How do i remember stuff faster?

i have an absolutely horrible memory, and i feel like i’m just not getting it. i either have open in another tab, or just another wanikani tab open to remember my vocab. what also happens sometimes is i remember one reading of a kanji, so i get it wrong because it asks for the other reading, or i remember the reading but not the meaning (or vice versa). i’m only level 5, so i shouldn’t have too much, but it feels like i have a lot to remember. the mnemonics don’t really help me, either. is there a better way to remember the kanji and its readings?

Welcome to the forum community! ^–^

This is a really common frustration that you’re feeling. SRS-learning, like WaniKani, only assists in giving initial recognition of a word or kanji. It is up to you to reinforce it via outside immersion. The more you see kanji used in context, the deeper it’ll be plastered into your memory.

Try reading some easy stories for beginners, like on Tadoku (The “L0” books are Level Zero, and you can test the different levels out to see where you feel comfortable)

You can also do my personal favorite activity of dropping a pin in Google Maps streetview on a totally random street in Japan and practice reading signs you come across. I’m a visual learner, so this helped me in the beginning stages a lot.

Good luck! And always feel free to ask more questions here in the forums ˶ᵔ ᵕ ᵔ˶


The key i find is to be exposed to the kanji/word/whatever in lots and lots of different contexts. Eventually your brain will pick up on commonality of situations.

There’s some neuroplasticity/neuroscience stuff to it but yeah, honestly, a lot of it is a) repeated exposure and b) understanding the meaning as part of that repeated exposure, at least somewhat (if you’re see something repeatedly but the meaning/pronounciation etc completely eludes you it’s not that helpful).

Signs are an underrated learning method. Some of the first kanji I remember learning was 止 (because it’s plastered in giant white letters across the street)、避難、禁止 etc


honestly, exposure works wonders for me

like, the main reason i remember the vocab words that i do know is because i’ve seen them before in a different context. for example, i listen to a lot of vocaloid and j-pop music, and hearing the words there and attaching a meaning to them and connecting the lyrics to their translations helps me a lot


I keep repeating myself a lot, by reviewing a lot, specially writing it down every level in A4paper and then re-do the process 2 or 3 weeks later. Rinse Repeat

Sorry, maybe I’m misunderstanding this, but do you mean that you are double-checking your answers through those other tabs before answering to get them right?
Because if so, you are actively making the learning process harder for yourself. WK may be gamified learning, but it’s not a game that you have to win or lose - there’s no shame in getting answers wrong. If you get them wrong, they’ll come back in your reviews more frequently, and they’ll have more chances to get properly engraved into your memory. If you get them right, but don’t actually know them, then you’re just going to forget them even more by the time they come around again.

When you make a mistake, try to stop and think about why you got it wrong. Did you confuse it with another similar word? Did you mix up a specific radical? Did you just draw a blank entirely and make a wild guess? Reread the mnemonics, and take a minute to really picture them before moving on to the next question.

You’re only competing against yourself, so there really shouldn’t be any reason to stress about it. Cheating your way through is only going to make the difficulty compound as you keep going.

Again, maybe I’m misreading and thus ranting about a problem I made up entirely in my head, but if this is what’s happening, please try to get comfortable with making mistakes. It’s okay, it’s normal, it’s part of the process. Let it happen!


In artificial contexts, that would be ALC or Weblio (maybe JE version). Or perhaps Google search, HiNative or Japanese StackEchange.

Be careful of sentences from Jisho/Tatoeba. A reason is that it is a pool of sentences being searched on, rather than sentences made specifically for that vocabulary.

Another natural way is trying to think in Japanese and composing sentences.

I still think natural input from natives is more important, if that’s within reach.

Personal mnemonics tend to work better for me (though admittedly this defeats some of the purpose of paying for WK).

For example, in 眠 (sleep), the eye radical on the left side reminds me of the triple-decker bed from the old Three Stooges gag, and the peoples radical on the right reminds of Curly trying to crawl his way up to the top. I’m gonna have a hard time forgetting this kanji.


First of all, you need to stop doing this. This is literally stopping your learning process since you’re not even attempting to remember anything. ^^;

Take more time on the lessons, create your own mnemonics. Do your reviews on time! Don’t let them lie around to the next day, because, that increases the difficulty to get them right. Instead, create a schedule of sorts for when you do lessons and making sure you can do reviews in 4 then 8 hours again to increase your chances of the items sticking.

Also, make full use of WK:s recent mistakes feature and do those until you get the items right with minimal thinking or effort.


Also my favourite form of immersive learning. Except I can skip the Google maps part as I live in Japan. I generally go for a 2 hour walk each day and use the time to read. There are community notice/bulletin boards in every neighbourhood, which can offer some varied and more in depth reading practice. My other common practice source is all the marketing flyers and notices that end up in my mail box every day.


no no, you’re not misreading anything that’s exactly what’s going on

maybe i should stop doing that


Yes, you definitely should. Otherwise you’re not memorising anything, you’re just pouring time and money down the drain…



dont worry, in the beginning it looks hard to remember, but after lvl 10 you start grasping the SRS way better, talking by experience. You start remembering kanji and vocab more frequently.

Then you start reinforcing what you study with grammar then immersion with entertainment, etc.

Ouch. To remember the vocab, you need to recall it from memory. What you are doing is just reading the answers.

Failing to remember the answer, then reviewing it again, failing again and reviewing it again is how the system works.

If, however, you are often missing too many answers in the first review after you learn new vocab, 4 hours for the first interval might be too long for you. In that case, either do a quick visual review of the new vocab, or do a Recent Lessons quiz about 1 hour after you learn the vocab. I’m assuming that you are taking the first review 4 hours after you learned the new vocab. If you are not, then make sure you do that first.

1 Like

Unfortunatly, I can’t imagine how you must feel, as I’ve never experienced such issues myself yet. However, I did think a lot about it and I think I came up with some decent tips:

Regarding Vocabulary, if you’re able to get the Kanjis in your head, then the vocabs actually are pretty easy (most of the time), as you can pretty easily guess the meaning by just combining the meanings of the Kanjis. For example, if you have 目玉 (eyeball) and you know that 目 means eye and 玉 means ball, you pretty much already know the meaning of the vocab.

As for Kanjis, you should really stick to using the radicals to help you remember them, it makes things a lot easier to break complex structures down into smaller, more familiar pieces.
To remember your radicals and your Kanjis, if the WaniKani mnemonics don’t help you, you have to make your own mnemonics, because that way, you think a lot about that one radical or kanji and how they are built. For example, I recently created just for fun a mnemonic for the for the reading of the cow kanji (牛), which is ぎゅう, the mnemonic goes like this:

Imagine a cow walking past you, and suddenly it starts to sing “Never gonna give you up”. You just got rickrolled by a cow?! Indeed, it is even dancing exactly like Rick himself.
(Hint: Imagine Rick Astely himself with a cow head, singing “Never gonna give you up” and dancing like in the video. Maybe you should also listen to the song to make it stick:

I’m pretty sure you’ll remember mnemonics like this one for the rest of your life, especially if you imagine Rick “Cow” Astley dancing.

Of course, this was just one example for one single kanji, but I think you get what I mean. If that doesn’t work for you as well, I’m pretty much out of ideas.

Hope I could help you!

I am ashamed to admit that when I first created my account here, that’s exactly what I did. I didn’t like the idea of being wrong. I just wasn’t comfortable with it. So I would cheat and look up the answer either in jisho or under the wanikani page itself.

You have to come to the understanding, which I think you do have, that this is for you. You’re learning Japanese either for fun, or to help broaden your skillset. Whatever reason it is, it’s for you and no one else.

So, you have to get comfortable with being wrong. Don’t consider it a failure. It would be incredibly unnatural to coast through the entirety of wanikani without ever getting a single answer wrong, whether through a genuine mistake, typo or otherwise.

Something to note is that kanji is most likely going to be the hardest part. Radicals are easiest because you just have to remember one English word for it. You don’t have to memorize a meaning or multiple readings for it. But Kanji? Kanji is the brand new material for you to learn.

For me, each level starts off feeling a little overwhelming. I learn the radicals first because they’re easy and are required to guru before unlocking the last few kanji for the level. Then I have a good 25+ kanji to learn immediately after I do the initial lessons for the radicals. It feels like such an uphill climb every level.

But once I unlock the vocabulary for those 25+ kanji? It’s a nice gentle slope downward into easier territory. Like others have mentioned, once you know the kanji, you can put together the vocabulary meaning before officially learning it through Wanikani most of the time. This is especially true at earlier levels - but of course there are exceptions to everything, and there will be words you can’t easily guess based on the kanji’s individual meaning.

For example:
不良 | If 不 is “not” and 良 is “good” then 不良 is “not good” or “bad.”
戦場 | If 戦 is “war” and 場 is “location” then 戦場 is “war location.” A more native way to say it would be “battlefield.”

For the most part, a lot of the vocabulary is pronounced the same way as the kanji you learn. The vocabulary helps enforce the different readings you learn for the kanji. I know it can feel like you’re not retaining anything, and it can feel bad to answer incorrectly, but that’s just how language learning is. It’s just as embarrassing to misspeak or not know the answer in a foreign language class, especially if your peers would tease or bully about that sort of thing. But with wanikani, you’re the only judge there is. There’s no one who’s going to look down on you other than you, and you’re the only one who’s going to know whether you got an answer correct because you knew it, because you guessed, or because you looked it up.

So, some advice from someone who started out the same as you:

  • Learn all of the radicals once you unlock a level. That’s only about 10 or so, maybe a few more in the earlier levels. You need to guru these to unlock the latter bit of kanji to level up.
  • Focus on learning the kanji next. Usually there about 30-35 of them, so you can split them up however you want. If you’re struggling to remember, maybe do 5 a day, or 10 a day.
  • Save vocabulary for last, but don’t ignore it. It’s just as important as the kanji because it helps reinforce the pronunciations.
  • Use this page to force wanikani to select the radicals/kanji in however big of a batch you want:
  • Go at a pace that’s comfortable for you. If you’re okay only learning 5-10 items a day, that’s okay! It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Most people aren’t going to finish wanikani in a year. Many may not even finish it in 2 years.
  • Do your reviews every day. Even if it’s just every morning, or every evening. Accept that there will be times when you answer incorrectly and that it’s okay if you do!
  • Take advantage of the extra study wanikani offers, where you do reviews on your recent lessons (that won’t count against you if you get them wrong here):

I really do feel you, though. I didn’t think I could ever get this far in wanikani, even though I am only level 15. I made my account February of 2016. I’ve picked it up and dropped it many, many times since then. The furthest I ever got was level 10, but most resets ended up with me making it to level 5 or 6 before resetting months/years later. Now, because of the big nerd I am, I’m finally taking it seriously and being diligent about my studies because I want to be able to watch the Touken Ranbu stage plays and musicals since a good chunk of them are unsubbed. It took me a long time to realize that I was doing wanikani for myself, and that copying those answers wasn’t me “learning.”

tl;dr Be comfortable with going at a slower pace if you need to. Be kind to yourself. And, remember that you are paying for a service to learn. You’re not learning if you’re copying answers from jisho, wanikani, or another website. It’s okay to answer incorrectly. It’s natural! You will learn from your mistakes. The pace of others doesn’t matter - only your own pace and what you’re comfortable with!

1 Like

This is unfortunately not in general the case. Sometimes it works, as with your example, but more often the kanji meanings are closer to just being a hint, and occasionally they’re totally useless. The analogy I like is with Greek and Latin roots in English – if you know that “tele” means “far away”, “phone” means “sound” and “vision” is about sight, then you have some good hints about which way around “telephone” and “television” are; but you aren’t likely to be able to correctly guess what “telephone” means if you don’t already know it and all you have is “far away voice”…


Really? Good to know, I’m only level 3 myself, after all :smiley: Thank you for correcting me!

1 Like


Another thing to understand is that most of the time there really is no consequence for getting something wrong (tests excluded, obviously). So in the environment where you can make mistakes, get all of them out of your system. When you’re reading or listening or whatever, you’re always going to be like “Hmm, I think this means x. Oh, it actually means y. I guess I’ll remember it for next time” and this will happen like 5 times a page or whatever for 10 pages and you just don’t think anything of it. (Even moreso with conversation. Drunken bar conversation is honestly one of the best ways I learned to speak because you just dgaf about making mistakes!)

Learning anything is a matter of making a bajillion mistakes now so when it comes crunch time you’ve already got all of them out of your system.

1 Like

In order to remember stuff faster you need to slow down.
When I stared using WaniKani eons ago, the amount of information for every item flet like a wall of text at time, so taking in all of the different details felt too much, so I ignored a lot of small yet important cues/clues, and sometimes I just skimmed over it, which of course backfired.

This time around I’m being more mindful when I do my lessons. I’m actually writing the item + meaning and reading down. Why? Because it forces me to slow down and pay attention.
I make sure to read the explanations and to see what grammatical part it is.
After writing it I put the binder aside, and go over each item without looking at the answers to see what and if I remember. I’ll go over the ones I’ve missed, and only when I remember every item in that lesson batch (between 5 -10 items) correctly I click on quiz.

The mnemonic tool is pretty demanding wether you create them on your own or use premade ones. You’re basically putting some effort in remembering junk that you’ll eventually forget in order to remember what you want to learn and use naturally. It demands a lot of patience, and to be honest, for years I avoided this technique like the plague.
The thing is, it works. Coming back to wanikani after several years of no japanese learning/reading/speaking/listening at all, I was amazed I remember way more than I assumed,

However, if you come to a point where you truly feel that mnemonics are not the memorizing tool
for you, you might want to reconsider using a system that rely on them.

And as mentioned above - don’t be devastated by your mistake, that’s how we learn, by making them.

1 Like