All the Vocabulary I’ve Learned – Handy Tool

This project took me half the day, but I needed it. I wanted a way to see, sort, and search all the vocabulary I’ve learned from WaniKani.  The WaniKani site has a search field, but it doesn’t give Parts of Speech nor is sortable.

Why did I want this? In KaniWani (a separate site that drills you on the WaniKani vocab), instead of showing you the kanji, they show you the English meaning, and you type in the Japanese translations. What messed me up a lot was all the synonyms!

The table I made includes ALL the vocabulary I learned! I’m splitting them up in a page per 10 levels, so that includes approximately 1000 words. Page 1 is done, so that’s the first 10 levels! I added a column with the Parts of Speech that will hopefully help me distinguish some vocabulary going forward.

WaniKani Vocabulary – Levels 1-10 (1,027 terms)

How does this help me? Say I want to see all the words that can signify “action”. I just type “action” in the search box and I see there are four words in levels 1-10 that contain that word.


Showing 1 to 4 of 4 entries (filtered from 1,027 total entries)
Or maybe I want to find all the verbs that end in る.  There are 95! Maybe I just want to see the vocab from level 7. I just type 7 in the search. So handy, I love it!
This is all very rudimentary compared to the real databases and web programming I used to do in my career, but it got done fast and fulfills my goal. I just used the WaniKani API into Google Spreadsheets and sorted/displayed the data just how I wanted. I added a new URL column that adds a link directly to the WaniKani page for the word. With a second new column, all my time was taken up by manually inputting the Part of Speech column, which isn’t given by the API, ouch. Then I added it to a huge WordPress Table Press table in my blog.
I’ll be adding other levels as I get to them.
Help me!

Particle confusion!

Learning Japanese has been fun, even addicting, just the right challenge for me. But last week, I encountered my first stumbling block (out of many to come, I’m sure). Particles!

Particle confusion

Particle confusion

It all makes sense at first, I’ve had no problem understanding the usage of each particle when grammar lessons first introduce them. But then more particles are introduced. And various usages of each particle. Some have the same usage, some slightly different. To the park. Through the park. Until the park. Listen to music. Listen to your mom. In the kitchen. In the library we actively did something. Yumiko ate the ice cream. Yumiko ate the ice cream.

Each explanation makes sense, but when it comes time to choose the right particle in a long sentence, I feel like I make one or two educated guesses, but have no clue for the third. Sometimes I have no clue at all. 🙁

It is times like these where first I need to take a breath, halt any new grammar learning, and take a comedic break.

How to use は and が

I love this guy Dogen!


How about you? Can you guess the right particles for this sentence? Let us know how you did!

Question #1: ここ___何____れんしゅし____きましたか。

For this week, I plan to halt new grammar lessons and focus on mastering these particular particles in common sentences: に、で、が、を and more. Maybe I will share a few tips in the blog!


A Wild Pikachu Appears -To Demonstrate Positions

To express positions in Japanese, we use the particle の to link a noun to a position word. The lovable Pikachu will demonstrate these positional phrases by hiding in various places.

Before we start, let’s familiarize ourselves with the grammar involved.

Post-position Grammar

Japanese is a post-positional language, unlike English, which generally uses prepositions. Both preposition and post-positions combine a noun (noun phrase). As determined by the prefix (pre/post) – the preposition comes before and the post-position comes after the noun phrase. Since Japanese uses post-positions, the noun comes first, and  the position word follows. The particle の connects the two. This is the particle used when describing possession, which makes sense here.

[noun] + + [position word] + (に or で)


Right of the Flowers – 花の右

Here Pikachu is hiding to the right of two pink tulip flowers. Using the formula above, the noun flowers (はな) comes first, then の, and finally the position word, right (みぎ).

Full sentence? ピカチュウは花の右にあります。

To be honest, I’m not sure whether to use いる (animate) or ある (inanimate) for this Pikachu. Since this one is stuffed and doesn’t move, I’ll use ある.

Pikachu is right of the flowers. 花のみぎ

Pikachu is right of the flowers. 花のみぎ

Sound fun? Let’s learn more! Below is a table with the most common positional words. As with most tables on my blog, you can conveniently sort and search. I’m only using the most basic nouns that hopefully you will know if you have a few months of Japanese under your belt.

Position Nouns

うえueabove; over; top
したshitabelow; under; bottom
なかnakamiddle; inside
まえmaefront; before
後ろうしろushirobehind; back
そばsobanext to
へんhenaround here; near
あいだaidain between

Left of the Stone – 石の左

Next up, one of the first kanji I ever learned – 石 – stone. Pikachu is to the left of the stone.


Gawa (側) means “side”, so 左側 means left side.

Left of the stone - 石の左

Left of the stone - 石の左

When taking these pictures, I know now that I should’ve spent the extra time making the noun a different color than the positional nouns, but I had a frantic dog (you will see at the end) going crazy in the backyard wondering what I was up to.

Under the Tree – 木の下

I felt like an idiot scooting around on my belly to get this picture and make sure the lowest swooping branches of the tree were included, just like the kanji character!

Under the tree - 木の下着

Under the tree – 木の下着

In Front of the Gate – ゲートの前に

He’s small, but he’s in the picture, almost buried in leaves!

In Front of the Gate

In Front of the Gate

I had to stop here, this is where my dog was able to get too close to Pikachu… I don’t want this to happen…

Pikachū wa watashi no inu no kuchi no naka ni arimasu.
Pikachu is inside my dog’s mouth!

My dog thinks any stuffed animal is her domain and supposed to be ripped to shreds. 🙁

Not safe around inu!

Not safe around inu!

Inside the Poké Ball  – ポケボールの中

Rather, let’s put him in a place where he’d be more comfortable… Until next time!


I Choose You!

I Choose You!

Thanks to…

Thank you to my assistant, my lovely daughter who went around with Pikachu and a basket to place all the chalkboards while I shot the photos! Everytime I called her “Assistant”, she asked me if I was going to call her Christina next (from Stein’s Gate’s Kurisa).


Listening to Japanese

This past week I’ve been making a valiant effort to listen to more Japanese. My workouts usually consist of walking on my treadmill while watching shows (favorites being Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, American Horror Story). Well now I’ve started to watch more anime in Japanese, with English subtitles. Before this, I’d just watch in English, thinking I’d return and watch again in Japanese once I understand it better.

It’s been a coincidence that as I watch some shows, I also learn the kanji via WaniKani. For example, within days of learning the below vocabulary in kanji, I see them in my shows!

東京 – “east capital” – Toyko (in Tokyo Ghoul)

未来 – “not yet, come” – Future (in Future Diary)

So it’s all fun that I can recognize quite a few kanji now, but I need to learn faster! So I’ve started Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) in Japanese with subtitles. I was already starting to read the manga in English.


Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan


I particularly love strong female protagonists, she is strong in both combat strength and intelligence. She’s quiet, yet extremely determined, passionate and loyal.

What I can Understand

Am I understanding anything? Haha, not at all, really, just a few common phrases and words. I’m picking out adverbs like ほんとに and such though. I’m seeing how they use family names to call out to strangers, something I had just learned recently – おねえさn, おじいさん…

I’ll continue to watch at least one anime at a time in Japanese going forward. In the meantime, I’ll do my best to keep learning more grammar and vocab!

I love walking my dog, but of course have to multi-task somehow. So I renewed my JapanesePod101 subscription this month. I first started it a few months ago, but quickly got in over my head, and then my month expired. This time I’ve splurged on a 24 month subscription.

The picture below shows my tools I use when I listen to JapanesePod101! Of course my cellphone and headphones while out walking, but I don’t walk anywhere without my dog, so her leash is pictured here too.

JapanesePod101 on walks

JapanesePod101 on walks

They are perfect-sized chunks for my walks – about 15 minutes. I usually listen to about 2-3, depending on the walk. I have *only* been using the audio podcasts, but each time I listen, they tempt me with the resources they offer on their site – the lesson notes, the kanji, transcript, and more. Just looking at one lesson shows me so much more, such as quizzes, dialogue in audio/kanji/English/romaji/kana/all. They have a very active community, each lesson has a ton of comments.

I’ve been all over the place, trying to find just the right level for myself, right now I’m mostly listening to the Absolute Beginner/Beginner lessons. I’d love to blog more in-depth about this amazing resource as I get more familiar with the various lesson tracks.

How about you? What are you using to listen to Japanese? 


Human Japanese app review

Human Japanese is one of my most favorite learning apps, I have it on both my phone and tablet. The software is available for any platform – PC, Mac, Android, iPhone, Windows phone. There are two versions – Basic and Intermediate. You don’t have to know any Japanese to start, the Basic will teach you all the hiragana and katakana and get you up to reading sentences like below in no time. Intermediate will introduce kanji and advanced grammar.

Human Japanese

Human Japanese – Chapter 30

Voice Recordings and stroke animations

All kana, vocabulary words and sentences have voice recordings. The hiragana and katakana lessons include stroke animations and tips on writing the characters. Mini-quizzes inside these lessons will quiz you on your reading skills, allowing you to hear correct pronunciation.

Sentence “Ingredients” Feature

As you learn to put together sentences, you’ll be able to click the sentence for a voice recording, or click below and show the English translation. To the side is a yellow note, which opens up an “Ingredients” window that breaks the sentence down to all the parts of the sentence, in order. You’ll see all the nouns, particles, adjectives, adverbs, verbs, and more. Below is an example for “There’s a cat on top of the fridge.”
ねこが れいぞうこの うえに います。

Human Japanese - Ingredients

Ingredients breakdown for ねこが れいぞうこの うえに います。

Chapter Review Quizzes

At the end of most chapters are a Chapter Review quiz and any related quizzes (kana, vocabulary).  Each of these quizzes has 10 questions. You get points for answering each question correctly, which increases your XP and level. You can revisit each quiz to get more points, up to a total of 4 times, and can “master” the question. You can see in these screenshots, I’m currently:

Rank: Adept
Level: 14
XP: 2751

Chapter quizzes will unlock the next chapter. This ensures you understood the material before you move on to new lessons, but you can disable this feature and move around freely if you like. One quick note: You can see above that I unlocked all these chapters within a few days of each other. That is because I got a new Samsung tablet this month, so I ran through all the chapters real quick to “unlock” them. I didn’t need to, but I like to see my progress, so I have “Unlock as you go” checked in the Preferences.

Here is a sample question, testing on the vocabulary word “right”. I hope I get it right! (I did.)

Human Japanese quiz

Human Japanese quiz

Japanese Culture

Some chapters are culture lessons, so in the basic Human Japanese version, you will learn about geography, ofuru (bath), trains, countryside, and more. They have stunning pictures and wonderful descriptions of fascinating Japanese culture.

Japanese onsen

Japanese onsen


Once you buy Human Japanese on one platform, you can download it to any device that uses that platform. So since I got the Android version for my tablet, everytime I update it I can install it again on my Android phones and tablets without paying again. However, it won’t save your progress, at least not at this time. It is on their future feature list to synchronize user data. You can however have multiple profiles on one device, allowing family members to also learn! I used to homeschool, so I can see this being very handy for families with multiple children using it.

Need more  Practice?

As I mentioned earlier, you can always go back to a specific chapter to “master” the questions from that chapter. There are also three “Freestyle” cumulative reviews, so you can indicate if you want more practice in vocab, kana, or numbers. I just tried the Vocab freestyle quiz, set to a specific chapter and all previous chapters (you could also choose just one chapter or just the questions you miss the most). And I leveled up to 15!


Like I’ve mentioned before, I read a bit of Human Japanese a bit every day. It reads like a book to me, with beautiful pictures and backgrounds, so I curl up with the app at night and use it as a review for vocabulary and grammar I’ve learned in my other programs I use. The interface is very soothing, yet very user-friendly.


You can purchase it on Amazon for your PC, or via the app store on the platform you use. Most offer a “Lite” version where you can try out the first 8 lessons for free.

My Personal Progress

My progress with Human Japanese has been steady this spring the past few months. There are 45 total chapters and I’m currently on chapter 30. I look forward to ordering Human Japanese Intermediate and seeing more kanji in my readings as well!

Kanji and Hanzi Writing Practice Day

It’s Hànzì and Kanji Day! You may have remembered that my daughter is in her second year of learning Mandarin Chinese at her school. One of the things that makes it so much fun is that we can study our characters together! They pretty much look exactly the same and even have mostly the same meanings!

So I thought once a week we’d sit down and practice writing together. I know most but not all the hanzi that she writes, and she knows maybe half of my kanji. To make things more fun, I spread out some fun colorful pens and papers; if you haven’t noticed yet, you will soon — I have a serious pen addiction. We gathered in our loft, which is all spacious and bright and set about our work.


Satori’s Mandarin teacher gave her this writing practice book, and so that is what she’s using to write her characters today.

Satori practicing her hanzi character handwriting

Satori practicing her hanzi character handwriting

Look! I see the characters for mouth, eye, ear, hand, and day! Wait… one of these things are not like the others…


Across the table, I start off with some katakana handwriting practice. Although I’m pretty good at writing katakana,  I still have a few characters I forget sometimes or just don’t have the stroke order memorized. So practicing kana once a week or so is very beneficial for me.


Next, I took the time to write down my new Kanji characters I learned this week. With the WaniKani app on my tablet, I do my best to write them down, just guessing at the stroke order. Writing them down helps me remember. I choose some black paper and Uni-ball Signo Angelic Gel Pens to set off the characters.

WaniKani App and writing Level 6 kanji

WaniKani App and writing Level 6 kanji

According to my daughter, I have “rookie” handwriting. She says in her class all her classmates painstakingly write their Mandarin Chinese han zi all neat and precise. Then Miss Yang Lăoshī (her teacher) writes on the board and her characters are written all hasty and well… maybe not quite sloppy, but just not-so-neat. So apparently, anybody who writes all slow and carefully are “rookies”! Which is probably quite true…

WaniKani Level 6 kanji

WaniKani Level 6 kanji

Message for Mom

Before she left, I asked her to write me something in Mandarin. Right now she mostly just knows how to say things and not write whole sentences down, but here she tried her best to write “Mom eat rice.” And I recognize the kanji for woman and rice!

Daughter's message

Daughter’s message

This was our first time practicing together, I hope we make a habit of it, even if it’s just for a few minutes of bonding. Eventually we may get into writing Chinese and Japanese calligraphy together, I know at least I plan to learn shodo and maybe Suibokuga!

What I Learned This Week

This is Week 2 of “What I Learned This Week” for the blog! Incidentally, I am considering this Month 2 of my Japanese studies, where I’m really buckling down and not planning to stop.  Before I start, I am going to be adding my progress to the right side bar, up on top. So it’s very visible and you can see where my progress is in my two main learning tools. As of week 2, I am 30% into NihongoMaster Beginner classroom and Level 6 for WaniKani.


Let’s start with the Kanji studies.

deceased, deathぼうな.く
relax, cheapあんやす.い
brightめいあ, あか.るい, あき.らか
shop, storeてんみせ
walkある.く, あゆ.む
front, beforeぜんまえ
long, leaderちょうなが.い
haveゆう, うあ.る
older sister, big sister, elder sisterお.ねえ, あね, ねえ
behind, after, back, rearご, こううし.ろ, あと, のち
eat, mealしょくた.べる, く
younger sister, little sisterまいいもうと
earth, groundち, じ
night, eveningよ, よる
state, province, countyしゅう
point, decimal, decimal pointてんつ.ける
think, thoughtおも.う
drawing, paintingが, かく
yonder, facingこうむ.き
changeば.ける, ば.かす
teaちゃ, さ
music, bendきょくま.げる, ま.がる
all, wholeぜんすべ.て, まった.く
sea, oceanかいうみ
fix, directちょく, じきなお.す




In my main resource, NihongoMaster, since last week I’ve learned a dizzying assortment of new grammar! I’m now 30% into Beginner.

  • Adverbs – and how to express myself in varying degrees
  • Verbs! – I learned so many new things about verbs. This made me feel like a little school child knowing I’m just beginning to learn such basic things. I learned there is a polite and dictionary form of verbs. I learned three kinds of verbs and how to obtain the stem and polite form – Irregular, Ichidan, and Godan. And of course learned a whole slew of new vocabulary verbs.
  • More な adjectives: Like/dislike/skilled/unskilled/like very much and how to use these concepts
  • Demonstrative words (I even blogged a huge lesson on Demonstratives!)
  • Conjunctions -“but” and “and”
  • Verbs “come” and “go”
  • More about で and に particle usage

Human Japanese app

Read the following chapters this past week. I was thrilled it followed along with my NihongoMaster studies, and I plan to do my best to sync them from now on, doing NihongoMaster lesson first, and then Human Japanese app lesson.
  • 20. The Possessive and No – Introduces the particle no, used to indicate a possessive relationship between two things.
  • 21. Verbs – Explains how verbs work in Japanese, including how to use them in sentences and how to conjugate them to their various forms.
  • 22. Cultural Notes: The Countryside – Offers a glimpse of small town life in the Japanese countryside.
  • 23.  Directions and Ni – Shows how to indicate direction with the particle ni.

Genki 1

Since so many use this text, I thought I’d check it out. I read the first chapter and did the workbook.


Since I can’t quite yet read books in Japanese, I’m reading books about Japanese. Both of these two books are free with Amazon Kindle Unlimited!




DuoLingo to offer Japanese, now taking testers

Every year I check duoLingo to see if they offer Japanese, and not until this spring have I had any hope. I knew it was in the works, and was about to post about that, but today I heard that DuoLingo is now taking Alpha Testers for their new Japanese course. You need a duolingo account and an iOS device. You don’t need to know Japanese.

duoLingo seeking Alpha Testers

Interested? Head to duoLingo discussion for more information and to sign up.

DuoLingo offering Japanese soon

DuoLingo offering Japanese soon, not an official banner, I added flag/greeting

I was so excited, I took like an hour to make the above banner just for this post. (I downloaded their official Duo bird and logo, then added my flag and greeting. If this isn’t ok, let me know!) I’m an avid Reddit lurker, and saw someone mentioned that it is in the works! It is in the duoLingo Incubator now, with an estimated Completion Date of May 15, 2017. I’d love to be done with their Spanish course completely by then, so I can focus on the Japanese one exclusively when I’m on duoLingo.

Now we can look forward to learning phrases like “Genki desu ka.” and “Watashshi wa gakusei desu.”

duoLingo offering Japanese

duoLingo offering Japanese

I just noticed that there is a duoLingo subreddit... It’s so much fun watching all the redditors commenting, and hearing Overwatch’s Hanzo crying out his ult!

Ryuu-ga, Wa-ga-te-ki-wo, Ku-ra-u.

“Let the dragon consume my enemies.”

Back to duoLingo’s newest offering… I hear they will be offering Chinese this year as well! People have been asking for these languages for so long, but due to the characters these languages use, it was difficult to offer. So… do you think they will teach Japanese in romaji?


Ko-So-A-Do pattern word group

The Ko-So-A-Do/K-S-A-D  Demonstrative word groups are one of the first things you’ll learn in Japanese grammar. When I first saw them, I thought, hey, I got it, no problem. The new spatial differentiation isn’t too hard to understand, even though we don’t use it in English. But then more sets were introduced! And of course, several rules to keep in mind! Here it all is in one place, complete with adorable puppy pics!

K-S-A-D prefixes

These are the four prefixes. You’ll see them everywhere, so it’s best to get familiar with them right off the bat. “ko-“, “so-“, “a-” and “do-”

  • – this (near the speaker; close enough to touch)
  • – that (near the listener; or somewhat close, yet not close enough to touch)
  • – that over there (far from both speaker or listener; off in the distance)
  • – question word

These prefixes are attached to the following ko-so-a-do series – pronouns, adjectives, locations, “kind/type”, and general directions.


Pronouns (-re) -これ、それ、あれ、どれ・どっち

Use these to say this one, that one, that over there, or which one.

これはおいしいです。This is delicious.
それは何ですか。What is that?
あれはりんごです。That over there is an apple.

English doesn’t distinguish between the last two, we call them both “that”. So keep in mind the perceived distance from the speaker.

The question words distinguish between the number of items.
どれですか。(Which one is it? (three or more items)
どっちですか。Which one is it? (two or more items)

Yes, there are two words to ask “which?”! And I keep mixing these two words up! In any book I’m learning them in, I always choose the opposite one first, maybe because I think it has three syllables, it has to do with 3 or more items.

どちらがすきですか。(Which of these two do you like?)

どれが私のほんですか。Which of these (of 3 or more) are your book?

I figure some of you might be using one of these Japanese grammar books, haha!

Keep in mind since are nouns, they stand by themselves. We can’t say これねこ  (this cat). We can however, say it with the adjective form, covered next.


Adjectives/determiners (-no) ーこの、その、あの、どの

Words in this set are used as adjectives, and must attach to nouns; they are called determiners. Now we can say “this cat” or “that house over there” or “which ____”.

Here my dog is sitting right in front of me with a treat balanced on her house.

このはいいです。”This dog is good.”


This dog – この犬

My daughter is standing next to the dog now, holding a treat for the dog. I am no longer close enough to touch my dog. You could also use this when you’re relating a story and referring back to someone or something that has recently been mentioned.

そのは白です。 “That dog is white.”

Now our dog is not close to either of us, we have her sitting off in the distance.

あのは私たちです。”That dog over there is ours.”


Location – ここ、そこ、あそこ、どこ

ここは机です。(This is a desk.)
そこはえんぴすです。(There is a pencil.)
あそこはいすです。(Over there is a chair.)
トイレはどこですか。(Where is the toilet?)

Don’t forget – “that over there” – also takes the “so”, making it あど. These are pronouns, so they cannot be attached to nouns.


General Directions (-chira) – こちら、そちら、あちら、どちら

These are also pronouns, you can use them for asking directions or showing the way to something.

コンビニはこちらです。The convenience store is this way.
あにめ大会はそちらです。The anime convention is that way.
どちらですか。 Which way is it?

You can also use this to politely introduce people.

きりとさん、こちらはあすなです。(Kirito, this is Asuna.)

Kind Set/attributives (-nna) – こんな、そんな、アンナ、どんな

When you want to say what something looks like, you’d use this set. Unlike the previous sets, these do not refer to “this” specifically, but what this is like, (which sort of).  These must be followed by a noun.

そんなねこがすきです。(I like that kind of cat.)
さとりさんはどんなひとですか。(What kind of person is Satori?)

gold balls kanji

The things I google – Tanuki

Tanuki By Iwanafish- Cropped.jpg


The Japanese raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides viverrinus), also known as tanuki in Japanese, is a subspecies of the Asian raccoon dog.

Kanji Breakdown

And why did I google this? Let’s just say the Kanji to learn one of my new words is composed of “Ball” and “Gold”. And I feel very sorry for the poor Tanuki!

gold balls kanji

Kanji: Gold, Balls

I’ve been starting to read the example sentences in WaniKani. Some of them are hilarious! These are using my new vocab word, although they don’t translate 100% correctly in a translator.