White Guy Speaks Perfect Japanese from watching Anime. Here's how he did it.

My interview with @Matt vs Japan
Check out Matt’s formula for mastering a language at

The clips early on of Matt speaking Japanese to people are from @Xiaomanyc 小马在纽约 ‘s video:

00:00 – Who is Matt vs Japan?
1:24 – How did Matt learn Japanese?
4:03 – Context teaches more than textbooks
5:35 – Why you need to forget English
6:16 – Should we learn like babies?
10:04 – The only way to learn a language
10:57 – The real reason for flash cards
11:56 – The most effective input
15:18 – Why your brain enjoys this method
16:57 – What did you do specific for Japanese?
20:34 – Identity and language
23:48 – Matt speaking Japanese
25:58 – Why you can’t hear pitch accent
28:53 – Why most people don’t learn pitch accent
31:16 – How Matt learned pitch accent
33:25 – Improving Japanese pronunciation
36:50 – Staying focused on your goal
40:58 – Diminishing returns from input
42:41 – Converting input into output
46:17 – The barrier to effective output
56:08 – The refold formula for language
59:09 – Outro

For business inquiries: joseph.everett.wil@gmail.com


  1. The bridge/chopsticks thing is pretty much mandarin tones 3,1, and 4,5 respectively. That's pretty interesting.

    Also, from someone that learned Chinese as a second language in adulthood; I will say focusing on pronunciation and intonation (tones) AS MUCH as you possibly can until you fully master it will pay dividends even if it feels like a waste of time at first.

    Learning precise pronunciation, grammar, and intonation will make the inputs you receive more comprehensible, and thus easier to absorb. Another way to think of it is, if you can perfectly pronounce a word, you're far more likely to 1) recognize that word, and 2) distinguish it from similar words.

  2. Can we acknowledge Matt’s maturity and acknowledgment of his identity crisis through his usage of the Japanese language (22:10) … I think I'm at this point of my life where I'm evaluating myself and thinking the same stuff, “like did I learn Japanese for my self-esteem and to build a new identity? or do I love Japan as much as I say as I do? or is this sunk cost fallacy(“getting my money’s worth”)? I resonated a lot with this section and kept coming back to review it…
    but I'm not sure if there's a lot of other people who have felt the same too ?? lol

  3. I think it also has to do with genetics. He's american, but maybe he has some japanese genetics in his family that changes the way his brains learns the japanese sounds, who knows…miscegenation is very high nowadays.

  4. I learned English from trolling internet forums for YEARS. It's embarrassing looking at whatever tf I typed just 4 years ago, but today I'm typing and speaking almost perfectly or at least better than I ever expected myself to do.

    My spoken English was actually trash until I dated this guy who isn't even actually a native speaker but also learned English through very similar methods before he moved and lived in English speaking countries and eventually settled in Canada.

  5. So due to Pitch Accent, i assume Japanese people do not have that squicky low-to-high pitch that most of the world uses when they see a cute puppy/baby?
    How would they convey that emotion for example?

  6. This is how I mastered English and French in my 30s. I get the "you don't sound Mexican at all" (which is still a little racist) everyday, but all it took was to immerse myself into the cultures. But learning Japanese the way you did is super impressive and I commend you for it. 成功おめでとうございます!

  7. I lived in Japan for 5 years as a guy in the U.S. Military – Navy while in Yokosuka Japan. At the end of that 5 years I could speak decent Japanese but nothing close to perfect. I also could read fluent Hiragana and Katakana, just absolutely no Kanji. In beginning I took a Japanese class on base but it was basic foundational and I didn’t seem to learn as much.

    What actually helped the most and vastly accelerated my Japanese language learning was when I met my Japanese GF who was there for my entire rest of time in Japan. I learned the language just everyday going places, seeing friends and just going out and doing regular stuff with her. She was a college student who worked but also spoke very fluent English as well. She wasn’t perfect, but damn fluent. She just made a daily effort to teach me some new words and Japanese daily and I was the eager student to learn and I did.

    Over time I learned something seeming strange and that being in Japan, both Male and Female speak many words differently as gender pronunciation. So in learning most my Japanese from a female I kinda sounded femalish at times when I spoke to other girls and they would giggle at it and wonder if I already had another GF. Yah, that happened!

    When my GF used to go to work, I would come to the house in Tokyo after working at the base and I’d just turn on Japanese TV and just watch the game shows as they were entertaining. It didn’t matter if I seemingly didn’t understand much. But I’d understand some words here and there and could infer what they might be saying based on their physical reactions ongoing. Over time I kept hearing words, phrases and so forth and found i was learning Japanese and mannerisms just watching the TV Shows.

    When I later spoke to my GF she be impressed I learned new stuff from watching TV. And so between just being with my Japanese GF doing stuff, hanging out at dinner with her other Japanese friends and watching TV it was how for me I learned real everyday Japanese. I also found I could often practice reading Japanese Hiragana and Katakana words while just sitting riding the train back and forth to places as lots of adverts to read being captive on the train at that time. As well other places trying to improve my reading just looking at stuff that wasn’t in Kanji. So for me that was my experience.

    That was many years ago and I no longer Fluent in Japanese. But still today I can subconsciously remember words and vocal expression when I hear it can infer it’s meaning. Just harder to think of the words by themselves.

  8. ちなみに関西だとその「はし」のピッチアクセントは反対になります。マットさんに違和感抱いて気づきました。標準語ではマットさんが正しいですね。

  9. Did Matt have any girlfriends during his Japanese learning journey? If so, could he maintain his dedication to Japanese? Would love to hear more about that.

  10. My personal way of learning Japanese is Writing whatever words I can understand from anime and I would use them for day-to-day life with my sister who also watches anime.
    So I've been watching anime for 10 years now, I'm 20 and literally every Japanese I've spoken to has always thought I was half Japanese(I'm Indian btw) or something because of my almost perfect accent. I'm happy I learned a language from anime. That's why I love anime.

    One more thing, now I can watch Subbed anime without subtitles.

  11. This makes sense.
    When I began learning guitar.. if I had to learn a song I didn't know very well I struggled. If attempted to learn a song I could hum the tune of even if it was technically more difficult, I learnt it so quickly.

  12. 51:20 As a teacher in public Japanese schools who quit because I felt so sad for my students' suffering and hatred of English after their years of the idiotic way that it is taught, this is the best description of why it is so hard. I have described it as trying to explain what a dog is by taking it piece by piece and then adding in a description of how it might act once it is pieced together as a dog. His description of trying to teach swimming by teaching the physics of it is very apt.

  13. Ive been thinking about moving to japan for a long time. The only thing stopping me is the pay is very low and long hrs. In my country we get about 25 dollars a hour. I know the answer is suck it up right?

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