About to enter the painful levels... searching for advice on how to handle the pain

Yo! Hope everyone is doing fine,

I know there are some other topics speaking about this particular event…

Anyway, in a matter of days i’ll be hitting level 11, I’ve somehow managed to get through these first 10 levels but tbh I’m beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed every time I get into a new level because of the amount of lessons that unlock.

I don’t want to lose my speed so I was thinking that it might be a great idea to ask to my senpai-s (notice me senpai! :3) on how did you handle the painful levels, also, how does it feel in terms of knowledge to hit level 20-21 what are the things you feel you can do, what is your level of confidence and so on.


In the painful levels the number of new radicals goes down, so more kanji will re-use parts and the kanji will start to resemble each other confusingly. If you tried to just vaguely remember the shape the moment of truth will come that doing that is not enough to distinguish stuff like 輪輸 or 微徴. Learning kanji is basically about finding tricks and shortcuts to remember them, and to focus on the important parts (an eye for details maybe) instead of just going with brute force.

Concerning the number of new lessons, I would advice to really focus on the kanji readings and meanings, most of the time you can directly map them to the vocabulary, and learning new words turns into “戦争? War+conflict=war, makes sense … reading as expected …” and the pile of new lessons will start to look less scary.

Other than that, same advice for everyone, get my similar kanji script [here] and phonetic hints [here]!


If you’re feeling overwhelmed now and assuming you haven’t started burning anything yet, I advise you to slow down regardless of speed, otherwise you’ll burn out.


I’ve actually found the 11 to 20 levels pretty easy going so far, at least not any more difficult than 1 to 10. Make sure not to rush – I tend finish levels in about 12 to 14 days, as I take it easy on the new lessons and limit myself to 15 or so new items per day. As is said above, there is some repetition in these levels, and the radicals taper way off, but the kanji do get “harder”.

For me, when I get discouraged I just keep my eye on the prize, learning to read. It’s not a competition and no one is grading you. I keep a copy of a Murakami novel on my desk, just to remind myself that one day a couple years or so from now I’m going to be able to read it.

Good luck!


This answered my question before I even asked. Thanks, cheers!

1 Like

I wouldn’t pay much attention to the naming of the level brackets, they really don’t mean much. People just like to categorize things and 10’s are nice round numbers.

As for tips, I would say it took me way too long to realize it’s not ideal to knock out your lessons in a single sitting, because then you’re forcing them to show up in an equally large review batch every single time they’re due. I like to knock out the radicals and kanji immediately, but then slowly chip away at the remaining vocab over the next few days so that there are 0 lessons right around when new terms get unlocked.


Also, I would very highly recommend Jitai: Jitai (字体): The font randomizer that fits

It’s a font randomizer that’s way more effective than the one available at greasyfork. It takes a little bit of setup, but IMO is absolutely worth it because it allows you to drill with fonts that are so distorted that you have to identify the individual components of the kanji instead of recalling based off of vague general shape recognition. There have been times where I recognize all of the pieces of a kanji in some crazy font, but still can’t identify it and have to mouse over because I only learned it as a basic overall shape that it no longer resembled.


These levels will set your pace for future success… if you can make it to 20, you can make it to 60. Lots of folks seem to drop out in the midst of pain. These levels will condition you to handle it.


I’m only a couple in but I definitely second the recommendation to tackle a smaller number of lessons per day rather than a great bunch all at once, if you aren’t already (it sounds like you aren’t from the “overwhelmed by the number of lessons that unlock” comment, but maybe that’s just the psychological horror of seeing that many lessons :stuck_out_tongue: ).

You do also really have to start paying attention to the details. Focus in on the part of the kanji that differs from all of the similar ones you’ve seen before.


Wow, so glad i asked, thank you so much for your input, i’m checking your links asap ^^

1 Like

You’re right sometimes you feel discouraged but my dearest manga of all time awaits, lol. Thank you so much for your answer, let’s see how it goes, we’ll definitely make it


You’re absolutely, they might not mean nothing at all, but after all, numbers are the best way to put things in perspective, like i am at a sixth of the way or something, lol. Wow, really glad of your sharing, Haven’t heard about Jitai, haven’t noticed the power of changing fonts, as you say you must ensure that you recognize all the blocks of the kanji, i’ve implemented this resource, thank you so much for sharing


Thanks so much for sharing Jitai! Not being able to recognize kanji because of font differences is just so discouraging (and infuriating), so I’m super psyched about this script! :fire: Looking forward to my first reviews with this baby installed.



I got hit real hard when items to be burned started appearing. Not only does it add an extra layer of reviews, but it’s really discouraging when you’ve forgotten these since you’ve worked on them so long only to forget them again. It really slowed me down but I managed to pull through and now I’ve gotten up my pace again.


I’m nearly through it ! It has been pretty challenging at points - maybe because of the burns coming back, as mentioned previously, or maybe because… life. But it should be hard - you are learning a completely different language, built on completely different foundations (assuming your first language is English :wink:)

My top tips are (learnt during the depths of my pain) -

DO NOT RUSH Who am i kidding, you’re gonna rush. but remember taking it slow and comfortable will help you retain the information better in the long run, and learning a language is a marathon, not a sprint.

DO NOT ABUSE RE-ORDER SCRIPT if you have it, fair enough use it for doing your radicals and kanji first, but then make sure you get the vocab lessons done at a steady pace through the level duration as well. Vocab is really important for enforcing the meanings and the readings. I’ve learnt this on recent levels (SHAME ON ME)

CONSUME JAPANESE IN OTHER FORMS By level 20 you will have the ability to read around 2000 vocab words !! HURRAH - but wait, does that mean you actually know 2000 words? - unlikely. Try and actually use words in context, and remembering the vocab readings will be a piece of cake. Inevitably i think if you are racing through wanikani, you will be learning more words than you could ever possibly use as a beginner - but the ones you come across in real life will be much easier to retain.

REMEMBER HOW AWESOME YOU ARE you are learning Japanese !!! you can actually read those squiggles which 3 months ago may have been incomprehensible. level 10 is already an achievement, and if you keep putting the same effort you have done to this point - you will make it all the way to ‘reality’.

PRACTICE LISTENING AND LEARN GRAMMAR you could know all the Kanji in the world, but if you can’t understand and apply the knowledge, then what was it all for.

Good luck my friend, i hope to see you on the other side. :guitar:



Level 11 reporting in - seems easier than level 7-9 struggling a bit less, vocabulary is self explanatory most of the time.


Use the mnemonics. They work. If you don’t like wanikani’s, make your own.


I can only agree with the other people around my level saying slow down. The load of new reviews almost crushed me around the later painful levels. Now the burn reviews are coming in, which increase the review load even further. Doesn’t help that I did the first ~10 levels at maximum speed, so I now get piles of 80 burn reviews at once. I had to almost stop new lessons for a while (still keeping up with reviews, luckily) and am now trying to find a slower regular pace.

Edit: Forgot to also answer the second part. In an average text, there’s now more Kanji that I can read than ones I can’t. So that’s pretty awesome. Now, if only my grammar wasn’t so lacking…


It will be less painful if you spread your lessons throughout a level rather than doing all the lessons immediately when you level up. I recommend using my Lesson Filter script to do roughly the same number of lessons each day. It will let you still learn a mix of radicals, kanji, and vocab every day, but you’ll be able to choose how much of each to control your level up time.

Using the script, if you do something like “blank” for radicals (to do them all right away), 7 for kanji, and 13 for vocab, you should still level up close to max time. But then you’ll only have to do 20 lessons a day (except the first day), which will also keep your reviews coming in a balanced way as well (this is very important). And obviously you’d be able to tweak the numbers if you want to change your pace later on.


To get the most out of Jitai (字体): The font randomizer that fits, make sure you download the additional fonts on that page!

To use the fonts, all you have to do is download them, extract them, then double-click them and you should be able to hit an “install” button. I especially love ArmedBanana, even though I had to download another program just to be able to extract it. I enjoy this script so much that I actually modified it to exclude the more “vanilla” default fonts entirely, like this:

Notice the red circle; the double backslashes make those lines into comments instead of real code, so those fonts are no longer being loaded by Jitai. I’m not on OSX or Linux so those other default fonts already don’t do anything.

Just be aware that if the author updates this script, these backslashes are going to get overwritten and you’ll have to add them back in. If you start seeing vanilla fonts again, that’s why, but it’s only happened to me once so far.