This post is available in (3) whole different languages (English, Japanese, Crabigator) because I might as well use the Japanese that I’ve learnt so far.
Right now? (As of 2021.06.30) I am simultaneously overwhelmed with happiness and sadness. It’s like the same feeling as completing an amazing anime series.
WaniKani has been so ingrained into my daily schedule for the past 2 years, it’s sad to think that a 1–2-hour void I used to dedicate to WaniKani will gradually begin to form.
But at the same time, I’m glad I can finally slowly move on and focus on other things like reading and listening and whatnot.
Here’s a little celebratory drawing I made for myself and those have reached level 60. Congratulations!
My WaniKani Android experience
Recently, 80% of my reviews are done on my phone so I try to make my WaniKani mobile experience the best as much as I can.
So, let me give a 2-minute (more or less, it depends on your reading speed) pitch to Android users about my setup, its benefits, and why it might be useful to you.
It’s a very minimalistic setup.
Browser: Kiwi Browser
Extensions: Tamper Monkey & Yomi-Chan
Scripts: Open Framework, Double-Check, Hide Context Sentence
Available on Google Play from Geometry OU, can’t miss it.
Why Kiwi Browser? Mainly because it allows me to use Google extensions on my phone, thus I can use…
This is amazing because I can pretty much have the same script setup I have on my computer, thus keeping my WaniKani UX consistent across platforms. Seamless switching. Hassle-free.
Looks exactly the same as my computer except its portrait (Scripts included)
As for why these scripts, Double-Check is very useful because it saves me a lot of time by not having to tap the next button using the lightning mode. Also, my fat fingers keep mistyping my answers so the ability to correct my “wrong” answers help save my sanity. Hide Context Sentence breaks my habit of reading the English context sentences before the Japanese ones.
This extension is a godsend. Just in case you don’t know, it’s a Japanese pop-up dictionary.
My 3 main use cases for this extension are reading context sentences, rationing my limited energy, and immersion.
Back in the earlier levels, I would regularly come across other kanji I’ve never seen before or forgotten. With no easy way to look them up, I’d usually just skip reading the sentence.
But now, I can look them up with a simple tap on the word.
If I didn’t know what some other kanji in the context sentence was, for example, 一 (I admit, this is was a bad example) or 緒, now I do! No need to switch tabs or open a dictionary. Very simple. Very nice.
Rationing Brain Energy
There’s a limited capacity for words I can learn in a day before overloading.
Pair this limitation with the number of new words I’m coming across daily from immersion, if I tried to learn every single word, I’ll have a buffer overflow and my brain will shut down.
The Innocent Corpus dictionary (The green bar thing in the screenshot) on Yomi-chan is a quick and rough way to gauge how often a word is used. Generally speaking, I don’t bother memorizing words with less than 10,000 frequency. For words in WaniKani, less than 2,000 frequency.
This word only appears 5 times?! No thank you, I’ll just use this word to remember the reading of the kanji. I’m just going to cheat and redo if I get the meaning wrong.
I can safely say Yomi-chan has singlehandedly saved me from giving up on reading web Japanese material.
For me, it’s really immersion breaking to keep having to go back and forth between the dictionary and the novel I’m reading that I just lose motivation to continue. This is especially true when I first started reading because I literally had to look up Every. Single. Word.
Luckily with this, I can just quickly tap and look. I remain in the zone. Minimal interruption to my flow.
This is a pretty wholesome story btw, would recommend. Although the protagonist makes me want to strangle him to death sometimes.
Actually, you don’t need to use Yomi-chan specifically despite my preaching. You can use any Japanese text reader.
Also, you can use a J-J dictionary in that. Which I’m transitioning to, soon™.
Stats, Some Rambling, and Eye Candy
Sorry, I just need to brag a little. This is a pretty huge achievement for me.
Being able to consistently do my WaniKani reviews every day, a few years ago, I would have thought it was impossible. Except for that break on 28 September 2020 when I enlisted.
Funnily enough, just when I completed the Hell levels (31-40) on WaniKani, I had to go through Hell again, this time both physically and mentally. WaniKani was on the back burner for about 2 months until I slowly but surely adjusted.
Also, I turned on Vacation mode during this period but I’d turn it off again during the weekends so I could continue doing some WaniKani when I finally booked out and returned home.
Except… during one of the weeks, I forgot to re-enable Vacation mode and when I came back, I had a 1000+ review backlog. I was like bruh. My goodness, it took me about 3 months to clear the backlog.
Side-tracking a bit. Ironically, I’ve had more time to spend on WaniKani after enlisting (ignoring that 2-month gap). Because as it turns out, there’s a lot of time spent just waiting for things to happen.
So much so that my section mates commented on how it seems like I’m always on my phone doing my reviews 24/7. It’s quite funny actually, so I decided to make a quick meme drawing of out that.
Ok, it wasn’t quick, it took me the whole day.
I got an average of 88% accuracy? I swear with the number of wrong answers I get each day; I felt my accuracy was a lot lower. Still, at least it’s better than my Osu! accuracy.
20 lessons a day max was the sweet spot for me, which gave me a sustainable level up time of 9 days. Back when I first started, I used to always do all the lessons until they reached 0. Burnt out in 2 months, never again.
Did I mention? The WaniKani level-up emails are eye-candy.
It’s so neat, it brings a tear to my eye.
And the feeling of receiving a level-up email notification from hello@wanikani during review sessions is the best.
If you ever feel incompetent and are on the verge of giving up on WaniKani
This motivational essay is mainly geared to people who feel that they can’t make it to level 60 or aren’t good enough, or have low self-esteem, or have almost given up all hope in completing WaniKani even though that’s the goal they want to accomplish.
Do you feel like a failure? That doing this is pointless and that there’s no reason to continue, maybe because you kept getting the same damn review wrong over and over again. Or that the words aren’t sticking in your head, and you keep forgetting even the most simplest ones. Or maybe you feel too incompetent to pass, that this challenge is too difficult for you to overcome. Perhaps you feel inferior compared to this guy or that guy, look at their insane 90%+ accuracy! How is that guy even breezing through levels but I’m here struggling to clear even one?! 368 days to level 60?! omg, it took me 368 days to reach level 2!
Been there, done that.
If that’s the case, you need to stop putting yourself down every 5 seconds or so and actually give yourself the chance you deserve. You need to realize that in retrospect, it doesn’t matter! Why do you need to be as fast or as accurate or as smart or as efficient as that guy? Is the Yakuza going to chop off your hands if you don’t reach level 60 in 368 days? Will the world implode if it takes you months to level up? Definitely not. Or maybe it’s because you feel that you are failing just because you aren’t as good and need to struggle more or take more time to accomplish something compared to other people.
Scoff But why? Just because you’re weaker at something, does that make you any less of a person? We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and if you feel like you don’t have any strengths at all, well I’m telling you now, you do and if you can somehow prove me wrong, I’ll personally fly over to your home, apply some hand sanitiser on my hands, shake your hand and hand you $1000 or the equivalent. Detach your self-worth or value or whatever from your current performance, just because you’re slow or keep messing up doesn’t mean you’re a failure, society will still accept you, your friends still love you, I will still support you even if you do to need to struggle more or put in more effort and time to accomplish something.
Some WaniKani user: “Am I progressing too slowly? It takes me-” Shut up! Do you want to know what I think? You’re only progressing too slowly if it takes you infinity days to level up. Aka when you quit WaniKani, hence infinity days.
Of course, I’m not saying just accept and don’t improve your weaknesses, improving yourself is a good thing, which is why you’re using WaniKani in the first place right? But take your time, there’s no “too slow” or “too bad”, you can be in the bottom 10th percentile but as long as you try, just try damn it and do your best wherever you can, and that’s all you need to do to achieve your goal.
After all, that is the main point, isn’t it? Achieving your goal, and not impressing some random folk on the internet. Focus on what you need to do to achieve your goal, it doesn’t matter how fast others are completing their goals. You’re strong! You can do it! You don’t need to be envious of other peoples’ successes and hamper your own progress. The only person you should be comparing yourself to is… yourself. More specifically, your past self, from 1 month ago, or 2. Heck, even a year or more is fine. You’ll realize you are getting better. You are improving.
No-progress? No-nsense. Nonsense!
Are you the type of person that tells yourself that you’re not improving despite all the studying or immersion you’ve been doing, or worse, that you’re actually getting worse? If so, why do you keep telling yourself that? Is it even true in the first place?
Nurturing any skill, like learning Japanese, is akin to nurturing a tree. Zoom out, take a step back, look at the bigger picture. It will look daunting or overwhelming at first but it’s way more accurate to track your progress over the course of years or months, not weeks or days or hours.
Objectively access your progress. Can you read faster? Is your ear able to decipher and intercept more words? Are you able to express what you want to say in Japanese better? Reflect. Keep a diary of your long-term progress. Are you actually plateauing, or do you have tunnel vision? Most of the time, you’ll realize you are improving. Granted, maybe not very fast, but learning Japanese isn’t a race anyways so do you have to learn fast? There are no medals for finishing first here as far as I’m aware.
But why am I even so worked up about this? Because I find it sad that level 60 is an “exclusive club”. It’s a little depressing that most people don’t ever achieve the goal of WaniKani of learning the 2000+ kanji and experiencing all it has to offer. Of course, I understand that not everyone has to do so and there are legitimate reasons to quit halfway like how the Kanji becomes increasing obscure in the higher levels, but I’m also pretty sure there are many people who actually want to reach level 60 but never.
So far, if I’ve gotten you all riled up and motivated to keep trying instead of quitting when you don’t want to, then it looks like I’m doing a good job. If not, then I’m going to keep trying.
If you ever feeling stressed or are overwhelmed with anxiety, take a few deep breaths. Do some breathing exercises, it’s good to learn some anyways for general use. It’s useful for stressful situations like before a job interview, or a presentation, or pulling off the safety pin of a live grenade in your hand.
Anyways, back on track, another reason is maybe you’re finally burning out from the grind. Maybe the endless stream of reviews is finally overwhelming you and you just want to stop. Forever. Maybe you’re thinking, “My review sessions are going on for too long! My backlog of reviews never seems to be going down! There always isn’t enough time to complete all my reviews! My accuracy is dropping way below my expectations, 50% accuracy?! This is bad. Why is this happening? Is it because I’m stupid?”
No, there’s no need to feel incompetent at the first sign of failure. Failure is actually important (unlike what schools and grades teach you) so that you can learn and improve, don’t let it get to your head and hurt you more than it needs to. It’s probably because you have bitten off more than you can chew. Cut down on lessons and/or reviews. If you’ve already cut down on lessons and/or reviews, cut down even more. And no, you aren’t failing or dumb just because you had to reduce your lesson or review frequency.
If you’re reading this and you do base your self-worth or value or success on how well or on how many reviews and lessons you can do. Stop it! You’re worth more than this. Okay? I really want to drive home the point that your value, your worth, is not based on how well you can do a certain something, like WaniKani. I’m already sounding like a broken record, but some people take this way too seriously or competitively, especially in other things like games (CSGO, LoL, VAL, etc), like if they aren’t the best or winning all the time, it’s like they’ve disappointed humanity or let themselves down, or that they’ve wasted their time.
There’s also no need to purposely overdo your lessons and reviews, or bite off more than you can chew, just so you progress a bit faster and burn out quicker, or so that you can brag or impress some random folk on the Internet or your friends. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone but yourself. You don’t need to do this to justify your existence.
Pace yourself, what matters is you. You matter. Okay, treat yourself better. Don’t harm yourself to achieve something and don’t neglect your health or wellbeing.
An example, I’ve had section mates of friends who overexerted (understatement) themselves during training, fracturing their legs, tearing their shins, having to go for surgery and not being to move any faster than walking speed, stuck with crutches, for months, even years. Some people even nearly ******* dying from heatstroke, as their friends haul their lifeless body into a car, enduring a painfully long trip through the jungle, and hauled to the nearest hospital, that always seems too far away, with an EMS helicopter.
It’s not worth it. Don’t make all your effort for nought and take care of your physical and mental well-being. Push yourself but know your limit. Don’t let me catch you treating yourself like trash just to achieve your goal or I’ll give you an hour lecture. Although, that would be hypocritical since I used to work at a startup games company and the crunch time before the deadline was insane. 80-hour workweeks, never again. You don’t need to be productive 100% all the time. You don’t need to be using 100% of your brain all the time (btw if you happen to be using 100% of your brain at the moment, there’s like a 99% chance you’re having a seizure so I wouldn’t recommend doing that.)
Start doing more of what you enjoy. Whatever it is, like watching anime, watching vtubers, reading manga, reading light novels, having casual conversations with people, writing stories, creating manga, etc. etc. Start learning to enjoy Japanese again, if you were to ask me, there’s no point in spending years of your life learning something you don’t need, doing something you don’t enjoy. There’s no point in doing something just for the sake of it. Have some fun and keep chipping away at Japanese but take breaks as long as you need, months, years, that’s fine but make sure it’s not forever! But never give up I say, never surrender!
Of course, I’m also not saying you should slack and procrastinate and don’t do anything productive like studying. Balance is key.
As for advice on what you should be studying. Unfortunately, I don’t feel qualified enough to give others a full proper plan or strategy on how to study Japanese and improve because I myself don’t feel like my Japanese is quite there yet. Hence why there isn’t much call to action in here.
Although if you still want me to, I can try to recommend to you on what to do. Because even though I don’t even know who the hell you are, but I still want you to succeed, okay?
In the end, I don’t know your current circumstances, there are a million and one perfectly legitimate reasons to quit WaniKani. But what I do know, is that even if you do quit WaniKani, it still doesn’t mean you’ve failed as a person or have let everyone down. Okay, I don’t want to waste any more of your time by having to read more of this, so I’m not going to go on another tangent, instead, I’ll just say, you know what? Even if you do quit reluctantly, I believe you will grow stronger and one day you’ll come back better equipped to complete this challenge. So please, when circumstances let you, try WaniKani again soon.
Trying to end off on a good note, here is an imitation of an inspiring speech from Winston Churchill. But I’m not trying to poke fun at him or WW2, okay?
“We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall do our WaniKani reviews in the morning, we shall do it in the afternoon, we shall do it in the evening too with a growing number of burnt items each day, we shall achieve the goal we set ourselves, whatever the cost may be.
We shall do our lessons daily, if not we shall do it weekly, if not we shall do it at our own comfortable pace as long as it is on a routine schedule; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, we were on the verge of giving up completely, ready to throw in the towel, then our newly formed habit, of completing WaniKani reviews and lessons on a routine basis, would compel us to carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, our renewed vigour, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of our dreadful rut.”
And just maybe one day, it won’t be a matter of “if” you’re going to make it, but “when” you’re going to make it, and you are going to reach level 60 on WaniKani and you are going to post another level 60 thread on the WaniKani forum and if my thread has helped you in one way or another, you’re going to tag me and when I’m finally back home from being devoured by mosquitos in the jungle, I’ll reply “You crazy son of a female dog, you did it! You can’t see my face but it’s full of tears of joy right now because you freaking did it even though you thought you couldn’t.”
I’ll be waiting.
Some tips you may find useful
Take what I say with a grain of salt or two. My Japanese is not bad, but it is also not good. Overall, maybe it’s Elementary schooler level-ish?
The biggest tip I can give that may help you
My brain is ruthlessly efficient… at forgetting things I don’t need to remember (This used to include Japanese). Why am I always so good at the most useless things?
My goal, or reason, for learning Japanese in the first place was because I wanted to read manga, novels, and play games in Japanese. Mainly, and especially, those that aren’t popular enough to get an English translation, but I still want to read/play. There are too many of those.
Even though I had a strong goal to work towards, frankly though, this is still a want-kind of thing. At worst, I’ll be inconvenienced by not being able to read the untranslated manga or novel I want to do so. As a result, my damn brain only puts in like 50% effort to remember Japanese.
So, how do I make my brain actually try harder to remember the things I’ve learnt? Easy (not really), make Japanese a language I require in my life.
I can’t move to Japan so that’s out of the question.
But what if I moved to Japan… digitally?
I must admit, I nearly fainted when I saw my phone’s settings page like this for the first time. I wanted to change some notification settings and it took me like 15 minutes of trial and error to do so. Good ol’ days.
“Necessity is the mother of invention”
When the need for something becomes imperative, you are forced to find ways of getting or achieving it. I really like this proverb because I find this applicable to many areas in my life.
Basically: If whatever I’m doing can be done in Japanese, do it in Japanese. This changes Japanese from a want to a need, which is exactly what I need. (Doing this within reason, of course, I’m not going to change my company’s computer operating system to JP, or submit official documents in JP, etc).
I did this transition gradually, first was my Google Account (YouTube, Google Play, etc), then entertainment (Steam, Netflix, games, etc). Next was the operating system of my phone and personal computer. Finally, everything else that I’ve missed. The whole transition took around 4-5 months.
This was simultaneously the best and worst thing I’ve did in my Japanese learning journey. When I first did this, it felt like I was going through hell for the third time. Literally everything I did took at least 10 times longer than it should’ve.
I felt like I was a toddler who didn’t understand anything.
Especially when I changed the operating system language. Because as a side effect, some applications use the operating system language to determine what language to display.
So, there was this domino kind of effect where I literally can’t change the language of some of the applications without changing back my OS language. This was the point of no return.
Question: But was it this worth the months of suffering and humiliation in front of my friends by failing to do the simplest of things because I didn’t understand?
Answer: Personally, when I first started, I would say no. But now, 1 year later, I can safely say yes. It was worth it. Mainly because my brain was held at gunpoint to actually put in the effort to remember things otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to do anything.
Want to play Civilization VI? Better learn what the text is saying, or I might just accidently provoke the AI into a war. Want to watch anime? Better improve my reading speed on J-subs otherwise I won’t be able to watch that anime anymore. Want to do anything? Better learn to read what it says or don’t do it anymore.
Now that I think about it, I might be a low-key masochist. Oh no.
Would I recommend someone else to do this? Maybe, it really depends. Although trying it wouldn’t hurt, you can always switch back. Of course, even if you do switch back, it doesn’t mean you’re a failure.
Another maybe useful tip
English is a European language and Japanese is an Asian language. Just like how you wouldn’t eat an Apple and Banana the same way (at least I do hope you actually peel off the skin of a banana instead of eating it or this metaphor won’t work). The grammar rules of English can’t be superimposed perfectly onto Japanese. Trying to learn Japanese the exact same way you would for English can lead to confusion (I’m speaking from personal experience).
What I’m saying is, maybe learning the proper structure of Japanese grammar from the beginning instead of constantly trying to mould English grammar rules like English passive voice, English transitivity, etc. to fit haphazardly. It’ll be a lot harder in the beginning, believe me I know. But in the long run, it’ll make things a lot clearer.
Kana as the new foundation
After a year of learning Japanese, I was getting annoyed at the roundabout method I was thinking with. For example, let’s say I wanted to breakdown たまご,
My thought progress,
た → ta,
ま → ma,
ご - > go,
たまご → tamago
Tamago → 卵
たまご → tamago → 卵
What a waste of time and energy.
Or let’s say I wanted to do some karaoke
My thought progress while reading the lyrics,
俯いたまま大人になって (Seriously, utaten is like the only lyrics website I can find which adds furigana to the kanji)
→ utsumuita mama otona ni natte
Shit, the singer is already on the next line
I don’t want to use an alphabet for my alphabet (I know kana is not an “alphabet” but “alphabet for my alphabet” rolls off the tongue better okay), I want to bypass romaji and just start thinking in kana. Again, since I didn’t really need to do so, my brain’s like “Nah I don’t think I will”.
So, I made thinking in kana something I needed to do.
Some people will say that using this during reviews is cheating since I can see the prediction of the words to know if I’m correct, I definitely agree with them.
With some discipline to put cheating aside, there are 2 benefits for me using a Kana keyboard.
- Gotta start thinking in kana
- I need to learn to use a Japanese keyboard for general use anyways (be it kana or romaji), I might as well get used to it now. No need to relearn how to use one after completing WaniKani using an English keyboard
Of course, when I first switched, typing was painfully slow. Sometimes it took a lot of trial and error to find the kana I was looking for since I kept forgetting how “mu” or “he” or “tsu” looked like.
But after a year of use, results are showing. I’m happy to say my efforts weren’t in vain as now I mostly default to thinking with kana, instead of translating kana and thinking in romaji. 卵 went from tamago → 卵, to たまご → 卵.
But thank you romaji for helping me grasp Japanese in my very early days, you will always be remembered but I don’t need you as a middleman slowing things down anymore. It’s time to move on.
If you’ve gotten this far, thanks for reading!
Overall, my WaniKani journey was quite fun (ignoring the stress from repeated mistakes and reviews backlog).
To be honest, if it weren’t for WaniKani, I don’t think I would have gotten as far as I have in my Japanese learning now. And although I didn’t participate much in the WaniKani community either, I had fun lurking around and reading all the different posts.
Feel free to leave a comment on your thoughts or criticism or whatever, I’m quite curious if I went overboard or if this post had offended you somehow. You can also do so in Japanese, and I’ll try my best to reply in Japanese too.
I wrote this on and off over the course of a month or so, there might be a bit of inconsistency throughout the post. In fact, this started as a simple post, but it exploded in scope as I kept thinking of new ideas to put in. Heck, even the motivational part went through an iteration every weekend, mostly just shortening and cutting out a lot of repetitive parts. The original essay was closer to 4000-5000 words and would have generated feelings of sleepiness instead of motivation.
Here’s another meme I created since F9 is trending now (as of 2021.07.06), although I suspect by the time I post this, it may be overused or dead.
強い is strong, but not as strong as family
Aka feeling a bit embarrassed about my Japanese ability but wtv yeah. I try my best.
「ワニカニ Android スマホの設定」のおすすめ
Webブラウザー: Kiwi Browser
ブラウザ拡張: Tamper Monkey & Yomi-Chan
スクリプト: Open Framework, Double-Check, Hide Context Sentence
「Hide Context Sentence」は日本語の例文のまえに英語の例文を読むの癖を治します。
例えば、以上の例文の 「一」や 「緒」の意味がわからなかったとしたらタップするだけで調べられます！
このスクショに、「Innocent Corpus」という緑のバーがある、「Innocent Corpus」はある単語がどのくらいの頻度で使われているかを大まかに表示する辞書です。
覚えなくてもいいことを忘れるのが上手です。( 日本語も含まれた) なんで私は無駄なことをするのが上手ですか？
だんだんにすべてを日本語化にしていきました。最初に私のGoogleアカウント（YouTube、Google Playなど）、次にエンターテイメント（Steam、Netflix、他のゲームなど） 、次にスマホとパソコンのOS、最後にすべての逃したものです。(4～5ヶ月)
A red head cat eating a fish.
A cat eating a red head fish.
Cat whose head is eating a fish.
My head is a cat eating a red fish.
My head is a red cat eating a fish.
た → ta,
ま → ma,
ご - > go,
たまご → tamago
Tamago → 卵
たまご → tamago → 卵
→ utsumuita mama otona ni natte
A girl enters an elevator. Does she plan to take the elevator upwards or downwards?
Upwards, because she’s 上がる.
Snip Snip Snip, Growllllll