About Us

Blackbelt Japanese is a joint venture between a number of parties to create an online program for practicing Japanese. The common interest between us all is the Japanese language!

Our Aim

Is to solve a problem we have faced ourselves individually over the years: When learning Japanese, how can you get to really practice Japanese?  

Mark Smith

Mark Smith (author of 'Real Japanese' and 'The Top 500 Japanese Words') was the driving force behind the creation of the core chat engine and started the whole project. Mark speaks fluent Japanese. His wife is Japanese and his two children are Japanese-Kiwi.

Mark is a professional programmer who spent most of his career working for finance banks in Tokyo.

In 2010 Mark decided there must be a technology solution to accessing Japanese language practice with a native speaker.

With an interest in Japanese and artificial intelligence, he developed Guided Conversation Technology (GCT).

Surefire Design

Surefire Design is a New Zealand web development company.

Andrew and Robert are directors for Surefire Design, and began in 2002 developing custom solutions for other web companies. These days Surefire Design provides custom designed websites with no setup fees for small businesses looking for great results from their website.

Andrew studied Japanese at Canterbury University, Christchurch, New Zealand. He has visited Japan many times and has always had a keen interest in practicing Japanese, and Japanese language exchange.

With a solid technical background and an understanding of the Japanese language, Surefire Design has been able to assist in deploying the Blackbelt Japanese language exchange program online.

Lesson Writers

The NCEA lessons were written by Akiko Hill, who lives in Diamond Harbour, Christchurch. Most of the free lessons are also by native Japanese speakers.

Video Readers

Our video readers are all native Japanese speakers. This is really important to us. Practicing Japanese is really about hearing how real people speak and how they sound.

With our lessons, you get to have the same, or similar, conversations with a native speaker as many times as you like!







Real Japanese.
It’s casual Japanese,
but not slang.

Find out more here about Mark Smith's book >>
The Top 500 Japanese Words.
Ranked by how often they appear on the internet.

View on Amazon.com >>