Level 60 🎊 and my study habits

Made it to level 60!

Like many before me, I would like to share some of my stats and my study habits in this post.

I started WK in June 2020. I had dabbled a little bit in learning Japanese before, but when the Corona lockdowns came, I decided to use that opportunity to make a more serious effort and found WK to be a great tool to learn kanji and vocabulary. Now that I have reached level 60, I’m really happy that I did it. I feel that it has contributed a lot to my Japanese learning (more on that below) and it helped me find this great community and its book clubs!

My Stats

Here’s my level up chart:

I discovered pretty quickly that 10 lessons a day was the perfect pace for me and I kept that up pretty much the whole way. I’m quite happy with my consistency :slight_smile:

The outlier (level 45) was when I put the lessons on hold when we were on holiday, I think. (Well-known tip for SRS systems in general: when a busy period is coming up, just stop doing lessons some time in advance - the review load goes down pretty quickly so you can hopefully continue doing reviews during the busy period and just pick up the lessons again when things quiet down).

Wkstats says my accuracy percentages are in the high 90s, but that can’t be right because I’m pretty sure I usually score between 80% and 90% in most review sessions. I use the Tsurukame app and maybe the way that it syncs periodically with the server messes up wkstats…

I’m really only learning Japanese for fun. I like being able to read Japanese books, manga and games and I like Japanese cinema and anime. And having some knowledge of Japanese for when we ever go there on holiday again is a nice bonus. That means I decided to focus my learning on understanding written and spoken Japanese and not so much on speaking it myself.

On to my study habits. I’m not saying that everyone should study like this (in fact, I would probably advise against some of these habits) but maybe someone can find some inspiration in here (or get inspired to find something better :wink:). I’ve broken it down by what I’m trying to achieve instead of by tool. Enjoy (or skip - whatever you want)!

Kanji and vocabulary recognition

First up is learning kanji and vocabulary and for this I use: Wanikani, of course :smiley:

Like I wrote above, I stuck to a schedule of 10 lessons a day and I usually do review sessions in the morning and evening. I have used the Tsurukame app on iOS the whole way. I really like doing my reviews on my phone and I like its user experience and how it handles ‘cheating’. The only big downside in my opinion is that it doesn’t show the awesome information on ‘patterns of use’ and ‘common word combinations’ that the Wanikani team started adding at some point.

Next to Wanikani, I also learn kanji and vocabulary through Jalup [1], but I consider that to be more of a side-effect (more on Jalup below).

Lastly, reading is also a great way to get familiar with kanji and vocabulary, of course. I sometimes make an Anki card if a word doesn’t seem to stick, but just reading a lot is a great SRS by itself.

Kanji and vocabulary recall

It doesn’t really match my learning goals, but I also do Kaniwani for kanji and vocabulary recall. It just seemed like the logical thing to do and I kind of like that it provides some extra repetition of the kanji. I’m not entirely sure whether it is worth the time investment, though :sweat_smile:. Since it uses the same vocabulary as Wanikani, some of the words are just not the most important words to spend study time on… so I just do 3 lessons a day and only if the review prediction is lower than 30.

When I do Kaniwani reviews, I force myself to recall both the reading and the kanji (including its radicals) before typing in the word. This obviously makes it harder and I’m having a hard time getting beyond enlightened on a lot of words because that kind of knowledge tends to fade away after a few months. I know that there is an argument to be made that there is no need anymore to learn how to write kanji (now that we all type on computers) but I like dissecting the kanji and I find that it occasionally helps me spot connections between kanji that I didn’t realise before (more on writing kanji below).

At some point I did find that I had made the mistake of thinking that the Wanikani mnemonics were good enough for Kaniwani too, but mnemonics that work well in one direction don’t necessarily work well in the opposite direction, so I was failing a lot of reviews and they started to pile up. Nowadays I make sure that I fill in a specific mnemonic for Kaniwani for every word.

A well-known problem with Kaniwani is that you never know which Japanese synonym is asked for. I solve this by adding Kaniwani hints as ‘synonyms’ in Wanikani, because synonyms that you add in Wanikani are shown in the prompt in Kaniwani. For example, for 容易 I added “(not with 簡 or 単)” as a synonym in Wanikani. Other examples are things like “(compound)”, “(kun)”, “(scientific)”, etc. I always add the parenthesis to distinguish from real synonyms.

Here’s what it looks like in Wanikani (left) and Kaniwani (right) using 降参 as an example:

Jalup’s Kanji Kingdom is also a method for practising Kanji recall. More on that in the next section.


Yes, yes, I know that we live in the age of computers, but I just really like handwriting, so I spend quite a bit of study time on it. This serves no practical purpose. I just get a lot of satisfaction out of being able to handwrite a nice kanji. Who knows, maybe I will pick up calligraphy at some point.

I use Jalup [1] for my handwriting practice: first Jalup’s Kana Conqueror deck for writing hiragana and katakana and now the Kanji Kingdom deck for Kanji. For those who are not familiar with it: Jalup’s Kanji Kingdom is a really weird system (in my opinion) for learning Kanji: the cards basically have English sentences on them (usually pretty weird sentences) with certain words replaced by kanji and one word replaced by a kanji reading (kunyomi or onyomi, that seems to be pretty random) + meaning. You are supposed to recognise the kanji that are shown so that you can read the sentence and to recall the kanji for which the reading is given. I’m not sure I would recommend it for learning kanji. I find that it suffers from trying to cram too many things into one card (recognising multiple kanji and recalling a kanji) and, as with other sentence-based systems, it sometimes feels more like I’m memorising sentences and not really learning to recognise the kanji outside of the context of these sentences.

Still, the extra exposure to kanji is worth something and (what this section is actually is about) I use the cards as a prompt to practice handwriting. It works well for this because Jalup shows the stroke order for the answers.

I use a bullet journal for writing the kanji because it has nice squares even though they are a bit on the small side for the more complicated kanji (I use one square per kanji character). It does fit a lot of kanji on each page (I have many pages filled like this):

Grammar and sentence structure

For learning grammar, my approach has been to read a lot: both books and websites about grammar as well as just reading a lot of Japanese.

I have also found the Jalup decks with sentences a useful way to get familiar with Japanese sentence structure and grammar, but Jalup doesn’t really explain much about grammar.

For grammar explanations, there are a lot of useful websites. I like Tae Kim’s guides, Curedolly on YouTube and Imabi for if you really want to go deep. I usually just read a section about a particular topic and if any of the example sentences seem nontrivial to me, then I might create Anki cards from those sentences.

The same goes for the (excellent) dictionaries of Japanese grammar.


With pronunciation I mean being able to read a sentence of written Japanese and getting familiar with the typical rhythm and pitch accent of sentences and words (that doesn’t necessarily mean being able to speak Japanese and holding a conversation). I like knowing what a language is supposed to sound like when I read it (particularly when I’m reading dialogue) so learning pronunciation is an important part of studying for me. I’m sure that it also helps with understanding spoken Japanese.

For me, this is the main reason for using the Jalup [1] card decks because they provide thousands of cards with sentences pronounced by a native speaker (the only downside being that it is all the same speaker so you don’t learn about different accents). When I do my Jalup reviews, I first read the sentence from the card and then try to repeat it without looking at the card, pronouncing it how I think it is supposed to be pronounced. Then I flip the card to check my answer and repeat (shadow) the audio from the card a few times if I think my pronunciation was off. I feel that this has improved my understanding of Japanese sentence structure and pronunciation immensely, so I’m happy with the results even though this is probably a really bad way to practice pronunciation because I really should just get a tutor if I want to learn proper pronunciation :wink:

Another way to learn more about pronunciation is to read along to audio books (which you can get via https://audiobook.jp/ for example) or to search Youtube for read aloud versions of Japanese fairy tales that you can read for free on the internet. See the Ogawa Mimei book club for some nice examples.

For some of the book clubs, there are also read-aloud sessions via Discord. I have never joined those so far, but I’m sure those are great as well.


I practice listening mostly by listening to Japanese podcasts, for example when I’m traveling to work or when I go for a walk.

I think it can be very personal what podcasts work for you because so much depends on whether you like the presenters, can understand them, like the subject enough to stay interested, etc.

The podcasts that work for me are:

  • Teppei’s podcasts (Nihongo con Teppei for beginners, Nihongo con Teppei Z, Teppei & Noriko).
  • YUYUの日本語 Podcast
  • Everyday Japanese - Sayuri Saying
  • 日本語の聴解のためのPodcast - あかね的日本語教室
  • Let’s learn Japanese from small talk!
  • EASY JAPANESE PODCAST Learn Japanese With Us!

These are all podcasts aimed at Japanese learners. Occasionally I also try to listen to podcasts aimed at native speakers, but these are often still too hard to follow for me:

  • ゲームなんとか (games)
  • 狭くて浅いやつら (games, movies, manga, anime)
  • ゆる言語学ラジオ (language)
  • 味な副音声 (food)

For me, playing games and watching films/series with a Japanese language track also counts as listening practice and occasionally listening to an audio book without reading along.

Some great threads for listening practice:


Reading is great! I really can’t recommend the book clubs enough that you can find here on the forum and on the Natively forums. There’s a book club for every level and even if you’re not sure if you’re ready to start reading yet, I highly recommend that you just try out the Absolute Beginners or Beginners book club. You’ll be amazed how quickly you will be reading actual. Japanese. books. It’s amazing.

Another great option is to delve into the books that have been read in the book clubs in the past because you will find threads full of discussion and ready-made vocabulary lists waiting for you. The Comparison of Book Club Picks thread is a great place to look for advice. Manga like Flying Witch or Aria are a great place to start.

As for how I read: getting physical books that you ordered from Japan is a fun experience (I ordered through amazon Japan a few times) but I read most stuff digitally via the Bookwalker app. The book clubs will usually have a link to Bookwalker and buying books through their site isn’t too hard (you have to go through the Japanese store, but they have a step-by-step guide in English here). The reader app on iOS is pretty okay (I read on an iPad) and has nice integration with the iOS built-in dictionaries for quickly looking up words.

I have the Dictionaries app docked to the side of the screen so that I can call it up with a swipe from the side of screen when I want to do some more dictionary sleuthing (more on dictionaries below). I also maintain bookmark lists in the dictionary app for every book that I read. That way I can easily see if there are words that I keep looking up for multiple books: those are the ones that are worth creating an Anki card for. And now that I am done with Wanikani, I’ve also started bookmarking words with kanji and/or readings that I am unfamiliar with. (And I also have a list of words that I find interesting for whatever reason: funny words or unintuitive meanings or typical Japanese concepts, etc).

Playing games in Japanese can also be fun (if time-consuming). I mostly play on Switch and for most games you need to buy the Japanese version if you want Japanese text although some games will automatically switch if you set the system language to Japanese. And then there are some games that simply have the option in the game’s settings, but I’ve only seen that in Triangle Strategy so far.

I also want to try out some visual novels sometime (for which there is also a book club these days), but I haven’t found the time yet.

Some great threads for reading:


I really like dictionaries, so to finish I wanted to share something about the different dictionaries that I use.

There are, of course, many great free dictionaries available online like Jisho, ichi.moe and Takoboto, but this section is more about physical or paid for dictionaries.

One of the first dictionaries that I bought was Kodansha’s Kanji Learner’s Dictionary. I bought the physical edition a long time ago and enjoyed using it because I think the SKIP system is a fine way to look up unfamiliar kanji. I’ve also bought the iOS version (twice) in the meantime and the newest version is available in a combo pack with their Synonyms and Usage apps (search for ‘New Kanji Learner’s Bundle’ in the App store). Their Kanji dictionary has meanings for the kanji and lists some common words in which each kanji is used. It’s a nice complement to Wanikani (and can give you a ‘second opinion’ on a kanji’s meaning). The Synonyms app groups kanji with a similar meaning, which can be a useful help if you keep confusing certain kanji, and the Usage app groups kanji with the same kun reading and shows how the kanji used can influence the intended meaning of the word. If you have all three apps, then you can easily jump between them via links in their listings.

The other dictionaries I use are in-app purchases in the (rather generically named) ‘Dictionaries’ app (the generic name makes it hard to find in the App store, but you should be able to find it if you search for one of the dictionaries below). I really like the app because it is easy to search for words, idioms, example sentences or kanji definitions and it is easy to switch between different dictionaries from the search results. It also has solid bookmarking functionality: next to bookmarking words, you can also bookmarks specific idioms or definitions and example sentences. I own the following dictionaries in the app (yes, I know that this is too many dictionaries…):

  • 三省堂 (Sanseido): this is a J-J dictionary that is aimed at students in middle school or high school, I think, so I find it quite suitable to my level. I use it as my starting point whenever I look something up. The definitions are pretty readable and often give furigana (actually little katakana) for the more difficult kanji. It also marks certain words with two stars (☆☆) when they are ‘common sense / societal’ words. I find that this is a useful categorisation because these are the kind of words that you might not learn as a beginner but that are in general use in more grownup language (newspapers, literature) so these are good to get more familiar with.
  • 明鏡 (Meikyo): another J-J dictionary that has easy to understand definitions.
  • 大辞林 (Daijirin): this is same dictionary as the iOS built-in J-J dictionary. It’s seems very complete and also has nice illustrations for some definitions (for example comparing a hammerhead shark シュモクザメ with a wooden bell hammer 撞木). 大辞林 is also the only J-J dictionary that I have encountered so far in which you can look up kanji meanings.
  • WISDOM and Genius: these are both J-E/E-J dictionaries and they are both pretty good with lots of example sentences that I find useful for studying. I think they are both about equally good and having them both is perhaps a bit overkill, although from time to time there are words that are only included in one or the other (both ways). WISDOM is the built-in J-E dictionary in iOS.
  • Kenkyusha’s New Japanese-English Dictionary: this is a very expensive but renowned dictionary and I’m kind of ashamed that I spent so much money on a dictionary, but it is great and very complete including lots of scientific terms and the like. Probably more complete than I will ever need. The example sentences are also top-notch, often giving plenty of possible variations. If you do decide to splurge, make sure you buy the right one, because J-E and E-J are separate (very expensive) purchases!
  • 小学館オックスフォード英語コロケーション辞典: this is a J-E collocations dictionary. It is meant for looking up English collocations, but it also works for looking up the meaning of Japanese collocations. This is occasionally useful when you are looking for the meaning of a group of certain words that is not listed as an idiom in the usual dictionaries. For example, you can use it to find out that a きつい結び目 is a tight knot and the entry will also show you the Japanese for other types of knots. It’s a fun dictionary if you like this kind of stuff, but maybe not very essential for looking up stuff (Deepl or just a Google search will work just as well).
  • NHK Japanese pronunciation: if you are interested in pronunciation and pitch accent, then this is a great dictionary. It gives the pitch accent for a lot of words, including a lot of conjugations and also has audio for all its entries. The notation that it uses takes a bit of getting used to, but I’ve come to really like it because it is a very concise way to notate the pitch accent and the devoiced vowels. I wish more publications would use this notation. Pitch accent is either notated as going down at a specific point or staying high up to the end (note that pitch always goes up after the first syllable if it doesn’t go down there, so that does not have to be notated) and devoiced vowels are indicated with a dotted circle. Here are some examples:

I’ve started using a similar notation on my Anki cards (like this, for example: た(し)かめ\る).

If you want even more information about dictionaries, I can really recommend this Tofugu article: The Best Japanese Dictionaries: A Guide by Kim Ahlstrom

And this forum thread: Monolingual dictionary corner

Moving on

I’m definitely going to continue my Wanikani reviews for now. I’ll probably try to burn everything but maybe my leeches will start to annoy me too much at some point.

I also plan to complete Jalup’s Kanji Kingdom (~800 kanji to go) and while I’m doing that I will also continue with Jalup Expert. I’m not sure whether I will continue beyond that (Jalup Hero). Jalup Master and beyond do not have audio anymore, so I’m not interested in those levels anyway.

Other than that (and the occasional Anki card), I don’t think I will do any other SRSs. I considered starting Torii at some point, but I think I would rather use my time to read more from now on.

[1] Regarding Jalup, the guy who made it decided to stop, but it seems the cards are/will be available via Nihongo

Wanikani was definitely a big factor in getting me this far, so a big thank you to the Wanikani team for creating the app and maintaining the forums! And also a big thank you to everyone here for being such a great community!



I suspect your question accuracy is in the 90s and your item accuracy during a review session is in the 80s.

Question accuracy = (correct_reading + correct_meaning) / (correct_reading + correct_meaning + incorrect_reading + incorrect_meaning)

Item accuracy is the number of subjects during a session that you answered both parts correctly on the first attempt, divided by the number of items during the session.

As you know, when you miss a question you will see it again in the same session (and are more likely to answer correctly). This is why the question accuracy stat is usually much higher.

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Huge congrats!!! We’re always happy to be a part of anyone’s journey, so thank you!

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Thank you for sharing so many resources!
Many things you have written resonate with my goal / method, I also just want to enjoy reading, & I have the same pace as you, so I’m very happy to hear that it can work :smiley:
I would love to try writing too, but decided not to prioritize it, due to family life. Very impressed by the time you’ve put in it, loving how it looks on your bullet journal!
Enjoy the reading, and pick up a Visual Novel soon, I’m only at my second one and really enjoying it, for the language and the voice over it’s a great experience, but also the format of the media in itself is really fun! It’s like watching a movie but you can decide that the hero does something stupid, and oops he dies end of story xD (reload your save and try again!)

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Yes, maybe it has something to do with that but I still have a hard time imagining that it would be quite so high (above 95%).

Thank you for your kind words!


Congratulations! And thank you for the dictionary write up, I’ll be buying a few of them I think^^;

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Big congrats and also from me thanks for mentioning the resources, will check them out. Best of luck with your further studies!

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Thank you! I just added two more dictionaries that I had forgotten to mention. Fun fact: the app actually thanks me for “purchasing many items” :sweat_smile:

And if you want even more info about dictionaries, check out this Tofugu article if you haven’t yet: The Best Japanese Dictionaries: A Guide by Kim Ahlstrom



I think I read the article at some point, but that was way before I began reading regularly so I should reread it now that I’m starting to actually have a consistent enough use for dictionaries to consider spending money on them:p

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iOS / paper-focused. Well, Android is mentioned at Postscript, but not really reviewed.

I am also interested in free websites’ review. I don’t think it’s reviewed seriously in Monolingual Corner.

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Yes, that’s a fair criticism. As I’m an iOS user as well, I can’t really say much about Android options, sadly. I also can’t really give a good review of the free websites because I only use them in rare cases where my other dictionaries don’t have the answers I am looking for. Maybe there a good rundown of websites here on the forum somewhere.