caleb zone

A Japanese learner, etc.


Well, that’s probably the longest Japanese sentence I’ve ever written. My birthday was yesterday and I’m out visiting my parents on their farm. It’s been great being here and nice to spend time with them. I got some great presents, bought some gifts for brother and sister-in-law and tomorrow I’m going to visit my sister by the coast. I know I haven’t written anything for a while but not too much has been going on with my Japanese learning besides the usual. I’m level 9 on WaniKani and I’m on the last chapter of my Japanese From Zero! 1 grammar book. Happy to begin the 2nd book soon. So much good info in that book that my brain can’t contain it all. I’m sure I’ll occasionally look back through the chapters in that book to try and pick up words I’ve forgotten or some cool cultural tip I forgot.

I think I’m doing well continuing my normal routine at my parents’ house and after I’m done writing this, I’m going to go work on the last chapter of my grammar book. I actually have the second one with me as well so I can start that next!


Wow it’s already been a week since my last post. Not too much exciting news to be writing about recently. I’m still cranking through WaniKani, working through my Japanese From Zero 1 grammar book and watching Japanese YouTube videos. Oh I guess there is a cool thing I started this week or I guess I should say last week since today is Sunday. I got these awesome graded readers called Nihongo Tadoku. I bought all of the volumes 0 – 4 and have so far read the first book. They start out very simple and you can listen along with the included audio CD. I actually had to buy a portable CD player to listen lol. Most graded readers are all digital which is kind of meh so I was really happy to know I could obtain some physical readers. After I get done posting this I’m going to go read a couple of the books. I’m pretty bad still but I kind of can pick up what the story is about even though I may not know all of the words yet. One day these beginning stories will embarrassingly easy but for right now they’re great.

By the way I did learn an important word for this time of the year:


It means pumpkin! 🎃🎃🎃


おはようございます!Happy 十月1日!Enjoying my 甘いコーヒー after having a nice 6.8 mile run this fine 朝の日曜日. I’m listening to the ゼルダの伝説 時のオカリナ sound track currently which is one of my favorites. The N64 has lots of wonderful OSTs!

I don’t have much of an update today on my Japanese progress. I’m doing the same routine as always and learning new words daily. Some new words are just down right tough like this word 以外 (other than), oh and this word too 先回り(anticipation). Thankfully, WaniKani doesn’t always teach me a long string of new, difficult words like those. A few days ago I learned 10 new words since they were all so easy. The new vocabulary was just a combination of other Kanji I already knew well. Like 金魚 and 白鳥.

While doing my next WaniKani lessons today I finally came upon the level 9 radicals! Great feeling when you get to the next level’s subjects. I’m not too far from the Painful group of levels which starts at level 11. I’m guessing the Kanji just gets more compact and complex. Excited to be in the teens soon!

Yelp that’s all for now.


本当に難しい!That’s what I said to myself a few times today while running a half marathon here in Lubbock, Texas. The race was the Willie McCool memorial half marathon. The first 8 or so miles went wonderfully but then I turned on to this straight, un-shaded road with absolutely no wind. So hot or あついですね!I really had to drop my pace in order to keep my heart rate in a tolerable range. I was in the 170s for the last part and wasn’t too keen on that tempo. I reduced my pace to below 12:00 minute mile and that didn’t help too much due to the heat. Getting of that super hot road helped me recover and get back to running a bit faster. I wanted to get a new personal best and I believe I achieved that today. Around 4 minutes faster. I’d like to make that 30 minutes faster one day!

When I passed the finish line and saw one of my friends waiting I had a real strong urge to say お疲れ様でした!I’m certain I would have received quite a strange stare haha. It’s funny when these Japanese phrases just pop into your head. As I continue to slowly learn, that will probably get more frequent and I’ll just want to say more things in Japanese. Probably need to just speak to myself though or make sure the other person knows the language too. Another half marathon in the books! (funny saying)


Good news! I reached the next level in WaniKani. Level 8! レベルアップ

Every new level reached is always a celebration since it means one small step closer to level 六十. Also, I’ll take this moment to use a new phrase I learned on myself lol: お疲れ様でした. Very good phrase to know since I’ve been told it’s used heavily, every day by many Japanese people. It means basically “great job” and used to show someone you acknowledge their hard work they put into something. So… I’m acknowledging myself! 😇

On to the next level! 頑張りましょう

またね and happy 金曜

My Roomba, 丸さん, got lost somehow trying to make it back to his charging station yesterday so he inevitably gave up and asked for my help. As I approached 丸さん I tapped the glowing red button on top of him out of curiosity and then he said a phrase to me! I only could pick out the end but thought it would be fun to fully figure out what he was trying to tell me. I recorded the message and began typing out what I heard. Once I got something semi-close I fired up ChatGPT for translation assistance. Amazing how helpful that tool is and when you give it more context it just keeps understanding more. We finally settled on these two sentences that were being said:


Basically is says the battery’s remaining capacity is decreasing and needs to be recharged. A difficult problem was figuring out 残容量 (ざんよりょ). I kept hearing it as just さんりょwhich doesn’t appear to be an actual word. ChatGPT said that perhaps the robot is saying that word a bit differently than expected. I think that’s probably the reason and will maybe fully understand more one day. Maybe it some sort of dialect (方言) thing.

Anyhow, fun exercise and I’ll leave you with a picture of sleeping 丸さん.


Happy 金曜日!

Work hasn’t been too busy this morning, so I’d thought I’d make a post! I started going through the Japanese From Zero series and I’m on book 1 currently. So far, I’m really enjoying it and I’m also following along using their online study material. Going smooth since I’ve already been studying Japanese for a few months and know Hiragana and Katakana. The culture notes and helpful phrases are great, and the flow of the chapters is nice. The book was actually bigger than I expected but there’s not tons of material on each page, so you flip pages pretty quickly. All text is large enough to read easily and not microscopic. George has fun videos to watch on their website/YouTube if you desire to follow along that way.

Japanese has an incredible amount of information and study tools available that can tempt you to take on too much or just plain overwhelm you into doing nothing. I’m being cautious to not take on so many things at once. My learning stack, I believe, is good currently and not bloated. It still consists of the following:

I engage in the above daily except I rotate the grammar specific material. Somedays I’ll read some more of Tae Kim’s grammar book or watch some Cure Dolly. I don’t spend a lot of time on grammar but mainly focus on listening and vocabulary studies. I think I should definitely not add anything more into the learning mix!

Okay that’s it for now. Time for me to go heat up my super veggie for lunch. 美味しい!

Uhhh what a fun morning. Oh, guess I should first start off with saying おはようございます。My smoke alarm for some reason decided to beep around 5:20 am and scare the heck out of me. I have tall ceilings in my house so accessing the smoke alarm to replace the battery or reset it is not very easy. Being fully awake now I decided to go grab the ladder and replace the 9volt. After preparing to replace the battery the alarm just stopped. Still hasn’t beeped so now I have no clue why it was going off. Maybe something bad is actually in the air. I’ll have to pay attention today to see if it starts going off.

Since I was up earlier than normal for a 水曜日 I thought I’d start my normal 日本語の勉強している. I watched this great N5 preparation video from Yuka and I got a few things correct but still have quite a bit of studying to do. What was really confusing me in that video was seeing just the Hiragana for vocabulary and not the Kanji. I’m so used to Kanji! I have to say the words carefully to myself and try to imagine the Kanji if I already know it. I hope by next August I know enough to successfully pass the JLPT N5.

Time to go make some coffee, work for a little bit and then head to the dentist for a cleaning. Overcast day so far which is great.


From day to day, I’m never certain what new fun or interesting thing I’ll discover about the Japanese language or culture. Recently I found out that Japan has their own version of Rock, Paper, Scissors. I hope you’ve gotten to experience playing that at least once in your life when you were younger. Maybe you’ve even just played it this week! The Japanese version is じゃんけんぽん. I’ll define what I believe to be the different options:

  • グー – fist
  • チョキ – scissors
  • パー – paper

I’m happy to feel prepared now in case while visiting Japan I suddenly find myself in a じゃんけんぽん battle. I’ll know how to properly fight! I hope that you feel prepared as well.

Ok, back to work for me.


If you live in the United States (米国) then happy labor day! I decided to take the day off and with my day off I’ve been doing the usual like studying Japanese, doing chores and playing… video games! It’s not too often that I do that but today is the day.

Bullet hells are one of my favorite types of games and an older game I got reconnected with is 虫姫さま (むしひめさま). It’s a fantastic shmup from Cave about a princess that rides on a powerful insect killing other super insects. Due to my long absence from practicing the game I’m horrible haha. There’s so much chaos sometimes that the framerate greatly reduces and things begin crawling (just like a ). Those moments however give you the advantage of more easily tracking where your hit box is. Witnessing all of the wonderful bullet patterns makes the game stunning. It takes lots of practice to get your brain adapted to some of these recurring bullet patterns though. One day I’d like to play some other bullet hells in Japan. That would be so cool!

Okay that’s it for today. Enjoy your day wherever you may be and why not try out a shmup?


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