How to use Free Software to learn Japanese, and more.

Learning Kanji Radicals

May 02, 2024 — Tatsumoto Ren

In my previous article on Learning Kanji, I mentioned that beginners do not need to learn kanji radicals. However, radicals play a significant role in the Japanese language. Understanding the proper Japanese names for common radicals aids in grasping spoken conversations about kanji.

The advice provided in this article is tailored for people who already understand Japanese. If you are still a beginner, I recommend focusing on more essential aspects of Japanese learning.


Going monolingual

March 28, 2024 — Tatsumoto Ren

So far, you have been relying on bilingual dictionaries to learn new words. For those studying Japanese, JMdict is a frequently used resource, offering Japanese-to-English translations. Going monolingual means moving from bilingual to monolingual dictionaries. It is an important step forward in your language acquisition journey. This shift is crucial for achieving long-term success and mastering the language.

In this article, we will explore how to transition from bilingual to monolingual dictionaries effectively.


Avoiding bad advice

March 21, 2024 — Tatsumoto Ren

Countless language-learning methods exist, and each of them tells you to do different things. Some methods are effective, but many are not. Unfortunately, the Internet is brimming with advice that might sound good but often leads to little progress. If you want to reach mastery in a foreign language, you don't want to waste precious time on ineffective methods.


Cross Profile Search And Import

March 11, 2024 — Tatsumoto Ren

The Cross Profile Search and Import add-on is a tool that helps you maintain a neat, uncluttered main profile while still having access to an extensive sentence bank. This tool allows you to store your sentence bank in a separate profile which is not synchronized with AnkiWeb, and then easily search and import cards into your main profile when required. In doing so, it keeps your main profile tidy while sparing AnkiWeb servers from hefty media uploads.


Language domains

October 19, 2023 — Tatsumoto Ren

As learners, we can divide our target language into domains to better navigate the territory. Being aware of language domains helps find the most optimal path to fluency.



July 13, 2023 — Tatsumoto Ren

Managing time effectively is crucial to accomplish tasks and maintain productivity. Timeboxing is a popular technique that helps people organize their time. In this article, we will explore the concept of timeboxing, how timeboxing can help with language learning, and discuss timeboxing software that AJATTers use.


Japanese support for Anki

April 12, 2023 — Tatsumoto Ren

Anki can be used to learn a variety of different subjects, including languages. What makes Anki such a fantastic tool for Japanese learners is the vast array of plugins or "add-ons" that extend its functionality. One of the most useful add-ons for learning Japanese is AJT Japanese. Its main features include adding furigana, adding pitch accent information, and adding pronunciation audio files to Anki cards.


Setting up GoldenDict-NG

March 22, 2023 — Tatsumoto Ren

GoldenDict-NG is a libre dictionary application for GNU/Linux and other OSes. Like Qolibri, it lets you search multiple dictionaries at the same time so for every word you look up you immediately get a number of definitions. GoldenDict-NG is a great tool for language learners, and it becomes especially helpful when one switches from bilingual dictionaries to monolingual dictionaries. It can aid during the monolingual transition thanks to the ability to look up many words at once in separate tabs, simplifying recursive look-ups.


Passive immersion

March 17, 2023 — Tatsumoto Ren

When we talk about immersion, we usually divide it into active and passive. Active immersion requires full attention to the content and can be practiced through reading and watching content in the target language. Passive immersion means listening to the language while engaging in other activities. When listening passively you're not fully focused on the content, instead you're doing something else while having the speech in your target language play in the background.


Active immersion

March 17, 2023 — Tatsumoto Ren

Active immersion is a crucial part of language learning and requires full attention to the content you are consuming. In this article, we will look in more detail at what active immersion is and how to practice it. We will also discuss the different types of active immersion, and how to deal with the ambiguity that can arise when immersing.


Reading books

March 09, 2023 — Tatsumoto Ren

Reading a book is a simple process. You don't need much technology to read a book. In contrast, when watching a movie, you need software that can create Anki cards from the subtitles. Or, when reading manga, you need an OCR tool to extract text from the images. But to read a book, all you may need is a dictionary on hand to look up unfamiliar words. And a program that can open and display books, of course. If you have a paper book, you don't even need a computer. Nevertheless, there are some tips I'd like to discuss here.

In this article, we'll discuss a few tips and tricks to help make reading books in Japanese easier and more enjoyable.


Plumbing for language learners

September 30, 2022 — Tatsumoto Ren

In this article let's talk about passing text between applications. Usually people simply select and copy-paste text from one window to the other, but there's a way to make it faster by using the concept of plumbing.

Plumbing is something that can make using a computer so much more convenient and fast. I think everybody should use it.


Mass immersion

August 31, 2022 — Tatsumoto Ren

AJATT targets people who want to reach a high level in the language and truly become fluent. One of the most important parts of AJATT is immersing yourself in Japanese as close to 24 hours a day as possible, combining that with spaced repetition and other technology.

Immersion is quite important, we already know that. Let's figure out how much immersion is necessary.


Japanese locale

July 13, 2022 — Tatsumoto Ren

A Locale is a set of information that most programs use for determining country and language specific settings. Since you're learning Japanese, generate and enable the Japanese locale on your system.


Condensing active immersion

June 24, 2022 — Tatsumoto Ren

Watching movies and TV shows counts towards active immersion and requires full attention to the content. We can apply a little optimization to condense active immersion. This small trick helps if you're watching something boring or if you're tight on time.


How Anki works

June 13, 2022 — Tatsumoto Ren

Since in this guide we are going to use Anki to study our target language, let's talk about how it works.


Spaced repetition

June 12, 2022 — Tatsumoto Ren

To study efficiently and help you keep track of the learning process one of the first things you're going to want to do is obtain a spaced repetition system. In this article let's cover the theory behind spaced repetition, why you need it and what system to use.


Learning grammar

March 31, 2022 — Tatsumoto Ren

What's grammar? Should you learn grammar? How to learn grammar? Let's answer these question in this article.


Immersion with YouTube

March 20, 2022 — Tatsumoto Ren

YouTube is a popular website where people can upload and watch videos. Through watching YouTube you can immerse with native Japanese content. Such content can be of particular interest to people who want to understand colloquial Japanese, speech with a lot of mumbling, slurs and slang. There are many language-dense streams and podcasts on YouTube that can be used for background listening. You can also find news channels with more formal speech.


How to type in Japanese

December 28, 2021 — Tatsumoto Ren

Japanese keyboard

Ever wondered how Japanese people type? No one knows the answer. Some people say that they use huge keyboards with hundreds of keys like on the picture. Luckily for us, we don't have to imitate Japanese people and buy a keyboard like that. There are programs called Input Method Editors (IMEs) that help us do the same thing on a regular computer keyboard. With an IME you type Latin letters and the software automatically converts them to Japanese characters.

Typing words in a dictionary, searching the web or talking to people who pretend to be Japanese on the Internet all require being able to input Japanese characters. If you're serious about learning Japanese, you need to learn how to do it.


Sentence mining

November 30, 2021 — Tatsumoto Ren

Sentence mining is a process of extracting sentences that contain unknown words from the content you read, watch or listen to in your target language and adding them to Anki in a form of targeted sentence cards (TSCs). You put an example sentence in the question field and the definitions, pictures and pronunciations in the answer field (fields).

Sentence mining and immersion are the two most important components of our method. Immersion provides you with new vocabulary to be mined, and mined sentences become fuel that advances your language learning.

Finding your own sentences is much more fun than learning from a premade deck, or, god forbid, a textbook. Because you're creating Anki cards out of vocabulary found in your immersion, you're always learning what is relevant to you. Once you reach this stage, it is way harder to quit Japanese, as the foundation is already in place.


Retiming subtitles

October 13, 2021 — Tatsumoto Ren

Reading target language subtitles is a great way to improve at your target language and grow your vocabulary when watching movies and TV-shows. Often, after downloading an archive with subtitles for a show you find that the subtitles are not in sync with the video files you have on your computer. In this article let's discuss what you can do to sync them.


One target sentences

September 10, 2021 — Tatsumoto Ren

Let's define a "target" as any unknown piece of information in a given sentence in a foreign language. It can be either a word or a grammar structure. We can divide all sentences we encounter while immersing in our target language into three groups:

  1. 0T, zero-target. Sentences that don't contain anything you don't already know.
  2. 1T, one-target. Sentences that contain one unknown piece of information.
  3. 2T+, MT, multi-target. Sentences that contain multiple unknown pieces of information.


Mining from movies and TV-shows

June 05, 2021 — Tatsumoto Ren

Sentence mining is the process of picking sentences from your immersion and making Anki cards. Each sentence has one unknown piece of information, which is referred to as target word.

To mine sentences from movies and TV-shows you are going to need the mpv video player, and a plugin for mpv called Mpvacious.


Learning Kanji

May 25, 2021 — Tatsumoto Ren

Unlike kana which you can learn in a matter of few days no matter what method you pick, learning kanji is apparently more difficult, and there are many methods of doing it.



May 17, 2021 — Tatsumoto Ren

This is the Ajatt-Tools Resources List. With the help of our community we've gathered the links to help you in your Japanese studies. We prioritize libre software and content that you can download for free. Everyone is welcome to suggest more resources in our chat.

The third party resources below may contain what Tatsumoto considers to be ineffective language learning advice. If you find something that contradicts what's written in this guide, assume it's wrong or verify by asking people in our chat.



May 03, 2021 — Tatsumoto Ren

Congratulations! You've taken your first step towards learning Japanese!

This is Tatsumoto's Guide to Learning Japanese. I'm Tatsumoto. This guide is for people who want to learn Japanese solely through self-study. Do you want to teach yourself Japanese? Do you want to reach a high level of fluency fast? Then this site is right for you.


Setting up Rikaitan

April 24, 2021 — Tatsumoto Ren

Rikaitan is a browser extension with a pop-up dictionary that allows you to look up unknown words with the hover of a mouse. On top of that Rikaitan can be set up to create Anki cards from the words which you look up.

The process of picking sentences from your immersion and making Anki cards is called sentence-mining or sentence-picking. Each mined sentence has to contain one unknown piece of information, which is referred to as target word.

You don't necessarily have to pick an entire sentence, but if you're a TSC user it is not necessary to keep mined items short. When you're out in the wild picking sentences, select the ones that are interesting to you. Your goal is not to mine every word.


Passive immersion tech

April 13, 2021 — Tatsumoto Ren

Passive immersion means listening to the language while in idle activities. When listening passively you're not fully focused on the content, instead you're doing something else while having the speech in your target language play in the background.

Passive listening is one of the key components of the AJATT method, so it is important to make it as convenient as possible. If preparing immersion content is tedious, you are not going to do it. This article covers technology for passive immersion.


Mining from manga

April 01, 2021 — Tatsumoto Ren

When we read manga, sometimes there's a need to quickly OCR a portion of the screen to look up new words and add sentences to Anki. To do so, you're going to use an optical character recognition program and a few helper tools.


Writing Japanese

March 16, 2021 — Tatsumoto Ren

After you've got a few thousand hours of input and can read content made for natives relatively effortlessly, it makes sense to start practicing writing Japanese by hand. Bear in mind that being able to do so is not necessary unless you plan to live in Japan. Nowadays writing is done on a keyboard and doesn't require recalling characters from memory. However, writing practice has the potential to improve your overall reading ability.


Introduction to learning Japanese

March 10, 2021 — Tatsumoto Ren

Below is a quick rundown of a typical Japanese learning journey that should get you to basic fluency in less than two years. We've designed the method for people who want to learn Japanese efficiently through self-study and are interested in Japanese media such as movies, TV shows or novels.

If you have any questions, you can ask them in the Starting Lounge of the Matrix space, and people will help you. There are thousands people learning Japanese, and you should be part of it.


Ankidrone Starter Pack

January 31, 2021 — Tatsumoto Ren

After finishing kanji, kana and essential grammar the bulk of your AJATT journey will consist of learning vocabulary. As the first step in this process, it makes sense to go through a basic vocabulary deck containing the most frequent words in Japanese. As before, you are going to use Anki to do it.


Discussing various card templates

January 14, 2021 — Tatsumoto Ren


Many learners agree that the most effective way to acquire Japanese is to combine the SRS with immersion. After finishing learning kana and kanji you're going to continue to use Anki in your study time to memorize vocabulary. When memorizing new vocabulary, there are various card templates you can choose from.

Card templates are differentiated by what you put on the front of the card. There are two major card templates that people tend to use: sentence cards and word cards. Both have their variations depending on what other information they contain.

This article covers recognition cards. Production cards are covered here.


Learning kana in two days

December 07, 2020 — Tatsumoto Ren

Learning kana is usually taken as one of the first steps to learn Japanese. As you know, Japanese has three different writing systems: hiragana, katakana, and kanji. Hiragana and katakana are two phonetic writing systems, together they are referred to as "kana". Unlike kanji, kana characters don't represent unique meanings. All you need to do is to learn how they sound.