Haven't succeeded at Wanikani yet, but I'm trying again


I have apparently been absent long enough that the forums think I’m essentially posting for the first time, with the little ‘thanks for starting a new conversation’ panel there. That is…both hilarious and a little sad.

But basically, hi, I’m Kat, I started using Wanikani about three and a half years ago when I found it shortly after deciding to start learning Japanese, and it has been…a journey. One filled with a lot of time spent not, actually, learning Japanese.

I’m not actually sure of why I decided to learn Japanese in the first place, though chances are really good that it was because I wanted to be able to read manga in Japanese combined with a general appreciation for Japanese art and culture. And it went well enough, at first. I learned the kana quickly, found free resources, spent a little money on some that weren’t free, found Wanikani and tried it out, learned some basic grammar and things were great for a while. I still remember taking a trip to Hawai’i that first spring and seeing 出 at the airport and being so excited because I recognized that kanji and knew what it meant.

Doing my reviews and lessons was fun and easy enough to do because I looked forward to learning. It was a game of sorts, keeping up with reviews, doing them as they appeared and I was able to, being able to do the first couple of chapters of Genki and the first lessons of Lingodeer with relative ease. The speed of advancement is so quick when you’re a beginner, learning things for the first time, and it was so awesome to see improvements in every exercise.

But then time passed and life continued to happen and while I did decently well that first year, aside from a small slump in the summer when I moved back to my parents’ house, things started to slide. Levels took longer to complete, lessons sat there for a while before I got around to doing them, I did reviews in smaller and smaller clumps. Grammar had been much less of my study, but what little I’d done started to slide as well until I’d stopped doing it altogether.

I had a resurgence of interest and motivation the next spring and again in the spring following that, mostly because of this community and the friends I’ve made through it, enough to get me to level 17. But then I stopped.

I still wanted to be able to read manga in Japanese. I still loved the sound of the language, I loved the art and the culture and the food and the landscapes I’d seen pictures and video of. But I wasn’t working towards that goal anymore.

(pictured: my heatmap of doing reviews over the last three and a half years, featuring a lot of white in the last year)

Learning a language, it turns out, is work. And it’s work on top of work when you’re doing it as self-study. There’s no teacher to hand out homework, no expectations of doing well on a test, no classmates to work with. You are the one responsible for finding the study materials, you are the one responsible for doing the exercises. And my guys, I don’t know about you, but I am absolute shit at self-accountability. Heaven only knows why I thought this was a good idea in the first place.

But the thing is, I still want to do it. I still have friends who use Wanikani, who are learning Japanese still, if at a somewhat slower pace than they used to. People I can talk to, relate to, commiserate with when I can remember a reading, but not a meaning when I do a review after nearly a year of not seeing it. And I still have a few volumes of manga in Japanese that I want to be able to read someday.

So this is me, five days after resetting to level 10, six days into a streak of doing reviews to get the numbers a little more under control, back to listening to Japanese grammar vids, trying to talk myself back into doing chapter 3 of Genki 1 for what feels like the fourth time. Fixing a broken habit will take time and effort and support (and no small amount of poking from my friends to do my reviews and lessons), but I want to keep trying.

And I’m definitely paying for the lifetime sub come the next sale because my wallet might legitimately cry if I keep paying annually at this pace.

Posting all this feels a bit vain, but I figure, there’s a lot of examples of people here who decided to learn Japanese and did well doing so and we’re all familiar with the folks who try it out and silently slip away for one reason or another. But I don’t think we see too much from the folks who struggle with it, who keep coming back and make a bit of progress only to backslide again and again. So this is for me and for them. Learning Japanese - learning anything - doesn’t have to be a one and done process, doesn’t have to be perfect the first time around. You’re allowed to take time, you’re allowed to mess it up, you’re allowed to start over as many times as you need.

Alternate Titles:
“zen and the art of staying on the damn wagon”

“これはぺんです and other signs that you aren’t studying japanese”

“so you wanted to read japanese manga and then realized it’s actually work”

“who cares which textbook is better if you’re not actually using any of them”

“another year older and deeper in debt, i owe my soul to the crabigator”

“slow and steady wins the race, but i’m probably walking backwards”


FIRST! heheh

You can do it, kvb!! I believe in yoooooooooooooooooou!

plz be my role model


Super encouraging write-up, definitely agree! Finding the motivation is easy at the beginning, but it always seems to slip later on. Here’s to pushing through the slumps and reaching the other side :high_touch:


Welcome back, birb!!!


Thank you! I hope I can actually keep going this time, ahaha. I’m mostly just thankful right now that I still want to do it; a lot of my interests just go away after a while, so continued interest is a really good thing. ^^


God, I could have written that myself.




i remember you

h e n l o again


Life has a way of getting in the way. I’ve been able to stay on top of reviews, but my lessons have slowed down to a glacial pace. My level times have gone from a couple weeks to months.

But you already know this, so I’ll just say I’ll keep riding you for your reviews, so your heatmap won’t take another loss.


Been studying with WK for 4 years and so far only reached lvl 7, after a re-set from lvl 3 to lvl 1 back in 2017 or 2018 (I don’t remember). But I haven’t left yet! Despite a busier-than-can-allow-for-learning-Japanese life right now.

Birb is not alone!


Oh man, I don’t know if I can be a role model, I’m terrible at that. I can be a cheerleader, though? With pompoms?

It’s good to be back! I’m glad to still see some familiar faces around, as well! Hopefully I’ll stick around this time, ahaha.


Yes, please!


Omg I love that picture, I’m stealing it. But hello! \o




Honestly, not giving up is the hardest part and you’re nailing that already. Hope life eases a bit so that you can do more of what you want to do!


Yes. But the pompoms are a requirement.


You’re a terrible person, but a really good friend, lmao. Hopefully I won’t disappoint the heatmap again with your help.


A motivational write-up for sure, and your alternate titles are a hoot and a half. :') Getting the rush of learning kanji and then getting to grammatically complex sentences and realizing ‘wait, I don’t actually know any of this’ has been harder than I thought, as has returning from slumps, so I get what you mean.
It definitely takes strength to heft something that’s been on the backburner, so I’m cheering for you!


That’s the best thing anybody’s ever said of me. I must find a way to make this public


I’m so glad you liked the alternate titles, lmao, I thought they were funny, but didn’t quite want to label the whole post with them. And yeah, it’s such a good feeling to go “I know that word!”, but then you realize you have no idea what the sentence says… It’s definitely tough. But here’s to trying again and again and hopefully learning something new each time. Eventually we’ll get there!


The rush keeps me coming back. Nothing like the high of having knowledge and being able to use it.

Forever in pursuit of that high :crab::crocodile: