Tofugu is the Japanese teacher we never had
We are building tools and writing about the Japanese language for our past-selves: people who were (and still are) excited about learning.
Almost everybody at Tofugu has taken a Japanese (or English, or French, or whatever) class or had tutors. But we experienced a lack of explanation and had to move at the speed of the slowest students. We learned kanji by writing them hundreds of times because "that's just how it's always been done." We all thought there must be a better, more effective way to learn Japanese, even if it's not "traditional." So we began writing. We learned how humans actually learn and made WaniKani for learning kanji, because sometimes tradition is overrated.
To supplement our studies, we turned to textbooks and the Internet. Though practical, we found them to be overly-dumbed-down. "This is just the way things are," they said. When we dug deeper into linguistic papers, we found the answers we were looking for, but they were way too weedy and technical for the everyday Japanese learner. So we kept writing, and we've been bridging the gap between Japanese linguistics and you, the Japanese learner, ever since.
We are building tools and writing about the Japanese language for our past-selves: people who were (and still are) excited about learning. Then we are sharing everything we can with you. We want to be the Japanese teacher we never had, for you.
WaniKani is a Japanese-kanji-and-vocabulary-learning web app with a simple goal: teach you most of the ~2,000 jōyō kanji (meanings AND readings) as well as ~5,000 vocabulary in 1–2 years.
By using spaced repetition, mnemonics, interleaving, and more, we've put together one of the fastest and simplest systems for people who want to learn how to read Japanese.
This is where everything started! We write about Japanese topics to help people who want to visit Japan, live in Japan, and/or Learn Japanese.
We do Japanese grammar guides, in-depth looks at Japanese vocabulary, Japanese resource and textbook reviews, interviews with interesting Japanese people, (weird) Travel articles.
A Short History of Tofugu
Tofugu was started in 2007 by Jaered Koichi Croes because he was lazy. Instead of registering for another university class, Koichi convinced a professor to let him start a blog about the Japanese language and Japan. After graduating in 2008, he continued work on Tofugu while working at an education start-up. While there, Koichi developed his interest in teaching and how humans actually learn. He found there's a big difference between traditional teaching methods and what actually works well.
At the end of 2009, the start-up laid off all of its staff. Koichi wrote TextFugu, an online Japanese textbook with a conversational style. There he was able to apply a lot of what he had learned, and with a source of income, Tofugu hired its first employee in 2010. In 2011, Viet Hoang joined as our first developer and helped co-found WaniKani, our application for learning kanji and vocabulary. Since then, we've slowly grown our team and capability to help others (and ourselves) learn.
If you're like us, head on over to our Jobs page. We might be hiring!