Getting overwhelmed, does it get easier?

I’ve started getting vocabulary and I’m getting frustrated with the difficulty I’m having.

I am having a hard time remembering which readings to use or even which is the on and which is the kun or which of the multiple options therein to choose.

I am also having a hard time making sense of the hiragana added after the kanji. Is there a pattern to part of speech beyond whether or not something ends with u?

Does learning these things get easier with practice?

What can I do to improve my ability to learn these differences?

I am starting to feel pretty defeated/discouraged.


For the readings of vocabulary words, you will start to see patterns as you move on, and you’ll be able to guess most of the time. Also, that’s why there are the mnemonics: they help you remember which reading you have to use with a particular word.
But yes, things do get easier with practice. Even if I’m still at quite a low level, I can see that I can often guess the reading from the kanji I see, and from other vocabulary words I learnt.
Words usually end with an “u” sound when they are a verb.
Keep going though, you’ll see that things get easier! Also, one thing that helps a lot, is trying to see the words outside of WK. I don’t know what your grammar level and general vocabulary level are, but if you can, try reading easy books (for learners or for kids), watching videos and so on. This will give you exposure to all the different words you will end up learning, whether it is on WK or elsewhere, and it’ll help you lots.


I’m going to leave a link to @jprspereira’s wonderful guide here, from which I also stole the following image:

Which means, if we’re strictly talking about workload, it’s not going to get easier until the very end.

I’d say try not to overthink right away about patterns, because yes, these will get easier to understand with time. However, if you don’t have the right resources, you can also end up very confused and lost.

If you’re struggling on the first level to remember the readings and are puzzled about having hiragana added after kanji, I’d perhaps start with a learning resource that presents the japanese language in a broader way than Wanikani does. Wanikani is great at doing its job, which is helping you learn and retain kanji, but it’s not supposed to teach you how the language works altogether. I’d perhaps try reading the guide I mentioned above for an overview about what you should/can expect from Wanikani, and then I’d search around for some information concerning other resources for a more generalist approach to learning japanese.

Hopefully this makes sense to you. Best of lucks, and I hope you’ll find your own way to tackle those intimidating first challenges from learning the language!



The on vs kun difference: you’ll have that down by level 3 - 4. Don’t bother trying hard.
The other ones, well… from reading the forum here, I can tell you right now that everyone is struggling with remembering which reading to use but it eventually sticks and some posts explain patterns where they exist.

Only 59 levels to go! All the best and welcome to WK!


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:

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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.

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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.

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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: