Just got past level 5. Feeling a bit overwhelmed

Hi everyone! Newbie(?) here looking to share my experience and maybe get some advice. I’ve been using wanikani for about 5 months now and what I’ve found difficult is not memorising the information, it’s actually distinguishing between visually similar kanji or vocabulary with similar meanings.

I’m only at level 6 now and there’s so much vocabulary and kanji that ive ended up getting things wrong because I keep confusing them with other kanji and vocabulary. I mean, I still get around 80% correct each time I review, so technically I am moving forward and it may just be a case of me lacking confidence, but it feels like all of the stuff I have remembered is kind of scattered around in my brain… How can I keep pace with all of the vocabulary and kanji that i’ve learned? Is it more of a case of just trusting the process?


80% of accuracy is actually pretty good. Sometimes when I’m tired and aaaalways when I have just learned new kanji my accuracy drops to like 60%.

There are some useful user scripts that might help like the ConfusionGuesser and the Similar Kanji ones. Also, if you’re not using KaniWani or KameSame, it’s worth giving it a try.

Other than that, there is this app I use for practicing handwriting called Kanji Study and I think this helps with retention. But it’s kind of hard to make time for WK + KameSame + Kanji study all at once.

Edit: Also, don’t be afraid to slow down a bit if you need to. This can’t become a burden to you!


As a person studying Japanese since I was in medical school, I can tell you I definitely relate to your problem. I think, inevitably, what’s happening is related to the frequency of how often you see the kanji and are utilizing the mnemonics. I used to teach kiddos (my degree is in elementary education), and I found when my younger ones kept struggling to learn a concept, it was often because the way I was teaching it wasn’t sticking as their learning style didn’t match my teaching. So, what I would often do, is break them into groups and each day of the week was a different learning approach to the EXACT same information with a little new info sprinkled in. It’s called scaffolding and wow is it helpful to us as adults.

I say all this to say, what you might find the most beneficial, the thing that will likely help with retention the most, and the thing that will likely not only help with distinguishing the kanji but also sealing their meanings in for you, is to figure out what your particular learning style is, then modifying the studying done on here into your learning style. So, if you’re a kinesthetic learner (learn by writing, molding, shaping, etc.), as you do lessons, draw out the kanji at the exact time you study it and then review it. If you’re a verbal learner, you need to turn on the japanese pronunciations and not only repeat what they say out loud, but practice saying it as close to what they say as possible. If you’re a pure visual learner, then the method they have in place is perfect. Also, something that may likely help no matter your learning style: visualize an actual picture for each particular kanji, then in the notes section under each kanji’s meaning or pronunciation, simply write what that picture is (so for example, the “meet” kanji which is represented by the radicals for two, hat and private, could be two people meeting under a large hat in private discussing ways to take over the world; imagine them in a lab as they meet complete with gloves, crazy goggles etc. You then incorporate the onyomi and kunyomi readings for the word and you caption the picture world domination). This system is great for helping you distinguish these things as you incorporate the radicals, you create the image, and you scaffold the information all at once.

Finally, repetition. I cannot stress this enough as an adult. If you don’t regularly repeat this information, no matter how many things you do to remember it, you will forget it. We learn as adults almost purely through repetition as our brains are not near as plastic and ready to learn as when we we’re five. So, I’d highly recommend taking time every day to work through this information so that you’re touching it at least once a day. If you’re already doing that: great! If not, Japanese is an extremely difficult language to learn without constant reinforcement. It’s why I’m on my eighth year of studying it without having mastered more then 1000 kanji (joined this site a month ago thus why low level but I’ve been studying this language for years). I didn’t buy into the whole repetition thing and would often let weeks go by without any japanese being spoken, written or read. You absolutely cannot do that and expect to learn the language. It takes daily dedication, and if you wish to master it sooner, as frequently as you can dedicate if you’re not living in the country.

Is it work: absolutely. Will you want to quit sometimes: yep. But, as they warned when you started this program, it takes alot of work to learn a language when you don’t live there. So, you have to give it as much time as you can spare, and make it an enjoyable hobby that you’re willing to dedicate alot of time to. I motivate myself to keep learning it now by finding things to read that I can only read in Japanese. It makes the motivation continue daily because I have a reward that can only be reached by learning enough japanese to enjoy it.

Hope this helps!


I’m also pretty new, and got the same sort of feeling around the same time. I think because we’re still in the area where WaniKani is still ramping up, so at first it felt super easy but we’re getting more and more stuff thrown at us. But I think you’re on the right track in just trusting in the process. You’ll start to be able to recall more than you think you can, because its in there, you just don’t have strong connections yet, but that’s what this practice is all about. And if you get something wrong, you get something wrong. If there’s stuff you’ve learned but you feel like you didn’t actually get it down, you’re probably gonna get stuff wrong a bunch. That just means you don’t know it yet. But that doesn’t mean you’ll never know it. I’m stilllll struggling with goddamn 人 pronunciations, and sometimes it feels like I’m never gonna lock them down. But when I look back I’ve actually gotten a lot of the 人 vocabulary into master or higher so far. So its mostly in my head, and in reality I just keep getting 人気 wrong (and I blame Velma from Scooby Doo because I keep hearing her say “jinkies” and so I want that to be the reading).

But yea, 80% is pretty decent I’d think. Keep it up.

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80% is apparently the “sweet spot” for SRS programs anyway. I would say just read all of @MrTBag 's post as it’s very informative. Good luck and remember, consistency is key! :smiley:

Consistency is key for this. If you do reviews everyday eventually those tough ones will get into your head.
If you’re having trouble with similar looking kanji, maybe try learning to write them. It helps me a lot for distinguishing the little differences

Good luck!

do not get upset about it.
please work on items to differentiate them. problematic item comparison is also nice.
it will take time…


I often still have trouble distinguishing similar kanji. I think it has to do with being a native English speaker because we read by looking at the overall shape of words rather than the individual letters.When you get one wrong It helps to open up a Japanese dictionary (like Jisho) type in the kanji you assumed it was, and look at them both side by side. Its often just one radical that’s different. Its just about retraining your brain to look at the radicals instead of the overall shape of the kanji.


I do the same, except I open a second WaniKani window and use the search function.


Have you been on wkstats.com? I find that having your learned items laid out in a neat list gives you a great overview on your progress so far. Plus, as @Arukuma pointed out, you can just compare the Kanji you’re having troubles with. I had problems with the radicals for husband and jet for instance, then I made my own additional mnemonic to distinguish them. Worked well.

On a side note, I was/am really insecure about my accuracy. Guess I don’t need to be? Are there general rules when it comes to that?


If a mnemonic doesn’t work for you, try making your own. That’s been what has helped me the most.


If you feel overwhelmed, hold off on lessons for a while and focus on getting your apprentice items down to a low number. Keeping this goal in mind can motivate you to pay attention to some of those tricky vocabulary words.

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