I am new and (somewhat) helpless

I’m doing an average of 9 days per level so we’re about the same there.

Yeah, I have issues with this as well. You’ll have to figure out your own mnemonics because it continues as you level. For example, むぎ, the mnemonic uses “mugging” but that makes me input まぎ instead. Now, I use the Mugi the Moogle from Final Fantasy as a mnemonic.

Stick with it. :slight_smile: Once you start looking at Japanese text and being able to recognize a lot of it, it feels great.


At one time I read German at the level at which you write English–but I absolutely could never have written German as well as you write English. Believe that you write better native English than some of the people on these threads. You are remarkable. Trust us. Your memory will improve as you bear down on remembering the little stories–or make up your own. Keep some form of work books and write the kanji, write down the little stories that have come to you. If you miss the kanji again, underline the first letter of the practical meaning that is its “core” for you in red; miss it again, the second letter. There are some utterly committed language students on WK. I don’t think there is a one of them, having read your English, who doesn’t believe that your language ability is both broad and deep. G_d, you’ll be good at this.


I don’t know if this has been mentioned before (sorry, I have not read the whole thread) but you can put WaniKani in vacation mode (somewhere in your settings) which means that the reviews are frozen and don’t pile up until you switch to normal mode again. That way you will not be flooded by reviews after you return from hospital. Of course, if you need to go to hospital in case of an emergency, you will probably not be able to turn on vacation mode, but maybe you have a trusted person who can do this for you in those cases?

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Hey Sheba ^^ do not worry too much about the level, of course everyone wants to level as fast as possible and everything but in the end the most important is that you properly learn all kanjis and vocabulary, so altho i felt i kinda was in a rush at the first levels now i am taking it easy, it’s simply impossible for me to do all +70 lessons i get every time i level up. so that you can have it as reference, i usually have between 80% and 90% in my reviews and my average time per level is 16 days, since i don’t learn all the kanjis and radicals from the very beginning of the level. so if you feel like you are being slower than other people in the forum and that causes you to be anxious, don’t be, everyone has their own rythm, the important is that you enjoy it. (specially don’t sress with level 4, that one was my slowest, i spent almost a month, i did all the vocab lessons in one go and i couldn’t keep up with all the words containing 気 orz)

as for the mnemonics, i must confess im totally not compatible with the mnemonics given by wanikani, so almost always i use my own mnemonics. i have the good luck of being able to speak 4 languages, and i currently use 3 of them to make my own mnemonics, so you might be able to find some words in german that start the same way as the word you need and that might help you. at the same time, i have problems with certains words that have sounds not found in my native tongues (つ、し、ぎゃ、や、わ and derived) and to create those mnemonics sometimes it’s hell >.<

i don’t know your background in japanese before you started wanikani so i don’t know if this might be helpful, but some time ago i printed the lyrics (in kanji ofc) of several anime songs i have in my phone and listen to often with the intention of translating them. but i’ve decided not to start translating them yet but to try to do it bit by bit as i advance wanikani, so from time to time i take a look and discover that a few of the kanjis i learnt in the last level are there in the song (it’s surprising how many kanjis i can identify even with such a low level, very fulfilling at the same time)… this also helps me since more or less i can sing the songs and then thx to that i immediatly know the pronunciation…

another thing that helps me is trying to relate kanjis or words i learn with manga titles (even if i havent read them), it’s easier for me to remember a word pronunciation than a kanji, and to remember a sentence than just a word… two examples that occurred these last few days: 形 and 日記, there was no way for me to remember those two, no useful mnemonics possible, nothing, until by chance i remembered this manga called “Koe no katachi” (which i had not read) and specially “Mirai Nikki” (i swear i wanted to facedesk so much when i made the connection, i felt so stupid for missing it before) and now that i have made this connection there no way i’m gonna forget them muahahah
or for new kanjis 電 and 話, i had no useful mnemonics but i know that 電話 (telephone) is pronounced denwa, so even if i have no mnemonics for the kanji i can already know their pronunciation thanks to a word that contains them… it’s a method kinda inverse to wanikani foundation, in this case instead of going from small to big (radical->kanji->vocab) you go from big to small (vocab->kanji)…

and i’ll stop for now since i’ve been talking a lot, sorry for the long post x) i wonder if there’s any thread out there where people share their own mnemonics, that could be very useful…

ps: the mnemonics for 麦 is obv mugiwara no luffy!!


Wow, so many replies! Thanks so much, everyone!

The harder part of Level 4 is now unlocking for me (I’m at 30% Kanji…will likely take more than 9 days this time) and I’m down to 68% review scores again. The more the mnemonics suck, the worse I get. I just cannot come up with my own mnemonics for some weird stuff. I know enough characters named “Rei” or “Kai” to make up stuff with them when such readings happen, but unfortunately I lack any association with words in both English and German which sound even close to “tsuchi” and other readings. Stuff like “Sha”(man) actually works super-well - basically everything with characters does - but yeah, a lot is lacking. I find the Level 4 mnemonics overall pretty much worse than the ones of the first few levels? I hope that trend doesn’t continue.

That’s fascinating because you have the opposite problem then - you go with the sound. I would likely get that one right since I go with visual (so the letters) instead of sound. Which is my luck since I haven’t played a FF since FF12…:sweat_smile: At any rate, it seems I really have to make up better mnemonics for me and I dunno how to do the difficult ones… I better figure that out fast, I guess, because I keep failing with the newer vocabs now.

Thank you so much for your kind words!:blush: I actually was really bad at English for a long time during my first school years of learning it, constantly getting what I believe equals a bad D in your grade system (Germany grades from 1-6, with 5 and 6 being failed exams, and I kept getting a 4). I then really learned English by getting internet and my first English videogames, so it was pure learning-by-doing. I don’t know a single English grammar rule; it’s all just instinct and having read a lot. I thought I could do the same for Japanese, but university taught me better - without knowing Kanji and grammar to quite the amount, it’s impossible to really do learning-by-doing. That’s why I signed up for WK here, to get the Kanji down in a more game-like effort instead of the weekly Kanji tests of university. As for grammar, Bunpro really doesn’t work for me (not enough learning-by-doing, too much reading), so I am sticking with the horrible duolingo for now which explains nothing but at least there’s a lot of actually writing sentences and the like. English is really much easier than Japanese (and German) though. I do actually write English novels these days and often hit my limits there, so I am not 100% fluent, but with most of the internet now readable for me, I constantly do try to improve myself. I hope I can somehow get to a point where I can start doing that in Japanese as well.
As for taking WK notes, I’m already taking like three hours of Duolingo notes a day right now and my poor wrist can’t handle more writing. I’ll likely have to start doing that at one point, though.

I heard about that and I’m sure that I can get that done. Still, my subscription will keep running and the last two times I was in hospital for a full year, so I bet I would forget everything in that time. Gotta hope to stay healthy!

That’s really good advice. It’s so easy to just want to level fast when it’s actually not a race and all about learning properly. It doesn’t matter what level I am, if I don’t know my kanji and just guess correctly, I will not be able to ever read anything in Japanese no matter what level I am.
Luckily (?) I never get 70 lessons at once since I get too much stuff wrong immediately so that things natually space out a lot…lol.

Also now I’m scared, I’m currently struggling with all the Kanji like 仕 (those with the “leader” radical). They all have horrible readings/mnemonics. Not looking forward to the 気 ones now…

And I agree; all those readings you mentioned are those where I have trouble coming up with mnemonics as well. There’s too many which are not really practicable.

As for your lyric suggestion, I actually own some Japanese manga of a game I am a big fan of because those were never translated into German/English anyway and part of what made me want to attempt to learn Japanese again was the fact that I want to be able to read them. So I have like ten books here which serve as motivation. Unfortunately, aside from that, I haven’t really been into any anime or manga for a long time (I’m too old… I was such a fan as a teenager) so I lack a lot of options you seem to have. And I agree in that I would love to see a thread where people post their own mnemonics for certain readings, especially the difficult ones!

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haha, true. This may be an individual thing. I’ve seen may WKers that have no problem with the mnemonics.

This will come as you level. You’ll start to get an idea for which things work better for you. Whenever I get something wrong, I check the mnemonic and see what’s not working or me, like 麦 above. I’ll then take a minute to either reinforce the bit I missed or find a better way to remember.

But, fair warning, you’ll still mess up now and then. Just keep at it. :slight_smile:

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My apologies for the extremely belated answer to this. I had a surgery and am only now getting better enough to really deal with all the online social activities again. I did try my best to keep up with my reviews at least and managed to make it into Level 6, though, which is something, I guess.

I’m still having that problem, though a lot of the time it seems to be dependent on the reading and the Kanji. Your 麦 was actually something I could work with after getting it wrong 1-2 times (like I usually do) because I could make sense of the kanji quickly enough. As in, the radicals seemed to fit the meaning of the word, so learning essentially just one thing (the reading) worked soon enough. But give me something like 点 where I cannot make sense of the radicals having to do anything with the meaning (I find the fortune radical to be a real stretch anyway) and I have trouble remembering anything at all, no matter if reading or meaning.

Also, to give a general update, I find myself more and more frustrated with myself having the same dumb issues over and over. I have things in my apprentice queue that should just not be there. Like 日. I’m not kidding you. It was in Master, I was asked about it again, I wrote にち when it wanted ひand boom, there it went down. And I have that issue with so, so many vocabs. I know my readings, but I absolutely cannot remember which one it wants in vocabs. That’s likely because my brain cannot handle more information than it already has to process, so it just ditches the separation of on’yomi and kun’yomi and just remembers them all as one thing belonging to that kanji, leading to huge messes.

Also I obviously struggle with exception readings and words-that-differ-only-by-a-few-hiragana. Like 下がる and 下げる (as well as their equivalents of raise/rise). And I make a lot of typos and will likely always and forever get 午 and 牛 mixed up.

So yeah, keeping it up, but definitely being frustrated with my own typos throwing some words back for weeks and vocabs not giving me the same mercy thing about wanting the other reading that the pink kanji category gives me.


Everything you wrote that you have issues with is notoriously hard to deal with.

I checked your WK profile and your numbers across the SRS stages look good. I think you’re much much better than you’re giving yourself credit for. You’re doing great, really, especially considering how difficult and frustrating you find the program.

My only suggestion would be to always type the vocab reading when you spot a kanji on its own. At most it’ll shake and tell you it wants the other one in the case of kanji, but your accuracy would be better for vocab.

And as a ps, I hope you’re taking care of yourself! May your surgery prove beneficial and may you heal well!


Thank you so much for the kind words! I think I am actually more frustrated with myself than with the program, though. For me, every kanji/vocab has exactly one meaning, one kun’yomi and one on’yomi reading. I just can’t memorize more, unless I get it a LOT like in 日. Sometimes I learn the easier reading, sometimes the first one mentioned in the list and when it comes to meanings I usually learn the shortest one. So everything else is for me an “exception” reading/meaning. I hate myself for remembering 足 only as “foot” and all vocabs are about shortage, having enough, adding, stuff like that…

Between my typos and me learning less than the program tells me to learn, I feel like I’m creating these issues for myself, but find my brain unable to cope with more. It’s actually the same with the readings - your tip to always input the vocab reading with the kanji is so hard for me to do because, well, 1) the Kanji reading likely sticks much better since I learn it first and 2) once both stick somewhat I can remember which is which until it gets to Guru. When the vocab then comes back around I have LONG forgotten which is the kanji reading and which is the vocab reading, making it like a 50% hit chance guessing game.

And my typos are just me being all “gottagofast”. Right now I’m glad if I get one WK session a day in, meaning I usually have 100+ reviews at once to do and then just hurry through them in hopes I can get it done in 30 mins or so.

Again, thank you for your kind wishes! The surgery went well so far and I hope that in a few months it will help me indeed! It was “just” tooth implants, but when you spend the days holding ice packs to your cheeks it’s kinda hard to type with no free hands. :wink:

I would agree. Keep it up. :slight_smile:

I still get tripped up with this now when it comes around. I keep forgetting the あし reading. And there are a few level 5 and 6 items that I missed getting enlightened because of this.

Try to have a bit more faith in the SRS and just keep truckin’.

Best of luck.


I agree, the あしreading is hard to remember since all the other vocabs never ask for it and, let’s be honest, “そく” is a really convenient reading for “foot”, with the sock mnemonic and all. Still, I do better at あし than at the other vocabs since they use たand yeah, three readings are more than my brain likes.

I’ll keep it up! Despite me ranting here, I do actually enjoy WK a lot - definitely a lot more than the other sources I work with (but then again, grammar sucks no matter how you try to learn it).


Hi @Sheba, I’m curious as so how you’re doing! It’s been a while since we’ve seen you :slight_smile:


Oh hey! Thank you so much for asking! I’m still working on it, though I do really struggle by now. I’m Level 8 with 58% Kanji at the moment, I believe. It’s not just how many reviews there are right now since I have by now so many Guru/Master things that come up on top of the Apprentice things (which I try to keep at 120 or less), but also because obviously more troubles happening with more Kanji.

  1. There are now so many of them that look similiar that I keep mixing them up. Two levels ago, I only mixed up 午 and 牛 but I feel like by now there’s a dozen of them.
  2. Adding to point 1), there’s the fact of the radical names being completely different from what their Kanji equivalent is called. Like I got taught 未 as “Jet”, then a level or two later it means “Not yet” as Kanji, then there’s suddenly also “末” (Kanji) and “夫” (Radical) and yeah… I mix them up, both in meanings and with each other.
  3. Generally, I would wish the Radicals would get better names. I can remember 且 “top hat” without any problem whatsoever because that’s what it looks like, but 穴 being “hole” is already a big stretch (would be way easier to remember as “volcano spitting lava”, “giant” or… anything else it looks like) and 舌 being tongue is just… nope. (It’s clearly a coat rack if you ask me, but I just saw that 疋 will be “coat rack” in level 9 when that’s… not a coat rack at all?)
  4. I find that I often have long forgotten the Guru section things when the things from there come up again. I don’t know why, I did great with them on Apprentice level…
  5. There are FAR too many things meaning the same thing. At first it was just “boy” and “girl”, but now I feel like I have a million things meaning “body” and “life”.
  6. I often find myself stumbling over things that mean stuff that aren’t nouns or verbs. Also I still struggle with some of the counting words and there are too many words in combination with time in general. Especially years. This year, next year, every year, recent year, annually, year round…ugggh.
  7. Also I sometimes am bad in English and know what I want to say in German but lack the English word…

So yeah, uh, I keep at it! But right now it feels more like a chore and less than a fun learning experience for the first time, but that is not WaniKani’s fault. I feel if I would invest even more time and actually handwrite Kanji down, I would mix them up less. But Japanese right now already takes up around 3 hours every day and I just don’t have more time to do that.

I feel like every post I make here is a complaining post, though, and I dislike that. Because if I would really hate this all I would just stop, but I’m not stopping, so obviously not all is bad. I’m just really sometimes a bit frustrated since I feel WaniKani makes some things harder than they need to be, especially with the radical-kanji-name thing.


Ah I totally get you, most times I give other meanings to the radicals bc the ones from wanikani are not good for me… there’s the option to add a ‘synonym’ to a word, be it radical kanji or vocab, you can try inputting the german word for it in those words that give you trouble in english… also, when im learning the radicals, i always take a look to the 3 kanjis they say you’ll learn with that radical, if i see they have no relation I just look for another word with relation to them and learn that one instead, i don’t see the use of remembering a radical that its difficult in itself (drawing and meaning association is not that obvious) and furthermore are not even good for the kanji afterwards… hehe I warned you earlier on about the insane number of lessons/reviews after starting a new level ah…

mixing similar kanjis will always be troublesome, and sometimes they even have similar meanings orz coming to your point 2, again, try to define a new meaning for radicals if that one just doesn’t work, and create your own mnemonic (so I converted 未 into ‘cable car’ -you know, it kinda looks like the pillar with the cables and a mountain in the background, then create the mnemonic ‘is the cable car ‘not yet’ here?! the next one to get in is み!’)… you really need to define the words you are most comfortable with for each radical, i think this will really ease your learning experience… 疋 is a horrible one, it really doesnt look like that >.< lvl 9 kanjis are horrible TT_TT took me so long :frowning:

for point 4… it happens, for me i either improve the mnemonic or…cry…for point 5, it’s actually the same in english, sometimes you have several words meaning the same… there’s nothing much we can do about it, for that thing with year, as long as you know properly the first kanji it shouldnt be too troublesome, it might help if you copy on a paper several similar items like 'this week/month/year, next week/month/year, every day/week/month…, last week/month/year… and like this, seeing those kanjis repeated with different combinations might help you remember them… i actually did that before starting wanikani with time expressions such as last/this/next day/week/month/year in it worked pretty well for me

Maybe if you try to do less lessons at one time it might be easier to remember them nd then move on with next ones, it takes more time but if it helps its worth it. i started practicing writting the kanjis starting from level 1 upwards, only got to lvl 4 so far, im not sure its helpful but tiring and boring, that is xd still for difficult-to-identify kanjis i think it can help (let’s see what i say when i reach lvl 9 kanjis orz)

It’s okay to complain, and what’s more, it’s free! :stuck_out_tongue: i also get frustrated sometimes when i can’t really find a useful way to remember kanjis, and sometimes i just want to get items correct so they will appear less often and not have such huge review queue >.< you’re not alone in this journey (umm, so let’s suffer together? xd) i know my reply its kinda messy but i hope at least one point of what i said can help you :blush:

p.s. this week i just started learning german, wish me luck! the pronunciation is terrible tho, im not sure i’ll ever be able to achive it >.<

About that: you can give the radical a synonym after you first learn it. So give it a synonym with the same meaning as the actual kanji. Of course, doing this means you’ll have to make up your own mnemonics every time that radical appears in a kanji. But I find that making up my own mnemonics works better 90% of the time anyways.

And hey! Don’t worry! Taking your first steps in the Japanese language is the probably the hardest thing about learning it. So keep at it!

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There are a few things that might improve your experience with Wani Kani. Some of them are used by many here, and they improve the site directly: scripts.

Others are things I do to complement the Kanji learning on WK. They have proven invaluable to my Kanji memorizing in general.

Regarding scripts, one that you should definitely get is the overwrite(?) one, where you can simply cancel (and later rectify) a wrong answer when you make a typo, or you just know all the readings, but not the one WK is specifically asking you for. It should make things faster and way less chaotic for you by getting rid of those Kanji you definitely already know but keep coming back to apprentice time and again. On that same note, the reorder script lets you choose, when doing lessons and reviews, which ones you do first, in case you want to get rid of something like Radicals or Kanji fast, but can’t be bothered with Vocab at the time.

As for what I do to complement Kanji learning, I use Anki with a couple of different sets, one for Kanji through the Heisig approach (but slightly modified, commented and corrected), and one just for radicals. Both give me alternate options for meanings on radicals that help when memorizing more complex kanji that contains them. They’re also faster to review, and you will only deal with meanings while grading yourself (so no more typos). Sometimes, meanings from those decks will be preferable to those on WK, and sometimes WK are better choices. Memorizing both would be ideal.

What you seem to be missing is why exactly this approach has been proven valuable in the first place, and those sets truly helped me grasp their purpose. The way Radicals are named, for instance, is supposed to help you understand the meaning (or sometimes the sound) of the Kanji that are made from them. So even if sometimes it might simply not be pictographic at all (not look like the thing it gets its name from) you should not deliberately change it unless you already know a different meaning that might help you in the same way, by giving you clues as to what meanings the words composed of those radicals might be.

The only purpose of a radical in this sense is to give you a better understanding of the Kanji, not just visually, but by imparting its meaning in one way or another.

Anki is also much faster to learn, so by the time they show up on WK, you will only really be troubled with the readings and vocabulary, not so much with the meaning of the actual Kanji.

If you don’t have any extra time to devote to this, though (it’s about an extra 30 minutes of work every day, for me), just try to improve WK with scripts. It makes it a whole lot better.

Thank you for all your replies!

I…had no ideas synonyms would do that. As in, I thought there were just like notes you could add, not that the site would accept them as a correct answer if I added one of them. Thank you very much, that will indeed prove very helpful and I will indeed start making my own mnemonics with radicals now (or just make them match what the kanji means, really)

No kidding… I just hit level 9 after getting through 177 reviews and it’s past midnight. Suddenly, 90 lessons. Like, what the heck, I’m more than done after all those reviews. I wonder if maybe I should stop with lessons completely until I start burning stuff because I really, really don’t want to do more than 100 reviews a day. I’m already getting burnout since the grammar also takes so long to do.

Honestly I am so fluent in English and still cannot pronounce anything in it. As in, I can’t even pronounce “the” since the “th”-sound is just not native to German. So I can very much imagine that it’s like that the other way around as well. Also… have fun. German grammar is so horrible that even native speakers don’t understand it. (No kidding, I had an F in grammar in school…)

I really, really need to check scripts it seems. I know I had gotten that advice before but still didn’t check them out because I find everything in WK that has to do with installing or checking things totally daunting. I took one look at this API-thing and the site related to it, understood absolutely nothing and just noped out of it. I am really, really bad with add-ons and stuff in general so I just keep putting things off and I know it’s actually hurting my progress

Honestly… I… don’t ever even look anymore at what radicals a Kanji is made out off. It doesn’t help me as they are usually so warped that they’re unrecognizeable anyway. I go purely by mnemonic and I feel a lot of them are so bad because they try to incorporate the weird radical meanings instead of making up a much easier to understand storyline. Radicals are just here to bother me, really…lol.

Honestly I’m thinking about REALLY cutting back on time instead of adding more since I’m having horrible burnout already (but that’s not just WK but also Duolingo). I need to get down to 100 reviews a day at max, not more Kanji. I suppose I have to check out if there are scripts which do that for me and then… how to install scripts in the first place. Hah.

Thanks, guys!:slight_smile:

Hey Sheba,

Glad to see you’re still at it. Yeah, I agree, it sounds like some scripts would help you out. Ultimate Timeline would help you plan your time. And something like “Do you even kana” or override would help with typos. (“Do you even kana?” is for when there’s a verb or something - like 放れる, and instead of はなれる you type はなれり by mistake (it will shake if the attached kana doesn’t match).

Here is a GREAT guide on how to install and use scripts - YOU don’t have to do any API or programming, it’s not that scary. Visual Guide on How To Install A Userscript

Also, your idea to stop lessons for a while is a good one. I wouldn’t wait “until you burn things” as that’s likely at least another couple months away (approximately 4 months after you first saw the item - if you got it right every single time)… but wait and watch for your Apprentice amount to go down. Personally, I like my count between 60-80 items at that level, and 120-200 items at Guru. When I’m going at my full speed, I do only 20 lessons a day, 10 earlier on, and then 10 more later after doing the first set of reviews on the first batch of 10. (I am not at full speed right now. Just did my first lessons in like, almost 2 years.) There are lots of helpful strategies around, but you know your limits. I think if you do less lessons at once, so you can spend a bit more time on a smaller amount of reviews (= less time overall), you will see yourself improve. And with 20 lessons a day, you can still level up in 10-14 days, if time or money is a concern!

So, anyways, just glad to see you’re plugging along, and wanted to share some of my tips to hopefully encourage you and help you out. :purple_heart:

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