2,136 Kanji OR Die! The 97 Day Kanji Challenge – an interview with Nico from NihongoShark.com

Alright !!  I’ve got a treat for you!

Today I’m chatting with Nico from NihongoShark.

His website has plenty of good information for language learners including a free ebook on learning Japanese that gives an excellent overview of what and how to study.

If you’re looking for motivation, great advice (some of the best I’ve heard, and I’ve heard a lot), and a bias towards learning on the cheap (yay!), then Nico is definitely your man!

But enough of my talk. Let’s hear from the man himself.


JapanTree: What is the mission/vision of your site? What’s NihongoShark all about?

Nico: Yikes. I have no idea. I started the site on a whim, actually. I just thought that I had a cool method for studying Japanese. It makes a little bit of money, but that’s not really why I do it. If it was, I’m sure I’d work on it more often.

There is just so much that I would have done differently if I could go back to Day 1 of studying Japanese. And I want to share those things with other people and help them. I want to convince them that, Yes, you can learn Japanese. I want to go back in time and say that to myself, because I spent way too many hours feeling horrible about myself “failing at Japanese.” Learning a language is a mental struggle.

First, you have to believe that you can do it.

Then you have to commit to doing it. And commit means long-term. Studying consistently over a long period of time. Studying consistently over a long period of time. Studying consistently over a long period of time. If you keep going, you will get there. It’s math.

Once that’s drilled into your head, then you can start worrying about what’s effective, what works well and doesn’t work well—all the stuff that everyone else is talking about.

I want to go back in time and say stuff like that to myself. But, as I can’t, I might as well see if I can help someone else avoid my mistakes.

JapanTree: What’s your favourite part of running NihongoShark?

Nico: Thank you emails from readers. Sometimes I get emails from people who have learned all of the kanji using my method. Or just people that told me they found motivation through my site and my e-book, and it’s pretty much the best thing in the world.

I get one email like that, and I’ll be in a good mood all day. There’s not much nothing in the world that’s more motivating than helping people.


JapanTree: Where do you see NihongoShark going in the future?

Nico: I have no idea. I often go for long periods of time without writing anything. Then I get an email for a reader, and I might focus on the site a bit. Sometimes I think about giving it to a friend or a motivated reader—someone who would take better care of it than I do. But, I haven’t found that person just yet.

Also, I have a lot of jobs lately from publishing companies in Japan that are making books on learning English for Japanese speakers, and sometimes they mention my sites and say that maybe we could work on some projects for English speakers studying Japanese someday. So I guess that’d be cool, too.


JapanTree: What projects do you have cooking?

Nico: I’m writing a ridiculously detailed revision of my e-book on how to learn Japanese. But, yeah, it’s nowhere near complete. Also, my site EigoBoost.com, which is in Japanese, about how to learn English, gets a lot more hits than NihongoShark.com (roughly 30-40,000 unique visitors a month at the moment). So I work on that a bit, too. Plus I have freelance translating and writing jobs. Plus I have books and beer and food and video games and loved ones to share all that good stuff with.

Busy is not the word I’m looking for. I guess you could say, I have lots of things to do (and enjoy).


JapanTree: How can others contribute to NihongoShark?

Nico: Anyone’s welcome to write a guest post at any time.  About anything. “I Hate Japanese.” “I love anime.” “Best Japanese-language games on iPad.” Whatever. Anything that connects you with other learners is always good stuff.

High-level students are welcome to try an article in Japanese for my site EigoBoost.com. I’ll even get a native Japanese person to proofread it for you before we publish it.


JapanTree: What makes your site unique and how can readers get the most from your site?

Nico: Everything’s free. I think that’s pretty cool. Also, I list tons of outside resources for Japanese. It seems like everyone gets so hung up trying to sell their own products that they don’t share the best stuff that’s out there. Well, I don’t have any products! Yay! But then, that’s why I’m poor.


JapanTree: What posts are your favourites?

Nico: The most popular post, by far, is “How to Learn the 2000+ Joyo Kanji in 97 Days.” Many people have even completed it, too. Also of note are “The Best Way to Learn Japanese,” “Is Studying Japanese Worth It?” and “The Cheapest Way to Learn Japanese.

(Aside: I was really impressed by the Cheapest way to learn Japanese article, especially the Learning-Thru-Manga series. I had no idea they existed for books like E-myth and 7-Habits  – they’re two of my favourite books! The Is Japanese Worth It article is great too. Yet another reason to ignore the “Japanese is a waste of time” negativity. Personally after the intermediate level, when I started questioning if I would get a job in Japan, I decided to learn Japanese because I loved learning it and not because it would be “useful.” Its paid off. )


JapanTree: Nico, it’s been great having you for this interview, if there is anything else you want to give as advice to learners feel free to say it.

Nico: If you want this—if you really want this—then just don’t give up. That’s all. Just keep swimming. You’re crossing an ocean, but there is a shore. Trust me, I’m standing on it. Just keep swimming.


There you have it!

Just keep swimming!!

And while you are swimming, be sure to swim on over to NihongoShark.com

Nico was also gracious enough to contribute to a survey JapanTree is conducting on Japanese language learning.

So again, stay tuned for that!

Thanks Nico!

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