Is the WK system flawed?

I’m level 35 and been plugging away at this for a while. I’m starting to realize that I’m forgetting a lot of my burns. Even pretty easy ones that I should know, when I encounter them in the wild (I live in Japan) I find myself confusing their readings with more recent kanji learned via WK.

Obviously I know you have to keep using the kanji learned here, but I’m just concerned that it’s not really sticking as much as I thought it was. I read manga and text my friends in Japanese, but a lot of vocab just never comes up in everyday life.

I’m considering starting another account so I can continue with this one but still get the review of going back from level 1. I don’t wan’t to pay for another account though, so …

Any thoughts? How do you keep up on burns? And why doesn’t WK let you review them? I’d love an option where it just takes like 200 burns (amount chosen by me) and you just study those, as a refresher, with no consequences.


I have the same issue with forgetting burned items. Fortunately there are indeed a few ways to review them.

You can reset individual items to Apprentice 1 by going to the items’ page and clicking the “Resurrect” button at the bottom. Then they’ll appear in your review queue as normal.

You can also use this Self-Study script: [Userscript] Self-Study Quiz. With this, you can quiz yourself as much as you want with customized quizzes. You can study burned items, leeches, everything you’ve ever learned, etc.

WK has plenty of issues, many of which are fortunately somewhat alleviated by userscripts.


I wish there was a “no burn” option where your items can be stuck at the level before burn and will just appear every few months after you get them correct. For an alternative, aside from what was previously mentioned by jeffersonlam, you can also use websites such as kaniwani and kamesame. These are free and you plug your API key in. They are the opposite of wanikani and work to recall kanji but I still found it extremely useful in consolidating kanji and only stopped because I decided to return at 60. You can sort it by only burned items on these sites as well.


There is a chrome extension that can change the english text on a webpage to your already learned Kanji. This has really helped me keep practising the little I already know!!


Are you talking about Wanikanify? Unfortunately this isn’t a very accurate extension as far as inputting the correct kanji, but I agree that it can still be a useful tool as long as you know some of it will be inaccurately placed.

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It does. Just unburn them. Or use the self study script if you don’t want to do that.

But remember, just because you burned something doesn’t mean you’ll never forget it. Just like with anything related to learning, if you don’t encounter it regularly you’ll eventually forget.


I use an app called “Flaming Durtles” for my Wanikani reviews (its on Andriod, idk about iOS) and on here, you can do reviews of specific levels of kanji any time you want to, sortable by what kind of content you want to study. That could be super helpful; you can sort it by only burned items if you want to.


I wish I did this instead of resetting entirely to 60


SRS may be extremely useful, but there’s still only so much it can do. If you never see a word, you’re likely to forget it even if you review it every four months. WK often feels like I’m learning a word for the sake of learning a word. I’m fairly sure some of my leeches will only be squashed when I encounter them somewhere so my brain stops treating them as useless information.

You could try to write them down I guess, so knowing the words actually becomes useful for something. I can’t be bothered myself at the moment so :man_shrugging:


I am personally very happy that wanikani assumes a level of sufficient knowledge after you get an item to burned. If it’s not going to show up after that, I don’t really need to remember it. When it does show up after I forgot it, I look it up. I believe this is much more time efficient (not to mention fun) than having to keep reviewing all the 8000+ items on wk ad infinitum.

Encountering words and phrases in various, natural contexts like that also makes them easier to remember for me. I’ve squashed many a leech by simply encountering them in this or that book or show.

If at any point, a word shows up that I burned and don’t remember, but would like to reinforce with more srs, I can un burn it. I don’t honestly see myself doing that though, since I believe in the power of reading. :wink:


You are not remembering them fast enough. You should work on this issue.

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This is a hint that its hardly essential vocab. These naturally dont stick untill youve consumed a considerable amount of content with it. So don’t sweat it.
Try and think of wanikani as simply an introduction, the real learning comes after as youre using the language. Spending more time on WK than WK has dedicated is suboptimal use of your time.

Dont fall into the completionist trap that just because its on WK you need to ace it.
Vocab is not added by frequency or usefulness, so be careful not to spend an unnecessesary amount of effort on acing them.

Starting another account sounds like a complete waste of time you could have used on much more beneficial learning activities.
I’d honestly just say “read more” and maybe read more challenging litterature than just manga. I can guarantee you will see more uncommon kanji and vocab that way.

It’s really the same in English. Literacy with uncommon words is often a result of exposure from technical or more refined litterature along with news resources. Cartoons naturally dont use difficult language, therefore they wont teach you uncommon words.
No one learns these words before they are competent with the base language, and wanikani will simply not make you competent in the base language on its own.

The system isnt flawed, youre just expecting the wrong things from it.


I wish there was a script to add 1 extra rank to wanikani - like ultra-burn where each burned item appears once more a year later. That way, you wouldn’t have to reset everything to apprentice 1.

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Is the WK system flawed? Yes.
Have I learned more kanji (+ vocabulary) and reviewed them better than I otherwise would have? Also yes.

For me, personally, I’m working on exposure… and recently I changed my goal to reaching about Level 35… then taking a break (only doing reviews)… and focusing on mainly encountering items in the wild and in more concentrated study for an extended period…

According to the WK stats page, you’re at the level where you could be at least minimally acquainted with (or knowledgeable to varying degrees of…) 95% of N3 level kanji, 95% of a 5th grade kanji reading level, and ~90% of various news source kanji. It’s probably time to have those (and your manga/texting) be the main focus of your studies (and non-WK vocabulary).

The other thing I’m thinking of personally doing is (eventually) setting up anki for my burns that need review. I’d be typing them up into anki and able to have more control (and initiative) about how often I’m prompted to review.


I think its harsh to just label wanikani as ‘flawed’. It is a great method, and for many of us here the best method. Does it have room for improvement? Sure, but most everything does.

As for remembering stuff, reading is probably sufficient, if not there are the core 10k lists to fill in the gaps.


Wow totally didn’t know about the resurrect feature, thanks for that!


Oh man, I’m waaay past N5 kanji and so are you. The kanji on that test was virtually nonexistent.

I think you’re right about on focusing on already learned. The gamification has a way of making me want to progress more than learn, and I’ll try to curb that feeling from now on.

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So, I have played two games in Japanese so far and read a small number of texts/books before I found WaniKani. I spent a LOT of time drawing kanji into Google Translate before I could get the kanji I wanted, before writing out an entire sentence to get the meaning of what I was reading if I didn’t know (often I would know the sentence but I didn’t know the kanji readings). It was this process that lead me to WaniKani in the first place, after spending a lot of time on

So, for me, it is not imperative that I remember the exact meanings of every vocabulary word or even kanji, as long as I can find it when I do contextual studying without aid through books and games and TV and so on (note; I do not count the dictionary as aid, I find that the process of looking up a word helps to make it stick and after a while you will not need the dictionary). If I am in any position to advise on anything, I would say to adopt the same mindset.

I say this for two reasons:

  1. Effectiveness - going through all your burns again and again with custom scripts is never going to be as effective a learning method as encountering these words “in the wild”, you have sort of already proved this and I have long suspected it will be the same for me. The good news is as long as you know just one reading of a kanji you can look up the word and the chance of it sticking the more you encounter in the wild is far greater.
  2. Your time - At some point in your journey you will have to learn from these “wild” native resources by way of consuming that material without any aid. You can do it now, as a non-fluent, and learn from the experience despite it not being as ‘fun’ as when you have some form of aid. Or wait until you have rinsed every study book and learning resource out there and then dive in. One of those roads is shorter than the other, and arguably not as grueling, but certainly takes just as much effort.

This is just my opinion, and everyone learns differently, but I’m certain that this method would work for everyone. So many famous Youtubers who are great at Japanese (i.e. not Chris Broad) learnt through immersing themselves in native material and spending hours going through them to drill in meanings and nuances.

I hope that helps in some way, happy to discuss with anyone that has thoughts on that because I would also like to learn from other people’s experiences! :bowing_man:


Lol… haha, I meant to type N3 and went back to edit that just after reading your response.

YES, the gamification urge in this department is STRONG, lol


Haha makes sense! Thanks for your response :smiley: