Why the Japanese Nintendo 3DS Is an Amazing Device for Learning Japanese

Take willpower out of the equation and create an immersive environment that forces you to use Japanese at all costs

Anthony Griffin
Kokoro Media
Published in
7 min readJan 20, 2024

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In my ongoing (and perhaps never-ending) quest to achieve full Japanese literacy, I’ve developed a reputation for being a digital flash card addict. However, effective as they are, flash cards alone are not enough to become fully literate in Japanese (as friends and colleagues often remind me). Going beyond textbooks and immersing yourself in native Japanese content is also a critical part of the learning process. Attempting to consume relevant native material (books, movies, video games, etc.), creating and drilling custom flash cards, and then reattempting to consume the same native content is a virtuous cycle that promotes knowledge acquisition and keeps motivation levels high.

Last year, I spent most of my immersion time reading and attempting to read Japanese books. This was a rewarding experience; however, books are a static medium. When the difficulty level spikes, you have no choice but to brute-force your way through pages of intimidating content. Doing so is necessary for improvement, but it can also be demotivating if you’re strapped for time. This year, I realized that certain video games, thanks to their interactive and often non-linear nature, can maintain motivation and keep me immersed in Japanese for longer periods of time.

These days, wherever you are in the world, your options for gaming in Japanese are infinite, and most Japanese learners are likely gaming on PC or the Nintendo Switch. These are great options, but in this article, I’d like to propose an unorthodox choice: the Japanese Nintendo 3DS. Why would I recommend the 3DS, a handheld console that Nintendo stopped producing in 2020, for studying Japanese? Read on to discover the primary reasons behind this recommendation and learn how you can get ahold of your own Japanese 3DS, while supplies last.

Forced Immersion

Modern gaming certainly has its issues. However, one positive industry development is the plethora of region-free software that you can play regardless of where you purchased your gaming device of choice.

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Anthony Griffin
Kokoro Media

Founder and principal consultant (www.consultsaga.com) helping Japan-based organizations market to and communicate with international audiences.