I personally don’t think you have to. It’s really up to you, though. Theres really no right answer, and its just what you’re comfortable doing. When I came back after a year break to like 1000 something reviews and forgot most of my stuff, I just trucked through it and things got settled relatively quickly. I was at 17 at the time.


Unrelated to the thread, but are there any studies concluding coffee intake inhibits learning?

It seems like the opposite, that caffeine improves learning and memory, from what I could find, provided that you drink it at the right time and don’t mess up your sleep with it.


I’ve read the same thing about it.
Really the only negitive side effects of coffee was anxiety and acid reflux, well that and stained teeth.


I don’t really have a solution for you, just wanting to express sympathy <3 especially if it’s getting frustrating, that makes it so much harder to enjoy learning the language.

I think it’s okay to take it slower - I get overwhelmed really easily, so I’ve set myself a limit of 75 apprentice words, and if I have more than that I don’t do any more new lessons. It makes the reviews a little tedious, but I think at my level it’s reasonable? Not sure how it changes as you level up.

I’m sorry you’re going through this, it sounds like you’re under a lot of stress right now. You’ve got this!! がんばって!


I read ‘caffeine blues’ which claims that these studies are sponsored by the caffeine industry. It’s quite convincing and based on medical studies.

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Let’s maybe take this elsewhere? Not sure this is the right thread for this discussion :smile_cat:


This has been my experience as well. I am not sure if I officially have ADHD, but I know I have all the symptoms of hyperactivity and it has gotten worse with age, but coffee and some types of music really allow me to laser focus, like a fog has been lifted from my brain. Plus, I would die (or cause the death of others) without coffee, so in that regard my coffee is like healthcare for me and everyone around me :slight_smile:

To OP:

SRS isn’t for everyone. If you are going to use an SRS system, you need to be able to focus on it, and if focusing and remembering are issues, then you will need to supplement it. I would honestly recommend two things; Traditional flashcards (not Anki), and a gamified app that teaches kanji, grammar and vocab. Lately I have been using KawaiiNihongo and KawaiiDungeon, both free, and they are surprisingly GOOD, and relatively fun. To me, they made learning conjugation SIMPLE, and the sentences they give use the kanji and vocab you have just learned.

Also, if you have not heard of Lofi Hiphop beats to study/relax to, now you have. There are hundreds of channels streaming it on YT. Here’s a popular one:

lofi hip hop radio - beats to relax/study to - YouTube


Maybe take a small book with you and write your lesson in it , so you can study when you can , i think it can help .
repetition is king after all .


That’s called addiction :joy: Well, I know how unpopular this topic is, but caffeine just triggers a fight or flight reaction, that’s the limbic system. Nothing against the limbic system, it’s just not really perfectly suited for learning languages.

And the reason why I bring this up is, that I found out that drinking coffee before doing reviews brings down my accuracy a lot.

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Oh seconded! When I was trying to get kana down I would just copy out the whole charts over and over LOL

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I disagree with the notion that you must be doing something wrong. People learn in different ways, people learn some things easier than other things, it may be that this method of learning kanji, or kanji in general, is not right for your brain.

Maybe you’ll absorb better by holding physical flashcards in your hands, or by writing the kanji, then can use wanikani to drill drill things you already know, rather than use it to learn. Or maybe you won’t even be good at kanji and need to accept it. As a dyslexic person I know I will never be able to spell most english words properly, and no amount of ‘try harders’ I got from my teachers when in school was ever going to change that (and yes it was a great source of stress for me). I feel like how you are describing when it comes to spelling, how come other people can learn it and no matter how hard I try, I just cant’? Well, some people just can’t learn some things, and some people can but in different ways to most people.

If your spoken Japanese is good you can just ask people, “what does that say?” I knew a guy when I worked at Nova who had been there for ten years and never learned to read kanji, he just got by by asking people. Not sure if he found it difficult, or just couldn’t be bothered, but it didn’t prove essential to his everyday life. If you have great listening and speaking skills I would not let your lack of kanji prowess get you down!

With that out of the way, I have a couple ideas for you:

Real flashcards. I have them on my desk and I put them in piles, look at them when I have some down time, shuffle them around into where I think they belong much like the wanikani groups (I need to learn these ones, I sort of know these ones, I know those ones). I have the White Rabbit Press Volume 1 cards which is JLPT 3 & 4 level, from before there were 5 levels. They are probably today’s N5 and N4. Maybe you will learn better with physical props as opposed to a screen.

Kanji-a-day practice pad. You can sit it on your desk and each day read about a new kanji and there’s space to draw it over and over. The muscle memory from drawing might help you remember it better than mnemonics! You can leave the bottom row blank and at the end of the week go through all of them again. I have no idea what happened to mine, maybe I should buy a new one myself.



how are you memorizing the kanji pronunciations? the pink kanji and purple vocabulary words are different things. sometimes the “reading” of the kanji is only how it is pronounced when paired with other kanji, which means exactly what wanikani is telling you: if you know the reading of those kanji, you should be able to read a word with them in it together. go back and refresh yourself on the kanji readings if you’re having trouble reading kanji compounds.

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You could do this if you want (reset to level 1). I did a few months ago after taking a break from Japanese. It has worked out for me now and I feel that I am in a better place then I was when I was studying before (as in I have greater knowledge of the langauge). If you are feeling demotivated I recommend just doing things like others suggested that got you into Japanese like watching anime and reading manga. Usually whenever I feel demsotivated I just turn on one episode of anime (watching reincarnated as a slime rn haha) and my motivation returns. Something just clicks and I say to myself “I just got to keep going and power through”. Just try your best to make time for Japanese and make sure you enjoy it. Recall what made it fun in the past. Hopefully this helps a little. :smile:


I feel like you when I do the same mistake all over again but now I try to learn those items from the beginning. If mnemonics aren’t strong enough for me I write my own if I confuse them with another kanji I compare their differences and make up a story for it too. I guess the key word is ‘time’ here though. You need time to do this and if you don’t that might be the main reason.

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Many good comments, but I honestly feel this is the crux of the issue. It’s impossible to feel anything but soul crushing defeat with this sort of accuracy.

I wouldn’t focus on ANYTHING else until this improves.

IMO you need more reviews of fewer items.

If you had five flash cards with words in 5 different languages and reviewed them over and over again continuously, I guarantee it wouldn’t take more than 3-5 iterations before you could achieve 100% every time.

It’s late here, I’ll write more tomorrow, but I truly believe the new self-study feature is the ticket (along with tricks to limit the amount of items under active review). [Edit: no need to write more, good advice follows in the replies below mine.]

Don’t worry about 4 or 8 hours between scheduled reviews - you need more back to back continuous reviews of a SMALL number of items, without the stress of scheduling and level progress.


I agree with Rrwrex. When I get less than 70% correct on my reviews, I go back to my incorrect ones and I try to figure out why its not sticking with me. When I originally do my lessons, I write everything down in my notebook including a mnemonic and if I know I’ll need it, a drawing, but only for the hard ones. Mnemonics can be difficult and often I don’t find myself sticking to the ones Wanikani provides, so I make up my own that combines the pronunciation and the radicals, which can get crazy, so I usually draw a picture for the weirder ones so the idea I’m trying to memorize can be more fully realized.

When my created mnemonic fails, I rework it because it means I came up with a faulty mnemonic, and that’s totally fine. I think sometimes I just can’t remember things! I will go back to the list of incorrect items and rework all of the mnemonics and rewrite everything down, usually small tweaks to my original ideas, nothing drastic unless it has to be. This often will improve my memorization. (If you would like an example of my notes, let me know and I can post a pic)

I recommend a notebook. If you are already learning Japanese elsewhere, then you should keep your notes in there too. Writing everything down helps for memorization too.

Also, I feel like we are in the same boat of missing the 4 hour reviews because of work, but I still persist! I get around 150-200 reviews when I get home from work and its always dreadful but I remember that I gotta keep at it because future me would be very appreciative that I put in all this hard work so that he can know the language.


I’d put WK on vacation mode, install Self Study Quiz and Self-Stdy Hide Info scripts, and spend your normal review time reinforcing your items on one level at a time, starting at level 1. Go to the level page on WK, and Self Study Hide Info has a button to let you quiz over just one section (rad, kan, or voc) with a single click. Do those repeatedly until you find yourself answering items without hesitation, then move on to the next section (rad, kan, voc, or next level). I also recommend turning on pairing mode (reading and meaning back to back in a consistent order), because that helps a whole separate section of your brain engage.

After you’ve caught up to your current level, resume your regular SRS reviews. Your accuracy will be much higher, and reviews will go much faster. Each time you do new lessons, use the new Extra Study system on WK, or Self-Study Quiz, to reinforce your new items before proceeding with regular SRS reviews. Again, your accuracy will be higher and reviews will go faster. And it will be more fun!


The exact way I was doing, every new sets of items / new levels, was repeating Self-Study mode with EN=>JP (because of no-Kanji hints), for a few times, until I get a good accuracy. I don’t even have to set up Anki. And it can be frustrating to see yourself not easily remembering what is required…

As a matter of fact, mnemonics may help, but not so much. It’s pretty common that I have to make up new (and another new) mnemonics, for initial remembering.

Kanji pronunciations? Jukugo? I don’t care about that, as it is just another vocabulary. Just make sure you remember the pronunciation initially somehow; and IMO, Kanji itself can also be a distraction. That’s why EN=>JP come into play. Kanji readings become more meaningful retrospectively, though.

As a matter of fact, I almost always remember vocabularies before Kanji.

As for repairing you backlog, common choices are either, reorder (but you don’t have to do it all at once), or reset.

I am not sure if caffeine improves learning and memory or not; but stimulants in general may improve attention in ADHD or the spectrum, which may in turn improve learning.

Nonetheless, I am sometimes afflicted by caffeine downtime, that is, some time after the dose.

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take what i suggest with a grain of salt, because yeah i am a babby and i am not as far as you, though i’ve spent a lot of time learning how to learn before starting the learning process, and i have done wanikani in the past on another account (but university took over my brain so i stopped for… a few years)

  • To begin with, it sounds like you aren’t spending enough time per lesson to get it stuck in your head. When you see an mnemonic, focus on replaying the scenario introduced in the mnemonic a few times in your head, as if you were actually experiencing it.
  • Learn what a jukugo word is, and how to recognise one (sorry, I realise you probably do already know, but mentioning this just in case). I understand myself that it is a bit unhelpful when they don’t actually provide a mnemonic, but in the long-term this seems to be actually more helpful as in the future if you see two kanji together without any hiragana, and you remember there wasn’t a specific mnemonic for them, then you may remember it is a jukugo word and combine the two readings you already learnt from the kanji. This won’t work however, if you can’t recall the on’yomi readings of the individual kanji yet.

To me it sounds like your problem is with how you go about doing your lessons and how you are utilising mnemonics, and that your issue is not the reviews. It sounds to me that you are reading the mnemonic briefly, then moving onto the next lesson (if I understood the “I try to spend a bit of time in a word but I don’t spend linger then 20 seconds” part correctly, sorry if I misunderstood). Not everyone is able to do the 4 hour reviews, and that’s fine, your retention will suffer a bit but I don’t think that is the main issue here.


Edit: Oops, sorry for @'ing you, Vanilla.

I’m gonna suggest something slightly (but not very) radical. I think you should stop doing wanikani (at least for now). I think you should use the time that you free up by pausing WK to do the thing that inspires you to want to learn Japanese. Watch anime with subs, read translations of Japanese books, whatever it is.

Cause a) once you get into a frustration-banging-your-head-against-a-wall cycle, it is super hard to just think your way out of it, sometimes you just need to pause and collect yourself before continuing. B) you said yourself that you are playing into the sunk cost fallacy. C) since it’s a lifetime sub, you can come back literally anytime you want. You could take ten years off, and still get your money’s worth out of WK after that.

Sorry you are having such a stressful time of it, and I hope you find a way to really enjoy Japanese again soon!!


There’s also a less radical version of my suggestion where you don’t have to stop WK, you just spend a much higher percentage of time engaging with Japanese media. I think hearing or reading the words in actual real life is one of the strongest memory aids there is. (much more so than 4 hr reviews, dare I say it)