Hacking Japanese Supercourse (Previous Version)

The (Once-)Ultimate Guide to Mastering Japanese

"Dear Niko,

My name is Jeremiah, I am 35 years old. I live in a small village in the mountains of Nagano. My wife is Japanese and I have three children.

I am writing to thank you. I am going on my third year living here in Japan. I have never felt more at home than I do here in these sacred mountains. But the thing that I have struggled with is the language. I kept pushing it off, telling myself and my wife that I will get to it soon. And yet soon is now almost three years later.

I really don't know why I kept running away from it. One reason is that it just seems impossible that I could ever be fluent one day. The order of the sentences is so different than English. And the kanji seemed overwhelming. The more time that has passed, the more I have come to directly experience the necessity of communicating in Japanese. And now my children are speaking. They do understand English, but the majority of their speech is in Japanese.

I have felt isolated and disconnected from my family and my place here in Japan.

I was ready to give up. The doubt and fear was becoming too strong. When I do try to speak I often get nervous and feel stupid. And so I then get discouraged and quit. And yet like swimming, the only way to learn is to jump in, and when you jump in you don't know how to swim yet. I don't want to wake up 10 years from now having ran away from what could be possibly one of the greatest gifts in my life.

Last week I was really considering quitting. The doubt was becoming overwhelming. Then I received your book. And I feel a real sense of hope. Not the kind of hope that comes and goes, but rather a feeling that struck deep in my mind and heart.

Your authenticity, fierce belief that anyone can learn, and your great sense of humor helped opened my heart again to the possibility that this can happen for me.

I have bought, tried, and quit so many courses over the years. But your book is probably the best I have ever read in regards to learning Japanese. It is clear, concise, and filled with direct experience that was put into everyday reality. It seems I have everything I need.

My wife will speak to me all day in Japanese when I am ready. I have a woman here in the village who is offering to speak with me for 1 hour each day for free. I have the tools I need. Now it is just committing to the task and answering the invitation that life has offered me. I do not have a strong desire to learn languages in general, but I do have a deep desire and intention to fully function and serve here in Japan for the rest of my life.

Thank you for sharing your personal experiences and the gift of your teaching and book. I am very thankful. I truly appreciate the time and energy you spent in offering this book the world.



A newer version of this course is available here.

My 7-Year Struggle with the Japanese Language

Yo! I'm Niko. I'm a freelance Japanese-to-English translator and the founder of NihongoShark.com.

If you heard my Japanese only a few years ago, however, you'd be pretty surprised to hear that.

Truth is, I couldn't speak a word of Japanese until my early twenties.

Even then, things didn't go so smoothly. I've probably wasted more money on trying to learn Japanese than 99.9% of the world's population. From the moment I started studying Japanese in 2008, I was fascinated by the language. But my teachers didn't seem to help, the books I bought didn't seem to help, the online courses I spent hundreds of dollars on didn't seem to help--and I was totally lost.

I was actually studying, too. Studying obsessively. I used to put post-it notes with Japanese all over my house. I tried journaling in Japanese. I tried writing the same kanji 8,000 times in order to memorize it. I read every book on learning Japanese that I came across, wasting a lot of money in doing so. I tried to watch anime. I tried to read manga. I tried to play Japanese video games. I took classes. I studied flashcards. I really put my heart and soul into learning this language... and in the end it was a disaster.

I spent years studying Japanese, and I got almost no results.

So, in 2010 I quit studying completely. I gave up on trying to learn this langauge that was so fascinating to me. It just seemed that I wasn't making any progress at all. I was discouraged, bitter, and confused about the whole experience, and I felt like a failure.

I figured that I just wasn't really cut out for learning languages, after all.

A year later, by a random turn of events, I volunteered for a few months in Peru, at an after-school program for disadvantaged children. Here's a pic taken there of me and my unseemly, early-twenties facial hair:

In the few months before going to Peru, I studied Spanish, trying to avoid my previous study mistakes with Japanese.

When I did that, something very unexpected happened: I picked up Spanish really fast.

I started to think that maybe I was onto something, to think that maybe I had tapped into an effective language study method. So I went back to Japanese, this time with an entirely new study approach. With a new study system...

A System of Learning
to Speak & Understand Japanese Fluently
Without Wasting Time or Money

My new approach to Japanese went very well. So well, in fact, that I decided to start a website about how to learn Japanese: NihongoShark.com, and in 2012, I posted a guide on how to learn Japanese.

To my surprise, this guide got excellent responses. It seemed that my preferred study methods were working for other people as well. I got emails from readers who were progressing rapidly in their acquisition of Japanese. I thought that maybe I was onto something special, and I spent the next few years studying both Japanese and language-learning in general, and the result was the Hacking Japanese Supercourse.

This guide is the culmination of thousands of hours of study, research, and writing.

Personally, I think that creating this guide is the most meaningful contribution I've made to the world thus far in my life. Maybe that sounds a little dramatic, but that really is how I feel.

For example, here's how my own Japanese progressed before and after the implementation of this study system...

My Progression Before Following This Study System

2008: I sucked at Japanese.

2009: I sucked at Japanese.

2010: I quit studying Japanese completely


My Progression After Following This Study System

Summer 2012:

I started studying Japanese using a much less developed version of the Hacking Japanese Supercourse, and in 3 months I learned all of the 2,000+ General-Use Kanji Characters required to read a Japanese newspaper.

Fall 2012:

I memorized roughly 5,000 vocabulary words using similar techniques to those detailed in this guide (only, the techniques in this guide are much more fine-tuned and time-efficient).

December 2012:

I passed Level N2 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), qualifying me for jobs in a Japanese-speaking office environment.

(All of) 2013:

I memorized roughly 10,000 Japanese words.

March 2014:

I founded a site written in Japanese about learning English, which currently has over 50,000 monthly Japanese readers.

July 2014:

I passed JLPT N1 with double the minimum scores in every category, qualifying me for translation work and an even wider variety of Japanese-speaking jobs.

September 2014:

I got my first major translation job—translating a book of 3,000 common Japanese expressions into English equivalents for a Japanese publishing company. You can see the book on this page of the Japanese Amazon store.

" I just couldn't stop myself from writing you an email saying how incredibly useful your e-book is.

As a person who is very self-motivated, I was sure that I could figure out how to teach myself Japanese on my own. And sure, I probably could have. But my research was so overwhelming...and it is so difficult to find reviews of Japanese programs that are both honest and seem to fit with my learning style, that I was feeling like I was drowning in an ocean of information.

Your book has been a life-saver. I feel sure that I will be successful following your system.

Thank you very much! And best of luck to you in the future! I will be spreading the word."

- Lisa M.

"Your Hacking Japanese e-book is great. I bought it a couple of months back and I read it now and then, (always useful, and super motivating!).

Anyway, I just wanted to say hello and thanks for creating all this content. It really is helpful!"

- Jonny E.

"Hey Niko,

Finally, I have finished your Supercourse. Here are my impressions:

This book is fully worth the price you're asking for it, and then some.

The way you hold the hand of the language learner in all aspects of studying, all the numerous useful references, and of course the actual ideological framework of the course itself, are terrific.

Everything one needs to learn Japanese efficiently is here. One just has to walk the path laid out in front of him. Even for the more adventurous types seeking their own personalized ways to learn the language, the book still provides a ton of helpful resources and ideas they can use.

The 'and then some' part comes in the form of the general light and humorous tone of the guide, which really made reading it easy. I LOL'd in some parts man, seriously.

Your guide has further confirmed that I wanna follow your methods, with some little tweaks to suit some personal preferences. Mostly just in the materials I will study, really. This guide was heaps awesome, and I'll put it to good use.


- Michael B.

Updated version of this course is here.

This comprehensive guide gives step-by-step instructions

on how to attain fluency in the Japanese Language.

Specifically, it includes...

Learn How to Pronounce Japanese Accurately

  • Avoid "Gaijin Japanese." Fix and avoid common pronunciation mistakes that foreigners make in Japanese.

  • Develop an ear for the sounds of Japanese so that you can finally understand what's being said around you.

  • Gain a deeper understanding of "the rhythm of Japanese."

Daily & Weekly Study Schedules

I will walk you through what you need to study for each day and week of your entire first year of Japanese studies.

Learn Hiragana & Katakana in 1 Week

The first step to learning Japanese is learning about its writing system. I'll show you the best tools for learning it quickly and effectively.

Learn ALL 2,136 Jōyō Kanji in 97 Days

People love to talk about how the kanji (those 2,000+ squiggly characters imported from Chinese) are the most difficult aspect of the Japanese language. I have developed a proven system for learning all of them in as little as 3 months.

Using the system in this course, many of my readers have mastered the meaning and writing of ALL 2,136 Jōyō in under 100 days.

Save Time with the Best Tools & Resources for Learning Japanese

I have spent a lot of time and money searching for and testing out study tools and resources for learning the Japanese language.

With this guide, you can avoid wasting hundreds of hours using ineffective tools.

Save Money Avoiding Ineffective, Expensive Resources

The vast majority of paid resources available to students of Japanese are an obscene waste of money. There is nothing that bothers me more than seeing big companies overcharge motivated students for a study system that produces mediocre results at best.

Not only this, but there is an equally useful,free alternative to 90% of all Japanese study tools, apps, books, programs, etc. on the market.

In this guide, I show you how to develop an affordable, long-term study solution that is scientifically proven to generate results.


Immerse Yourself in Japanese

Regardless of where you live, it is entirely possible to integrate the Japanese language into virtually every facet of your daily life.

This book will guide you through the step-by-step process of injecting Japanese into your daily routine in a way that is fun, productive, and entertaining.

It also goes into detail on how misconceptions of "immersion-based learning" can sabotage your studies.

Leverage Technology for Accelerated Fluency

Other language guides gloss over the productive application of recent technology for learning Japanese, because many such applications make their products and services obsolete... In other words, they would lose money.

Truth is, we can use a handful of free programs to rapidly learn and retain vocabulary, pronunciation, kanji, and grammar in a systematic, time-effecient manner. This guide will show you where to find such programs, along with how and when to integrate them into an intricate study system.

Learn Thousands of Vocabulary Words in Months

It is easy to memorize and retain well over a thousand new vocabulary words per month
. We can do this by taking insights from scientific studies and memory experts from around the globe as we systematically utilize a number of technological tools.

Specifically, the Hacking Japanese Supercourse will walk you through the acquisition of over 4,000 Japanese vocabulary words in your first year of studies. This is in addition to the 2,000+ kanji required to read Japanese books and newspapers.

Become the Type of Person Who Masters Languages

I failed to learn Japanese over and over again before I got it right.

Yes, my study methods were flawed back then. However, the primary cause of my failure was my mental approach to taking on the Japanese language. I tried to tackle the language through sheer willpower, and ultimately it left me feeling defeated, discouraged, and burnt out.

It wasn't until much later that I came to understand that taking on a huge language project is not about effort and willpower. It's about creating reliable study systems grounded in habits, routine, and enjoyable language exposure.

As such, in this guide, we will look at how to...

  1. Form reliable, attainable, and enjoyable study routines.
  2. Deal with disappointments, failures, and setbacks.
  3. Break down "willpower barriers" that get in the way of routine studying.
  4. Develop and maintain both confidence and motivation.

If I can learn Japanese, then you can learn Japanese. This guide will explore both why that is true, and how you can make it a reality.

Start Speaking Right Away

Trying to speak a new language can be very intimidating, especially if you're only a beginner. In this guide, I will show you how to start having conversations in Japanese in your first week:

  1. Work yourself up to your first spoken interactions in Japanese.
  2. Find a Japanese teacher and/or language exchange partner.
  3. Prepare for meaningful, time-efficient lessons and language exchanges.
  4. Equip yourself with survival phrases for stumbling through your first Japanese conversations.

"Hi Niko,

Just wanted to send you a thank you! Having read your e-book, I decided to learn Kanji using your method, and boy did it work. It was tough at times, but I also found that it really boosted all my other Japanese studies tremendously, which is what increased my ambitions.

My main drive to study Japanese comes from a deep fascination with Japan and Japanese that I have had for years. I tried to get started 10 years ago, but that did not work out very well. Your site got me inspired to start up again, and now I am already far ahead of where I got in about 6 months in just 2 months. Motivation is high right now, so I will try to push hard to get to the point where I can start immersing myself in Japanese media. I am really grateful for the motivation that your ebook has rekindled.

Thank you once again!"

- Jesper

"2,200 [Kanji]!

At last !

Thank you Niko, would have never been possible without you and your Supercourse.

And you can quote for advertising if you want, you deserve it :)

- Quentin L.

Thanks for your help and... Thanks for your website, your guide, your effort, your passion.

I've been studying Japanese for 1 year with very little success and I was really hopeless, wandering around, moving from website to website trying to look for an 'easy' method, an 'easy' way in... then I found your website. And, I dare to say so, my life changed, in better.

The way you pictured the sadness, the frustration, the anger of not being able to learn, and the way to cope with that, how to overcome that... it really moved me. I felt it. I knew what you were talking about.

Thank you again for this guide. I'll keep swimming. I won't quit.

- Davide J.

Mastery Guide Layout

How to Get Boss-Status Japanese in 1 Year

Phase #1 – Prep Your Ninja Tools (Week #1)

This Phase of the Mastery Plan should take no more than one week (a day, if you're fast). Here you set yourself up for fast-track learning throughout the rest of the year. Here you get all of the tools that will prove invaluable for the duration of this year of studying.

Phase #2 – Prep Your Ninja Brain (Months #1-4)

In the first few months of your year of studying, Phase #2 will have you master some core aspects of the Japanese language, which will propel your studying in Phase #3.

Phase #3 – Lay Your Fluency Foundation (Months #5-12)

Phase #3 is all about building up a gigantic foundation for you to achieve fast fluency.

This means learning a ton of vocab, a ton of grammar concepts, and listening to a quite a few audio lessons. Since you'll have prepped in Phases 1 and 2, though, you'll be achieving these goals at an incredibly fast rate.

Phase #4 – Go Jouzu! (Months 13+)

In Phase #4, you'll start focusing on the aspects of Japanese that you are intrinsically interested in. In other words, you'll start having a lot of fun with this language.

If you've followed through with everything in the first three phases, then you should be functionally fluent upon reaching Phase #4.

Enjoying Your Journey to Japanese Fluency

This photo was taken at a restaurant called Hama-zushi in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. It is a photo full of blessings, many of which I never would have received had I not studied Japanese. The person behind the camera is the love of my life, and I never would have met her without Japanese (She couldn't speak English when we first met).

I can go to a restaurant like this, and I can interact with the servers, and I can eavesdrop on the tables next to us, and I can read the menu, and I can share precious, fleeting moments with some truly amazing people... because I studied Japanese. And it's such a rewarding feeling.

At the end of the day, a language is nothing more than a tool for us to communicate with the people around us--to learn from them; to exchange thoughts, feelings, hopes, and dreams. This is the tool that I want to help you attain. I am truly passionate about the Japanese language, and I want to help other people to learn it, too. That's the real reason that I wrote this guide.

If you ever have questions or troubles in your studies, please don't hesitate to email me personally. Even if you don't buy this guide. (Yeah, I'd like you to buy it, because I spent hundreds and hundreds of hours writing it, and I think it can help you, but that's not what all of this is really about.)

If you really want to learn Japanese, I guarantee you that you can. You can do it without me, as well. There is no single indispensable tool for learning something as enormous as a language. Anyone who tries to sell you that promise is probably trying to cheat you out of some money. This guide will make your Japanese studies a lot smoother, more effective, and more enjoyable, but even without it, you can learn this language. I promise you that.

Just keep swimming. And enjoy this fascinating journey.

If, however, you are thinking about getting this guide, yet another bonus is...

↓ Go Here to Get Started↓

Find the updated HJS here.


30-Day Money Back Guarantee

No-Questions Asked

If you are not totally satisfied with this guide for any reason at all, then please email me within 30 days, and I will immediately send you a refund, no questions asked. (Well, if you're cool with it, after I send you your refund I might ask you why you weren't totally satisfied so that I can improve this guide even more.)

My number one goal is to help people learn Japanese. If I can make a living helping people learn Japanese, then that's really awesome, but I would never accept money from someone who didn't think that they were getting their money's worth.

I personally have wasted so much money trying to learn Japanese, and I don't want anyone to ever feel that way about any of my products. Tackling Japanese is a difficult mission. But I'm always here for questions, advice, motivation, or anything that can help you achieve your Japanese fluency goals.



p.s. If you personally cannot afford to pay for this Japanese learning guide, then please contact me personally, and we can work something out. I would never want to deprive someone of the opportunity to learn.

Above all, my goal is to help people to master the Japanese language, and I want to help as many people as I can. If possible, I would like to be able to make a living at the same time, because then I could create educational content about Japanese full-time. However, sharing knowledge should always take priority over money, so please don't hesitate to reach out.

The Hacking Japanese Supercourse

Updated course is here.

↑ Gateway to Boss-Status Japanese ↑

Course Curriculum

  HJS 3.0 (Beta)
Available in days
days after you enroll
Available in days
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  The 1 Year Mastery Plan
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  Phase #1 - Prep Your Ninja Tools
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  Listening Prep
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  Grammar Prep
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  One Last Thing
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  Phase #2 - Prep Your Ninja Brain
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  Phase #3 - Lay Your Fluency Foundation
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  The Almighty Study Chain
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  Chain Item #3 - Grammar & Speaking Practice
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  Phase #3 - Summary
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  Phase #4 - Go Jouzu
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  Reached Goals
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  Wrapping Up
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  Staying Motivated
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  More Ninja Power-Up Tools
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  How To Increase Vocabulary Through Reading
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  Learning Japanese Through Video Games--How?!
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  Taking the JLPT
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  Caveman Conversation Start-Up Guide
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  Hacking Japanese Guide: Complete!
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  Appendix -- Checklists, Schedules, & Links
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Your Instructor

The NS Team
The NS Team

Most of the content in our courses and lessons is written by Niko, language nerd extraordinaire. But his writing is checked and supplemented by native Japanese linguaphiles like Rei (his wife). He gets input and direction from Caleb (the NS tech ninja) and Chie (art/design leader). And sometimes he acts as a mere proofreader for talented bilingual guest writers. With our effort combined, we hope to make your move to Japanese fluency fast, efficient, and fun. ^_^

Updated version of this course is here.

30-Day Money Back Guarantee

No Questions Asked