Anki Decks

Some time ago, The Japan Foundation created a website to help Japanese students learn the type of Japanese that is often heard in anime and manga. While it’s got some decent content, I’ve rarely ever heard anyone mention the site. That’s probably because they stuck all of the content into a crappy flash application. You can’t view it on mobile, you can’t copy and paste text, you can’t resize it, you can’t do ANYTHING useful.

So, I dumped some of their content into Anki decks so that it would be possible to actually learn something from it. I have made a deck containing phrases, and a deck with grammar points. This is only a portion of the total content from the site, but I felt that these parts would probably be the most useful and work the best in a flashcard format.

The grammar deck in particular is a bit dense with all of the information available, but I thought it best to put too much info rather than too little. You can of course customize which fields appear on your cards, since Anki gives you complete flexibility to display the cards as you like.

One cool aspect about the site was that it has 8 different Japanese character archetypes who all speak differently. I have kept this aspect in the flashcards by indicating which character the card is for. There is also full audio, so you can hear the personal spin that each character puts on the phrases.

After studying the cards, there is still some cool stuff to go back on the website to do. For instance, they have several manga stories that you can read, which utilize all of the phrases and grammar.

Content difficulty is probably Upper Beginner – Intermediate. You should probably have at least a good command of JLPT N5 grammar before tackling these.

Grammar Deck

Phrase Deck (updated 5/3/17 to fix image links)

Extracting Subtitles from Netflix

Having subtitle scripts from TV shows that you are watching is an excellent study aid. Not to mention that they can be used with Subs2SRS to easily import sentences into Anki! These days, many people tend to watch Netflix more than a lot of the traditional media. I’ve also seen numerous people talking about how the Netflix Original “Terrace House” is great for Japanese listening practice, because it is unscripted and captures natural dialog.

While it’s long been lamented that there was no way to download or rip the Japanese subtitles from Netflix (I even said so much in a previous post about Netflix), I have recently discovered a way!

In this post, I will provide a download for the subtitles that I have ripped, and I will also provide instructions on how to rip them yourself from other shows. However, the process of ripping subtitles is quite technical, and is probably not something that everyone can do.

Already Ripped Subtitles

First, some important details about Netflix subtitles: In most languages, the subtitles are just in a standard text-based subtitle format. So if you get English subtitles, you can just open them up in a text editor. With Japanese subtitles, however, the subtitles are all stored as images. This means that in order to do things like copy and paste the text to look up words, they would first have to be converted into text by OCR, which is unfortunately not perfect.

All of the subtitles that I have ripped have been OCR’ed using the Google Cloud Vision API. This is likely the most accurate Japanese OCR technology available at the moment, but the text still does contain a few mistakes here and there. So please keep this in mind if you are using these subtitles to study. If something looks wrong, it probably is. Go watch it on Netflix to see what the correct subtitle would look like.

You can download my Netflix subtitle pack from here (Mega) or here (MediaFire).

It contains subtitles in both English and Japanese for all of the following shows:

  • Atelier (Underwear)
  • Good Morning Call
  • Hibana (Spark)
  • Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories
  • Mischievous Kiss (Itazura na Kiss)
  • Mischievous Kiss 2 (Itazura na Kiss 2)
  • My Little Lover (Minami Kun No Koibito)
  • Terrace House: Boys and Girls in the City
  • Terrace House: Aloha State (Parts 1+2)
  • Pee Wee’s Big Holiday (Japanese subs for English language movie)
  • Stranger Things (Japanese subs for English language series)

If Netflix has another show that you would like Japanese subtitles for, or if you would like audio to accompany the subtitles, then you will have to rip it yourself. As I said, it is also quite technical, so I wouldn’t attempt it unless the instructions below at least halfway makes sense to you.

How to rip Japanese Subtitles from Netflix

First, you need to choose a show that actually has Japanese subtitles available. I show how to do this in my previous post about Netflix.

Once you have found a show that has Japanese subtitles, you need to see if you will be able to download it. At the time of this writing, Netflix allows Android and IOS devices to download select shows to your device. You can not download shows directly on a PC. I have also tested several Android emulators on PC, and did not have any success. I also have no experience with IOS devices, so I can not say for certain that this would be possible on there or not. So basically I can only confirm that the following steps can be done on an Android device. I also believe your Android device will need to be rooted, but I’m not certain. If anyone manages to do this without a rooted device, please let me know.

So, assuming you have a rooted Android device, you will want to find a show that both has Japanese subtitles and allows the episodes to be downloaded. Then just download all of the episodes onto your device. Don’t download more than one series at a time! This is because the filenames do not contain the show title, so its difficult to figure out which files go with which show. If you stick to one show at a time, you wont run into this problem.

Next, you will want to have the ADB tool which lets you transfer files between your Android device and your PC. These files will be hidden to a standard file browser, so that’s why you need this tool. ADB can be downloaded as part of Android’s standalone SDK Platform Tools. You also need to Enable USB Debugging on your Android device.

Now, you need to find where Netflix downloaded the files onto your Android device. A file manager app such as Amaze should let you find them. On my device (it’s probably the same on most devices) the files are located at /sdcard/Android/data/
Inside that folder there will be a separate subfolder for each episode, and each one of those subfolders will have a name made up of seemingly random numbers. You can use the ADB tool to copy all of the subfolders to your PC. You first need to open up a command prompt in the folder that adb.exe is stored in, and then do something like this:

adb pull /sdcard/Android/data/

After some time, all of the files will be copied to your PC (unless you get an error message). So now just browse into the “.of” folder on your PC to find all of the subfolders for each episode. The folders should sort in the correct order, as long as you sort by name. So the first folder should be the first episode, the second folder will be the second episode, and so on. Let’s take a look at the different types of files that you can find in each folder.

  • .manifest – Contains some metadata about the files. Not really useful.
  • .nfi – Unknown – I’m not sure about the contents of this file, but it does not appear to be useful.
  • .nfv – Netflix Video – Contains the video stream. It is encrypted so it is not much use to us.
  • .nfa – Netflix Audio – Contains an AAC audio stream. Change the file extension to .m4a and you should be able to play it. Can be used with Subs2SRS.
  • .nfs – Netflix Subtitle – Contains the subtitles. If the file size is smaller (about 10-100kb) it is usually a text file and may contain the subtitles for English or some other language. Change the extension to .xml and you can open it in a text editor. If the file size is larger (a few MB), it is the Japanese subtitles. Change the extension to .zip, and you will be able to extract the contents.

After finding the Japanese subs and changing the extension to .zip, extract them into a folder, and then rename the folder so you know what episode it is. You will have many PNG files which are the subtitle images, and you will also have a file named “manifest_ttml2.xml” which has all of the timing data. Congratulations, you have successfully extracted the subtitles! But for them to be a little more useful, we will need to OCR them.

How to OCR using Google Cloud Vision API

There are several OCR tools out there that can handle Japanese text. Most of them suck and result in a lot of errors. Google’s OCR is by far the most accurate I have seen, and works quite well. Unfortunately, it’s only sort of free. According to their current pricing structure, you can OCR up to 1,000 images per month for free. Since a typical episode is a few hundred images, this is enough for a few episodes each month. However, Google also offers a great trial offer (at least at the time I write this). You can get $300 of free credit when you sign up, and you have no obligation pay anything or continue using the service. I opted for this option, and was able to OCR all of the episodes that you find in the download above.  The free credit does expire if you don’t use it within a certain time.

If you sign up for the Google Cloud Platform, then after logging in, you first need to enable the Cloud Vision API. Just click the “Enable API” link at the top of your Dashboard, and then find “Vision API” under the “Google Cloud Machine Learning” heading. After that, you will also need to create an API key. Click “credentials” on the left side menu, and then click “create credentials”, and select “API Key”.

Now, we can use a python script created by “zx573” from the Kanji Koohii forums to actually perform the work of sending the images to Google and generating a text-based subtitle file. You will need a 2.7.x version of python (I don’t think it works on 3.x). You also need to install the packages Pillow and requests. This can be installed from the command line by typing:

pip install pillow
pip install requests

Next, you will need the python script, which you can grab from here. You will then need to open up the file in a text editor and insert your API Key into the line that says AUTH_KEY = “YOUR API KEY HERE”

Now, we can run this python script from the command line, with the path of the folder containing your subtitle images as an argument, like so:

python “Terrace House – Boys & Girls in the City 01”

If all goes well, you should see it processing the images, and then it will finally spit out an SRT file named “” for you! However, these srt files will contain some errors which we need to fix up before they can be opened in other applications.

Additional Processing

The srt files will have a problem in that they do not always contain timestamps that include milliseconds, and most applications that edit srt files will expect there to be milliseconds. However, this is an easy fix, using software that lets you do search and replace using regular expressions. I use notepad++.

If you choose the Search > Find in Files menu option, you can search across all your subtitles at once!

Set the directory to the location where your srt files are, and then if you want, you can set the filters to *.srt to avoid accidentally picking up any other files. Make sure the search mode is set to “regular expression” and the checkbox beside it is not checked.

Then, in the “Find what” field, you want to put: (\d\d:\d\d:\d\d,\d?\d?)(\s)
Replace with: \10\2

Press “replace in files”. Do this twice.

Then change “Find what” to: (\d\d:\d\d:\d\d)(\s)
Replace with: \1,000\2

Finally, press “replace in files” again. We have now corrected the srt files!

After that, there are some further optional things that you can do, but you don’t have to. The tool Subtitle Edit is quite helpful for fixing up your subtitles. You can use it to batch convert English.xml files into SRT files (Tools > Batch Convert). It can also remove hearing impaired text from the subtitles (text that describes sounds, or names which character is speaking). Sometimes it doesn’t work so well for removing hearing impaired text from the Japanese files, because the text is enclosed in Japanese parentheses rather than the expected English parentheses, but you can still accomplish it using the Search and Replace tool (or the same tool in notepad++). After loading a Japanese subtitle file, you just want to go to Edit > Replace. Then select the “Regular Expression” option, and type (.+) as your search term (make sure you use Japanese parentheses, not English parentheses!), and press “Replace All.” That should get rid of any remaining Japanese hearing impaired text.


Study Subtitled Videos Using PotPlayer

I previously wrote about studying Japanese through the use of Anime, Dramas, and Movies, but I always felt that there was still a step missing from the equation. I mean, sure, you can use great tools like Subs2SRS to ease the creation of Anki cards, but what about the process of actually watching the video? How do you efficiently look up words and try to understand sentences while you are watching it? This was a question that bugged me for a long time. While there are some solutions, such as opening up the script in a text file and following along, loading the video and script into Aegisub to go line by line, or even rigging up AGTH to capture the text output from the player; all of these methods are pretty clunky and leave something to be desired.

But just recently, I came across PotPlayer, and discovered that it actually makes the whole process as smooth as you could ever imagine! It feels like some of the features in this player were practically designed for someone who is learning a language! A few great features that I love about it:

  • Click on words to either perform a search or copy it to the clipboard
  • Copy the entire subtitle line to the clipboard, can be assigned to a shortcut key
  • Shortcuts to seek to the next/previous subtitle, allowing you to easily replay a line
  • Subtitle explorer displays all lines in a separate window for you to browse and seek to a particular line
  • Load multiple subtitle streams, so you can have Japanese and English at the same time
  • It remembers the last file you had open as well as your position within it, making it easy to pick up where you left off
  • Has options for adjusting the synchronization of subtitles, as well as the font
  • Is an otherwise completely full featured player, with tons of options and advanced features

I honestly don’t know what else I could want or expect in regards to watching subtitled video. This works great in conjunction with JGlossator, which will automatically look up helpful information on any Japanese subtitles that get copied to the clipboard.

I’ve put together a short video showing how to get up and started with using PotPlayer to study Japanese from subtitles:

Do you know any other software or tools to help with studying Japanese while watching videos? Let me know in the comments!

Learn Japanese by Watching Anime, Movies, and Dramas

If you are learning Japanese, chances are you probably also happen to like some Japanese entertainment such as movies, dramas, and anime. So, are you using those things to your benefit? After all, we learn best when we are engaged with interesting material! If you haven’t tried it yet, then I’ll show you how to get started.


For anyone who has just started or has yet to begin learning Japanese, a dose of reality: you aren’t going to learn the language exclusively from watching stuff. You have to study and work hard. Anime and movies can be a fun part of an overall balanced study regimen, but its only a small piece of the puzzle. Before you get started here, you need to have a solid foundation to work from. Once you have picked up a bit of the grammar and began to build up a vocabulary, then we can start getting into the fun stuff.

If you have been studying for a bit, but are still in the beginner level where you can’t really understand natural Japanese at all, but can pick out a few words and phrases here and there, then you should primarily be watching things with English subtitles at this point. That’s right, with English subtitles, just like you normally do. While you are watching, you want to try to force yourself to really pay attention to what the characters are saying. Listen for things that you recognize, try to get a rough idea of what’s going on, maybe even try repeating lines after the characters say them. At this stage, you are still just gaining familiarity with the language. Don’t expect to really learn anything from the anime itself yet at this point, it’s more just a tool to increase your familiarity and your recognition of what you have already learned.

Some people might wonder “wouldn’t it be better to watch without subtitles?” The answer to that is no. According to Stephen Krashen’s Input Hypothesis, language acquisition takes place when the learner is consuming comprehensible input that is just slightly above the learner’s current level. In other words, if you don’t know what the characters are saying, you can listen to it 100 times and you still aren’t going to know what they are saying. As I said before, at this stage you aren’t trying to learn anything new from the anime, you just want to reinforce what you have already learned. Also, in this paper by Martine Danan, we can see that some research has shown that watching material with subtitles in your native language can be superior to watching without any subtitles.

Intermediate Learners

Once your Japanese is at the point where you are understanding large passages from shows, or you feel like you know most of the words but your mind just can’t process them quickly enough to fully understand, then it might be time to move on to the next step, and begin actually learning from the shows that you are watching.

At this point, you are going to begin using Japanese subtitles. For anime, one of the largest collections of Japanese subtitles can be found at For dramas, take a look at d-addict’s subtitles index. For movies, I’ll just have to leave it in your hands, as I haven’t found a good resource. Also, movies might generally only have subtitles available in the form that comes directly from the DVD or Blu-ray disc, which are actually images rather than text. These are less than ideal, but they can work in a pinch if you can’t find anything else.

While you are still at a lower level in Japanese, I highly recommend trying to choose shows that have simpler language–things like slice-of-life or high school dramas, or maybe things directed more towards children. You want to make this as easy for yourself as possible! I would highly recommend the anime “Chi’s Sweet Home” to start off. You can find both Japanese and English subtitles, the language is simple, and the episodes are only about 3 minutes each!

Next, you generally might want to start off by watching your chosen show with English subtitles if you have never seen it before, to learn the characters and the story. Then, you want to start reading through the Japanese subtitles. Look up words that you don’t know, and try to understand everything that is going on. If there are some parts here and there that you don’t get, that’s alright, but if there are a lot of parts you don’t understand, then you need to either find something easier or study other things for a few more months. If you like, you can load the subtitles up in Aegisub, a subtitling program which will allow you to go line by line and listen to the audio as you read the text. Be sure to look over the Aegisub manual on their website in order to learn how to use this software. I highly recommend using Aegisub to read through the script, because it will allow you to easily make any changes to the synchronization of the subtitles, to make sure they are lined up properly with your audio. Another cool thing that you can try is to “export” the script from Aegisub as a plain text file, and then you can open up the text file in your web browser where you can use Rikaichan to help read it. Update: I now recommend using PotPlayer rather than Aegisub.

Once you have managed to read through the subtitles for an episode, now its time to go to the next stage and utilize subs2srs to generate Anki cards which you can study! Subs2srs is fairly straightforward, and a simple guide to using it is right there on it’s own website. In addition, you can also use Audio Lesson Studio to generate audio lessons which you can listen to on your phone or mp3 player!

Once you have gained familiarity with the language used in the episode, now try going back and watching it without subtitles. You will be amazed at how well you can follow along now! With each episode you go through, you should find that things get easier and easier, as there will be a lot of repeated topics and vocabulary, on top of the fact that your knowledge of Japanese is increasing.

A Starter Deck

If you are looking for something to get started on, I would recommend the following movie.


A cute and somewhat sad film about cats, the narrator speaks clearly and quite simply for the most part. I’ve posted up my subs2srs deck in a thread over on the koohii forums. If it looks like something you would be into, find a copy of the movie and give it a shot. Otherwise, feel free to start off with something that you would enjoy better.