Completing Wanikani

Yeah and even getting to level 60 N1 would be 79.06% so it’s still not all of N1, but N5-N2 would be at 100% which is great. :smile_cat:

I will however add a caveat to this that while the returns feel like they’re deminishing, you should absolutely keep going. The range of content you can consume goes up expenentially as you get in those last 30 levels. The first 30 is essential, but the last 30 is going to make reading that much easier. Definitely do reading the whole way though.

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Made some numbers, let’s assume that nothing changes and someone is starting right now WK

Based solely on SRS timings:

For Level 1 & 2

Apprentice 1 → 2 hours → Apprentice 2
Apprentice 2 → 4 hours → Apprentice 3
Apprentice 3 → 8 hours → Apprentice 4
Apprentice 4 → 23 hours → Guru 1

For level 3 onwards

Apprentice 1 → 4 hours → Apprentice 2
Apprentice 2 → 8 hours → Apprentice 3
Apprentice 3 → 23 hours → Apprentice 4
Apprentice 4 → 47 hours → Guru 1
Guru 1 → 1 week → Guru 2
Guru 2 → 2 weeks → Master
Master → 1 month → Enlightened
Enlightened → 4 months → Burned

The shortest time possible to reach level 60 is 344 days and 10 hours

The shortest time possible to burn everything after that is 5 months 3 weeks 3 days and 10 hours

Funnily, this reminds me of this post – WaniKani World Record! Level 60 in 344 Days!

344 days 14 hours, they said.


For sure but I can’t help thinking that people who “speedrun” WK to level 60 are making it harder on themselves for no reason. Assuming that you’re starting from scratch you’ll probably have a big deficit in terms of grammar and general comprehension if you finish WK in a year, unless you also manage to find a lot of time to complete your studies outside of WK.

So basically you end up with a very solid Kanji knowledge that you can’t really use, and by the time your grammar/vocab knowledge will have caught up you’ll almost certainly have forgotten a good chunk of the advanced kanji that you didn’t have the opportunity to encounter while consuming N5/N4 content that’s mostly “公園で妹と犬は遊びます”-tier.

Some do, but if you don’t cheat at all it can take a very long time to get there and I suspect that many people drop WK before finishing that. So you have a small minority of WK users making it all the way to 60, and a minority of this minority who burn everything, I suspect. Here’s an example: Introduction / Level 60 / Everything Burned

Remember that every time you miss a burn review it sets you back about 5 months, so if you have a couple dozen leeches it can easily take years to go from level 60 to 100% burned.


I will never suggest rushing WK.


Oh yeah that wasn’t aimed at you, I was reacting within the general context of this discussion re: how fast can one finish WK. I guess a more salient question is “how fast should one finish WK”.

Personally I think it’s well worth rushing it early on because getting the first ~20 levels in as fast as possible will make reading any Japanese text vastly simpler (including example sentences in textbooks) but after that the returns start to drop sharply and it’s probably worth gradually pivoting towards more grammar study and more active reading and reduce the time dedicated to WK.


after reading Introduction / Level 60 / Everything Burned i see that it took that person 3 years to get from level 60 to all burned

Yeah I would expect that, without cheating, it would usually take longer to go from 60 to 100% burned than going to level 60 in the first place. All it takes is one semi-obscure vocab entry with an irregular reading to hold you back for a while.

And lately WK has been adding new vocab entries regularly which further resets any attempt at 100% burn. Like next week they’ll add the kana vocab so you know that you won’t get any 100% burn for at least 6 months after they’re done doing that. I think the last time they added new vocab was less than 6 months ago too, so basically nobody is getting 100% burns right now and won’t be for the foreseeable future.

Yeah I mean I “speed ran” wk like 5 or so years ago but I was going through grammar and reading VNs on the side as well as adding my own words from native content and the core 6k or whatever.

Lots of things I would change if I could go back 6 years in time, including not using wk at all, but if I had to use wk I would definitely speed run it again. It always was and still is something I viewed as one small step to my greater goal, so it was something I just wanted to be done with and wash my hands of. I don’t like doing too many things at one time.

About halfway through I realized that it would be best to quit around level 40 anyways, which is an opinion I still hold, but I wanted the 60 just because I said I would get it and was racing a couple other people.

I don’t think I made anything harder on myself personally, and actually credit full speed to my success partially. Going faster forced me to take it more seriously and fit it into my day properly as a routine rather than some afterthought. Doing so built strong habits and a passion that helped me maintain 3-4 hours of study a day for the 4 years to come.

TLDR: Speed run bad? Maybe yes. But at same time, maybe no.


I’m curious, why wouldn’t you use WK if you had to do it again?

Personally I do find that it becomes less necessary and useful once you’re past level 20 or so because at this point you should have enough kanji knowledge to understand how they “work” and learn them on your own, but I do think that WK helped me a lot getting started quickly and efficiently.

I don’t think I could have learned ~900 kanji in six months with purely self-guided study, and I have quite a lot of experience with self-teaching myself foreign languages. The level structure really helps build the routine and give short term goals, I think.

It’s all in application of course. Most people speedrunning WK are only doing WK. I think a hybrid approach is the way to go.


Yeah for sure, I was really thinking of some “level 60 celebration” posts where the user ends up saying something like “It was an intense year and now that I’m done I realize how little I know. I still can’t really read anything and I’ve started with Genki I now”.

I can’t help facepalming a little bit every time I read something like this.


Those posts kill me inside. I was on that track when I originally started. I’m happy to be in a healthier place. :dove:

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Is that really limited to speedrunners? I havent really noticed a difference in spending time outside of WK between faster and slower people. Of course no matter whats the speed, thats not the best course of action and if going faster means you are dropping grammar, vocab or later on reading/immersion, thats not right.

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I’m sure it’s not but I always fear that newcomers who are not used to SRS will see posts like these, think “hell yeah I’m a g4m3r I’m going to do WK in a year and I’ll speak nihongo” but they don’t realize how quickly the SRS load will snowball out of control and will either burn out or simply not have enough time to do anything but WK.

I think it’s always better to start a bit slow and ramp it up, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience with SRS/language learning.

I think it may also result in people who don’t know what to do once they’re done with WK (because that’s all they do) and end up doing something silly like immediately resetting and doing it all again.


It certainly is quite a big problem here (no matter the speed) as i wrote in my lvl 60 post

"Level 30 even with N5 grammar and few hundred kana only words offers so much more than just level 60. "

But people are somehow pulled by the desire to focus on WK a bit too much, speedrunning first 20-30 levels might not be a bad choice depending on circumstances, its much harder to defend it later on


That’s honestly the main reason I tend to push back on people who want WK to add more levels to reach full joyo or whatever. It’s not a bad idea by itself, but I also know that if WK decided to add 100 levels and teach 5,000 kanji some people would do that before learning the て form.

Before I give a quick answer, three important things about me when I picked up Japanese back in 2017 after getting serious about it

  1. I wanted to be able to read LNs and VNs unassisted
  2. I was willing to put in ~2 hours daily
  3. I was ok (and eager to) grapple with content very above my level (the example I typically give is that I learned katakana by reading an adult VN)

So when I was getting serious into japanese like 6 years ago, I had seen stuff about people learning japanese from VNs, but I kinda chalked it up as “too good to be true”. I didn’t know anyone who had done it, and all of the typical advice on r/learnjapanese was for genki and wanikani it seemed (I actually bought genki too). I saw all the big numbers wanikani seemed to have around it: 2000 kanji! 6000 words! XX% of all NY kanji by level Z!!! I placed a lot of faith in those numbers and got to work.

So what changed? Well, 2 things mainly. The first one was that I realized that the whole learning by VN thing wasn’t actually BS because I started doing it. Moreover, I found 2 communities that basically focused on exactly that, so I was able to see their workflow and examples of living proof that it worked. I think that if I had that environment with all the info on how to learn using that method and senpais that could provide reassurance+guidace, it would have been easier to go against the “traditional” advice of WK and genki.

The second one was that I realized how little the numbers actually mattered for my goal of reading. One statement I hold is that a person who has learned 3000 words and ~1000 kanji targeted towards what they are reading will blow someone with the 2000 kanji and 6500 words on wanikani out of the water when it comes to reading the material they care about despite knowing less than half the kanji and words. What words you learn is just as if not more important than how many words you’re learning. With ~50% of WK words not even appearing in the top 10k for VNs, its a very poor way to build comprehension when I am focused in on one thing I want to read.

Fun tidbit while we’re at it. I looked at a random level on wk that I believe was in the 20s. iirc. I saw more words I didn’t know in the ~120 words on that level than I have in some entire (250+ page) books.

Anyways. Wanikani is very focused on a large, one-size fits all program, and it does it alright. But a program made with everyone in mind is a program catered to no one. I don’t want to wear one size fits all clothes, and I don’t want to learn one size fits all words outside of the most common 1-2 thousand maybe. I think the more you have a strong idea of what you want, the less appropriate wanikani is for you, and I just happened to have a very strong focused idea of what I wanted to achieve and was willing to put in the work to get it. I think wanikani is still fine for some, but I do think I personally would have found more success in the methodologies outlined in those other communities I mentioned. I got to being able to read my anime books and eroge without a dictionary though, so either way mission accomplished. If you calculate out the time it took me to get 60 compared to the total time I’ve spent studying, it was only about 10% of my journey though so its not like some massive waste I lose sleep over, or anything.


I’m definitely starting to feel the “disconnect” between the vocab WK teaches and what I need to consume the content I care about (which at the moment are mainly old-school JRPG videogames). It’s always a bit frustrating when WK teaches you how to say “recession” and meanwhile some of the stuff I actually want to learn is still 20 levels away.

That’s one of the main reasons I feel like it becomes less useful once you’re past level ~20 or so. Early on the idea that you should learn simple kanji (in terms of strokes) and use that to build your knowledge of more complex ones makes complete sense, but once you’ve learned a few hundred kanji you’ve seen the vast majority of the useful components out there and the order becomes a lot less significant. Like if I look at the kanji list of level 60, they don’t look particularly more complicated than those of level 28.

At this point I’d like it if WK let me build my own levels by letting me pick ~33 kanji at a time (with some reasonable defaults).