Finally made it

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16 months later, here I am! My life has pretty much changed in almost every way imaginable since I started, but I stuck to WaniKani the whole way through and I’m glad that I did.

Adding in the ~400 kanji I’ve learned outside WaniKani, I’m up to about 2450 kanji total, with just 39 Joyo kanji remaining!

I started reading last May, so I really didn’t rush the last 20 levels; by level 40 I had reached the point where more than half of the new kanji I encountered when reading weren’t ones in WaniKani anyways. I’ve now been playing Final Fantasy 14 in Japanese for the past 3.5 months or so (I’m up to Stormblood). It’s still difficult, but practice makes perfect; just keep reading, and reading, and reading. I feel like I’ve read a half dozen novels worth of text at this point…

My journey probably wasn’t particularly optimal in any way, but I don’t really subscribe to that approach. I try to do what my mind is able to enjoy, rather than forcing myself to do something I find unpleasant (a fast way to get disillusioned with the language). For example, I only casually studied grammar with Bunpro, Tae Kim, etc, and never got beyond about halfway through N4 in terms of formal study of grammar points; past that I just read more and looked things up as I found them. I never even used a textbook – not that I would recommend such a thing, but that’s not what my brain wanted to do, so I didn’t force it.

I’m excited to (eventually) go back to Tokyo and actually be able to read this time… ahahahaha. Though perhaps even more than that, I just miss the Lawson chicken… and cocoichi… and ikebukuro… and functional trains… gods darned covid…

Nowadays I’m just doing lots of reading and sentence mining from the things I read (which is mostly Final Fantasy 14… ahahaha). My current process looks approximately like this:

  1. Read sentence. If I understand it, move on.
  2. If I don’t understand it, read it again. If I understand it, move on.
  3. Is there a vocab word in the sentence I don’t know? Look it up. Is it interesting? Does it have a new reading? Have I seen it before, looked it up, and forgotten it 5 times already? Add it to my vocab deck.
  4. Is there a grammar point in the sentence I don’t know? Look it up.
  5. Read it again: does it make sense to me now? If so, move on.
  6. Still don’t understand it? Throw the sentence into DeepL and use that for extra context. Ask questions if I have to, etc.
  7. Read it again. Does it make sense now? If so, consider adding it to my Anki sentence deck for practice. If not, the sentence is just too hard for me to understand even with help; move on.


  • Is there a new kanji in the sentence? If so, add it to my deck and make a note to myself to add some vocab for that kanji in a day or two (same way as WaniKani: learn kanji, then vocab).
  • Do I keep running all the way up to step 6/7 on that list over and over? My brain is tired, take a rest, go meditate, or go read Japanese another time. Does that not fix the problem? The material is probably too hard; go read something easier.

And now, I just loop through this over and over, every day, and the next day I wake up and my Japanese is better! It’s like magic. Sometimes I can even read fast enough to keep up with spoken dialogue! It’s snazzy.

Thanks, WaniKani. I couldn’t have gotten here without you :kissing_smiling_eyes:


YAY! Congratulations ^-^

Seems to be the day everyone is hitting 60, hehe


Well done and tx for sharing tips on reading!

Hope you enjoy your well deserved pleasure in understanding in your next trip to Tokyo!


The folks hitting 60 keep coming!

Makes me happy… and sad at the same time.

No matter how I feel though, CONGRATULATIONS on climbing that mountain, beating that dragon, whatever you felt your learning was!

Stick around to burn them all! Or just stick around the forums and keep the rest of us mountain climbers company!


Congratulations :confetti_ball:
…and here is some :cupcake:. Good luck with your journey through “stormblood”. for studying purposes of course… :smiley:


The best part of “studying” by playing games I enjoy is that I get to do both at once – it makes studying fun! There may be some downsides to picking (for example) FF14 over something else, but I feel like they’re all vastly counteracted by the fact that it’s an easy source of motivation to read for literally hours at a time, something that, say, a year ago, I would have never believed I could ever do :yum:


Congrats!!! What a journey. I’ve been playing FFXIV since 2.0 came out, and I dream of being able to play through it in Japanese someday, but it’s pretty difficult (I play with JP voices, so I can tell), so I’m really impressed you can do that. I think I’ll need to learn quite a few more kanji and get a little deeper into N3 before I try…

I’ve started reading manga and your process makes me feel good about how I’ve been doing it, steadily taking fewer and fewer notes as I go and just focusing on the stuff in step 3 and 4 more than anything else. So thanks for sharing that.

Good luck burning everything!!


おめでとう! :tada:

Seeing your posts about Japanese and WK is a big part of what inspired me to get back into learning more Japanese myself, so it’s great to see you step over this finish line.

Similar to your experience, the extent to which I can now just read things would have been unthinkable just 18 months ago. Magic indeed!



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Congrats on hitting level 50! Speaking of Final Fantasy… maybe you’ll even be able to go through FF16 in Japanese when it comes out. :wink: (Whenever that may be… At least we have a trailer.)

@fioraaeterna Congrats on hitting level 60 and nearly completing the Joyo Kanji! It sounds like I might be around the same grammar level as your starting point (N4) and I have a few questions about your comprehension level now that you’ve finished WK. You mentioned you continued your grammar study informally; but in terms of a before and after big picture, how do you feel completing WK has improved your listening, reading, and speaking skills with intermediate-level grammar? Are you now able to both understand and speak/write much more fluently? Or have you found that the improvement has mostly been in reading comprehension, some vocabulary for listening, and not much in terms of composition? Thanks!


I feel like this is a slightly misguided question, in the sense that WaniKani doesn’t really do any of these things.

ex: I am much better at reading now, but that’s not because of Wanikani – it’s because I do lots of reading! Of course, I couldn’t have gotten started without something to teach me the kanji, but it’s not the same as actual reading practice.

Similarly, the only thing that has improved my listening skills is… actual listening! It helps to know words and kanji, of course, but my ability to parse things by ear only improves by listening.

WK gave me huge amount of baseline knowledge that has been absolutely necessary in developing reading skills など, but it doesn’t teach those skills on its own.


Thanks for the insight! I know that WaniKani focuses on Kanji and vocabulary, but I was curious if you noticed significant improvement in other parts of your language acquisition after you had dramatically increased your vocabulary in a relatively short time. Anyway, it sounds like you had a good experience with WK and supplemental study. Good luck on the rest of your language learning journey!


Great job!

Keep it up!

And when you feel demotivated, if you ever do, come on back and we can push you back over the cliff… er, help you get over your demotivation! :smiley:

This is an amazing accomplishment and you should enjoy it!


I’d love to be able to play FF14 in Japanese somethines in the future. I just stopped playing it, shortly before I started my Japanese journey last year in August.
Maybe I’ll treat myself with a subscription, once I’ve finished WK.

Do you play on Japanese servers?

I play on western servers… mostly because I wanted to play with my friends. Playing on Japanese servers sounds like a real wild ride, though there’s a guide out there to JP FF14 slang and terminology.

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Congratulations @fioraaeterna, your achievements are very impressive :astonished:

Also, many thanks for telling us about the method you use to study. Just like your previous post, this one is very inspirational, and I find your feedback to be very precious.

Reading your post, I have been wondering about a few things.

1/ Kanji: do you add all unknown kanji to your deck, or just Joyo ones?
Also, do you come up with mnemonics for those new kanji? I know I do, but it takes a hell of a time :smiley:

2/ Vocab : in my experience, adding cards for new vocabs to a deck also takes a lot of time. Do you automate this process somehow, by importing premade cards, or by using some kind of script pulling definitions from a dictionary?

Sorry for bothering you with my questions :slight_smile: I feel that you have been studying very efficiently, so I am very curious about the way you integrate new knowledge into your SRS!!

(And in any case, please let us know about the rest of your journey towards learning Japanese!! :smiley:)

All of them. After all, the Joyo list is meaningless in practice; any media is completely free to ignore the list and include kanji of its own, and there’s tons of quite common kanji that aren’t in it (e.g. 繋, which feels more common than half the Joyo kanji…). Regardless of what list it’s in, if I have to read it, I have to read it!

I consider learning kanji like this to be very important for my methods, because if I can read a kanji, I can easily transcribe the word into a dictionary in a matter of seconds, but if I run into a kanji I don’t know how to read, I’m stopped in my tracks for 30+ seconds while looking it up by radical. This can get very demoralizing, so it’s important to know the readings of as many things as possible so I can quickly look them up while reading.

Okay, almost all of them. If it’s a kanji that only occurs in a single word or is otherwise really narrow-use, I might just study the word that contains it instead of the kanji itself. Sometimes the kanji may have obvious readings even if they’re weird (e.g. 齟齬 I could read fine without knowing either of them, due to radicals).

I also sometimes don’t bother with really really stupidly rare kanji (e.g. if they’re not in the top ~4000 according to this list). Sometimes I might wait until it shows up a second time to bother studying it. For example, I ran into “薀蓄” the other day, which feels just cruel. That first kanji isn’t even in the top 5000 in Aozora Bunko books: i almost want to refuse to study it on principle :sweat_smile:

I mostly stopped using mnemonics around level 45 or so. I can’t explain how it happened, but it feels like at a certain point (with enough kanji learned) my brain just started taking them in by osmosis. That, or I could remember it as “oh, it’s like that kanji, but with a hand radical”, and so on. It’s also easier to remember a kanji when you’ve learned it in context than when you learn it through WaniKani, because you can remember where you first read it. That memory can effectively be your “mnemonic”.

I’ve been using for that, because I like the UI. But IMO, there’s actually significant use in spending time on making cards; the more time you spend focused on the word while learning it, the more likely you are to remember it. So the time is likely not wasted at all. Plus, you already looked up the word – so you have a dictionary definition right there to use when making the card!


Ah, this is so cool!
I started doing wanikani after seeing you talk about it on twitter, so this is pretty inspirational.

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Thought about starting a new character on JP, but the lag would probably be insufferable :stuck_out_tongue:.

I haven’t played for a few years; been thinking of finally finishing the HW story but this time in Japanese. I wouldn’t have the patience to add all the new stuff in SRS, so a bit afraid of all the specialized/historical kanji :joy: (and likely spending a few hours trying to remember what all my skills do, only having the JP descriptions to help). General understanding wouldn’t probably be a problem.

Gz, on 60!