Is it ok to forget?

The SRS method that WaniKani uses is fairly effective at ensuring you don’t forget anything by forcing you to review items that you fail to answer correctly.

Once you start to ‘burn’ items you will probably have remembered them well enough to recall them every time, at that point you might want to review items you’ve burned.


I forget meanings and readings all the time.
Everyone does. (Except for @rfindley )


The entire point of SRS is to catch memories right before they’re forgotten. Obviously sometimes it misses, but then it works very hard to remind you what you’ve forgotten.

tl;dr - forgetting is a very good thing and ends up creating stronger memories.


I forget a few lessons before the first review session (the one that comes 4 hours after the lesson). In that case, I just learn it again and I usually get it right the next time. The more you go on with an item, the less likely you will be to forget it. That’s the magic of the SRS, it automatically takes your forgetfulness into account.

But it only works if you don’t cheat, of course, so… don’t cheat

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Learning Japanese everyday to me has almost a religious function. It keeps my ego in check ( I forget things all the time) and it reminds me there is so much I do not know (finding words I do not know in the wild on the reg).


Yep, that’s what the SRS is for! If you forget something, it drops you down a level so you get the item more often. If you get it right, you go up a level so you get it less often. Read about leeches in the forum for when forgetting becomes a problem (it’s too soon for you).

That said, it’s a good idea to focus on mnemonics and such (make up your own and put it in the notes if necessary) from the start, so that you forget less. In my experience, it can take a few levels to get “kanji brain” where you’re able to recognize radicals (instead of being overwhelmed by seemingly independent strokes). Separately, it can take a few levels to get used to using the mnemonics and memorizing efficiently.


Thank you very much everyone for your responses. I feel better now and I will do my 5 new lessons every day.



Think of it like this

I assume you want to learn to read in Japanese since you are on this site.
If you do 100 kanji lessons and remember as few as 10% of them, that still means you know 10 more kanji than if you did not do any attempt at learning at all.

In reality you will likely remember much more than 10%, and if you stick with it it will always approach 100%.

Dont treat Wanikani reviews as a test. No one is grading you. The reviews are only an evaluation to make sure that you get a chance to practise the things you need to practise more.

I see you have already purchased lifetime, so I assume you are dedicated and in for the long haul.

継続は力なり - Continuation becomes strength
Do a little every day and you will improve.

Welcome :crabigator:


The Wanikani review intervals are: 4 hours, 8 hours, 24 hours, 2 days, 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, 4 months. These intervals were set by wanikani creators because they believe that is when you are just about to forget something.

If you know you’re going to forget it sooner than that, then try reviewing them in shorter intervals. I use an Anki deck. Other people have a different flashcard system or they use pen and paper.

@archiearchaea’s suggestion to read about leeches is also worthwhile - when you’re at a higher level than 1.

Thank You :slight_smile:

Yes I also use Anki and add all the lessons that I just learn for more practice.

@cKhemmar Yes, it’s okay, it’s only human.

Some people have an easier time learning than others, but if you don’t try, then you have no chance of success, so don’t be afraid!

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I often see people say variations of this on here. Where does it come from? I understand the idea that it’s okay to forget, that people shouldn’t get stressed if they forget, that when you do forget the SRS will compensate etc, but the idea that forgetting is good? I don’t see how.

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Of course its okay to forget.

You have to understand that WaniKani is just a means to an end. Its designed to allow you to efficiently recognise Kanji and associated Vocabulary in the long run and many people lose sight of this.

The end game here is to be able to read novels, websites, manga and what not. You don’t truly ‘know’ a Kanji’s meaning or reading until youve seen it in its native script somewhere in a book or something, and can read it without even thinking about its meaning. This is irrespective of whether you’ve burned the item or not. Granted, the fact that you’ve burned it increases the chances that you come across and think ‘Oh i know this!’

A good example for me was 何. Sure, WaniKani taught me its meaning, and the various ways to read it. But it wasn’t until i kept crossing it in written text that I truly ‘understood’ it. Now, I dont even think about its meaning or reading when I come across it because I unconsciously understand it (until i come across its use in a way that I havent seen before). Too bad this can’t be said about most of the other Kanji yet -__-

Just like almost every other activity it goes through a cycle. 1. you dont know what you dont know. realise how much you dont know. 3. you know you can do it, but it takes effort and 4. You dont have to think about doing it. WaniKani takes you to step 3. Step 4 you have to achieve yourself outside of WaniKani.

Sorry for the wall of text! Id be interested to hear your thoughts.

Literally, I would be skeptical. Perhaps more an allusion to the actions one takes when forgetting, either consciously trying to build a strong memory using the mnemonic, or unconsciously, let’s say, through negative reinforcement from annoyance or whatever. I know for sure if I don’t try and I don’t really care about a topic, then completely forgetting is the easiest thing in the world, over and over again sometimes (e.g. the steps for re/setting the clock in my car).

it sucks to forget but it’s gonna happen… a lot.

Think of it this way. How much of your normal classes do you retain? As much as you may want (or not want) to retain it, there’s always going to be portions that escape your memory. Keep on learning, never stop. You will relearn the ones you forget and in the process you will forget something else, but that’s okay too. Just keep learning and learning.

In reality:

Noticing that you forgot something is good because it allows you to study it again.
Forgetting it is not okay.

Should you punish yourself just because you forget stuff? Of course not. Work to fix it instead.


everyone forgets words. Think of all the times you’ve messed up in your native language. People have suggested reviewing burned items, but my suggestion is just USE the language. read things you like reading. When you are reading it’s not failure to look up a word where you think you should know the kanji.

theres a weird thing about human memory where we need to see things in multiple contexts before we have them committed to memory. (Like how you might not recognize an acquaintance from school if you are at the mall)
I find that Wanikani is only the starting block. I then need to see kanji in contexts which aren’t bright magenta backlit screens. and the first time I see it outside wanikani I will think “Oh that’s… damn I should know this” and look it up.
This kind of casual work is the same kind of thing we do in our native languages ALL THE TIME.
so don’t worry

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Hello, I’m new to Wanikani but I’ve been learning Kanji for a while. I’ve been doing it on my own and reached a road block at 500 Kanji. What happened to me is exactly what you mentioned, I would forget Kanji and every time I tried going past 500 I would keep forgetting earlier ones. Wanikani helps with this because it keeps reminding you to study earlier Kanji rather than you going on your own learning and forgetting. With Wani Kani is impossible to forget because they keep bringing it up and if you keep forgetting it you will see the same Kanji a million times. It basically keeps track of stuff you forget until you don’t :smiley:

Don’t know if this makes sense? but so far it’s been a ton of help, just go at it every day :slight_smile:

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Nope I’m afraid you will have to commit seppuku if you forget. It’s the reason so few people reach level 60.