Frustrations & doubts about my wanikani progress so far

negative emotions i guess don’t read if u don’t want to

I feel like i have never really talk about all my frustrations & doubts in my japanese journey, idk maybe someone out there can help me face them i guess?

I am learning kanji, i can recognize characters pretty easily most of the time when i am “reading”.
However i feel like whenever i try to read, it is one of these three things:
1- the material is too easy/boring to read
2-kinda interesting but very difficult to read(kanji wise)
3- i can read the “japanese” but can’t really understand what is being meant or one of the times of
What is said /= what is meant.
I know all that is screaming.

"you don’t know enough words, so just grind the 10k most common words and you will be fine"™️.

I know that, that why i am trying(not as much as i would like) to do that.
But in the mean time i don’t feel accomplishing anything
Example reading X amount of whatever.
Rn whenever i start something, promise myself to continue it. Only to never come back to that again.

To those who got passed this stage, how did u do that?
I have over 160 ish days on my last level, and i am currently trying to do kitsun and bunpro at the same time. I still get that feeling of not doing enough. Am i overburning myself here? Or is that feeling true?
I am kinda lost on what to do. My original plan first starting was to finish wanikani in 1 year and half.

3 years and some later…
And i still haven’t done that… or even close.
My level up speed get worse everytime. While still 11 levels away. At this pace i might not even finish it in 3 years i feel like. . I used to be able to do much more progress. and much more reviews, i guess that why i kinda resent myself sometimes if i failed or struggled to do reviews and or progress. i wonder what has changed. How can i go back like that and maybe finish this journey? Currently i barely can do single session a day, 30 reviews max or i will feel overwhelmed. I still remember in my 20ish levels maybe some after i easily could do hundred or more. Is that symptom of lost motivation?

How can i feel progress again? And recover my motivation again?

Can’t enjoy reading stuck between either too boring and easy or looks interesting but too difficult. Also don’t feel motivated to read, doing three apps(kitsun, bunpro, wanikani) and still feel i am not doing enough while also feeling little burned out. How can i go back on track on my japanese study journey when i feel i am adding nothing to the progress i used to make.

Thanks for reading :slightly_smiling_face:


I think language learning is generally not very gratifying. We learners sink countless hours into it and don’t really get much from it in the short term, at least I feel that way. It seems like you’re focusing on reading, but I’d recommend regularly listening to some podcasts if you don’t already. Just because I personally find it much easier to comprehend compared to written texts, and so It feels gratifying and motivates me to continue studying. :slightly_smiling_face:


I genuinely hate it when people suggest this. I don’t think it takes nearly that much to hit a point where domain specific vocab is better.

Semi off-topic: This might not apply to you, but a lot of what you described were things that I felt and didn’t resolve until I had a kick-ass therapist help me out. If you have access to some kind of counseling through work or school give it a shot. Sometimes just talking to neutral third parties is enough to help sort things out.

I’m not going to going pretend “book club” is the catch all answer, but… it was helpful to have another group to lean on. The content in harder material is fun, but reading content above my level is a painful chore. Finding the right balance where I can accept the negatives alongside of the positives is tough, but having something like a discussion group reading material of interest helps a lot. We voted on the reading material (so it’s mostly relevant to our my interests) and the speculation/discussion of what we read keeps me engaged so now I want to stay on track (x amount per week) to keep up with the group and the presence of discussion encourages me to push my understanding of things better (the actual studying component).

I think you’ve held yourself to a measuring stick and have gotten stuck in a negative spiral for failing to meet your goals. Probably the first step I’d take is to at least reframe things as small goals. “Doing X for Y units Z days a week” is more manageable (eg. Hit the gym three days a week). It leaves room for mistakes, bad days, life interruptions, etc. Rather than doing enough, are you doing the things that matter to you? Do you really need to finish Bunpro, Kitsun decks, and WK, or is it fine to learn what you need to finish that book you like?

I love all of those tools and shill for them, but I stopped using them and changed my learning process. For me using JPDB + lookups felt better to me because reading a VN with Yomichan while studying relevant high-frequency words off a premade word list from the works I’m reading is more engaging and satisfying to me than picking up some supposed Top 4k word that only shows up my novel 4 times. On the other hand if I was interested in print only material this process wouldn’t work at all and I would probably have to slum it out with finishing WK and core decks. I don’t want to call it burnout, but every time I’ve struggled with my studies there has always been a part of the process that I was not only unhappy with, but also just wasn’t appropriate for what I wanted to do.

Find what it is that you want to do and structure your learning experience. What made you start your Japanese journey and what can you do to connect with that better now?



What’s your progress in learning Japanese grammar? (I mean beyond Bunpro reviews.)


Might be a bit useless for me to respond considering vocabulary is one of my weakest points. But I’ll share a bit. So I barely read while I was still doing WaniKani, I should have, but I was the same with the thoughts of I couldn’t enjoy it, so there was not much reading, not non-existent, but yeah.

So I kind of thought I want to finish WaniKani, get familiar with all the kanji on it, so I have no excuse to not learn from reading any more, that’s what I did, and I’m now reading my first novel. It’s hard, but everything I’ve read is way above my level, that’s probably the only things worth reading in my opinion.

I’m not doing Anki or anything, I’m just reading, searching up words or grammar when I don’t know it and move on. It allows reading to be more enjoyable and I can do more of it. It also works for remembering, SRS is not a necessity. See it enough times and you’ll remember it, sometimes seeing it once or twice can be enough for it to stick. Context is what makes it work!

Exact same thing happened to me during my fast levels. Well, I didn’t slow down, I continued with the pace, but once I hit level 60, it was all over, and I couldn’t bring myself to touch my reviews or leftover lessons. Still haven’t. I’ve accepted that I’m burnt out of SRS, admittedly I probably did it to myself, but I’m fine with that, I am enjoying reading much more.

Since you’re still not level 60, you still haven’t seen all of those kanji on WaniKani, so I wouldn’t suggest you just get off like I did, but just because your progress is slow, as long as your making progress, it’s better than nothing.

I think a big problem is you’re doing three apps and expecting yourself to not feel burned out. Grammar and vocabulary, like I said before, can be learned without SRS, that’s how I did / am doing it. I’d recommend sticking with WaniKani alone for now. Whether you decide to do continue the other 2 afterwards, is up to you, but I don’t think it’s necessary. At that point you might want to join a bookclub and just learn from reading and asking questions there.


FWIW as a print-media consumer I don’t think you need either the full Core10K vocab or to have reached WK level 60 to be able to read and enjoy printed works. Obviously it depends rather on what you like reading, but I think some genuine for-Japanese-adults books (eg Banana Yoshimoto’s Kitchen) are readable well before that, and a lot of manga absolutely is.

Disclaimers: you are going to want I guess at least N3-ish grammar, and some vocab and kanji – but you don’t need to max out your stats in either before starting, and I think doing so would be misplaced effort. Initially, reading long-form native materials is always going to feel like a bit of a slog, but the solution to this is more reading – there’s no magic preparation that will make the first manga/book/etc super-easy.


By one of the two options

  • you actively ignore the frustration and just keep going
  • you pick a reading material that actually interests you

For reference, I have similar issues and in general have been struggling with a lack of motivation due to a combination of work stress + lack of sleep + trying to do too many things each day. That being said, certain things do genuinely interest me like VTubers or Chainsaw Man which I can easily enjoy for long stretches of time without worry :slight_smile: .

You are likely overburning yourself. If you’re doing too much, but not feeling like you’re making progress you either need to remove everything except for 1 of the things and start building up from there or reduce things 1 by 1 to get to a point where you’re doing enough to feel challenge, but not constantly frustrated.

Time is relative. Skyrim is always. :wink:

Doing less is doing more. You have to reduce your study diet to a minimum and then start building up again, paying extra attention to how you feel to avoid burnout.

Can definitely second this opinion. Regular novels aimed at adults are easily readable the same way maybe airport kiosk English language novels would be.


honestly for myself, i just start finding things that align with my interests in my native language (english) and power through the japanese as best i can. (examples include following japanese peoples’ twitters that are also disabled similar to me, or artists that do art similar or interesting to my own pursuits, etc). it becomes unrewarding to try to read things that i have no real personal interest in.


Having a little more time now to write out a proper reply:

What kind of material are you trying that you find is too easy? Graded readers? Example sentences in learning material? News articles?

I ask because it’s worth comparing that with:

What kind of material are you finding too difficult?

Is it print material that lacks furigana?

You can find print material that may be interesting that also has furigana?

If it’s electronic, can you use a free browser extension such as Yomichan or a subscription service such as Migaku to streamline looking up unknown words, so that unknown kanji will not get in your way?

Are you able to quantify how much grammar you know? If you’ve been using Bunpro, that can help you gauge it a bit.

There’s knowing grammar in theory (which I would include Bunpro’s SRS to include, as its sentences don’t exist within a greater context).

Then there’s knowing grammar in practice, where you recognize and understand it when encountering it in native material.

It’s the difference between reading about chess and actually playing chess. You need to play it in order to actually get good at it.

Likewise, you need to read to get good at reading.

For your situation, this is either finding material that interests you that has furigana or finding material that interests you where you can use technology to do quick lookups of words with unknown kanji.

Actually, people saying to just learn 10,000 words (I’ve seen them out there) are probably doing you a disservice. Some people can learn that way, but it’s better to jump into reading.

By starting reading rather than piling on more words, you are:

  1. Getting to know grammar better.
  2. Developing a deeper understanding of the words (beyond “this Japanese word = this English word”).
  3. In a position to better retain the words you encounter while reading.
  4. Not waiting time learning words that probably won’t come up in the kind of material you want to read.

While I enjoy watching my known kanji and vocabulary numbers go up as much as the next person who enjoys it, I find that data either informative or not compelling when it comes to progress.

I can start reading a slice-of-life manga and complete a whole 150-page volume in one sitting without realizing I’d already reached the end.

I can start a book on medical science and give up after one hour and three paragraphs of seemingly endless struggle.

My sense of accomplishment comes from two places:

  1. Being able to read and understand something.
  2. Not being able to understand something, then working through learning the grammar and vocabulary until I do understand it.

Is it because the material isn’t as interesting?

Or is the material interesting, but you just don’t return to it?

Have you tried scheduling a set time for you to sit down to read every day, and sticking to it with discipline?

What kind of deck or decks are you using on Kitsun? Are you blindly learning words from a “x,000 most common words” deck?

What interests you?

What medium (novel, light novel, manga, visual novel, video game, etc)?

What genre (slice-of-life, action, comedy, drama, adventure, mystery, etc)?

Pick something that is interesting but not clearly too difficult. Take it one page at a time, and look up any unknown grammar and vocabulary.

For grammar, you want to learn it well enough to give the idea of it, but you don’t need to memorize it or even fully understand it. Not yet.

For vocabulary, it’s fine to look it up, understand the sentence, then forget the word. For now.

Over time, you’ll find you’re looking up the same grammar over and over. This is when you want to get to know the grammar better.

Over time, you’ll find you’re seeing the same vocabulary words over and over. If you need to look them up every time, consider adding them to a Kitsun deck. Or if you recognize them without looking them up, then you’re good.

To add to this point, consider the manga 「レンタルおにいちゃん」 (picked at semi-random as I already have stats on it for this point).

It’s a four-volume manga series.

If someone completes the common “core 2K” deck, they will have learned 2,000 words and will recognize 57% of the total words appearing in this manga series.

If they further complete the next 4,000 words (the “core 6K” deck), they will have learned 6,000 words and will recognize 73% of the total words appearing in this series.

On the other hand, someone who targets learning the most common words used in this series can hit recognition of 75% of the total words used by learning only 245 words.

Said again: you can learn 6,000 words for 73% coverage, or you can learn 245 words for 75% coverage.

90% comes in at about 600 words.

And you reach 96–97% around 1,000 words.

Disclaimer: I used the “core 2K” deck and then forgot most of it before I started reading.

Book clubs totally are the catch-all answer!

Well, I mention book clubs often.

But I agree that they won’t work for everyone.

That said, I think it’s always worth a try. “What have you got to lose?” Especially the longer one has been learning Japanese without feeling they’re making impactful progress, the more willing one should be to give it a try.

We’re starting ルリドラゴン in just under two weeks, then ちいさな森のオオカミちゃん maybe a few months after that. Joining in gives you a schedule to follow and a community to be a part of while reading.

There are also many manga and easy books that have been previously read in the Absolute Beginner Book Club. You lack the real-time schedule going this route, but you have a higher chance of finding something of interest. (Or, you can check out the Beginner Book Club thread for some slightly more difficult material.)

I’d take it a bit further and adjust this from goals to systems.

A system is to read every day.

Even if you don’t feel like it.

Sometimes, all you need is to start doing something to get yourself into the mood to do it.

Other times, you go to do something, and you find you can’t focus on it.

In both cases, simply sitting out to read is your victory.

Did you sit down to read and ended up reading a whole chapter?


Did you sit down to read and you were too distracted to the point you didn’t actually read anything?


This lets you put weight on discipline (schedule) over motivation (mood).

But more importantly, it reduces the failure case to “I didn’t sit down to read even though I should have.”

Notable also is that if you are using reading native material as a platform for learning more grammar, simply being familiar with N5 and having limited exposure to N4 is enough. This happens a lot for people in the Absolute Beginner Book Club, and while many people drop off, those who are serious about learning Japanese often excel in this environment. (Keeping in mind that this method is not for everyone.)


Thank you for all the responses. Really appreciate it. Some asked(sorry i read ur responses but forgot who did ask me this) what grammar level am in, i am at middle of N3 at bunpro. I don’t know if that is technically N3 or not


I didn’t even finish the core 2K deck before I started reading, and never got past WK level 9. Book clubs and digital lookup tools are amazing. You definitely don’t need to “just grind the 10k most common words” before you “will be fine” - you need to find a way to start reading and start finding appropriate and interesting material.

Apart from book clubs, is a fantastic tool to gauge the difficulty of material you want to read and to find new manga/books that are appropriate for your level! (Ignore the “N5”, “N4” etc behind the Natively levels - those levels are only really useful in comparison to each other, so e.g. if you thought an L15 manga was a bit too easy and an L30 was too hard, maybe something between would be more your speed.)

But yeah, for more help - answers to @ChristopherFritz’s questions would be helpful. What medium/genre/book/manga interests you? What did you try and was too easy, and what too hard?

I’m thinking of picking the core 2K deck up again though - for listening, where lookups are rather inconvenient and destroy the flow. With what I did learn, the broad variety of the 2K deck vocab feels like it has been very useful for me. But that’s another story I guess!


Probably manga(or anime but can’t really read an anime), i tried one piece since i like the anime, it was too easy(at least the first and second chapter)then dropped it. What was too hard probably dr.stone, boku no hero and some lightnovels for an anime i enjoyed(don’t remember it now,maybe konosoba?).


May be a hot take in this very reading-centric community, but it’s ok to not like reading

I’m a pretty avid reader in English and read around 30 books a year. I can curl up with a book and easily read for 8 hours straight. I love books and I love stories and I don’t like reading in Japanese. It’s not that I can’t do it. I can sit down and read a memoir or young adult fiction in Japanese pretty easily with no look ups. It’s just that reading makes my head hurt. Reading in Japanese always feels like a chore to me and honestly makes me sympathize with people with reading disabilities. How could you learn to love reading if the process of reading feels like crawling through mud. It’s weird because I’ve never felt this way about reading in Spanish, my other TL.

While I still make sure to read regularly in Japanese, I’ve also just come to accept the fact that I don’t really like reading in Japanese. It’s just not my cup of tea. And that’s ok because there’s more to a language than reading. I really really love speaking Japanese. I like watching Youtube in Japanese. I get a lot of joy out of writing in Japanese. So the fact that I don’t really like reading seems like less of a big deal compared to all how much I enjoy the other 3 skills of language.

So I guess tldr; It’s ok if you don’t like reading in Japanese. Find things you enjoy and focus your efforts there. Making reading a supplemental activity rather than your main focus


Ugh yeah. Intermediate levels can be the pits. Between the excitement of discovery at a beginner level, and the rewards of native material at an advanced level, is an expansive desert with few landmarks and little water. It’s hard to tell if you’re going in the right direction, rewards are few and far between. I’ve been trying to race through it for the past year or so, and am juuuust now starting to see something green on the horizon. I have no real secret for making a breeze of it, but I try to remember that this is the part that’s more or less supposed to suck, try to sublimate that frustration into studying harder or something. Most people I know who made it through to the other side are the ones who tried to get it over with as fast as possible.


I think most people can relate to the frustration… I certainly can. On certain days, it feels like the goal of getting even somewhat decent at Japanese is unattainable. Other days, though, you can feel like you’re making a lot of progress.

Maybe you need to shake up things a little and do different things? I don’t know how good your listening and speaking skills are but you could try focusing on that a bit more for a while. That’s something I started doing recently and I’m suddenly much more motivated again (also because I am so bad at it that I can immediately see the progress…).

To be honest, things like WaniKani but also core vocab decks etc. reach diminishing returns quickly. There’s just a point at which it feels frustrating to continue because each additional vocab word / Kanji doesn’t unlock that much new stuff. And maybe after some point it’s not worth it. If I’m honest, I’m not even fully sure that I’ll complete all 60 levels, and if I do, then it’s probably more out of a completionist mindset… I don’t think that they are really essential. So if you’re just burned out, quit WK and your Anki decks and whatever bothers you and try something else - at least for a while. You can still come back and finish things up later (or not - up to you).

I’ll also second that there’s an overemphasis on reading in the Japanese learning community (really not aided by the fact that the JLPT doesn’t even test whether you can speak a single sentence), and I say that as an avid reader (though not in Japanese yet…). I think there’s a certain danger of becoming good at deciphering Japanese (“oh I know these two Kanji, so it must mean …”) instead of really absorbing it. IMHO speaking and listening are really important here because they force you to approach the language on a more intuitive instead of an analytical level. The analytical level is still useful as a bootstrapping mechanism, but you have to start “feeling” it and I think speaking is really the best way to accomplish that.


For me, it’s trying to make a balance between depth and amount. Amount can’t be too scarce, and depth is needed to be enough to remember important things. What is important is indeed within personal judgement, so less when guessing is sharp enough. Remembering is the goal, not always SRS.

It may help as well, to have two kinds of materials, regular intensive ones, and freestyle extensive ones.

I find reading and listening complements each other, but unless either of them being done extensive (broad) enough, it would stay just seeing and hearing, then deciphering. Some parts don’t cross over.

It’s important to find materials that aren’t too difficult, but can be read fast enough. I won’t say there is no pain in this…


Why did you want to learn Japanese in the first place?

Is there a slice of that thing that you’re able to do at your current level?


You can with subtitles, or read the script. :thinking:


Sorry, I didn’t read the entire topic but about this:

That’s a funny coincidence, but middle of N3 on bunpro and level 40ish on WK was exactly the moment I felt reading native content switched from “impossibly frustrating” to “hard but doable”. I remember clearly because at that time I was studying hard on WK and bunpro to prepare for the N3. Just after the exam I picked up a manga that I failed to read several time before and had the sudden realization that I could do it this time.

If you are still not sure, maybe finishing N3 on bunpro is a good idea (It’s really useful, everyday grammar) but you should be able to dive into native content already. It’s very hard at first but get easier if you push through,


it takes time, the same process I am applying to japanese now I did with English (not my native language) I remember I started studying it seriously in 2005 and only in 2009 I felt somehow confident in my vocabulary (even got a job at teaching English in a local language school), and only in 2012 I got the courage to take TOEFL test.

So, language, specially if you are not in its native country, takes time to sink in. Only immersion makes perfection.

I can understand almost 100% of every nhk easy news and around 70% in twitter. But ask me to read yomiuri shinbun and I can easily say I know 10% of it is written there. Real nightmare.

For me I say patience is key, one day I will read and understand every kanji smoothly like I understand most of English words nowadays,