Level 60 from a lurker

I made it!

As I alluded to in my first post, Wanikani probably has a stronger emotional element for me than most. I’m a half-Japanese immigrant to the States, father was US Navy out of Yokosuka. I came over at 4 but it was still incredibly lonely. Add my depression into the mix, and I didn’t see any point in learning. I wasn’t going back and I could count the number of days in a year I ran into another Japanese person on one hand.

Fast forward to adulthood, my grandmother died of cancer just before the 2011 earthquake and a few years later, my grandfather committed suicide out of loneliness. I felt intense shame and guilt. I’d been back several time times but I never really made much outreach outside of that and the most I could say “hai”, “daijyoubu”, “genki desu”. I’d never been able to hold a full conversation with them. So I decided to do something about it. I enrolled in a class, signed up for WK and asked my mom to stop using English with me. That journey started in 2015.

Since then, unfortunately I fell off from the class and have severely neglected grammar (newbies: DO NOT DO IT. Knowing readings doesn’t make the rest fall into place). But I’ve gotten better. Leaps and bounds better. Return trips and talking to family brute forced some of the grammar. I could discuss politics with my uncle. Talk about promising Kickstarters with my cousin. Get one of my aunts to drunkenly break out into “moeagare Gundam!”.

My journey isn’t over though. During my almost SIX year grind on WK, I’ve had to tackle my depression, really start a career and more. I was stuck on two levels for almost a year a piece. My last return trip in 2019 solidified things for me though. I could read most signage without a problem (seriously though, FONTS! PLEASE! STANDARDIZE!) and I didn’t have to use family as a crutch. My resume is finally at a good place. I think I could make a permanent return home feasible but I certainly wouldn’t even be entertaining the option if I didn’t have WaniKani. For that, Koichi, team, I am eternally grateful.

For those still in the grind: Keep at it! Your reasons for self-improvement don’t have to be anywhere near as heavy as mine to still be valid and worthwhile. Hopefully, once this pandemic is over, I’ll be able to grab a late night bowl of udon with some of you in some back alley of Tokyo or Osaka!


oh wow! what an inspiring story! thank you for sharing it with us!


Cheers and congratulations!


Wow!!! Congratulations on this incredible achievement!! I have also been doing battle with depression while trying to learn Japanese so I can empathise with how obnoxiously, painfully difficult it is. Kudos and solidarity from me :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


Congrats on finishing. :smiley::tada:

I’ve found that WK is the anchor for my Japanese learning and one of the reasons I’ve been able to stick with it long term. Now, in the 50’s and almost done, I’m feeling confident enough to branch away from it and start working on the parts I’m not so good at.


Thank you for sharing your story, it will help inspire others and is a great way of giving back.
Good luck with your future endeavours.

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