March 30, 2009
The beauty of its art and (translated) poetry, then a year teaching English in Osaka many years ago, when kanji seemed insurmountably difficult, then recently a Japanese neighbour and discovery of Heisig's splendid "Remembering the Kanji".
I understand maybe half of conversations in movies etc., can write/understand 2042 kanji thanks to Heisig and know about 1000 onyomi/kunyomi; can understand manga with occasional help. Speaking, however, is the pits.
Get over the intense embarrassment of trying to speak. Ideally, also find someone to imitate!
To meet others learning Japanese, and native speakers. I've been teaching myself via computer and tapes, with some help from a Japanese neighbour who has now moved away.