Hello, everyone! Sorry for not posting for such a long time. I’ve decided to vlog instead.

At first, I didn’t want to post my YouTube on here, as I wanted to keep this blog and that separate. I wanted to keep the YouTube a little more private, but now I just don’t care haha.

As of now, there isn’t much content on there, sorry! :( But I promise there will be more to come in the future. I only have one week left here in Japan, so hopefully I’ll be able to crank out a few more videos before I leave!

Here’s the link: http://youtube.com/travisv10

Post your YouTube’s below! I’d love to subscribe and watch your videos :)



So about a year ago when I started this blog, I found out a girl at my school (yes, I’m in high school) went to Japan on foreign exchange.  I then found out she got a scholarship to do so through a program called YFU (Youth For Understanding).

First of all, when I was younger I used to think foreign exchanging was very odd and that I’d never want to do it.  Over the past 3 or 4 years, I have had relatives have foreign exchange students, a friend of mine host and go to Germany, and another friend of mine foreign exchange to Japan.  Every one of them said that they loved it!  Well, except for my relatives, but they had only hosted 😉  Anyway, after discovering the girl from my school foreign exchanged to Japan, I decided that it’d be amazing if I could do the same thing, and next year would be my only opportunity to go for a long time!

Later last year, I went through all the steps of completing an application to YFU for their summer program to Japan.  This involved 5 short essays, tons of school and medical records, a teacher recommendation, and lots of other hoops to jump through.  YFU has several corporate, governmental, and regional scholarships that they offer to various countries.  Japan is one of their main destinations, and there were several scholarships available.  When applying, you can list several different scholarships you with to apply for and in the priority by which you want them.

I submitted my application by November (most scholarship deadlines were December or January) and waited 5 months to hear the results.

Well, today I got a giant envelope in the mail saying that I got a full ride scholarship to go to Japan through FCCLA/Kikkoman, my first choice!!!  I screamed when I opened the envelope, which doesn’t happen often 😉 or ever.

I do not know any host family information yet, and I don’t know many specifics.  I know I’m leaving June 17th for a 3 day orientation at UC Berkeley and then flying to Japan.  The trip ends August 1st, and school starts back up for me around August 9th, I think?  Anyway, on the trip, most people attend Japanese high school, which I’m unbelievably excited for.

So throughout this experience, I will be blogging (hopefully) very often.  I’ll post pictures and share every bit of detail that I can!

Since I found out about the program, I have been following the blogs of previous students that have gone and watched their vlogs and what not.  All of their posts have been incredibly informative, and I hope I can help anyone who’s thinking about going next year!

That’s basically it.  Let me know of any suggestions you guys have, or any experiences you’ve had in Japan that are noteworthy! Thanks for reading, -Travis

OH and next time you need soy sauce, BUY KIKKOMAN BRAND!!! 😉

EDIT: Oh and as a side note, the girl from my school stayed in Sendai 😮 her host family is perfectly okay though! They were far enough away from the coast.

So this post is a lot different than what you’re probably used to.  I wanted to have a discussion in the comments because I’m really curious to see what you all think about the TV method to learning Japanese and what your SRS techniques are.


  1. What do you think of the TV method to learning Japanese? (the TV method is watching tons of TV in the targeted language and trying to absorb as much as you can naturally)
  2. How do you SRS? (brief description, “I SRS sentences and vocab”)
  3. How do you go about choosing sentences, and what format do you use?
  4. How many new cards to you study and add each day?
  5. Have you “done” RTK, and if so, did you SRS the Kanji from it?

I’m looking forward to hearing from you all! Thanks, -Travis

Hello, everyone!  I’ve decided to take a new direction with the site, which includes a new layout :)

Now, the new layout isn’t better in my opinion, but it isn’t worse.  I really just wanted something new.  It’s simpler, too.

Anyway, the new direction I want to take is one that’s less formal.  I’m going to start posting more about SRS progress and what not, which basically deters away from the original plan of the site XD But whatever, I suppose.

Also, posts will probably be less dense, but more frequent.

I hope you like the changes!

Hello, everyone!  I apologize for the lack of posts.  The past 5 months have been really busy, and April and May won’t be any better XD.  But I am on break right now and have decided to get back into the blogging business!  I’ve gone through a lot of my old posts and decided that some desperately need revisions.  I’ve decided to start with which textbooks I’ve found are the best for beginners! You can read the original post here.

Looking back, I don’t think ranking textbooks by 1st, 2nd, 3rd place, and so-on is a very good idea.  First of all, it can be discouraging to see one’s favorite textbook with a low placement.  Secondly, textbooks cannot really be defined as “best”.  Although some are clearly better than others, most textbooks are all good for certain purposes which cannot be ranked side-by-side with other features.  So, instead, I will list my personal preferences in order with the first one being the one I find most helpful/important to have around.  Also, I feel as though a rating system on different aspects will help learners find the textbook best suited for them.

Best Japanese Textbooks for Beginners

(ordered by my personal preference first)


INTRO Genki is the textbook of choice for many universities and self-learners.  Genki 1 is part of a 2 book series that covers the first 2 semesters of a first year college-level Japanese course.  The first 2 chapters feature Kana along with Romaji to help out total beginners that are still learning their syllabries.  The books are divided into units, and the first book has 12.  The units have a dialog, a vocabulary page, a grammar section, and then practice exercises on the material.  Each lesson basically takes up a weeks time in regards to a college schedule, but I’m sure most learners will find themselves having to take it much slower if they really want to know the material.

LIKE Pretty much everything is satisfactory.  The grammar is well explained, and conjugation tables make it easy to refer back to.  The exercises help one practice the material.  The pace of the book is good.

DISLIKE Some complains of mine are that the vocab seems very random, and some words such as disco are taught before essential verbs.  Also, the majority of vocab words are featured with all the Kanji that goes with the word.  Now, some people might like this because you are seeing the word as you actually would in a Japanese text, but some of the Kanji in the most basic words are very complex.  Also, Kanji lessons are taught separately in the back of the book.  Please keep in mind, this review is based on the last edition as there is a newer, revised edition of Genki 1 available now.

  • Grammar explanations and content 4/5 – Covers a perfect amount of grammar points, but is not very in-depth
  • Vocabulary list usefulness/effectiveness 3/5
  • Practice exercises 4/5
  • Speed 4/5 – The book moves a little fast for my taste, but is manageable

* Cultural notes n/a

* Form factor and quality 4/5 – Paper is high quality, and the book is a perfect size


Buy Genki

Elementary Japanese

INTRO I’ve pretty much finished Genki 1, so I decided to dust off this book and work through it before moving on to Genki 2.  Elementary Japanese was developed by the UC Berkeley Japanese Program, and was piloted at Berkeley before hitting the market.  Each lesson is equivalent to a week’s lesson based on a college schedule.

LIKE I’ve been incredibly pleased with every aspect of this book.  This book is similar to Genki, but does things differently.  In Genki, you’ll find the affirmative and negative conjugations taught in one lesson, while this book breaks it down in to several separate lessons.  The Kanji is also mixed in with each chapter, and they do not replace Hiragana with the appropriate Kanji unless they’ve been introduced through the Kanji lessons.  The grammar explanations are far more in-depth than Genki.

NEUTRAL The book utilizes more of the polite form than Genki does.

DISLIKE I really don’t like how they tag certain grammar points such as “Pre-ますフォーム” and what not.  It gets very confusing, and I prefer how Genki labels the conjugations.  The book doesn’t seem as nicely formatted as Genki, and I feel as though Genki is a little more thorough and widely accepted as a standard.

  • Grammar explanations and content 5/5 – Very in-depth
  • Vocabulary list usefulness/effectiveness 3/5 – I don’t like how they do vocab.  All it is is a table in the back of the chapter, but it the words taught are more useful than Genki
  • Practice exercises 3/5 – I’ll admit I haven’t done many of their exercises because I’m mostly just going through and reading the grammar points.  They exercises are not as effective as Genki’s are
  • Speed 4/5

* Cultural notes n/a

* Form factor and quality 4/5 – LOVE having a hardback textbook


Buy Elementary Japanese

Beginning Japanese

INTRO Beginning Japanese is a high school textbook that is part of a soon to be finished 3 part series.  By the third book, students should have enough knowledge to pass the AP Japanese exam.  My friend bought this and recommended it to me, so I decided to try it out.

LIKE Much slower pace than the two previous books.  The curriculum is for high school students, and has a very unique formatting to it.  I love the dialogs and the half-English/half-Japanese paragraphs.  Overall, the book seems very modern in comparison to other textbooks and does a lot of things right.  It’s available in hardback, and the book is in color! Major plus :)

DISLIKE I purchased the book because of a very positive recommendation, but I already know all of the material.  For me, the slow pace isn’t an advantage, and the second book, Intermediate Japanese, will not be released until September.  Another thing I dislike is that they don’t actually define the vocab words.  Pictures are used instead, and the images are often vague.

  • Grammar explanations and content 4/5 – Goes slower, easier to comprehend
  • Vocabulary list usefulness/effectiveness 2/5 – As I mentioned earlier, they use pictures instead of words to define the vocabulary.  Also, the list isn’t very extensive.
  • Practice exercises 2/5 – Lots of partner exercises.  Not as effective as Genki or Elem. Jap.
  • Speed 3/5 – Some may like the slower pace

* Cultural notes 5/5! There’s a lot of culture to learn form this book, unlike most textbooks.

* Form factor and quality 5/5 – Again, I love having a hardback option.  Having it in color is another huge pro.

OVERALL RATING 8/10 – This book isn’t really for my level, but if I was just starting out, it’d be a perfect resource!

Buy Beginning Japanese

So you may have noticed that I completely got rid of Japanese from Zero!, Japanese For Busy People, and Japanese For Everyone.  After further evaluation, I do not think these books are good enough to recommend.  If you find them useful, however, please continue using them!  Whatever works for you is truly the best textbook.

Let me know what you think about these books, and if you know of any good learning resources, please comment below! Thanks for reading, -Travis

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