I began studying Japanese in April of 2011.
Looking back, I've been wanting to visit Japan for a long time (years). I'm not one hundred percent where this came from, but I do have a couple ideas. Let's start with the fact that the Japanese make some of the best video games ever created (Final Fantasy VII, anyone?). I've also always been a huge fan of manga. Now, I know what this sounds like, and before you proceed with that line of thought:
Those are not the primary reasons behind this. I'm not some fan-boy writing articles about 可愛い (かわいい/kawaii/cute) anime women. In fact, to be brutally honest, I've never understood that mentality. Not to hate on anyone that does (as I have many friends who I'd consider お宅), but what's the point? Anyway, let's move on.
Actually, the main reason is that I went to school with a few Japanese transfer students. To them, the U.S. was opposite in many ways to their home country. And through them, I learned a little bit about how they live, and (on a high level, of course) how much different Japanese live truly is from life in the United States. However, at the time I did not have the ability/time/leftover brain power to even consider learning an entire new language. It is, however, what I consider to have sparked my interest initially. Unfortunately, I lost contact with them years ago. :(
I then started asking a friend of mine who lives in Japan to toss me a few links to places where I could look into starting with Japanese. One thing that was definitely unexpected: she discouraged use of Rosetta Stone (apparently, it teaches awkward Japanese and leaves you illiterate). Interesting, since you always hear about what good software it is. I was initially going to go this route, but it costs about $500 last time I looked. Since she is in the know and is strong with Japanese (as a second language, mind you), I figured I'd take her advice. I do want to go back and review Rosetta Stone after I am proficient in Japanese, and see exactly what she means, though. But for now, I'm avoiding it. I should also point out that pretty much everywhere else I looked said the same thing (at least for Japanese).
The resources she's pointed me to have not cost me a dime thus far (with the exception of a book that I received as a gift). The first place I was pointed to was a blog called All Japanese, All The Time (AJATT). This site does not teach Japanese, but instead gives advice on learning it on your own without classes. I've been reading through the entries, and it has proven to be excellent so far. It is the basis for my method. I probably won't progress as fast as he did, but I do already know over 50 kanji in a week - pretty good in my book. :)
Anyway, enough about me. Let's continue by looking at the Overview of the Method!