Feature Request: Unburn without resetting

I’ve been using Wanikani for a long time, but I’ve taken breaks and had periods where I was really slow, so there are words I burned years ago. As I’ve been reading actual media in Japanese, I’ve caught myself many times looking up a word only to realize I learned it back in level 21 and either forgot I knew it or forgot what it meant.

I’m at level 37 and I really don’t want to start over, and I don’t want to have to spend days/weeks reviewing items that I only really need to be reminded of once or twice. I wish there was a way to unburn things that would just set them back to “enlightened” so I can give myself one more chance to remember them.


Likewise, I would love a feature that let me review every one of my burned items once and did basically the same thing. If I get it right, it stays burned, but if I get it wrong, it’s back on the review pile. I think this would at least be possible to finagle with a user script if the above feature existed.

I would really love that, in fact I would love if there was another step between enlightened and burnt, something like a 1 year delay or similar.


The default Anki timing is incidentally 365 days. From experience I feel half a year might not be enough, especially if some of the past reviews were lucky guesses.


Well, such a feature, exactly how you described it, does not exist. However, the existing features are likely enough to effectively get what you’re looking for.

First, you probably know about the Resurrect button, which appears at the bottom of each item’s page, after you’ve burned the item at least once.

You might not realize, though, that once you resurrect/unburn an item, that same button becomes a Burn button!

So, in other words, once you’ve burned an item once, you can un-burn it, and re-burn it, as much as you want!

So, if you only want to get a few reminders on a previously burned item, you can just unburn it. Yes, it will still start back at Apprentice 1. But, honestly, since it’s a familiar item that you mostly already know, working through Apprentice 1 through 4 really takes very little mental effort. In fact, since it will be so easy to answer, it’s like a ‘freebie’, and you might actually find yourself enjoying answering such items, in between the more-challenging items of your current level.

Well, after you get it to Guru 1, Guru 2, and so on, at some point you can say to yourself, “Alright, that’s been enough of a refresher. I don’t need to study this one anymore. I damn well don’t want to have to wait 6+ months just to burn it again!”

And at that point, you simply go back to the item’s page and click the Burn button at the bottom of the page again. Poof! It’s burned! And the button turns back to a Resurrect button once more. (Indeed you could burn/unburn any item you wanted to, over and over, just for the heck of it, as much as you wanted to. Yes, it will always unburn to Apprentice 1. But at least you can always re-burn it if it’s annoying to you!)

In other words, Unburning, although it always goes back to Apprentice 1, is at least a completely reversible action. If you’ve unburned an item, you can just as easily re-burn it!


You could also use self-study quiz on burned items in one tab, and have another tab/window open for unburning the items you get wrong. Slightly tedious, but workable I think?


Isn’t there already a button that allows you to quizz on all the burned items? It won’t bring them back to your review pile, but it might work for a quick refresh!


You should be reading books at that point.

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No need to be derogatory.


No it is not. But you should try read a book about how to interact with others without being offensive, you might benefit from it. Wanikani introduces N3 level kanjis since level 2. They will be burnt around 6 months from the start. Very few people who just started Japanese will reach N3 level grammar in a year, so it is very likely that by the point they acquire sufficient vocabulary and grammar to understand material that uses those kanjis will have been forgotten already. Being able to review them after one year would give a solid chance to keep them in memory until when they can be used in reading. There are of course workarounds (manually unburning and reburning, restarting wanikani etc) but they are all cumbersome and time consuming. It would be far more convenient and time efficient to be able to review them after one year. Call it very enlightened or something, and make it optional (since opt in features seems the thing everybody wants these days).


No that’s literally what you’re supposed to do after you burn items. You’re supposed to be reading and encountering it naturally. The reason why you burn after six months is because the next interval would be a year which means if you don’t run into the kanji at least once in a year you’re brain isn’t gonna find the data useful and you’re lonely to forget.

If you don’t use Japanese you’re gonna lose Japanese. Unless you’re goal is to live on WaniKani forever then just start over when you finish. Devs don’t need to spend time developing a feature so you never have to use the language.


I encourage you to read again what I wrote as it seems you completely missed the point. Of course the point is to read Japanese eventually, but the moment in time when you are able to do so varies a lot person to person depending on many factors. If one started Wanikani at the beginning of their journey (as Tofugu itself recommends) it is unlikely they will reach N3 within six months, so although those kanjis are indeed useful and common, many people won’t be able to use them for quite a bit until they learn enough Japanese to do so.

I am not sure I can explain this in any other way, so I am not going to reply again on this specific point, especially since your messages are frankly quite rude.


:face_with_hand_over_mouth: :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: :star_struck: :smiley: :grin: :+1:

I may have known about this before but if I did I had completely forgotten! Thank you! This is super helpful. :slight_smile:


If talking about reading extensively, maybe. But by reading intensively, and looking up vocabularies, not that many Kanji are needed. Even if grammar might be a problem, something like Satori Reader, or some materials claiming to use simpler grammar, may help.

I might also recommend some short readings everyday, like NHK Easy.

In my eyes, if people can’t bear higher WaniKani levels, just stop leveling up. Or put WaniKani on hold and turn on vacation mode, if necessary. Leeches might be another reason for this.

With some reading, even scarce and somewhat intensive, not that many Kanji are needed to look up vocabularies in a dictionary, or sometimes them commit to memory.


That is definitely helpful. I prefer graded readers as I find the news a bit too dry for my taste, but in the end reading level appropriate content does help massively. However I certainly wouldn’t have been able to read the news or a short story with N3 kanjis within six months of starting Japanese. All I could read were extremely simple stories (level zero) that had hardly any kanji, and certainly not N3 ones.

You are right, the best approach currently available is to stop levelling, or indeed stop using wanikani until one can do that, which is what I did when I realised I was forgetting all the kanjis that I learnt and I couldn’t yet read material that contained them. So I went on a long wanikani break and focused on grammar and vocabulary and only resumed wanikani once I studied all the N4 grammar. It is now working well and I can read comfortably material at this level and I am being careful about progressing slowly with wanikani and studying N3 grammar at the same time.

But the best approach currently available is not necessarily the best possible approach for everybody and having extra SRS levels would give people more flexibility if they need it: ultimately nobody needs to burn all wanikani content, one can stop using the system anytime, even before reaching level 60 if it is no longer helpful. Some people might want to stick for longer, others can read novels or complicated stuff a lot sooner. We are all different and have different lifestyles, learning speed or even learning disabilities in some cases.

However I can guarantee there are plenty of people out there who reach level 60 and still can’t read the news or a book, because they don’t know enough vocabulary or grammar to do so. Some of them end up resetting and starting wanikani from scratch. Now one could blame them and certainly they could and probably should follow a different approach, but ultimately what I am trying to say is that if the system allowed for longer SRS intervals some people would hugely benefit from it and would not need to waste a lot of time restarting from scratch or simply forgetting everything without a chance to use the content.


I dunno if this is just my own exposure to Japanese being somehow wildly different from everyone else’s, but in my experience, JLPT levels don’t mean a whole lot with regards to kanji. N5 and N4 kanji are really, really common, so you’ll see them around everywhere pretty much no matter what you read, but you’ll also probably encounter N3, N2, and N1 kanji occasionally, too, not to mention kanji that you’re not even expected to know for the JLPT. Yes, even in manga for children, or for beginning learners.

For instance, there are 875 unique kanji in the beginner textbook Minna no Nihongo, including 3 kanji that aren’t even in WK. Those kanji go all the way up to level 59 here. The textbook doesn’t expect you to memorize every kanji in it, but it uses those kanji in the text, and beginners will be exposed to them there.

I think if you’re reading anything at all, you’ll be reinforcing at least some of the kanji you’re learning on WK. You’ll be extremely unlikely to encounter every single one of them. But it’s okay if you forget some of them after burning them; that’s what dictionaries are there for. It’s not the end of the world if you forget something that you SRS’d. You can look it up again if you encounter it somewhere, and if you don’t encounter it again, well, it’s not something you needed to know.

Burning items basically just means that you’ve reached the point where SRS has outlived its usefulness for that item, so you’re better off spending your SRS study time reviewing items that you still need help learning.


Yes, thank you very much! I did not know you could do this. Oddly enough I seem to remember requesting an unburn feature a long time to try and retackle the items I’ve forgotten and don’t recall anyone mentioning this option. Perhaps I need to go back and read the site instructions/tutorial to see if there are other cool features I’m overlooking.


And how many of those N3 kanji WaniKani introduces early on exactly?

I agree with @WaniTsunami on this. Regardless of what Tofugu says, WaniKani is a supplementary resources. If you learn kanji, but never use them, you will start forgetting them.

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I guess it depends on how you define “early”. Let’s say “early” means the first 10% of the Wanikani levels (6 levels). In these levels one would learn 176 kanjis in total, and about 20% would be level N3. This effort would likely be wasted as very few people who just started Japanese would be able to reach N3 (and hence use these kanjis in reading) within six months. Of course things get a lot worse if one considers the first ten levels (that are reached not much later). Where the percentage of N3 kanjis increases further.

Anyway I feel what I am trying to say it’s being misinterpreted: I never maintained that wanikani is (or should be) an exclusive resource. I have said many times that is obvious that eventually one would want (and should) read. All I am saying is that the “burnt” time is, I believe, wrong for most starters with the current level ordering. Either the order or the time after which items are “burnt” should be changed. Personally I’d prefer if the latter was changed, as I think the current order is not bad generally, as it makes sense to focus on visually simpler kanjis first.

I am sure that for someone more experienced with Japanese 4 months is an adequate time, for burning items, but I also think that for many new starters is too short. Also new starters will want to read art some point, but within six months (when they will start burning items) they will be able to read just starter content, that has no kanjis at all, or only very basic one, so all the N3 kanjis are likely to be forgotten, and possibly many of the N4 as well.

To sum it up I think there should be an option to have an additional SRS stage. To some people it won’t be useful and they might want to keep the current stages, for others it might be beneficial and they could enable it. That being said either way at some point everybody should read to consolidate the knowledge.

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I think that’s a very good point if that number is really 20%. That’s a lot actually. A JLPT-aligned textbook would likely introduce kanji and words with respect to language proficiency, using JLPT levels as a guideline. Of course if one uses texts from native sources, they would need to be tailored to a specific JLPT level to be level-appropriate.

I don’t think you’re being misinterpreted, you’re just looking for a “side solution” to a fundamental problem of kanji ordering in WaniKani. Extending the timer to a value higher than 6 month is really not meaningful from a general learning perspective.

Here, @fallynleaf 's comment on JLPT levels vs kanji frequency becomes relevant. If a beginner wants to start reading, they will encounter kanji in an order completely different from the one prescribed by WaniKani and they will, through exposure, learn kanji at various JLPT and WaniKani levels. Assuming they read actual native content and not texts super-tailored to match either JLPT or WaniKani.

From a meta perspective, it would be more valuable to combine WaniKani with other resources and match the progression on WaniKani to once’s study pace. Or better yet, not use WaniKani and instead learn kanji from textbooks or Anki decks with common words as that automatically tracks better with other study resources.