What’s the One Thing That Frustrates You Most About Learning Japanese?

By Donald Ash | Latest Posts

What Frustrates You Most About Learning Japanese

Japanese is often billed as one of the hardest languages to learn, at least for us "Westerners."

Today I want to start a real dialogue about a real question that many of you will be able to relate to: What's the one thing that frustrates you most about learning Japanese?

Why do so many of us struggle so hard to learn Japanese? It's not like a situation where there's no interest or no reason to learn Japanese.

We're enamoured by so many aspects of Japanese culture.  We're anime geeks, video game fanatics, Japanese food lovers, Tokyo fashionistas, and everything in between.  Some of you may even be like me, where you actually had an interest in Japanese culture before that annoying term "weaboo" ever existed.  Does anybody else out there ever get called "weab"?  Sigh...

Today it doesn't matter. If you're an absolute beginner, studying Japanese for the first time, I want you to jump in and share your thoughts.  Whether you've been trying and failing at this for years, jump in and share your thoughts. Even if you're one of the ones has a true grasp of all aspects of the language and failing at the language for years, I want to hear what you have to say.

This Started With A Post...

I'm writing this post on the heels of a short Facebook post where I posed the very same question to some of you over on the the Japan Guy Facebook page.  I was surprised at how many people interacted (yes, even for a sponsored post): over 100 comments, 30 shares and 600 likes: 

What frustrates you most about learning Japanese?


Likes and shares aside, is this post really all that surprising? No, not really. It feels like Japanese is one of those languages that can genuinely confuse people. I'm a walking talking example of that.  I have days where I feel like I understand so much Japanese.  I see kanji that I can read and I don't stumble or stutter when I speak.

But I have bad days too, those days when I feel like I know so little There are days where the tiny section of my brain that's Japanese shuts down because it's overwhelmed by symbols it doesn't recognize.  Or how about those days when no sentence comes out exactly how I want it to?

Yes, it's embarrassing to feel like this even after ten years of being here.  But I'm being honest.  That's what happens to me.

I genuinely just want to get to a point where I have far more of those good days than bad ones.

Five Great Examples of What Frustrates People

You might be wondering "What kind of frustrations did people mention?"  Here are some of the ones that caught my eye:

What frustrates you most about learning Japanese 1
What frustrates you most about learning Japanese 1
What frustrates you most about learning Japanese 1
What frustrates you most about learning Japanese 1
What frustrates you most about learning Japanese 1

Do you have similar frustrations about learning Japanese?  Different ones? It's time to find out!

For this particular post, I don't want make it too long. We're going to jump right into the discussion.  I may add content to this post later, but I want to hear more from all of you on this one than overwhelming you with my thoughts. I will be jumping into the comments section myself to talk about my own frustrations.

Tell Me What Frustrates You Most About Japanese? 


If you have something that REALLY frustrates you, I'd like to hear more specifics about why it does.  
Type your Japanese frustrations into the comments section below!  
JI will read every single one of your comments and concerns.

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About the Author

Donald Ash is an Atlanta, Georgia-born, American expat who has been living in a Japanese time warp for the last eleven years. While in that time warp, he discovered that he absolutely loves writing, blogging, and sharing. Donald is the creator of thejapanguy.com blog. Wanna know more about this guy? Check out his "What's Your Story" page.

  • Nanami says:

    ^ ^ Hi! I haven’t poked my head in here for a while but I thought I’d jump in on the discussion. I’m too shy for the other options but.. I think the one thing that frustrates me the most is Kanji. I have a love/hate relationship with it. I have my preferred tools but there are a lot of gimmick oriented tools/apps that don’t do much for learners, rather than good solid ones. It took forever to find something that worked for me! I use Wani-Kani, which I really like, for new kanji and related vocabulary acquisition. It took quite a lot of research to find something that worked but I’m happy that I have a solid tool for it now. 🙂

    • Nanami-chan?!? How the freak are ya? OMG! It’s great to hear from you!!
      Man, apparently a lot of share that love/hate relationship with kanji.

      I 200% feel ya on the gimmicky stuff that’s supposed to help you learn kanji. I hate that kind of stuff. Wani Kani is good stuff. I interviewed Koichi about about it because it was so well received.

      Proud that you’re staying on your Japanese studies. When tools work, it can be a godsend.

      • Nanami says:

        Aww thank you and yes we will have to catch up soon! I’ve been in hermit mode. I’m getting ready to try out Minna no Nihongo’s first set of books (all 5 of the level one ones.. someone save me now).

  • Nihon Scope says:

    So my wife and I did this up using Minna No Nihongo.. http://nihonscope.com/learn-japanese/understand-japanese-verbs-groups-exceptions-forms-conjugations-particles/ STILL have issues remembering this stuff >_< I also don't TOTALLY like going to school.

  • Nihon Scope says:

    Didn’t know conjugations were spam.

  • It really frustrates a lot people when they try to learn Japanese that’s why they opt for tools/apps. Apps can be very handy especially when you’re traveling because you can just download it to your phone and you’re almost free to go anywhere. But besides these apps, you should also know a few sentences when you’re in Japan. We’ve put up an article which can be very helpful when you’re still starting your studies in the Japanese language. Here are the most common phrases you should know: https://www.magnificentjapan.com/essential-japanese-words-phrases-for-travellers/. Please do check it out.

  • Miragul says:

    どうやってSkype 出来ますか? I wouldn’t want to put my Skype username out here in public view.

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