caleb zone

A Japanese learner, etc.


This is a new time of the day to write a blog post but I figured I do another. Today was a bit of a surprise with my brother’s dog Emma, a golden lab, having a seizure again. We quickly took her to the vet this morning and learned that she most likely has brain cancer. Really sad and tough to have to face. We feel bad for her since she’s no longer acting once like she used to. Hopefully the meds prescribed will perk her up a bit in the coming days. My brother and sister-in-law are keeping a close eye on her now to watch for anymore seizures. Maybe they’ll stop but no ones for certain yet…

Japanese study has been progressing like always. Learning new vocabulary everyday and listening as much as I can to natives speaking. I’m starting to hear more words get repeated quite a bit. Over time I’m sure I’ll notice even more common vocabulary that gets repeated a lot during extended conversations. It’s tempting to keep looking around online for “improved” and “better” ways to become a Japanese speaker but I think I need to trust my routine. I know it’s for sure better than doing nothing!

I learned my normal 5 new words today from WaniKani but picked up an additional new word from the Nihongo con Teppei podcast. 「応援」is the new word which means support, cheer or assistance. I’m sure I’ll hear it elsewhere in the future if I can remember it lol.



Yesterday was a bit of a struggle doing my normal Japanese listening. I picked up a few cool new words, but doubt is getting to me. I feel better I think today but I start wondering if my current studying routine is even helping me get better at Japanese. Getting discouraged is really easy somedays. I had some good days last week where things were exciting but then like today it feels blah. I’m probably going to have lots of these sadly. This is the tough reality of language learning. Anyway, the words I learned were「そうでした」and「大好き」. The first word I learned from listening to a discussion on YouTube and it means “Oh, I remember now” and the second is from the Nihongo con Teppei podcast and it means to really like something. Ok that’s it for now.



Can’t believe I’m writing yet another blog post this many days in a row. I’m sure there will be some quiet days, but I wanted to share how cool it was to listen to this new podcast from Noriko interviewing Fumi.

(1) Japanese Podcast Season 3-3 @SpeakJapaneseNaturally のFumiさん #日本語ポッドキャスト – YouTube

Fun to hear them talk together and I picked up a new word that finally clicked. I’ve heard it often I feel but never paid much attention. The word is「本当に」. It’s used to emphasize the truth of a statement. Pretty cool!

Also, last night while meditating to the Nihongo con Teppei podcast I learned another great word 「鼻水」. What do you get when you combine your nose with water? Nose water aka mucus! So cool how Kanji is combined.


Running is something I do often and I really enjoy it. I’ve been consistently running for about 10 months now. To make sure I could sustain the activity and actually like it I started off VERY slow. I carefully monitored my heart rate and pace to make sure I was never going too fast. My target the majority of the time is to be running in my zone 2 calculated for my body which is 142 – 157 bpm using The Karvonen formula. Since taking it slow and only gradually increasing my pace when my body is ready I’m now starting to run around a 10:40 minute mile. Feels nice to finally be getting faster!

Running is a wonderful opportunity to listen to Japanese podcasts so I can immerse while exercising. Great combination! I had a fantastic 7.2 mile run this morning and listened to the Nihongo con Teppei podcast for over an hour. I use bone conduction headphones so I can always hear what’s going on around me and be aware.

If you do any sort of routine exercise like running, cycling or weight lifting I hope you’re taking that time to study a language! 😆


Thought I’d share what my current day-to-day study looks like for learning Japanese. Lately, I’ve been spending around 2+ hours a day with the language. Today I finished going through the course from Refold called Teach Yourself a Language. It was 30 days and I learned quite a bit from it. It got me set up with even better habits! I highly recommend checking out that course if you’re learning a language too. So let’s see what I spend time on everyday:

  1. WaniKani – I spend about 30 minutes on this daily reviewing Kanji/vocab that it has taught me plus learning 5+ more words a day. This website is essentially a fancier version of Anki which you may be familiar with. I’ve really enjoyed using this tool everyday for the past 3 months and I’m currently at level 6. Only 54 levels left to go!

  2. KaniWani – This is very similar to WaniKani but does the opposite and feeds off of the data from WaniKani. It basically takes what you’ve been recently studying and sees if you can identify the Kanji from just seeing the English meaning. Good way to reinforce what you learn from WaniKani and it’s free!

  3. YouTube – This is the main video platform where I watch certain channels that are targeted for beginner learners. I try to watch at least 30+ minutes a day. Here are the channels I’m enjoying right now:

These above teachers put in great effort and create some really enjoyable videos to watch. Yuki from @cijapanese is the channel I particularly watch the most of since her beginner stuff is fun.

  1. Iago – A wonderful little tool that augments Netflix and YouTube with a way to very quickly look up words. It can quiz you at the end of the video and occasionally ask you questions about words you’ve seen in the past. Quite useful and free as well!

  2. Satori Reader – This is a great graded reader for when you want to hear some stories about exploring cats or curious mice! There’s quite a bit of settings on what Kana should show and Kanji based on your vocabulary level. I basically do free-flow immersion with this and occasionally stop to look up an interesting word that I heard. The Japanese dictionary I use daily for lookups is called Japanese. I have it for iPhone but there’s an Android version too.

  3. Nihongo con Teppei (for beginners) – I listen to his podcast before going to bed 30 minutes every night. It took the place of my meditation haha. He’s fun to listen to and speaks slowly so he’s understandable. He’s uploaded almost 2000 episodes so there are a ton to listen to! He has some other podcasts as well for intermediate learners and another for advanced learners. I believe his podcast series is on Spotify as well but I’ve just been listening to the episodes on iTunes.

That’s it! I’ve been enjoying doing this daily and fitting it into my daily life where I work full time and balance other hobbies. I’m not always super motivated but I’ve built habits doing these things and I just do them regardless of how I feel. Seriously learning a language takes thousands of hours and it’s a big commitment. I know my current strategy will change over time and I’ll write another post when it does.


A really fascinating element of Japanese is all of the special counters used for counting things. Whether you’re counting birds, small animals, books or bread loafs there’s a special counter for each. I’ve never seen anything like that before and was surprised. English has nothing like this that I’m aware of. Here are some counters I’ve learned so far:

  1. Bread load counter – 斤 (きん)

    • Example – パン三があります
  2. Bird counter – 羽 (わ)

    • Example – 鶏五が見えます
  3. People counter – 人 (にん)

    • Example – 二が走りません
  4. Small animal counter – 匹 (ひき, ぴき, びき)

    • Example – 魚一が食べました

There are many more than this, but I have to say my favorite for sure is the bread loaf counter. I was amazed upon first learning that. Just one of the many fascinating things about the language! I know there’s much more in store for me as I continue.


I spend a lot of my language learning time watching Japanese videos on YouTube. Right now, I try to listen and watch a total of 2+ hours a day. What’s hard I’ve noticed is that when watching videos like of native speakers interviewing foreigners, I get sad and wonder what the heck am I doing? I’ll never speak as well as them! Embarrassment kind of falls on me and then I have to work on telling myself everything is fine. All of those speakers started off quite bad, but they put in a lot of time and now look where they are. So, keeping a positive mindset is really important I’m finding. Don’t be a sad cat all of the time watching YouTube! :)

Guess that’s all for today. I’m still trying to sort out how I’m going to use this new blog of mine. Maybe I’ll do little, short posts like a journal and then maybe longer posts when I have more details. Who knows! I guess I should just use this and not over think it. またね!

So, I finally decided to start writing about my journey as a Japanese learner. Been putting this off but thought it might be fun to just write occasionally about how things are going and what neat things I've been learning. I don't write much so this will be simple to read blog.

I became a Japanese learner in the middle of May 2023. The interest to learn ignited while talking with my sister-in-law. I attempted many years ago, but it was mostly just a bit of fun with the language. Now I think I'm ready to really begin. Firstly, I started learning Hiragana and Katakana from Tofugu.

Those resources helped me to learn all of the Kana very quickly in around two weeks. I then joined WaniKani ( to learn a huge set of vocabulary and Kanji and I'm currently level 6. The goal is level 60. I have a couple of years or less to go but taking it slow to actually learn. I'm almost finished with Refold's Teach Yourself a Language course which has given me a great start. Learned about useful tools and how to establish healthy habits. Learning a language is a huge task and one that has to integrate deeply into your life. I'll probably talk more about my learning process a bit later. Happy to just finally post something!

Until next time!

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