Level 60 — どこまでもいこう

Essential tools

These are all of the tools that I feel were essential for me alongside WaniKani. All of them are free except for the textbooks.

Yomichan

(Disclaimer: Yomichan is no longer being maintained by its creator, so I will eventually be shifting to a fork of the program once that becomes necessary. It looks like TheMoeWay has forked it and will be rebranding it as Yomitan, so keep an eye on that project.)

Yomichan is an awesome free tool installed in the browser that displays a popup when you mouse over Japanese text, containing definitions and information from multiple dictionaries for each word, including some information on frequencies. The “Innocent Corpus” dictionary number indicates how many times the words occurred in the set of books, so the higher the number, the more common the term is. It even gives you audio pronunciation! You can also use Yomichan to instantly create Anki flashcards from words you find in the wild, complete with attached audio.

I can’t overstate how useful Yomichan is. It’s one of those tools that completely transformed the learning process for me and made it actually possible for me to start reading Japanese even at a very low level of language skill.

Here are some useful Yomichan additions:

  • shoui Yomichan Dictionaries Collection — A collection of additional dictionaries that can be added to Yomichan, including some monolingual dictionaries and frequency dictionaries. Extremely useful for helping you start to transition to using monolingual dictionaries. But even as a beginner, monolingual dictionaries are great for adding extra clarification if the English translation is lacking or unclear, because you can always nest multiple Yomichan popups and use Yomichan to decipher the Yomichan entry.
  • Yomichan JLPT/WK info addon — An addon that adds JLPT and WK level tags to vocab/kanji look-ups. Very useful for determining at a quick glance if a word or kanji is worth adding to Anki, or if I can just wait and learn it through WK later.
  • Yomichan Forvo Server — Allows Yomichan to pull audio directly from Forvo. Handy!

Anki

Anki is a free SRS that has been with me since the start of my Japanese language learning journey. It’s what I originally used to learn the kana! I’m currently using it to learn the vocab from my textbook, as well as learning additional vocab and kanji that I find in the wild. The UI can be a little clunky, and it’s not always the most intuitive program, but it’s incredibly versatile and integrates with many other programs, and additionally can be customized to do just about whatever you want it to do. It is useful for beginners, intermediate learners, and advanced learners alike, so I’ll probably still be using it years from now. I’ve personally found that Anki is more pleasant to use if you customize the CSS so that your decks look better. If you want to see what my decks look like, I’ve shared screenshots and more information about them here.

Here are some useful Anki addons:

  • Forvo pronunciation downloader — This addon makes it extremely easy to add audio to cards. Before I installed this, I had to remake preexisting cards with Yomichan if I wanted audio! It’s also great for adding audio to some words that Yomichan does not have audio for.
  • Japanese definition scraper — This addon adds Japanese definitions to cards. I’m currently not using this, since I have a Japanese dictionary installed on Yomichan already, but it’s handy if you’re working with a premade deck, or if you want to add a Japanese definition to your early Yomichan cards.
  • Kanji colorizer (stroke order diagrams) — This addon adds a colored stroke order diagram to my kanji cards. I wanted to have some sort of recall test in addition to the cards I already have which test recognition, so I thought I’d try forcing myself to memorize how to write the kanji. Ideally, this will eventually allow me to recognize the kanji on sight haha.
  • Card Retirement — This addon will retire cards based on the conditions set in each deck’s options (mine is set to retire cards if they’re set to come up next in a year or more). You can set it to run this daily automatically, or only when you manually run it.

ichi.moe

ichi.moe is a really handy resource for helping break down Japanese grammar. You can input phrases or entire sentences into it, and view them piece by piece all at once. This is the primary way I could read manga at all at the very early stages. However, it does sometimes make mistakes, so you have to be careful with it and trust your intuition. It’s also very easy to use it as a crutch, so watch out for that!

KaniWani

KaniWani is a companion website for WaniKani. WK only tests you on Japanese to English recognition, so KW tests you on English to Japanese recall. I currently have KW set up to only give me new items once I’ve guru’d them on WK, so that helps cut down on some of the review churn over there. KW’s fatal flaw is that it doesn’t have a very good way to manage synonyms, but I haven’t found this too annoying as long as you let yourself add synonyms rather liberally.

I have two scripts installed for KW:

  • KaniWani Audio — This script plays the original audio from WaniKani when you get a review item correct in WaniKani. I have WaniKani set to play audio by default after every correct review, and this does the same thing in KaniWani.
  • KaniWani: Disable Enter on Wrong Answer — This script won’t let you proceed with the enter key if you get a review wrong. I kept accidentally just powering past wrong reviews, which especially caused problems when I got marked wrong because of a synonym I hadn’t added yet. This script solves that problem.

Kanji worksheets

I know that many Japanese language learners don’t care about learning to write, but I’ve personally found that it has benefited me a lot and made me a lot more competent at both recognizing unknown kanji and reproducing them. My main method for developing a sense for basic stroke order and learning the basics of writing are these practice worksheets that one user put together, which are organized by WK level and can be printed directly off of your computer for free.

Textbooks

My primary resource for grammar and additional core vocab outside of WK was initially the textbook みんなの日本語 (Minna no Nihongo). I own the first core book in the series, 初級Ⅰ, as well as the Translation & Grammatical Notes in English, and two of the workbooks: 標準問題集 and 書いて覚える 文型練習帳. I also own the same four books for 初級2, the second book in the beginner’s series. I created a thread to share MNN-specific advice, including a spreadsheet I made which contains all of the kanji in the MNN vocabulary, sorted by WK level.

I really liked MNN, personally. I liked that it has you read in Japanese without even having the option of falling back on a direct translation for a lot of the text. I think it does a good job with sort of bridging between the absolute beginner phase and starting to read actual Japanese content.

After completing Minna no Nihongo 初級 1 and 2, I moved on to Tobira for intermediate Japanese. I also own the grammar workbook, though not the kanji one. I like Tobira so far, though I’m only a third of the way into it. I don’t feel that there was a large jump in difficulty after MNN, though I’m also coming at it from the perspective of having read lots of native material over the past year that is far more difficult than any textbook. Your mileage may vary if your only reading experience is from textbooks and graded readers prior to starting Tobira.

So far, I would say that Tobira has been useful for helping refine a lot of my slapdash knowledge that I’ve picked up by necessity through my immersion. The grammar workbook also has a lot of production practice, which might not be what everyone is looking for, but I think I’ve benefited from it despite finding it difficult in terms of the amount of time and mental effort it takes to produce sentences in Japanese.

I also own all three volumes of A Dictionary of Japanese Grammar. I’m currently reading them cover to cover along with the book club here! They’re an extremely handy reference, and I feel like I get more and more out of these books the more I learn.

Smartcat

This one is a translation resource, not a Japanese learning resource! Important distinction there. I felt compelled to mention it because it has been really helpful for me, but it’s obviously not necessary unless you want to full-on translate something and not just read it.

Smartcat is a CAT (computer-aided translation) software. It’s web-based, so Yomichan still works on it, and the way it splits everything up line-by-line is pretty helpful. It’s also free, which is awesome.

It learns from your previous translation choices, which is really handy for stuff like wrestling, which machine translation and dictionaries often struggle with. You can also upload your own glossaries (I made a word list from the NJPW English book, for example). The cost of it being free is that your own translations get used to train machine translation, but honestly with wrestling stuff, that’s almost more of a plus :sweat_smile:. Ultimately my goal is to prevent false rumors and such from spreading, and the better machine translation gets, the less that happens.

Something that’s especially fun about Smartcat is that it tells you what percentage of the text you’ve translated, so it’s really handy for tracking overall progress and splitting up the workload into more manageable chunks, and it’s good for the part of my brain that likes to watch numbers go up, haha.

Userscripts

I modified WK pretty heavily with userscripts. Here are the ones that I used:

WaniKani userscripts that I think significantly boost my learning:

  • Keisei Semantic-Phonetic Composition — This script adds a phonetic compound information section to kanji and radical pages, lessons, and reviews. It adds some information that can be really helpful for remembering kanji readings and for guessing the readings of unfamiliar kanji. This is, in my opinion, probably the single most important script to have. I highly, highly recommend it.
  • Jitai Font Randomizer — This script randomizes the font used for radical/kanji/vocabulary in reviews. It’s really helpful for exposing you to a variety of different ways that kanji can be written, which is useful if you ever attempt to read handwritten Japanese or any digital fonts that appear different from WaniKani’s default font.
  • WaniKani Pitch Info — This script displays pitch info for a given vocabulary reading.
  • WaniKani Rendaku Information — This script adds rendaku information to the lessons information for each vocab, trying to explain why it does or doesn’t rendaku.
  • WaniKani Lesson Filter — This script lets you specify the number and type of lessons you want to do. It also allows you to reorder your lessons so that you can study radicals or kanji before completing the previous level’s vocabulary. Like all reorder scripts, it’s a dangerous tool, and must be used very carefully. I use it to space out my kanji lessons so that I’m learning a few kanji a day alongside vocab lessons instead of learning kanji in huge bursts, which I’ve found to be harder and more demoralizing. Spacing out your kanji lessons also lets you avoid having to chew through a huge backlog of vocab lessons at the end/beginning of a level, since you can space those lessons out as well.
  • Self-Study Quiz — This script lets you quiz yourself on WaniKani items outside of the review schedule without affecting your SRS times. I installed it for just one reason, which is to get a little more practice on new items immediately after doing the lessons. This script is more robust than WK’s own extra study mode (at least at the time of writing this post), because it does more to test your listening recognition and recall than WaniKani does on its own.

Scripts that I’ve found useful to have:

  • Double-Check — This script allows you to change your answer if you made a typo that WK didn’t accept, or if it accepted an answer that was actually wrong.
  • WaniKani Heatmap — This script adds a heatmap to the bottom of your dashboard that tracks how many lessons and reviews you did each day, and how many you have coming up. It also provides several other statistics.
  • WaniKani Workload Graph — This script is an addon to the heatmap script that displays a graph of your review workload over time, as well as a graph of experienced level difficulty (the error rate per level).
  • Leech Training — This script gives you extra practice on items that you’re struggling to learn, including mixing in similar looking kanji that you might be mistaking for other kanji.
  • Niai Visually Similar Kanji — This script is handy if you’re getting any kanji mixed up with each other because you can compare them side-by-side without leaving your reviews page.
  • WaniKani Unobtrusive Kanji Stroke Order — This script has stroke order diagrams for kanji as well as vocab, which is convenient if you’re trying to write a word that exists in WK because you don’t have to open all the kanji pages separately in order to reference the stroke order. It also doesn’t take up any space when you don’t need it.
  • Progress Percentages — This script calculates the percentage of kanji you have learned for each JLPT level, Joyo grade, frequency bracket, and various other sources, and displays it at the top of the dashboard. I’ve found it helpful for putting my WK learning in perspective.
  • Expected Daily Reviews ⁠— This script calculates the number of reviews you should expect in a given day with the current SRS distribution and displays it beside your review forecast. The number fluctuates throughout the day as you do review sessions and lessons, but it’s still a good rough indicator of your current workload.
  • Lesson Hover Details — This script shows you how many of your lessons are radicals, kanji, or vocab when you hover over the lessons icon on the dashboard. I downloaded this one because I’ve been spreading out the kanji lessons over time instead of doing a huge batch at once, and this helps me keep track of things.
  • Burn Progress — This script adds a progress bar at the top of the dashboard which shows your overall progress through WK. It tracks the percentage of items seen, as well as the percentage of items burned. Simple but nifty!
  • Tofugu Latest — This script adds a section to your dashboard with links to the most recent articles on Tofugu.com. I really enjoy Tofugu’s articles, but don’t really have the time or energy to constantly check for new ones, so this is very handy!
  • Wanikani Leaderboard — This script adds a leaderboard to your dashboard where you can track people’s level-up progress. I installed this so that I could add my friends to it.
  • Item Inspector — This script can display several tables of WK items, which can be configured by the user. The one I was most interested in was the leech table, so I decided to give the script a try. I was curious to see how many leeches I actually had, since I don’t feel like they cause me that much trouble. I never have any issues with my apprentice item count getting out of hand, but it’s nice to have this list of items for a quick reference.
  • Remove Useless Panels — This script removes the panels for recent unlocks, critical condition items, burned items, recent community topics, and WaniKani news at the bottom of the dashboard page. I installed this because I now have a lot of scripts that display actually valuable information on this part of the page, and I didn’t like scrolling past a bunch of clutter that I never looked at anyway.
  • Level Duration 2.0 — All this script does is show at the top of the dashboard how long you’ve been on a level. Handy!
  • Overall Progress Bars — This is another script for adding a WK progress bar to the top of your dashboard. This one has a bar representing each level, with different colors representing the SRS stages of all of the items in that level. There are three display options, and these two are my favorites:
  • WK Extra study mover — This script allows you to move the extra study UI (or hide it completely). At first, I wasn’t really bothered by the position of the new feature, but after having it for a couple weeks and ignoring it completely in favor of the self-study userscript, I started to feel like it was taking up valuable real estate, so I used this script to move it to the sidebar instead.
  • Dashboard Progress Plus — This script adds visual indicators of SRS stages of items, as well as a “90%” kanji box, plus gives you a popup with item information when you mouse over the items. I installed it pretty much entirely for the last thing, because sometimes I’ll prelearn the kanji a day or two before officially learning them, and this lets me check my memory by simply mousing over the items without having to open them in a new tab.
  • Forum: IME2Furigana — This script allows you to add furigana to forum posts.
  • Forum: Details Keep Open State — This is a script for the WK forum that simply keeps the details tags open while editing. Just a small quality of life thing, but really helpful if you’re someone like me and are prone to making long posts, or editing wiki posts on a certain pro wrestling thread :sweat_smile:.
  • Forum: Emoter — This script lets you upload your own custom emotes! I used it to import some favorites from a wrestling discord server I’m in.
    unbridled_joy

Useful resources (WaniKani and WaniKani-Forum-related):

I link to this all the time on the forum, and if you haven’t already read it, please check out the Ultimate Guide to Wanikani! An essential read, in my opinion, if you want to make the most out of WK and reduce the likelihood that you will burn out.

(Disclaimer for the below stats-related sites: recent changes to WK have made some review information impossible for third party sites to retrieve. Hopefully this will get fixed soon, but if one of these websites isn’t working as anticipated, that’s probably why.)

WaniKani Statistics lets you view your account’s statistics, including how long you’ve spent on each level and your overall accuracy, as well as individual items that you’ve learned and other statistics.

  • WKStats Projections Page — This script adds a projections page to wkstats. I thought it was interesting to see the estimated time it would take me to reach level 60 if I continue at my current pace.

Wanikani accuracy and review pacing shows your accuracy by percentage for each WK SRS stage. It’s a neat reference to see how well things are sticking, and to get a rough estimate of how many reviews you should expect to do each day based on your accuracy and current pace.

Nihongo Stats is a stats aggregation tool that a WK user put together for Japanese language learning apps (Wanikani, BunPro, Anki)! It’s similar to wkstats, but has a different presentation and offers some graphs and data that wkstats does not have. My two favorite parts are the review accuracy and total items graphs. I don’t think other tools have offered visualization for this kind of data before, so it’s cool to see!

WaniKani History is another WK stats site with a heck of a lot of stats and other information!

BookWalker is an ebook store that frequently has a bunch of free manga and other books available for download. This is a great source for native reading material, especially thanks to the BookWalker Freebies Thread, which contains lists of highly rated free books that are currently available on BookWalker. The lists are configured to pull content tags for the books as well as their Natively difficulty level (if they’re in that system), which makes it significantly easier to find free books that might be of interest to you.

The Absolute Beginner’s Book Club is one of several regular book clubs on this forum. It’s a great way to get started with reading native media because other forum users can provide grammar and vocab support, and the club structure offers deadlines and motivation. I started with the 大海原と大海原 book club, and it was a great experience!

Once you’ve started to dip your toes into reading, the read every day challenge on this forum is great motivation. I’m currently doing the spring 2023 challenge. It’s fun to see what other folks are reading, and it’s a good place to share your own progress!

The daily senryu thread on this forum is a lot of fun, and it’s a great way to learn random new things about Japanese and/or Japanese culture! It took me a while to really warm up to the style of senryu poems to the point where I felt like I could understand and appreciate them, but now I’m quite fond of them. Don’t be afraid to just jump in and try your hand at translating the latest poem! I have a compilation of most of my senryu translations from this thread on Notion.

I also want to give a shout out to the Let’s Durtle the Scenic Route thread. It’s not really a direct learning resource for WK specifically or for Japanese in general, but I’ve found it to be a really pleasant little community. I found it shortly after I started actively visiting the forum, and it really ended up shaping the direction my WK journey has taken. The more speed-oriented challenge threads are a lot more active and popular than this one, and as a beginner, I was really intimidated by that and felt very out of place, so I was relieved to find a group of learners who were not trying to rush through everything.

This one is really more of a resource for reading my own study log and has debatable utility beyond that, but I started a pro wrestling thread last year with all sorts of info, if you see anything in any of my posts and get confused by the wrestling terminology or the acronyms or are just curious and want to try watching something new. It has been great practice for me because I can post individual questions I have about grammar and get help, haha, as well as share things that I find interesting or cool.

I also highly recommend starting your own study log on this forum! I’ve gotten so much use out of my own. I’ve found it to be a wonderful way to keep track of new resources, record my progress, receive advice and encouragement from others, and make friends. It’s really helpful to have something keeping you accountable, and I genuinely enjoy posting in there about the things that bring me joy during my studies, as well as my struggles.

Useful resources (non-WaniKani):

Natively is a free website for Japanese learners to find and share books that you’re reading. There are some Goodreads-type features, and users can additionally grade books based on difficulty. I have a profile there, though my page is very unexciting because I haven’t read many books yet! It’s a super handy website for identifying books near your level.

Notion is a note-taking and productivity app which I only recently discovered thanks to this cute template that bellynx made, and I totally couldn’t resist trying it out :sweat_smile:. I really like it so far, though! Click that first link to browse my Notion page.

昔話童話童謡の王国 is a website with a collection of 450 Japanese children’s stories with audio. I had fun listening to these as I read along for the listen every day challenge last year. They’re pretty accessible if you’re somewhere in the N5-N4 range and are equipped with Yomichan.

A Year to Learn Japanese is an in-depth guide to, well, learning Japanese that I really appreciate because it lays out different paths and gives multiple options without trying to claim that any one is the right way. I don’t really reference this guide much, but I did work through the pronunciation section last year and feel like I benefited from it a lot.

The Japan Foundation overdrive library is a digital library for US and Canada residents which consists of broad genres such as manga, literature, Japanese language, art, history, culture, society, cooking & food, etc. There are 1,800 titles total, and they’re completely free to read! Many of these books aren’t in Japanese, but they do have some that are. Last year, I enjoyed reading Japanese–English Translation by Judy Wakabayashi.

Book Manager | ッツ Ebook Reader is a tool for reading epub files in the browser so that you can take advantage of Yomichan while reading. I haven’t done a lot of actual book reading yet, but just from trying it once, I could immediately see how useful this is, and am anticipating that I’ll be using it a lot going forward!

Mokuro, which I found out about thanks to this thread, is a program that takes manga images and converts them into an HTML file where the text can be selected. Since the HTML file opens in the browser, you can then use tools like Yomichan to parse digital manga text without having to manually type out the words and sentences you want to look up. This speeds up the manga reading process considerably! I tried using it on shupro (週刊プロレス), but unfortunately it wasn’t very good at figuring out if the magazine text was vertical or horizontal. It worked great when I tried it on a manga, though! The main thing I was angling for was a tool that would make it easier to pull the entire context sentence with the word when adding words to Anki so that I don’t have to retype the whole thing, so I’m looking forward to experimenting more with Mokuro in the future.

  • ChristopherFritz wrote a nice bit of code that will screencap your BookWalker manga for you, which is excellent news for those of us with extensive collections of BookWalker freebies who might be interested in using Mokuro to facilitate reading them.

Language Reactor is a browser extension that works with Netflix and YouTube and lets you watch content with dual language subtitles, a popup dictionary, precise video playback controls, and other neat features. I haven’t tried it out a whole lot, but I was pretty impressed with what little I’ve seen of it!

Game2Text is a program that launches in the browser and basically lets you use Yomichan on other applications, such as RPG Maker games, for example. This is another thing that I have barely tried! But it seemed handy when I tested it (on the 大海原と大海原 video game), and again, anything that makes it easier for me to pull the entire context sentence with the word when adding words to Anki is a useful tool for me.

There weren’t really any existing resources out there that I could find on how to get into translating pro wrestling, so my friends and I sort of had to figure it all out on our own. Because of that, I ended up creating this guide to learning Japanese for pro wrestling fans in the hopes of helping pave the way for whoever comes after me.

What my daily study routine looks like

Full disclosure: I am currently unemployed and don’t have family commitments, so I have a lot more time to study than most people. Learning Japanese is currently one of my primary hobbies, along with watching Japanese pro wrestling, so putting this much time into Japanese is neither desirable nor achievable for many people :sweat_smile:.

I spend quite a lot of hours immersing myself in Japanese each day. A lot of this time is passive immersion that I don’t count as studying, though I am steadily picking up more and more in my passive listening. Sometimes I have partial translation, sometimes I’m completely on my own. It’s a lot of (unsubtitled) spoken Japanese as well as written Japanese on places like twitter and interviews and blog posts and such.

For active study, I have sort of a three-pronged approach:

WaniKani

  • I did at least three sessions a day, once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once at night. On most days, I would break this up into smaller sessions if possible (it’s easier to do 20 reviews in one sitting than 50).
  • I did a consistent number of lessons every morning. For most of WK, I did 9 vocab and 3 kanji, but I reduced the number in the later levels, since there are less radicals and vocab items, and I have more leeches now. When I ran out of kanji, I would do 10 vocab a day until I level up (except in later levels, when I would do fewer). This resulted in a pretty even two-week level pace. The first day on a new level, I would do all radical lessons, and for the majority of the levels, I would generally do a few kanji and some vocab on those days, too.
  • After doing my lessons, I would drill myself on the new material with the self-study quiz.
  • I fell out of practice with using the leech training script, but it would probably help me now, because I’ve picked up a lot more leeches over the past year! When I realize I’m confusing two kanji, I usually take a moment to compare the differences and figure out what was giving me trouble (the niai visually similar kanji script is helpful for this).
  • I’m also doing KaniWani to practice recall. I’m more lax with the SRS intervals on this, but I try to do my reviews at least two or three times a day. My KW is set up to only give me new items after they’ve reached guru on WK, so there are usually a few days of delay between me initially learning them and then practicing them here.

Minna no Nihongo

(See the Minna no Nihongo thread I started for what my study routine looked like for that textbook!)

Tobira

  • Tobira is currently my primary form of grammar acquisition. I’ve picked up a lot just through exposure with my translations, but my understanding is very slapdash and surface level, so I’m using Tobira to fill out my understanding of intermediate grammar. I tried to complete one chapter each WK level (about every two weeks), though the chapters have more content than the MNN chapters did, so I have to push myself a little harder to keep up this pace with Tobira.
  • The first thing I do for each chapter is add the vocab for the 読み物 reading to Anki while I’m still finishing up the previous chapter in the workbook. I’ll have several days to run through the cards so that I’m ready to start the next chapter immediately. Then I’ll work through the chapter in this order:
  • Read the first half of the grammar section (covering everything that shows up in the 読み物).
  • Read the beginning of the new chapter through the 読み物.
  • Skip to the 内容質問 section and do the 読み物 questions.
  • Run through the vocab for the 会話文 reading in Anki while doing the 読み物 reading and related exercises.
  • Read the second half of the grammar section (covering everything that shows up in the 会話文).
  • Read the 会話文.
  • Do the 会話文 questions in the 内容質問 section.
  • Read the rest of the chapter and do any remaining exercises that aren’t conversation practice or kanji-related.
  • Do the workbook exercises for that chapter.
  • I try to make at least some progress on the textbook every day. Some days, this means more work than others! No matter what else I have going on, though, I always make sure I at least clear my Anki reviews.

Reading and listening/active immersion/translation

(See my first post for how I got into doing fan translation in the first place.)

Most of my reading/listening practice, or active immersion, or whatever you want to call it, is translating in-ring promos and post-match comments for Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling. Slowly but surely, the quality of my work is improving, and I’m making a lot less mistakes. It is, however, a huge time suck with pretty much weekly deadlines (if I want to stay ahead of the next show), so I have to sort of fit the rest of my non-TJPW immersion around it whenever there are lulls in my translation workload.

I recently calculated my average translation speed, and it factors out to be about 600 characters an hour (at least for pro wrestling. I imagine it would be slower for a domain I’m not familiar with, haha). This includes the initial rough draft of the translation, researching the words and grammar I can’t figure out, watching the video and following along with the transcript, posting my questions in the pro wrestling thread, and then implementing edits and doing the final polishing.

So standard TJPW shows are about 2-4 hours of work, press conferences tend to be 4-8 hours (depending on if they have one or two parts), Korakuen shows are about 9-10 hours, and big shows like Wrestle Princess are like 15 hours. I’d estimate that maybe an average month’s worth of shows is about 20 hours (minimum) of translation work for me.

This is my current process for doing the translations. I’ve refined it a lot since the early days, thanks to having better tools now and also a better grasp of the language. Here is basically how it goes:

  • I start by watching the TJPW show. Live if possible, if not, then I’ll wait for the VOD to come out (usually takes three days) before starting the translation.
  • If it’s a live show, I’ll wait until the next day for the transcripts to be up. If it’s a VOD show, I can get started right away. I’ll go to the TJPW results section of shupro’s (週刊プロレス, known primarily for their weekly pro wrestling magazine) website and view the detailed write-up of the show (this is only available if you have a subscription). They typically transcribe the post-match promos there, and all or most of the post-match comments. I’ll copy everything I want to translate into a word document.
  • Then I upload the raw Japanese text to Smartcat. Smartcat splits it up sentence by sentence, which makes it a lot less overwhelming to parse. It also has its own machine translation, which is more literal than DeepL, so sometimes it’s worse and sometimes it’s better. I have a wrestling glossary I’ve added, so it’ll bring up those suggestions when those words occur. I also usually paste the transcript of the dialogue into DeepL as I work through it, mostly for suggestions for some more natural ways to word some of the sentences.
  • I’ll work through the text sentence by sentence, spot-checking with Yomichan as needed. Often Yomichan won’t be enough to understand wrestling-specific uses of words (ぎゃく)エビ(がた)め, anyone?) or other slang the wrestlers use, so I’ll have to try googling in Japanese. I’ll search for “[term] プロレス” or “[term] 意味”, stuff like that.
  • I keep a sort of master document of all of my translations (well, they’ve gotten long enough now, my master doc is split into several files :sweat_smile:) along with the original Japanese so that I can quickly go back through and search for previous instances of a certain word or phrase, or find examples of how I translated something in the past. I’ll highlight all of the lines in the original Japanese that are particularly confusing to me as I go through it, then un-highlight them when my confusion has been resolved.
  • When I come across words which contain kanji that I already know, I’ll add them (along with their surrounding sentence) via Yomichan to my main immersion deck in Anki. I decided to focus on words with kanji because I thought it’d be the best way to reinforce what I’m learning here on WK, since I only have limited energy for flash cards, and I often have an easier time memorizing kana-only words naturally over time without needing SRS. New cards get funneled to an inactive deck that I only add cards from when my regular Anki workload is low enough (so, when I’m not actively trying to learn textbook vocab).
  • I’ve also started adding kanji (and the words which contain them) that I come across during my translations which aren’t in WK. For these kanji, in order to learn them more thoroughly, I’m forcing myself to memorize how to write them. I didn’t add every kanji I came across that isn’t in WK, but now that I’ve reached level 60, my plan is to add anything I don’t recognize to Anki.
  • Once I’ve finished the rough draft of the translation, I’ll watch the post-match interview videos on twitter (TJPW typically posts them there, so I’ll save all the links as I see them), following along with the transcript. Sometimes watching the video clears up my questions, because I’ll realize that there was a mistake in the transcript, or seeing the line with context will make it make sense to me suddenly, though my Japanese often isn’t good enough for me to catch a whole lot. For the VOD shows, I’ll watch them along with the transcript on my initial viewing, which is an interesting experience because I’ll catch a lot more of the dialogue that way.
  • When the draft for the comments are done, I’ll share them in the pro wrestling thread, along with all of my questions. This is a vital step! rodan has been very patiently helping answer all of my questions and give suggestions for how I can improve the translations, which really helps bring them to that next level and make me feel confident about sharing them.
  • I’ll edit the draft, implementing all of rodan’s suggestions to the best of my ability, and doing any additional smoothing over.
  • Then I’ll copy and paste the translation into a blog post on my wordpress blog. It takes a little bit of time to get everything formatted and tagged correctly. I’ll come up with a few bullet points to mention in a tweet promoting the link to the translation, then publish the post along with the tweet, and that’s it! It’s done!

Currently, pro wrestling is the only domain that I am actively mining additional vocabulary from, since it’s obviously my main priority right now. I do plan on eventually moving on to mining words from manga and novels and other sources, but I have more than enough on my plate with wrestling, so that’ll have to wait until the wrestling words have slowed to a tiny trickle, and I’ve gotten through the backlog of cards on Anki. I’m planning on ramping up my Anki workload now that I’ve reached level 60 on WK, so hopefully I’ll be able to actually clear that backlog soon. Also, believe it or not, a lot of the wrestling vocabulary shows up in other places, including my textbook, manga, and even senryu poems. And yes, putting in the time in Anki has absolutely paid off here.

Advice

The most important unit of time in your studies is one day. Not one year, not one month, not one week. A day. That’s when it all happens. You can set broader goals, like what you want to get done in a week or a month or a year, but you better have a path to getting there that takes it one day at a time.

In my experience, a combination of these two things is the secret sauce for maintaining motivation:

Consistency

You have to show up and put the work in every single day. There will be days where you don’t want to do it. On those days, you just have to remind yourself that your past self decided you wanted it, and your future self will regret it if you don’t, so you just have to do it.

It’s important to find a study method that you genuinely enjoy doing. Efficiency is only as good as your ability to actually do the work. An inefficient method that you will actually do is better than an efficient one that you won’t do.

Passion

You have to want it. You have to want to not only know Japanese, but you have to want to learn it. If you don’t find ways to enjoy the actual process of learning, you won’t get very far. You have to learn to appreciate every small victory, every single word you recognize, every complicated sentence you’re able to understand, every new grammar point that you internalize.

You have to learn to appreciate your failures, too. Every failed review and dictionary lookup is a learning opportunity. Every question you ask is facilitating your own understanding. Someone who is able to understand Japanese at a high level has probably made more mistakes than 99% of learners. You have to make the mistakes in order to acquire understanding.

Having a passion for Japanese media is fantastic motivation, but is in itself not enough, in my experience, to keep you going. I’ve had days where I really hated pro wrestling. You will have an easier time pushing yourself to tackle harder stuff, though, if you truly love the content, so follow your interests as far as they will take you, but don’t be afraid to take a step back if you start to get overwhelmed.

Sometimes my passion for wrestling carries me through a really tough day of studying or translation. But when wrestling is just making me sad, my passion for learning Japanese is what carries me through completing my translations and continuing my studies.

Tips on pacing

A lot of advice I’ve tried to give on this forum over the past couple years pretty much boils down to: “Please be kind to your future self.”

Any new lessons you do in WaniKani will come back as reviews hours, days, weeks, and then months later. If you overload yourself with lessons, it can be hard to keep up with them when those reviews come back in large batches again and again. Even if you’re going full speed, WaniKani is not a sprint, and it takes dedicated, daily work to make it through the program.

When you plan today’s workload, think of yourself six months from now, who might be tired, demotivated, sick, or busy. Plan your regular study schedule around the work you can easily complete on a daily basis, not the work that you can complete with maximum effort in ideal circumstances.

I had several points where I almost gave up, and all of them were due to external factors in my life that were entirely out of my control and impossible to predict or plan for ahead of time. What would have happened if I had a huge clump of extra reviews to do on one of those days? I honestly don’t think I could have done it.

I personally recommend using a reorder script (Lesson Filter is what I used, though Reorder Omega can also get the job done) to distribute the kanji lessons throughout the level, and doing a consistent number of lessons every day. This will give you a nice, even workload with a predictable number of daily reviews that you can schedule the rest of your day around. Then all you have to do is just focus on getting your daily work done each day, and one day you will just be at level 60.

I don’t recommend doing the so-called “fast levels” at maximum pace. I don’t recommend going maximum pace just in general, but especially not right at the end. The last few levels of WK are the least useful. They are also the hardest! The kanji and vocab are rarer and harder to memorize. You don’t want to rush through them. There’s no benefit to learning them fast, and you will just add a lot of additional stress and fatigue to your day because you’ll be dealing with a massive volume of reviews each day that are also more difficult than the usual fare. The level 60 badge is not worth rushing to the finish line. You don’t want to go too hard and burn yourself out on SRS entirely.

For me personally, just over two years was about the perfect pace to complete WK. I was able to learn a solid base of grammar and additional vocabulary (both from my textbook and from my immersion) within that same time frame, so by level 60, I was in a great position to go off on my own and read and watch Japanese content and learn new vocab and kanji outside of WK’s framework.

Translation as a study method

Would I recommend taking up translation as a study method? Honestly, no. I would recommend it in these specific cases: 1) you have an interest in it, 2) there’s a strong need for it in your community, and/or 3) you’re feeling bored or restless with just passively reading/watching native media and are looking for a challenge. But if you’re very efficiency-minded, you’d probably be better off spending your time just practicing reading/listening/speaking/writing etc. without attempting to learn translation.

Spending all of this time translating instead of merely reading and learning to process sentences in Japanese inevitably slows me down. Translating requires you to understand every single sentence, even the ones that are far above your level, and even the ones that are poorly phrased or riddled with typos or improperly transcribed.

But as much stress as it has brought me, it also brings me a lot of joy, and it makes each week an adventure. It’s a path I chose because I didn’t want to give up being able to watch Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling with my friends who aren’t proficient in Japanese. I chose that over fast-tracking my own Japanese skill. Unlike with a medium like manga or a video game or whatever, I didn’t exactly have a choice in the timing. I couldn’t afford to wait.

So I guess if there’s any advice in all of that, it’s that I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this path to anyone else, but it definitely was the right choice for me. Sometimes I think you have to make choices that let you actually use what you have now at this point in your journey, even if it’s inefficient and therefore pushes back that theoretical endpoint of fluency.

Learning two languages at the same time

This is another thing that people generally don’t recommend doing, but, well, it worked for me! I would recommend reaching at least the upper beginner stage in one of your languages before starting another, though. You want to have the foundation down.

The main con to learning two languages at once is that it will take you longer to progress in both of them than if you were focusing on one at a time because you simply have less time to devote to each of them each day. You’ll need to be very good at time management. You’ll also need to be patient. Japanese has a very long beginner phase. It will be even longer if you are learning another language at the same time. If both languages are important to you, the cost might be worth it, but you need to be pretty dedicated to keep it up without getting too frustrated or discouraged.

I’d recommend using different tools for each language. My Spanish was intermediate level before I started learning Japanese, so I was able to work on my Spanish just by reading books and listening to podcasts. I made the choice to forego SRS entirely with Spanish because I wanted to save my energy there for Japanese. I think this was a very wise choice!

Spanish is an easier language for native English speakers to learn, so it was encouraging to see my progress there while Japanese was much more slow-going. I could put a lot less time into Spanish each day and still see huge gains in comprehension, compared to Japanese.

Balancing your studies with non-Japanese hobbies

I don’t have any advice for how to manage your hobbies and keep up with Japanese at the same time because I, uh, didn’t. I was just fortunate (or unfortunate) in that my primary hobby was in Japanese, and I had to do the hard work of learning the language if I wanted to keep up with it.

So I guess my advice here is that if you really want to get good at Japanese, you’ll have to put the time into it. That means taking time away from doing other things. You will have to decide for yourself if learning Japanese is worth making that sacrifice.

I did take the time to learn how to do embroidery. You can learn how to do it, too, if you want.

What I wish I’d done differently

Start earlier. That’s really it. I don’t think I could have gone faster no matter what method or tools I used, just because I only have so much time/energy that I can put into this each day.

What I wish was different about WaniKani

Overall, I’m very happy with the WaniKani program as it was when I completed it. Things might look very different in a few years if WK goes through with adding thousands of additional kana-only vocab items, which would have disrupted my process considerably. But that hasn’t happened yet, so I will try to focus on the program as it is currently.

WaniKani’s greatest strength is the robust community of third-party developers who lovingly craft userscripts and excellent tools that work in conjunction with the official product. This is also WK’s greatest weakness.

I really wish that all of the most popular userscripts were actual official features so that there isn’t a huge scramble after every major script-breaking update. The script that I most wish that WK would implement is the Keisei Semantic-Phonetic Composition script, which basically entirely transformed the WK experience for me.

In my opinion, learning semantic-phonetic composition is one of the most valuable things that I have learned from WK, and it’s a skill that I have carried forward out of WK into the real world when encountering new kanji.

I think it actually enhances the existing system of teaching radicals → kanji → vocab if the radicals you learn are actual components that inform the meaning/reading of the kanji. I’ve thought about how I would implement it according to WK’s own system, and I guess I’d have semantic-phonetic component kanji introduced as green items (distinct from blue radical cards and pink kanji cards), and have them work like radicals in that you need to guru them to unlock the kanji based on them, but unlike radicals, you’d get quizzed on their reading, too. Or something like that.

I don’t mind WK’s made-up radicals when they’re just pieces of kanji or heavily distorted existing kanji, but I think it actually hurts your memory when WK teaches a radical as something different when it is a real existing kanji. I’ve just faced some frustration, personally, when I can feel WK’s own mnemonic system working against me because I’ll memorize their mnemonic instead of the actual kanji meaning, and then have to try to override that somehow when learning the actual kanji later. Plus, for the complicated kanji with loads of WK radicals, I basically give up on the mnemonics anyway, especially since usually the radicals are bunched together into an existing kanji that is a phonetic or semantic component, and it’s easier to just memorize that.

It just feels like incorporating the semantic-phonetic stuff is kind of a no-brainer? It seems to genuinely gel really well with WK’s established methodology, and there’s a lot of research backing it up, plus a highly successful script out there that gives WK some idea of basic implementation of the concept that clearly is already working for thousands of other people, so why not incorporate it into the site officially?

People can download kanji decks on jpdb or on Anki or make their own from scratch, but I don’t think anything out there replicates the experience of WK + the Keisei script.

Something that’s interesting to me is that it appears that the Keisei script has actually encouraged a lot of WK users to further study this. Multiple reviews for The Kanji Code on Amazon specifically mention finding it because of WK! It’s an aspect of kanji study that doesn’t really seem to get discussed much outside of here, I guess maybe because it doesn’t seem to be taught a lot in schools, and many self-taught Japanese language learners online don’t like WK’s method and think that kanji should be learned entirely through vocab encountered in the wild, which sort of runs contrary to this approach.

I’ll probably be buying that book within the next few years myself.

In my initial draft of this post, I was going to give a pretty glowing recommendation for WaniKani. The program truly did transform the learning process and make learning Japanese feel possible to me. Now, I’m a bit hesitant. If WK continues to make radical changes to their system, like adding thousands of kana-only words, the path that I followed to get where I am today might no longer exist. Maybe it would still work for some people, but I don’t know if it would have worked for me.

But regardless of what WaniKani itself looks like at any given moment, I can say that I recommend the WaniKani forum! We’ve nurtured a really wonderful community here, and I’ve met so many folks here who are incredibly kind and helpful, and who are so generous with their time and resources.

The forum has honestly been a more important resource for me than WK itself. It’s a common joke on here for people to talk about wasting time on the forum instead of studying, but I’ve never personally felt that at all. Every thread I’ve participated in has helped keep me feeling excited and energized about studying Japanese.

I feel like I learn the most either when I’m explaining something to someone else, or when I’m getting corrected on something myself, and this forum offers plenty of opportunities for both.

I actually learned one lesson early on here that I think the WK team could also learn: don’t mess with someone’s individual study routine. People will use tools in ways that you don’t expect them to. Some of those ways will feel very backwards to you. You can offer advice, but straight up telling someone “don’t do that” (or suddenly changing a feature that people were accustomed to using) generally won’t be well-received. This might sound strange, but someone’s study routine is often a deeply personal thing, and having sudden change forced on it, or being told that something that has been working for you is actually wrong, can feel really disorienting and upsetting.

People are amenable to change if they’re given good enough reasons for it and the flexibility to choose for themselves, but I think the choice has to come from within. None of us are perfect learners, and we shouldn’t expect others to follow a perfect predetermined path, either. You can warn people, but let them make their own mistakes. People will either make it work for them or they won’t.

My plans going forward

Am I going to try to burn everything that is still left in my review queue? Yes. Why? I dunno, I just like the thought of it. I’m setting that as a soft deadline to hopefully reach N1 by. The goal is to be fully done with formal grammar study and WK and be totally on my own with native material and Anki by that point.

But the WaniKani part of my language learning journey is largely over. I’ll be here doing my reviews, and of course I’ll be hanging around the forum, but I have no plans to ever unburn any items or reset. The time I spend on the app each day will gradually dwindle away, and I’ll be putting that time into immersion and other things instead.

With KaniWani, my plan is to keep going with it for another year, then stop doing reviews there in May 2024.

I’m hoping to finish Tobira this year, and then move on to the Shin Kanzen Master books for N2 and above. I’m also hoping to keep going with the Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar book club until we’ve finished the last volume. The timing of that should coincide nicely with my upper intermediate and advanced studies.

I’ve tentatively set aside five years for studying Japanese, of which I am a little more than two years into. I’m not planning on trying to get another job in the meantime, though if an opportunity arises, that might change. I’m treating it sort of like being back in school again, except without any classes or tuition or a formal degree. If I can pass the N1 by the end of that, I’ll consider it a success.

We’ll see what happens after that, if I manage to make it that far.

I intend to keep going with the Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling fan translations as long as there is a need for them. If the company hires an actual qualified professional, I’ll gladly step back and let that person take up the reins. It’d be nice to be able to translate some of the optional fun stuff, like shupro articles and videos and all of that, but I don’t currently have time to do that.

I’m going to keep updating my study log, so if you want to see how it all works out for me, come visit that thread!

Cake

My parents volunteered to make me a cake when they found out that I had completed WaniKani (after I explained what it even was), so behold! My mom baked it, and my dad decorated it (he was especially proud of the texture on the crabgator, haha).

Acknowledgements

First, I want to extend my deepest gratitude to @rodan, who was one of the first people to greet me when I first joined the forum. From there, they went on to become an amazing mentor, my translation tag team partner, and a genuine friend. They objected when I referred to them as the kindest stranger I’ve ever met, but it’s true! They’ve poured countless hours of their time into helping me over the years, and I don’t think I would have been able to stick this out if it weren’t for their support. No one else in my life has ever shown me so much kindness and generosity. I don’t know if I can ever pay them back, but I strive to at least pay it forward in whatever way I can.

I also want to thank @valkow, who I believe is the sole other person besides rodan who has liked every single one of my study log entries.

And @VikingSchism and @Daisoujou, who joined around the same time I did, and who are I think the only other surviving members of our “class” of WK users who didn’t abandon their study logs and give up on Japanese.

And @Shannon-8, @MissDagger, and @Beyond_Sleepy, who’ve been there for most of my journey, and whose encouragement has been very helpful for me.

(I ran out of @'s, so I’m going to just list these next handful of names :sweat_smile:)

I also want to thank midnightblue, taiyousea, Akashelia, prath, and emiri_learns_jp who joined the community more recently, but who have been very kind to me in the time that they’ve been here.

If you ever liked or commented on any of my study log posts, or sent me any sort of support during these years, I love you. Seriously. You don’t know how much your kindness has meant to me. This forum was there for me during a time when I had very little support, all while I was trying to do a very hard thing, which is becoming fluent in a second language. I’m so, so grateful for each and every one of you.

Thank you to @chongo for being so kind and sending me this sticker!

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