Getting overwhelmed, does it get easier?

Don’t worry about On or Kun. WK will teach you the reading you need with the lesson item. Think of it as just different ways to read something. For example, 力 by itself as vocab (purple background) is ちから, but as part of a compound Kanji like 入力 it’s read as りょく.

Learning some grammar will help here. For example, 大した is set phrase and the した part comes from the verb する.

Definitely. If this is the first time you’ve tried to memorize things on a daily basis then it will be hard at first, but you’ll eventually get better at it the more you do it. It’s just like any skill.

Just keep doing what you’re doing. :slight_smile: I’m willing to bet you will get better at it after a month of reviews.

That’s ok. We all feel this way to some degree in the beginning. Don’t let it stop you from continuing. :smiley:

1 Like

It CAN get easier, but only if you manage to structure your day-night review/lesson cycle.

It was very hard at the start. At around lvl 10 I was already seeing a lot of patterns, at lvl 28 I switched how I did my lessons/reviews and now at lvl 32 I have managed to start …enjoying it.

So yes it has the potential to become easier but only if you manage to structure your life around it (this doesn’t mean a lot of time necessarily, I went from 2-3 hours per day to less than 1 hour per day) and yes you will start seeing the patterns.


Learning Kanji is a huge challenge! This is my second attempt as I had a break of two years for several reasons. Now in lockdown I have no excuses but to apply myself.
I have found a few things of help and hope you might find some of these tips useful.
I don’t race through the learning process and do my reviews reliigiously.
So take it in ‘bites’. This is my approach:
I learn all the radicals.
Next day, I start and do no more than 5-10 Kanji per day.
In the beginning, I also went slowly with vocab but now depending on how I am absorbing new items, do 10-20. I also make sure I have no more than 100 items at Apprentice level so I don’t get overwhelmed.
What I have found enormously helpful is the Self-study userscript. After each lesson I go through until I feel confident with all the newly learnt items. After a review if I have got items wrong, again I use the self-study to relearn the items and reinforce the learning.
Most importantly, be kind to yourself and don’t beat yourself up.
Good luck!


The Japanese language doesn’t always fit perfect patterns (neither does English) but the more you improve your vocabulary the more sense it makes.

I got kind of overwhelmed too, but this community was really kind and supported me. Just keep practicing, make it fun and don’t worry about getting it wrong or right.

1 Like

Any suggestions for self-study userscripts? I see a bunch come up in search results, but I don’t know which ones are still actively maintained.

Edit: Never mind! I noticed the download sites give a “last update” date.

Thank you all for the help!

I use this one. It is very good.


Honestly it depends on your speed. In general, I would say it gets easier after the first few levels, as you start to get the hang of the system. The workload starts to peak around level 20 or so, which could be around when you are getting your first burns, depending on your speed.

This graph is completely speed dependent… My levels 44(?) to 60 were by far the highest workload I had, because of doing the fast levels high speed. Double lessons and double reviews compared to before.


Have you studied any Japanese prior to this? Personally, I would recommend studying other materials prior to WK (or at least in tandem), such as the first GENKI book/etc. Having a bit of a foundation coming into this helps, I think. YMMV


I learned Hiragana and started Katagana (ongoing) before starting WaniKani, and I also read articles and watch videos on the topic of Japanese to supplement what I am doing in WaniKani. I’m always open to additional resources to read or watch.

On the subject of other resources, it might help to step away from WaniKani, which is focused on kanji, for a bit until you have a background in the other stuff, if you feel too overwhelmed by it.

Some people do start with WaniKani, so it’s not impossible, but I think it can only help to already have that foundation.

If I told you to remember the spelling of an English word that was difficult and new to you, you’d still have an easier time memorizing it than a purely random string of characters.

Going out and getting more of a foundation in Japanese is like turning that random string of characters into a comprehensible word. It’s easier to learn how to write and read a word you already know, or at least a word that follows principles you’re already familiar with.


What are you recommending specifically? I am unsure what is absent in my understanding as there haven’t been any surprising concepts that weren’t quickly figured out. The pronunciation is where I’m having trouble, reading the vocab is easy.

There are many resources out there that teach Japanese without initially including kanji. Through those, you will get exposure to the words and grammar concepts without also having to think about kanji on top of that. Then when you return to WaniKani, you’ll just be learning which kanji to apply to the words you know, rather than trying to learn both at the same time.

It’s just something to consider.

Can you explain what you mean by that? Do you mean actually producing the sounds is difficult?


I do think GENKI provides a good foundation. Tofugu reviewed it several years ago; you can read their take at


I’m going through levels 40-50 right now and I must agree that if you’re doing this at near-maximum speed then this is absolute hell (or paradise, I guess).

The lessons… they won’t stop coming seseren


Thank you all again for your responses.

I don’t want to be talked out of using WaniKani. It is one tool in my tool chest that I plan on keeping up with, as per the advice of tofugu to start early on kanji while learning other aspects of the language.

I think simply needed some encouragement and tips, which I thank you all for providing.

About the vocab Vs pronunciation thing, what I was referring to is that I had something like a 64% success rate on readings and a 94% on meanings when it came to vocab.

I took a couple days to just do reviews and feel way more confident.

Unfortunately now I have a 64 lesson backlog. Is there a way to not do them all at once? I appear to have leveled while doing reviews which I think added a bunch.

1 Like

It tests you every 5 lessons and then gives you the option of stopping or carrying on right? There’s no need to do them all at once. My lessons queue hasn’t dropped below 50 this year, so don’t worry about having pending lessons :+1:


Actually, one of the most popular recommendations around here is to not be scared of waiting to do your lessons if your review pile is overwhelming! Even for folks who are comfortable with the language already, it’s very common to self-impose a maximum number of items in your Apprentice and Guru review levels to not get overwhelmed by reviews later. It’s better to go slow and steady than try to take everything at once and fail at giving each item enough attention to properly retain them in your memory.

Lessons are done in batches of 5 items, so you can easily control how many you want to do in one go. :slight_smile: And if you do too many lessons and feel you’re starting to get lost in reviews again, just stop new lessons until you have a good grasp on what you already have in your hands, don’t worry.

1 Like

Yes and No, realistically speaking the more you learn the harder it’s gonna get, but ultimately you can train your mind to get use to it a bit more, and once you’ve sussed that it’s pretty easy. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed too, but have found working to a structure helps. I do two lessons a day at the moment, one early morning and another late afternoon, I don’t quite follow the wanikani timer for review, I review in my own time which works with my memory and my other commitments, and the biggest challenge was making a habit of it and staying persistent while I played around to find this way that works for me.
It’s also important to consider your health, like when you study for anything, Sleeping well, diet, physical exercise and not overworking has a better impact on your health and there’s a saying about how ‘it’s much easier to get your mind right, when your body is’ and i’d say it’s true. So in nutshell throughout these first few levels you’re gonna have to be willing to fail and fumble around until you find a way to make it work, but once you’ve got that, it’s a matter of persistence and then learning the language is a breeze.

I don’t think it gets easier, I believe it depends more on your attitude towards your mistakes! yesterday I got a 36 on my reviews and while it does make me get mad at myself, I just tell myself to keep going! Kanjis will not be the death of me (grammar maybe).

1 Like

I’m just at the beginning of this journey (level 7) and what works for me is just not thinking about patterns and logics. I imagine that I’m a child and that people are telling me “this means that”, little by little. And I get it wrong and right many times, respecting the time, until it solidifies. No matter the speed, what matters is the direction you are trying to go to. Keep it up!