide, Complete Package, or Coaching Package? Check out the FAQs or shoot me an email and I will get back to you as soon as I can.


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

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