Do I have too many Leeches?

@EiriMatsu Thats interesting/reflects badly on me. Did you have prior exposure to kanji/Japanese in some way prior to Wani-kani? Besides me just being massively worse at learning languages OR you being exceptionally skilled at it, what possible explanations could there be for the huge disparity in our burn/leech rate?

A lot of factors contribute, so I should be considered a high exception. @jprspereira is the mastermind behind the numbers, so he could probably vouch for my leech numbers being abnormally low. Firstly, I did come into WaniKani with kanji experience. I began force-learning kanji through translating raw Japanese light novel pdfs using Rikai-chan years before I started WaniKani.

My primary objective for using WaniKani is the readings, specifically onyomi, as, while I learned the meaning of a large amount of kanji through translating, I never actually bothered learning how to pronounce anything (しました was simply a polite past tense marker, not “shimashita”), relying on romaji to learn any phonetic Japanese. Through listening practice via Japanese music and anime as well as lyrics translation using romaji, I learned a lot of words, giving me a strong base of kunyomi.

So for me, kanji to meaning is very easy, as I can look ahead to the level 40-50 range and recognize a lot of kanji. As long as I focus on the onyomi readings, I have free sailing. Most of my errors come from going too fast or vocabulary words that use secondary onyomi (the onyomi げ of 下, for example, caused me much agony in the past).

Finally, I have a harsh course on myself that I write the kanji 18 times per review, doubling it for each time answered incorrectly (3x if I miss both reading and meaning). As a result, I’m very unlikely to mess up something a second time. A side note would be that I also live in Japan, so I have easy access to people and resources to assist me with problems or questions.

That force-translating light novels is impressive. (Relatedly: I’m looking for basically some young-adult/relatively easy novels in Japanese to read. I’m not big into Manga, so any suggestions there would be thumbs up)

I live in Japan as well luckily, but I don’t utilize that particular language learning resource as much as I should. I feel very shy in Japanese until about 6 beers in, and the 6 beers in normally reduces my vocabulary by… an appreciable amount lets say.

You write the kanji 18x even if you get it right? Hah, I don’t even write them once… like ever. I know its super 外人的, but I don’t have a particular interest in writing. My handwriting is bad enough in English, I can’t imagine anyone reading my scrawl in Japanese.

Your post makes me think maybe I’m being too light on myself with mistakes. Thanks for your post!

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You make some good points man.

I think what I’m really trying to say is that the whole leech thing and trying to do WK really fast is over-focusing on WK itself. I have corrected a lot of previous leeches simply because I came across them in sentences with audio on Anki or even in an anime. Particularly leeches where I was messing up the reading but not the meaning.

For example 名字 みょうじ surname. I was nearly punching walls because I kept typing めいじ. After hearing it in an Anki sentence being read by a native speaker あんたの名字は何ですか。あなたのみょうじはなんですか。I now have it tattooed under my skull. What I’m trying to get at is that the synergy between having loads of different Japanese abilities including WK skills at say 70% but steadily improving is better in the long run and more time effective than being a WK beast with no leeches, levelling up every 4 days but neglecting other areas. Even if you’ve burned something on WK yet you don’t practice reading/listening on a daily basis you’ll forget things.


Are those important words or you just do not care about them? I kept thinking about leeches as a problem: they are kind of “permanent apprentice” items.

I usually you do no more than 20 new items a day in order to not be overflooded with reviews, that means that in your case you could invest more than 19 days to clear up all the leeches and push them at least to guru level.

Make it some though.

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I was wondering, what is an acceptable number of leeches?

As I progress in Wanikani, I get more and more leeches and I think that’s quite normal.
I’m trying, now at level 22 to keep my number of leeches under 100.

I was trying to keep them under 60 before level 20.
Sometimes, I stop doing lessons for a week or so, to focus on leeches, but as soon as I’m going back to new materials, the leeches keep increasing…

Do you also have a limit? Do you think it’s important for your progression to limit the leeches number?

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The acceptable number of leeches is whatever number doesn’t overwhelm you. For reference, I have just under 300 at level 56. Personally, this is a bit much, but I’ve been too lazy to work the number down.


I used to try to work down my leeches, but not any more. I still count them though. Actually, in my mind, I only really count the Guru leeches, which have pretty much stabilized around 100. Trying to drill my leeches is not worth the extra time and effort, IMO.


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Is it good or bad? It’s manageable, but man, half of Guru is leeches and I don’t think that’s very good.

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