About 10 years ago, I started my Japanese study. That first year was filled with a disappointing class, short-lived teachers, and absolutely the worst classmates I had in my school career. So it's more fair to say my Japanese study started 9 years ago. I (maybe) learned hiragana that first year, but in the entirety of the Japanese language, that's a drop in the bucket.
The next 3 years were a whirl wind of half hearted Japanese study that culminated in my living abroad in Kyoto. One would think that I would be proficient, maybe even fluent, in the language. The end result was the ability to stumble through conversations, vaguely reading sentences with a lot of glossing over kanji, and nodding in agreement when ever someone spoke to me. I could order food, though. The important things, I guess.
Even while living in Japan, I never had any real goal than to live there. I achieved that so I became apathetic to learning the language. I never truly had a passion for the language other than I really liked the culture. That wasn't the motivation I needed. I didn't intend to live there long term nor do I really like anime. After my year living there, I let the little gains I had lapse to where I am now. It's one of my biggest regrets.
A few years ago, my wife and I visited Kyushu. Something clicked. For the past few years, I've pursued the Japanese culture and religion as a hobby, reading close to 30 books on the subjects since then. I've also found my self drawn towards the more spiritual side of Japanese culture. I wouldn't' call my self a Buddhist or Shinto practitioner, but I do like the idea. Once indistinct globs of thought have mixed with my Japanese hobby, and I've come to a goal I wish to pursue, I wish to ride across part of Japan on my bike to experience rural life in the country. Unsurprisingly, that involves me getting off my lazy bum and riding my bike again. Riding was a past time younger me enjoyed incredibly. The thought of riding in Japan bring joy to my heart and is a goal that keeps me healthy even if I don't achieve my dream ride.
As I've trained, and I'm up to 20 miles, I've meditated on what else do I want out of my journey in Japan. Well, I want to interact with those I meet. Simple, really. How does one do that? I speak with them, naturally. How's my Japanese? Horrible, you say...hmmm. There is a goal worth pursuing.
I have thought about what I wish to achieve with my Japanese proficiency but not the how to get there. As fate would have it, an article on the /r/LearnJapanese subreddit gave me what I was looking for, a formal plan to Japanese fluency. The article on Kuma Sensei outlines various tiers to follow. I've always been a tutorial/outline type of guy and this seems like fate to me.
My goal: I will take the JLPT N4 on December 3rd, 2017.
I will keep a regular study blog during this process for motivation. Let's see how it goes, shall we?
Picture: Okinawa, Japan - 2007