I need some help

Hi guys, I need a bit of help. I’m 66 and am almost through with level 4.Do you guys say you have levelled up when you have done the required amount of Kanji or Kanji and Vocal at Guru level.
When people talk about doing 10 lessons a day I assume that means 10 blocks of five Kanji/Vocab. As an older person I find remembering all the vocabulary difficult so seem to be going very slowly. Should I concentrate on doing the Kanji as most important or must it go hand in hand with the vocabulary. It’s a lot easier to remember 40 Kanji than 125 Vocabulary words. Any thoughts or encouragement is most welcome. Thank You.


I say I have leveled up when a new level’s radicals are unlocked. So, when the dashboard goes from saying “Level 4 progress” to “Level 5 progress” that means you have leveled up.

I’m pretty sure that 10 lessons a day means 10 items a day, so 2 blocks of 5. I do kanji and radical lessons as soon as they’re unlocked and then I do outstanding vocab lessons approximately 20 per day (4 sets of 5). Learning 125 new words per day is a lot and probably not sustainable unless you have quite a lot of time to devote to reviews.


You level up when you have 90% of kanji at guru level (all but 3 of the kanji). 10 lessons means 2 blocks of 5 lessons. The vocab really help me to remember the kanji, and they provide additional readings.


I would think for most people that would mean learning 10 items a day, not 10 sessions of 5 items.

Levelled up means the system has bumped you up to the next level, which will happen for most people before they have finished off all their vocab, unless they are doing an awful lots of lessons per day.

I’m 50, and after much trial and error have found that learning 1 radical, 3 kanji, and 8 vocab (using a script to allow me to have more than 10 items in a session) is the most I can reasonably handle each day.

By the way, are you aware that you can adjust the number of lessons in one session anywhere from 3 to 10 items? It’s in your Settings, under App; Lesson batch sizing.


Since vocab isn’t unlocked until the component kanji are guru’d, is it even possible to be “caught up” with vocab when you level up? Don’t you immediately unlock vocab associated with the kanji that you just guru’d that allowed you to level up? (Unless I’m missing something, which is entirely possible as I’m fairly new here.)


Thanks for the reply. When I said about the 125 vocabulary I meant that they are learnt by the time you have done the required Kanji in order to upgrade. Does this mean there is always a backlog of vocabulary or do you get the vocabulary learn before progressing with a new level Kanji. I hope I’m being clear enough, I’m a bit dim.

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Yes, I think you’re right - I’m going so slowly, and using a lesson filtre, that I don’t even start any of the vocab for a level until I’ve already moved up to the next, so my memory of ‘vanilla’ WK is hazy :sweat_smile:

The way the default lesson ordering works is this: you get items from the lowest level you still have lessons for, ordered radial/kanji/vocab.

So you’ll never get new level radical lessons till you’ve finished last level vocab lessons unless you use a script of some kind or have your lesson order set to ‘shuffled’.


Ah, I see. But you would still get moved to the next level on your dashboard before completing those newly unlocked vocabulary lessons, so I guess in my mind you have already leveled up.

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Yes, quite so.

You attain level 6 (for example) when you Guru all kanji from level 5. You can only do that after Guruing the radicals. Once level 6, you’d carry on getting vocab lessons for from level 5 until such time as you’d done them all, when you’d then start seeing level 6 radicals :slight_smile:

Level is only linked to Kanji completion, which is intrinsically tied to Radical completion. Because nothing ties level to vocab, the lesson ordering system makes sure you stay on the straight and narrow and don’t neglect the vocab, hehe.


There will always be a backlog of vocabulary on level up, but you can reduce the number by spreading the kanji lessons of the second batch (the ones unlocked after guruing the radicals) over several days, instead of doing them right away. It will lengthen your levels, because you only level up 3-4 days after you’ve done lessons for 90% of the kanji, but you also have more time to spread your vocab lessons.

You can achieve this by setting lesson settings to random (or ascending level then random, if you want to do last level vocabulary before touching the new level items). I personally have switched back and forth between settings to do radicals after doing last level vocab, then doing kanji and new vocab randomly over the next couple days, until the radical guru. Then switched back to ordering by type, to do the newly unlocked kanji first, then the vocab over the next couple days. This means that over the next couple days kanji from the first batch will guru, and I can do those vocab, too.

Or you can install a userscript like [Userscript] WaniKani Lesson Filter, in order to pick and choose what kind of lessons to do thst session. I am mainly using this method now to do radicals first whenever I leveled up (or the next morning). I usually don’t do too well remembering a lot of kanji only, so I mix it up with 8 kanji+12 vocab per session, only once a day, until kanji run out. Then I just do vocab, obviously.


So am I correct in thinking that,
You first do all the level radicals.
Then Kanji appear, as you progress through the Kanji, relevant vocabulary arrive.
One you have got the required amount of Kanji to Guru level you Level Up.
No new material will arrive until all the vocabulary is at Guru level. Then new Radicals appear.
If this is correct I’m fine with that. I don’t want to be able to keep levelling up with out doing the vocabulary.
Hope I made myself clear.
Cheers, Geoff.


This guide is good to have a read through if you haven’t already, there’s a lot of good information.


Kinda correct.

Depending on your lesson load and style of learning it is very possible you will do kanji and radicals at the same time. At the lower levels it might be all radicals first but after level 10 it drops off. As soon as you level up you will be able to learn the radicals and unlocked kanji for the new level but it’s up to you and your leveling style.

It’s entirely possible to follow a different level up style and still have no pending vocabulary by the time you level up. But that usually requires fast style of leveling.

Although the wait times are set the method in which you study wanikani is really up to you.

btw have you read the official and unofficial guide to wanikani. I think that would clear up a lot of your questions. Here is the link to the unofficial FAQ which contains links to the official guide and FAQ.

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Not exactly. The new level radicals will be in your lesson queue, even before you finish all the vocabulary. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter at all whether vocabulary is at guru level or not.

When you level up, you will get new lessons in your lesson queue. These lessons include:

  • vocab associated with the kanji you just got to guru;
  • new level radicals;
  • first batch of new level kanji;
  • first batch of new level vocab.

Standard settings will introduce the lessons to you in that order. Note that you may have unguru’d kanji left over from the previous level, these will guru within the first couple days of the new level, and add some more lessons of the first category.

Thus the standard lesson settings (Ascending Level, then type. You can check these in the App settings on the main WK Dashboard page) will have you do the vocab lessons from the previous level first, before you get to the new level radicals, then kanji, then new vocab.

Next step is you guru the radicals, and new kanji, depending on when you did the lessons for those. The radicals will unlock the second batch of kanji. Only after you have done the lessons for these, are you on your way to the next level. The kanji will unlock more vocabulary.

Because vocabulary is not a prerequisite for a level up, you can read many stories on these forums of people who have used userscripts to basically ignore all vocabulary lessons. These will then sit in the lesson queue basically forever, while the user gurus the radicals and kanji in order to progress through the levels fast, while keeping workload low. In the end, many users tend to realize that skipping the vocab was not such a good idea, mainly because many kanji have multiple readings that are only introduced with the vocabulary lessons.


For me, ten kanji+radicals or fifteen vocabs is the daily limit. If any kanji are involved at all, ten is the limit.

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Hi! I’m 58, and I have also been an adult educator at the community college level. People misunderstand what our brains do as we age. Older people do tend to have more trouble memorizing, but we generalize MUCH better. So, a younger person could spend far more time studying for a biology quiz, because they have no idea how to study. An older person can go through the same material and know exactly what to study. So, don’t give yourself such a bad rap.

Also, doing something like learning Kanji, is a fantastic exercise for your brain. Enjoy the process, and do not compare yourself with others. I have seen many students who brag about all sorts of things, but they often aren’t the ones getting the good scores.

I’m really enjoying Wanikani. I have wanted to learn Kanji, and was put off by all the ineffective ways people were trying to teach me. I’m thrilled to be here, and I don’t care what speed everyone else goes. I’m finding it fascinating, and I’m understanding far more about the Japanese language.

Good luck on your Wanikani journey.


Hi Cierann,
Thanks for your reply. It’s great when someone gives such a positive post. I have been trying to learn Japanese for 18 months, partly as a way to keep an old brain active. I am finding WaniKani and KaniWani really helpful in my quest foe Kanji knowledge. I also don’t really care at what speed I go as long as I see progress that’s OK. I am a bit sceptical of those people that say they have learnt 2000 kanji in three months. Most must be brilliant or a bit liberal with the truth. I have seen a guy say that he finished Genki 1 in three weeks. Hmmmm.
Any way once again thanks for your reply and I wish you lots of luck and fun in your Japanese journey.


You actually can’t burn anything until 5 months in, and even then at the fastest you can go, it would be another two months until you have 2000 items burned. Again, If you were going full speed… So, yes, I guess you should be skeptical because it’s impossible.

I find it interesting that you find it easy to remember 40 kanji, I find it a challenging to remember more than 20 kanji at a time. Once the vocab is release and I see them in words I can remember eaiser. Further, To me whether you know the kanji separately is irrelevant, if you don’t understand how they work as actual words. I actually wish that Kanji didn’t come back after you guru them. Like, I understand this word, I don’t care if I called this school instead of study, it means both depending on the word!

If you don’t care about speed. I would agree that 10 lessons, or 2 blocks of five kanji/vocab is definitely the way to go, and absolutely vocab should not be ignored.


Well, there are other ways to learn kanji besides WK…

I know the abstract meanings are difficult for me as well, but think of it this way: WK offers some vocab, but not nearly all vocab there is to know for any given kanji. When you meet a kanji in the wild, in a vocab not offered on WK, the abstract meanings will help you intuit the meaning of a vocab, where context can further help you understand the exact meaning. And of course, practicing the main reading more, will help you with easy lookup of the word in question.

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