Back after two months - it's a bit brutal, but it seems to work out

Hi Wanikani learners,

I moved (new house), and the computer ended up in a cardboard box somewhere, and didn’t get out until a month and a half later. Besides, I was still busy unpacking/setting up the new place, so Wanikani kind of fell off my radar - at some point you don’t have unlimited time unfortunately, so the break ended up being two months.

Obviously, reviews had started piling up, but I had set wanikani on ‘vacation’ mode, so only had about 500 or so when I came back. I was a bit concerned about my ability to process them. However, what I hadn’t expected was that a significant amount of the more recent stuff had entirely vanished from my memory - let’s say that I was rather disappointed but old age is what it is I guess !

After thinking about it, I decided to downgrade, and reset to level 25 ( I was in the middle of level 26 ). This made 200 or so reviews disappear, which encouraged me to try again, since the now 300 left looked more manageable.

In practice :

  • The first 100 reviews were brutal. I was extremely slow at identifying kanjis, words, you name it. It was also a bit depressing.
  • Then, slowly, but steadily, it started coming back, and I started ‘seeing’ kanjis again and remembering things (you stare at the kanji, look at the radicals, remember the mnemonics, and this gets faster and faster until it’s instant). It’s very odd, a bit like seeing an old friend after a very long time ( or playing the piano after 20 years ).

So I’ve decided to stick with it, and not give up entirely, since it appears I haven’t lost it all, and more importantly, it seems that wanikani has caused my brain to rewire itself to ‘see’ Kanjis : if I don’t practice, the skill falls asleep, but it seems like it’s still there somewhere, and it’s going to take some time to forget it all. I won’t take any lessons for the next two weeks I think, and focus on purging my backlog/consolidate what I know, but I’m very happy that I insisted/pushed through ( and made peace with resetting ).

Has anyone experienced something similar ? If so, does it happen at any level ? Or do level 60 gods simply can’t forget anymore ?


Haha, I wish. :slight_smile:

Really, it’s just like things in your native language that you forget and then have a moment of “Argh, I knew that” when you figure out what it is.

This is definitely my experience as well. :+1:


I definitely know the experience of returning from vacation, even just a couple weeks, and kanji look so foreign again when I come back.

One weird side effect of this feeling is that with the ones I do get right, it almost feels like magic.

Anyway, I found it passes after a couple worse-than-usual days of reviewing. (But less time away than you.)

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I think resetting is a good idea! I came back from a several-month hiatus once and I regret not resetting to the previous level. I had forgotten all of the new things, and was just making myself mad.
I recently came back from a one-year break and tortured myself yet again, but I hadn’t been allowing many items to enter the apprentice stage anymore, so it was more bearable, AND I “allowed” myself to get them wrong. I accepted that I had forgotten them, and just treated the reviews as a re-learning opportunity :joy: because if you’ve just learned something and you never practice it again, you’re bound to forget it!
Both of these experiences happened around where I am now, level in the early 40s. I am technically level 44 now, but I am refusing to start any of the new kanji or vocab until I get the level 1-43 stuff down first. They added a ton of new words and kanji last year that I missed out on :sweat_smile:
I think I have been using wanikani seriously for maybe 4 years now. Taking it slow because my motivation comes and goes.
Life is busy, and practice makes perfect! :slightly_smiling_face:

I’m on lvl 14, was gone for about two weeks and now have 800 reviews to do. I honestly don’t know how this is helping me, it’s mostly just keeping me from actually learning the newer stuff I don’t know when 90% of these are older items I feel like I’ve already learned. I can’t do 800 in a day so I’m just grinding through as many as I can every day, but I can’t help but feel that this is all wasted time until the day I manage to get my review count back to zero. The only huge flaw with WaniKani imo.

Well, I have found that there’s a big difference between ‘I feel like I know this’, and ‘I actually know this’, which is essentially when you burn something. So while it feels repetitive, I think Wanikani’s approach isn’t that bad, since the drilling forces me to make sure I learn things properly.

To give you an example, while in the beginning I could just ‘take a picture’ of the kanji in my mind and remember it, this strategy stopped working completely when I reached level 20. Essentially, I realized I didn’t know them that well ( I remembered a part of the kanji, which was enough), then I started mixing up the kanjis ( the same part appeared in multiple kanjis), and I had to make sure I learned things properly. I’ll also add that I found levels 1-20 to be fairly easy, then it got significantly harder, and then systematic drilling became very very useful.

You might be faster than me at learning kanjis though !


Then, slowly, but steadily, it started coming back, and I started ‘seeing’ kanjis again and remembering things (you stare at the kanji, look at the radicals, remember the mnemonics, and this gets faster and faster until it’s instant).

Yeah, pretty much my experience too. I’m just level 22 and I have already had two extremely long breaks. As you can see below, I’ve been on my current level for 270 days (!!!)

Life got in the way, what with a full time job, an internship on the side, applying for graduate college, and several other hobbies. I had a huge review wall to climb, and it was slow and excruciating. “I knew all of this!” I’d say. Thankfully, it’s pretty much all back now, except for maybe some items I burnt long ago. I’ll finally level up tomorrow, and it’s gonna be really cathartic.

A silver lining: I did pass the JLPT N5 during my hiatus, since I’d registered for it way back in early 2021 (my July registration was pushed to December due to COVID).

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I see where you are coming from, and of course reviewing older stuff is important. But what I meant by “wasted time” is that from my point of view there were about 200 older items that were truly useful for me to review, 100 or so that I was actively learning and 500 or so that I was comfortable with already. Having those 500 make up the bulk of my reviews meant that I spent more time rushing through typing my answers than actually giving my full attention to the newer stuff. As a result I felt like the 300 I did need to actively “study” were rushed through due to having limited time.

Anyway, I ended up taking a few days off of work to knock out my reviews. Not ideal, but it felt like the only way to get back on track.

Ah, I understand now. Basically, Wanikani is a bit too slow for you, and this ends up being counterproductive.

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