I can't tell if my account is stuck, or if it really does take this long

Hey all! I’m new here at WaniKani, and I’m trying to understand how to progress past the first 26 radicals.

So, 2 nights ago I started WaniKani and did the first 26. My first review I got 100% and then went to bed. Yesterday morning I woke up and did another review, getting 96% because I mixed up nine and power. Fair enough. Over the course of the day I proceeded to do another 4-5 reviews of the same 26 radicals,each time getting 100% (some reviews were only the 2 I had just messed up, and others were the other 24). Every time, it would just pat me on the back and then nothing else would happen.

I woke up again this morning and did yet another review of those same 26 radicals, 100%, and it’s again telling me I have 8 hours until my next review. On my dashboard, the “Level 1 Radical Progression” bar is entirely empty, despite how many reviews I’ve done of the exact same material. If I go up top and click the “Lessons” button in the top right, it just shows “0” next to all the lessons.

I mean… is this normal? I’d really like to progress, but I feel like I’m stuck in a loop, just reviewing the same 26 radicals forever, to the point that I’m starting to lose interest in moving on to the next section. I’ve heard it’s really slow in the beginning, but I didn’t really think it was THIS slow. I keep feeling like something is wrong and my account is messed up, but I don’t know how to tell and I don’t want to just sit here doing reviews of the same material over… and over… and over for the next week until the red flag finally goes off and I find out I should have been on level 3 or 4 by then.

Any insight y’all might have would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

You have to guru these radicals first, before you get any new material.
The different levels and timing are shown below.


When you get an item right, it moves to the next level.
For example, if you move an item into Apprentice 2, you will have to wait for 8 hours, after which you get the chance to move it to Apprentice 3.

If you get something wrong and that item is Apprentice, it moves back only 1 level.
If you get something wrong and that item is not Apprentice, it moves back 2 levels.

An example is given below.

If you need more info, you can always find it in the FAQ


So that’s what they meant by the guru thing! It makes more sense now.

Oh man… so for each lesson I have a minimum of 3 days before I can progress to the next lesson, but any mistake in that time can push that back by another 2-3 days? Holy moley, that’s harsh. Based on this, and since I got 2 wrong yesterday morning, it looks like I won’t see my next lesson until a minimum of Wednesday.

Well, at least I know my account isn’t broken. The lack of movement on the progress bar was really concerning me at first, but based on this it looks like everything is actually progressing normally.

Thanks a bunch for giving such a detailed reply, that helps clear things up a lot for me! I definitely appreciate it.


Don’t worry, you don’t have to guru all radicals to get your new kanji. However, to get to the next Wanikani level overall, you will need to Guru 90% of all kanji in that Wanikani level.

Also I think you’d find it nifty to install some scripts.

Have a gander at these:

And the most important one for when you finally reach level 2 :slight_smile: :


Level 1 is super slow. Level 2 is also easy. Level 3 gives you a taste of how hard it’s going to get, and somewhere around level 7-8 it starts eating up all your time.

They start slow to give you a baseline to work from, radicals lead to kanji, kanji leads to vocab. It mushrooms.


By the way, levels 1 and 2 are actually twice as fast, so it should only be a little less than 2 days if you get everything right.


Yes it does! I was in level 1 not too many days ago and even I thought my account was stuck because I searched for this question. But then I saw there’s multiple level 1 beginners either asking this question or the FAQ and other helpful people telling me not to give up on level 1 since it’s so slow. That’s when I figured I should probably give it a few more days. The day my first radicals went guru I felt so accomplished! It was really satisfying.

Feel free to ask questions on this forum if you get stuck anywhere or if you just wanna chat a while~^^


I was a little surprised as well myself by how slow things start out, but I can see where things are going to pile up later down the line, with new lessons as well as old reviews starting to coincide more and more. I’d say get through the slow first week and then be surprised by how swamped you get :slight_smile:
Yesterday for instance I got my first kanji lesson right after my review of the radicals, and suddenly had a lot more to do!

I’m not sure if people will find this as good advice or not, but I highly suggest going into the RADICALS page and adding a synonym to all of them. I personally use the letter ‘a’, because in my opinion Wanikani’s radicals are kind of useless. As soon as I finish a radical in a lesson I immediately add the ‘a’ synonym. Some people may find their radical system beneficial, but because the system uses really outlandish stuff to improve your chances of remembering, it enforces knowledge that is near useless outside of Wanikani. You can end up wasting a lot of potential learning time on something that you really don’t need. I’d rather spend my time learning Kanji and Vocab than on radicals that are almost useless outside of this site. Either way stick with learning the language. I also recommend add ons. Hope that helps you Ctlsmithis

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I think ignoring the radicals works if you’re going to write your own mnemonics, but WK’s kanji mnemonics all rely on being able to identify radicals by WK’s names.


To add to this, I think specifically for the early levels, it is pretty common for a radical and the corresponding Kanji to have the same meaning. It can be helpful in those cases because otherwise you might run into a situation where you hit a kanji and it says, “the meaning is the same as the radical so if you remember that you already know this!” only to not know it.

But I do agree that long term the radical meanings on WK are not particularly relevant. I usually try to learn them up to Guru so that if they are particularly useful for the Kanji mnemonics they are associated with I can use them, and if I forget them then whatever I Just push them through anyways.


I really respond well to the mnemonic system, so for me the radical system is very important to learn. For people who are starting out, please try it before using the tactic mentioned above.

If you don’t like the radicals because they lower your overall percentage, then you should stop seeing those percentages as test results. Review sessions are not tests, they are just ways to match the SRS position of each individual item with their correct position in your mind.

However, if you are in the final SRS stages with a radical that is not important to learn other kanji anymore, you can just go ahead and undo the mistake. In the long run, ignoring all radical names will damage your ability to retain the more complex kanji.


Stick with it.

The first time you wake up to 63 reviews you’ll wish you were back at the pace of level 1. The comment that suggests WK eventually consumes all available time is spot on. Don’t rush it. It enjoy your 暇 now.

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The mnemonics naturally fade from your memory. They are just there to bridge the gap from the initial stage of knowing nothing. Most people using the site are English speakers, and thus we naturally have very little existing framework upon which to build kanji and Japanese vocab knowledge.

Sure, you can just bang it in by rote memorization, and some people find that works best for them. But many people appreciate the bridge mnemonics provide. And when you’re burning an item, the mnemonic isn’t going to be “wasting space” in your head.


I think the helpfulness of the radicals varies from person to person. Personally, I’ve found it really helpful to have ANY name for the various pieces that make up kanji. I had prior kanji knowledge coming in, so when I saw new kanji I would recognize parts - but not always enough to be able to accurately describe or recreate them even directly afterwards. Just having names for the building blocks has made it much easier to distinguish and remember kanji with similar pieces, or to remember kanji long enough to draw them into a dictionary app or something.

Plus, as others have said, many of the meanings do correspond with actual kanji meanings, in which case they’re especially worth learning. (Most or all of these list that close meaning on the examples tab when learning it, too.) And of course some of the most outlandish mnemonics can be, I find, the ones that end up sticking best.

…but all of this is definitely in YMMV territory. Just worth trying and seeing what works for you personally :slight_smile:

P.S. In case you don’t already use it, there is a script for adding user synonyms during lessons you might be interested in, so you don’t have to manually go to the page later: [Userscript] WaniKani Lesson User Synonyms v2

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I find this script really helps visualize where all the items are in the SRS process and how close I’m getting to unlocking new items and the next level. I couldn’t WK without it at this point. The stock progress bars are super basic and opaque.

And of course the Ultimate Timeline script should just be built-in.


They’re useful when you get kanji with lots of radicals and none of the “pictures” obviously connect to the meaning. Like this fellow from level 13: 緑 (green)= 糸 (thread) + ヨ (wolverine) + 水 (water).

Like @Leebo said, eventually you’ll make the connection directly from symbol to meaning/reading, and forget the mnemonic.[1]

For example, here’s one from level 3: (cut / せつ) = 七 (seven) + 刀 (sword).

DAY 1: If you have SEVEN SWORDS, there’s only so much you can do with them. The main thing? Probably using them to CUT something. You cut them into pairs, and give SETS (せつ) to everyone who needs them in the village.

DAY 10: 切 = a SET (せつ) of seven swords that you CUT with.

DAY 30: 切 = something about a set (せつ) of sharp CUTting things?

DAY 300:[2] 切 = せつ/cut, which turns into き in 切る (きる/to cut). The mnemonic for that? Heck if I know. Probably a set of knives or something.

[1] Most of them. There will always be a few that will never leave you, like that sexy こうichi in a construction (工) hat…

[2] Or day 1000, if you take several year-long breaks, decide you’re going to go study a completely different language instead, then come back and try to pick up Japanese again. We don’t judge.


I think that I need to clarify my original post a little bit. If you are using the radical mnemonics and they work: KEEP USING THEM. Whatever way gets them into your brain is the best way to do it. My original advice was on second glance fairly harsh and biased. I came into Wanikani with advance knowledge and had already learned 部首 (busyu/radicals) through an ancient Japanese dictionary from the library. Honestly I’ve probably memorized a hundred or so of them, and there are a bunch that are kind of nebulously floating around that I can pull down when I really need it. So that really kind of hurt my experience on here a bit, because I would end up not remembering what term they used and finding myself having to stop my review and look up a non Kanji radical. Then I noticed that I could add a synonym to the radicals, and for the ones that I already knew I’d mark them with ‘a’. I joined Wanikani as a way to keep my nieces motivated to learn the language as their rival always just ahead of them. It keeps them interested. If the radical system is working for you absolutely go with it. Honestly in the internet age looking up a word is so much easier. You can just draw it and boom there it is. No flipping though seven thousand page books just here it is. This is a ‘your mileage may vary situation’ for sure, and I wasn’t thinking about people seeing these things for the first time. I’d recommend after you’ve gotten a feel for Wanikani that you do a bit of supplementary work outside the program and learn a bit about radical positions and the radicals that you are going to encounter the most. All of that said I think that Wanikani is really amazing and if you stick with the course and don’t falter you will come out the other end with a large vocabulary to pull from.


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