30 years in Japan - just started WaniKani

Back in the pre-WWW days (we had BBS, Compuserve and traded floppy disks) I wrote a HyperCard stack to teach myself Kanji. I had it set up to drill me on 15 new kanji a day and then review the old ones. I made it to about 500 and then the kanji started getting hard and I got a job. After that I used the little flip-cards that every high school student on the train were using. Over the past 30 years living in Japan I would go through various spurts of learning kanji now and then, and picked up lots and lots of vocabulary by ear as I worked and lived and raised kids here. My spoken Japanese is fluent, I can interpret for others and write and read on the internet. But I started using WaniKani in September and am at level 7. Some thoughts and questions.

  1. Wow! I was saying that wrong! - At this point I know most of everything it is throwing at me, but now and again I will realize that I have been saying something wrong, because I learned it by ear and not by the kanji. (I had always thought your surname was your miyoji and lo and behold it is your myouji.)

  2. I knew that I was weak in knowing which words were o, ou, and oo. I would constantly have to ask my wife when writing things which one it was. WaniKani is helping me a lot as it is forcing me to learn the correct reading for each one.

  3. Lots of vocabulary that I knew from context, or one of the kanji in it but never knew how to pronounce. Once I can read it I know the vocabulary word already, it is just figuring out which reading to use.

All that to say, doing WaniKani has been very profitable - even if it is just largely review of words I already know.

Here is my question. When I get past the kanji and vocabulary that I already know, I am expecting there to be a drop in accuracy in the reviews. Currently my average is 93%-95% For those of you learning Japanese for the first time is there a standard accuracy that you average? For those like me who knew some and then started WaniKani what was your experience when you got past the words you knew?


First off, hello and welcome !
Wow I can’t begin to think of the difficulty of your japanese journey !

To answer your question, I’m learning japanese for the first time, and I might not be the best example since I have great retention, but I’m at 98,80% total accuracy on https://www.wkstats.com


Welcome! Nice story!

My accuracy dips when I add a lot of new material. Maybe even down to 60 or 70 percent on the new stuff. Then it gets back up around 90 percent.

There are users here who somehow maintain a 97- 99 percent range all of the time though. Using the self-study quiz on apprentice items helps.

Personally, I don’t think that it matters. SRS is designed to show you the items that you have more trouble with more frequently. In the end, you will end up knowing the kanji either way. :slight_smile:


Welcome to WaniKani. :slight_smile:
I usually get 90%. If I get less than that, then I take more time to make sure I understand and retain the information from the lessons.



I remember HyperCard. Them’s were the days…


From levels 1-24 it was 80%-99% accuracy. But then all the items ready to get burned started showing up and my accuracy went down to 60%-80%. It just meant that I had to focus on burning items instead of learning new material.

On another note:

Wow!! 30 years in Japan!! I do hope you check in on the forums every now and then, occasionally there are threads from people looking for travel, work, housing, shopping, general living in Japan advice, and you would be a great resource! :laughing:


Will do - hoping to stick around for a while here.


I already knew a good portion of the kanji and vocab from the first ten levels or so and even still every level there are usually one or two kanji I recgonize and maybe a dozen or so vocab words I already know. That being said, as those items have become more and more each lesson, I’ve noticed my accuracy dip… but not massively.

Before, I was averaging maybe a 97.80-something percent accurate and now I’m down to 97.04%… so definitely a hit, but not a bad one.

That being said, I think everyone is going to vary in this area. I understand gathering information for the sake of personal curiosity (and so you can prep yourself for the drop) but if your numbers are totally different from others’ answers, don’t let it discourage you from keeping at it.


WOW this was an interesting read! Thanks for sharing your experience! I’ve only been living in Japan for three years (planning to go to language and graduate school once I finish my contract later this year), so it’s always interesting to hear from someone who’s found their way here or learned the language through very different circumstances.

As for this question, I just checked my stats on the website that @Loglog74 mentioned above. My average accuracy for kanji and vocabulary is between 93~95% and my accuracy is higher for reading than meaning by a percentage point or so.

It’s my first time learning Japanese although I knew up to about JLPT N4 level before I started using Wanikani. I didn’t notice much of a dip in accuracy once I started getting into almost solely new territory, but there was a drastic reduction in my speed between levels 20 to 30. Somebody at Tofugu clearly knew what was going on when they named that section of levels “Death,” because now that I’ve completed my descent into Hell, my speed has picked back up significantly. :sweat_smile:

It’s probably worth mentioning that when my speed was slowing down terribly, it was in large part due to two problems:

  1. A ton of new vocabulary at that time was abstract, legalese, or synonymous with itself.

  2. Items in the earlier levels which I hadn’t yet burned were just not sticking at all, which slowed down my progress.

If you’re really dedicated, or want to practice words in order to use them yourself in daily life (i.e. not just to recognize them when written or spoken), I’d recommend supplementing your study with a service like KaniWani. It lets you test your retention of WaniKani vocabulary in reverse (i.e. soliciting the Japanese reading with English meaning hints) so that you can recall the new Japanese you learn yourself.

I’ve neglected it considerably over the past month, but it was really useful when I was having trouble clearing words from the very early levels and maintaining the ones I’d just learned. I set it up to automatically unlock new words starting at the level I was currently on, and I also manually unlocked words from the earlier levels but only the ones I hadn’t yet burned (you’re able to specify this in the settings menu of KaniWani). That way, I could practice all the new vocabulary that was still fresh in my head, and review the 6 or 7 words from each earlier lesson with which I was having particular problems.

In any case, welcome to the community and thanks for sharing your experience with the rest of us! :wave:


Welcome! I have had a somewhat similar experience in that my mother is Japanese and I grew up speaking Japanese with her and going to after-school Japanese school on and off (which I hated). I also spent two years living in Japan as a young adult (in the denshi jisho and flip phone era). My accuracy is in the mid-90s and that hasn’t changed much. What has changed is my speed. From levels 1-8, I was able to do a level in just over a week. Now I average 3 weeks, though I don’t feel like I’m spending less time on it. I am spending more time, if anything, but it’s taking longer because there are a lot more words and kanji I don’t know.

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Another new face with an interesting story.
When I was going through WaniKani the first time around I believe my accuracy stayed above 90%. I wouldn’t be discouraged if it dips into the 80s, though. Learning can be a messy process. karenshrug
@Naphthalene might be able to answer from the perspective of someone who already knew a lot of kanji.

Should I move this to Introductions? This seems more of an intro post than a question post to me.


If you are fluent in speaking then you will probably continue to have high accuracy till the end. When I started I could converse on a daily-life level comfortably, so I was able to learn many Kanji readings as くんfrom訓練etc. as opposed to the reading mnemonics which are so often a stretch anyway :stuck_out_tongue:

Learning on WK as someone who already knows Japanese is super awesome because you can 1) ignore reading mnemonics a lot 2) each level is probably a mix of Kanji you already know and don’t, so the load isn’t too heavy mentally, 3) your reading level (and maybe writing) can finally catch up to your speaking which is super rewarding.

Here’s my accuracy stats so far:

As you can see, my reading stats are better that meaning stats because I know the meaning from “Japanese feeling”, but I’ll enter the wrong English! Perhaps you face something similar?


WaniKani is great in that is very flexible in how you, the user, want to apply it your studies, and situation. there are various guides made by community members designed to achieve various goals out of WK, (such as speed, consistency, practice) and whole host of plug-ins to enhance WK for those purposes.

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I doubt your accuracy will drop very much. I went into WK knowing maybe ~300 kanji and ~1000 words, with maybe N4 grammar at best:



I’m curious, what kind of cards are you referring to exactly?


Similar boat, that I’ve been learning japanese on and off for years, including some kanji here and there, though definitely behind you. My spoken japanese is far from fluent, but definitely conversational, unless we are talking keigo, my nemesis.

The meanings mostly come easy to me, the readings, especially the o’s vs. ou’s are killer. Up to level 12 it was more of, oh, that’s the kanji that goes with this or that vocab. Now i’m moving into more new vocab, and starting to hear words in conversation because of the WaniKani learning.

As for accuracy, there’s two approaches. One is to really take the time during the initial lessons to really slow down as you learn each item (maybe write out kanji and readings by hand), the other is to speed through the lesson and let the SRS sort it out. I tend to just speed through the lesson, get to the reviews and let the SRS tell me what isn’t sticking. But that suits my character and studying style, which is sloppy. It might slow down my progress by 24 hours per level, but whatever. I’ll just muddle through.

In other words, don’t obsess about accuracy unless you want to.


I was summoned!

So, my background isn’t as extreme as yours, but similar, I guess. I’ve been living in Japan for almost 10 years now, and I had the JLPT N1 before starting seriously Wanikani. (I actually had an account since 2012, but gave up mid level 1). My main motivation to use WK was that I was shaky on a few hundred of the Joyo kanji, but could never find the motivation to sit through the whole list and check properly which one I had to (re)learn (and even less learning them). WK forced me to go through (most) of the whole thing.

To answer your question, I had about 99% answer accuracy until level 50 or so, and somewhere between 95-98% item accuracy.
(To understand the difference between the two, here’s an example: let’s say a kanji shows up. You answer the meaning wrong, then right, then the reading right. You got two out of three answers right, so you get a 66% answer accuracy, but the item was wrong, so 0% item accuracy. The number shown during review and on WKstats is the answer accuracy, the one at the end is the session’s item accuracy).

Once I got in the last stretch of WK two things happened: I got items I did not actually know, and I got really busy IRL which made it hard to focus on lessons. Needless to say that my accuracy (and my ego) took a huge hit. Suddenly I was faced with my actual learning skills, and, well, it wasn’t glorious.
Except for that, it was obviously much more profitable than the review part, and really made my life easier (especially at work).

Now, I do not have any new lessons anymore, just reviewing items, especially those that do not stick and keep falling back, and obviously my accuracy has been dropping again. However, the rush of dopamine I get for getting those items right makes it all worth it.

Hope it helps!


Those things:


Flashcards, I think?

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Small rectangular cards you buy at the stationary store and write the vocab on one side and the meaning on the other. They were great for redeeming commuting time on the train before smart phones

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Thank you for the warm welcome for my first post here.

  1. Looking at my stats. I can see that my “Meaning” scores are better than my “Reading” scores and my “Vocabulary” are better than my “Kanji”. This makes sense in that the vast majority of my Japanese has been learned by ear and I have never had “formal” Japanese education. - started “Bunpro” by the way!

  2. From all the responses I can see that the real difference when I start to hit new Kanji and vocab will be the amount of time per level. I average now about 11 days per level. Not because of difficulty but because I am the director of three organizations, father of two and husband of one. Lots of real life getting in the way!

Bonus: Concentric Bucket Theory of Language Learning

This has been my advise to newcomers learning the language. I have seen many learn their kana and some vocab and then eagerly tear into Kanji only to be overwhelmed and give up.

Think of language like four concentric buckets. Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing.

The largest bucket is Listening. It gradually fills the more time you spend listening to actual Japanese being spoken. Inside that bucket are all the rest. The problem is that if you want to speak, you have to draw out of the Listening bucket into the Speaking bucket. But depending on how full the Listening bucket is, it requires more or less energy to transfer. At first each word is painstaking, then phrases are possible and then finally it starts to flow as the level of the Listening bucket rises higher than the rim of the Speaking bucket.

The same process repeats itself as the Speaking bucket fills and reading sentences or paragraphs start to flow because it follows patterns with which you are already familiar. Finally, the more books you read, the more capable you become of writing Japanese that is familiar and understandable to Japanese as being similar to what they are used to reading.

Some caveats -

  1. When you come into a completely new field or topic you might have to restart at listening again in that field before you can truly say anything intelligible.

  2. This is of course how small children learn a language before they have access to reading and writing. As adults it is completely possible to reverse the order and start with writing and reading, however I suspect that listening and speaking naturally will be more difficult with that method.