Anime Music and Studying for the JLPT

psst!  You can TL;DR this to the bottom of the page, if you want, lol


anime singing


I remember one time I was in college driving around, and my friend and I were listening to a Jpop song (I am racking brain to figure out which one it was!).  We were in 4th year Japanese and had just learned how to make causative verb forms (saseru/aseru).  I always felt like I had to prove something to everyone in my classes because I was the only one who hadn’t studied abroad in Japan (still haven’t been there T-T) – my language skills were better than theirs, though, because I had been being mocked and laughed at by the little Japanese kids who couldn’t speak English that I tutored after school everyday for 3 years.  Really – this was the most helpful immersion experience I could have ever asked for since I couldn’t afford to travel.

Anyway, we were listening to the song and I heard 曇らせてく (kumorasetku) and I turned to him and said “Oh!  I know what that word means!”  He told me to tell him – I hesitated because I wasn’t truly certain – I knew 雲 (kumo) meant cloud, and with the new verb form, I figured it had to mean something like “make cloudy”, which fit into my limited understanding and assumption of what the lyrics probably meant.  Instead of saying this, I asked “what, you don’t know?” (yeah, real mature, I know) and he was like, I have no idea.

What I realized though is that all of those years of listening Jpop, anime songs, etc. despite not knowing what the actual meaning of the lyrics was actually helped me develop a sense for the words.  Same goes for all those goofy hours spent staring at lyrics, trying to learn the words to songs so that I could sing in the shower, in the car, in the karaoke rooms : D  Nuance and subtext were being ingrained in my brain.

singing miku

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So when I found out the true definition of the words or phrases and when I learned new grammar points, it usually cemented what I had already inferred.  It also helped me be more flexible in my usage of those things.

There was something even better that happened.  When I needed to recall certain words – their meanings, usage, spelling (kanji, etc) – I could hear certain songs associated with it and the information would be pulled to the front of my brain.

This kind of mnemonic device probably surprises no one and has been used by all of us (read an article from the WSJ about how it works here:

What IS surprising is that you aren’t using it to study for the JLPT.  This is the perfect time for it!  You are stuck in a deadly quiet room, trying to figure out or remember words with nothing to aid you but your brain.


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My plan here is to take the songs I have already translated and those I will translate and to create a study guide at every level for each.  It’ll take some time, but I think it will be totally helpful!  If you already listening to anime songs, why not get something more out of it?  Combining your passive learning and just a little bit of active learning will give you such an edge, I guarantee it.

That being said, I hope you’ll sign up for an e-mail, stick around, give some feedback, let me know if this works for you.

If you have a song you’d like to see a study guide for, email me or leave a comment below (along with the level you are studying for).


opm sings

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Yay!  I am so excited!  I hope you are, too!