How Long to Learn all 2000--help moving faster

Even though it has been pointed out to death:

WK does NOT teach you Japanese.

It removes a barrier (memorizing the Kanji) to learning Japanese. You cannot function as a competent user of the Japanese language as an adult without knowing Kanji.

So one way to look at it is: WK allows you to not have to make memorizing Kanji the focus of your Japanese studies. It lets you focus on other things (reading, grammar, etc) while memorizing the Kanji can just be handled by doing 30min in the morning and 30 min at night of SRS reps.

You could (and some people recommend) “learn” all the joyo Kanji with Hesig’s RTK in 3 months. But all you would know for each Kanji is a name for it and how to write it. You still have to read and listen to tons of Japanese to learn the readings and also do all the grammar study etc.

And just to be clear, when people say you have to read and listen to a ton, they mean 1000s of hours of reading and 1000s of hours of listening.

There is no point at which you learn “enough” Kanji that all of a sudden you can read and understand native Japanese.


As it’s already been mentioned, I’ll just boost the fact that becoming proficient in Japanese will take a lot of effort and easily thousands of hours. At your pace, the 1000 hours you’ll put towards studying Japanese in the next year may sound like a lot, but I think you’d be surprised how far short of fluency that’ll get the average self-studier. I don’t know how much prior experience you have with the language, but starting from zero or near-zero will provide quite the uphill climb.

I think that there is something to be said about not running from your problems. Japan is a real place with real people and real problems too. Even assuming that moving countries might stir up your life enough to give yourself a “fresh start”, there’s no reason to believe that across your own country or even just moving cities wouldn’t accomplish the same thing.


This has already been covered by other people, but in case you are wondering WHY they are telling you it is possible but quite challenging, let me give you some numbers. Assuming you have read the introductory guide (and if you haven’t, I highly recommend it), then you will already know that WaniKani is built on SRS principles, aka Spaced Repetition. This means that you will be given new lessons to learn, then asked to review these lessons at spaced intervals. If you successfully review the material, it will move up an SRS level and take longer to review. Correctly review the same item enough times at it will “level up” from Apprentice to Guru (and beyond). Level up 90% the radicals in your current level and you will unlock new kanji (and probably some vocabulary). Level up 90% of the kanji in the current level and you will unlock radicals for the next level (and also a bunch more vocabulary). You do not have to level-up the vocabulary words to advance to the next level, but you will probably want to learn them, since they help with memorizing kanji readings.

Now for the important bit. WaniKani’s SRS levels break down like this …

4 hours
8 hours
1 day
2 days (Guru)
1 week
2 weeks
1 month
4 months (Burnt)

If you add up the time it takes to reach Guru, it comes out to roughly 3.5 days. So that means if you do all your radical lessons at one time, then hit your review times perfectly, reviewing as soon as they come available, you could unlock the kanji in less than four days. If you then do your new kanji lessons immediately and keep hitting all your review times perfectly with minimal errors, you will be able to complete a WaniKani level in about one week (actually a little less if your timing is flawless). This is the FASTEST possible speed and would involve waking up at odd hours sometimes to do your four or eight hour reviews on time.

If you are completing a level every week, then that means you are finishing four levels each month or 48 levels each year. To reach level 50 (the original “end” of WaniKani), it would take just over one year at MAX speed. To get to level 60 would take another couple of months or less, since the higher levels don’t have many radicals.

If you have the free time and dedication to go full throttle, it can be done. But it is not the “average” or even the recommended rate. It takes a lot of effort to achieve those results. It’s not going to be worth it for most users. A more realistic competition time would push that timeline out a little further. For example, if you are completing a level every two weeks, it will take you roughly two years to reach level 50. This gives you twice as much time to finish and gives more cushion for life intruding on your WaniKani schedule.

Keep in mind that you do not need to reach lvl 50 to start seeing results from your WaniKani practice. You can start using the kanji you learn right away in your Japanese studies. Ideally, you should be taking time to learn grammar and practicing your reading/speaking skills through other means, so that when it comes time to call upon your kanji knowledge, you’ll know what to do with it. If your end goal is to move to Japan in one year, then you can certainly aim for that. But you should not expect to arrive in Japan as a fluent Japanese speaker. A year is not that much time, in the context of language learning. But you can accomplish great things in that amount of time, if you are willing to put in the effort. Getting started with kanji learning is a great first step. I would also recommend diversifying your efforts. You will need a solid foundation of Japanese grammar to understand native material and a LOT of practice reading and listening to Japanese.


“Go at your own pace” is cliche advice, but I think it’s legitimately best to listen to yourself – no, not the self giving you unreasonable goals, but the one that pushes back and says, “Slow down! I’m dying here!”

I burned through the last two levels and really burnt myself out. I was going too slowly for a long time because I was just being lazy, but going too fast was – at least for me – just as bad. It was frustrating, and frankly my work and sleep schedule suffered.

So now I’m taking on new items when I actually have the time now, and it’s much better: I’m retaining everything more easily, and I’m going at a good speed without going nuts. One day at a time. :slight_smile:

I hear what you guy’s are saying, thx for the advice but I’m not so much running away from my problems as a group of people. I could move somewhere much closer than Japan and achieve the same result of disconnection from them, but living in Japan has been a goal of mine for a long time. Also, I know I have to study more than Kanji to become fluent in the language. I’m a member of textfugu and intend to use all the resources I can. I had one other question as well. I know I need a bachelor’s degree for a permanent residence visa in Japan. Can that degree be in the Japanese language and are their any universities that offer a test(s) for the certificate?

I wouldn’t advise TextFugu since the Tofugu team is currently working on another project to fully substitute it.

Maybe you could check for other options? :slight_smile:

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Uhm, you seem a bit confused. You don’t get a bachelor degree by just doing a test and getting a certificate. A bachelor degree is a 3 year program at a tertiary institution, most often a University.


Well I do the fast pace and I think it’s quite managable. I don’t wake up at odd times, but yes, you will need some discipline. @DestinyCall summoned it pretty good, but here is a very nice guide “How to not become crazy” but thoug level up every week:

~T :lion:

sorry, I didn’t know. I know you can test out of certain classes. I was just wondering if you already knew the language if you could apply for a certificate. What’s the point of taking all those classes if you already know it.

You could just do the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), but that is not the same as a major at all. That would work in your favor since it would mean that you could somehow communicate in Japanese in a Japanese working environment. However, most companies ask for N2 (the 2nd hardest level), which in 1 year is pretty much impossible. Plus, that is completely different than having a major. You would need both or either be lucky and get a less qualified job.

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That’s not how higher education works at all, Bachelor’s degrees are not proficiency certificates.


Somebody can correct me if I’m wrong, but getting a visa to work in Japan pretty much requires a university degree. And it also depends on your country of residence, because for some countries it is harder than others. If you don’t have a degree, you could consider getting one in Japan, which means entering with a Student visa. Unless you can pay for it yourself, you’ll need a scholarship. I’m sure other people here have more experience than me on this.


There’s this whole other thread from like a day ago that covers all the options of moving to and working in Japan.


I am going for just under a year, and indeed my total amount of mistakes only accounts for like 5 days or so


@lunarman52 つまり, it’s not really feasible to get a Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) and become fluent in Japanese within a year.


Most Japanese Bachelors arent just that, they’re usually paired with Asian Studies. You could in theory just sign up and take the exams without going into any classes, but getting a passing grade on all of them will be quite challenging that way. Also, not really something you could pull of in a year :c

I’d like to add that I’ve seen quite a few people say that they’ll learn Japanese up to a N2 Level in about a year. Most of them never even make it past the first month. From what I’ve seen you seem to know that it’s a challenging goal, I just want to encourage you to stay with studying Japanese, even if you wont quite make it in a year.

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very true. the highest level my uni offers is only N3 equivalent.

Anyway i am not studying languages and my goal is an exchange year at UTokyo. sooo i try to get to n1 in 3 years. rip me

Oh boy… that “i wake up at 3am to do some reviews” speed.

I’m always amazed by the few of you to go that far to mess up with your circadian rythms.

I’m getting old and i just die if i don’t get my sleep when i’ve to…

but whoa, kudos to you brave one


I must say it does not mess up my rhythm. I do the review for 15 minutes and directly fall asleep again. I can not remember ever having problems to directly continue sleep. only the 6 to 8 am spot is really bad i noticed.

This is a superpower for me.