Level 60 - how I keep myself motivated for almost 2 years

Hey guys!

Just as the title says, I’ve finally managed to reach level 60 after just under two years. I can rarely keep myself motivated for a long time and so reaching level 60 is nothing short of miracle for me. While I don’t visit the community very often, I still have you guys to thank for the tips and insights. With this post, I hope I can give something back.

So how did I do it? Let’s start from the very beginning - why I decided to start learning Japanese
It’s simple. I love the Japanese culture, as I’m sure most of you also do. Anime, manga, games, music, and anything in between. But I have been consuming those media for years before I started learning Japanese for real in late 2019. My turning point was when my friend invited me to go on vacation to Japan. Since we bought the airplane ticket months in advance, I thought I could use this as a motivation to start learning Japanese. And so I did.

Where did I start?
Google, of course. I didn’t remember what the keyword was, but long story short I found Tofugu’s guide on learning Japanese and of course, WaniKani. When I first started, I thought Japanese was easy. I’ve memorized katakana and hiragana in just about a month. Little did I know that there’s still this monster called Kanji. I was discouraged at first. I mean come on, over 2000 characters just to for me to be able to read? And that’s on top of the grammars that I still have to learn. It sounded absurd. It felt impossible. But since the Tofugu guide (obviously) recommended trying WaniKani and the time of vacation was drawing near, I decided to start WaniKani right away.
I started WaniKani in late October of 2019 while my vacation was scheduled to be in January of 2020. I had only about three months to learn as much kanji and grammars that I can and by the time January came, I had learned little. At that time, I’d only reached level 7 in WaniKani and only 50 pages in on Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese. I expected myself to at least be able to ask for directions but seeing how far I’d learned, I doubted that I could even speak Japanese with any confidence.

Wait, how did I get myself motivated again?
Well, there you go. That was my initial motivation, I bought a ticket to Japan so that I could remind myself that I have to learn otherwise I wouldn’t be able to interact with the natives by the time my vacation comes. I think it was effective. Reaching level 7 in 3 months is not fast by any means, but I keep doing it consistently every day. And speaking of doing reviews every day, I remember the emails that WaniKani sent every time I level up. I vaguely recall something about doing your reviews every day even on your birthday. For some reason, that message stuck on my mind, and I think it also helped keeping myself motivated. After that, I resolved to do my reviews no matter what even if it’s just one item.

Okay so back to my initial motivation, what about next? What about after I went back from Japan?
To add some context, I’m not a native English speaker. My native language is Indonesian and while it’s not related to Japanese, I think it has similar phonemes to Japanese so I might have an easier time pronouncing Japanese words. Alright back to the topic.
I actually got my next motivation from my trip to Japan. When I was there, I just tried to speak what I can from what I’ve learned so far combined with my years of watching anime. Yeah, I know, I must have sounded really funny back then. But I had no choice. It was my first time going to a foreign country and I don’t wanna get lost. Surprisingly enough, whenever someone speaks, I managed to understand the general idea. Me speaking is another matter entirely, of course. But I think my pronunciations were okay enough that most people understand what I meant.
I started shy, but my confidence in speaking gradually built up as I speak to more and more people. I asked where the exit is, I exchanged my tickets, I bought some stuffs, and it all went quite smoothly. Later, I even went to a bar, talked quite a bit, and made some friends with my broken Japanese. To add the cherry on top, most people I spoke to often said “日本語は上手”.
I get that they didn’t mean that I’m actually good at Japanese. I think it’s more like “Cool! You can speak my language!”. But that was enough for me. that was the thing that keep me motivated to this day, that feeling of appreciation from the native speaker. That appreciation felt like a reward for my hard work. And so, I resolved to make that statement actually true, I wanted to actually be good at Japanese. Every time I felt too lazy to do my reviews, I tried to recall those people that said “日本語は上手” and I would get some of my motivations back.
So If you ever need some motivations, go to Japan and just try interacting with the natives there. But we live in an online world now so perhaps finding some Japanese friend online could do as a substitute. Plus, at times like these, going to Japan isn’t exactly practical with travel restrictions in place. But really, if you can, you really should go to Japan. I’m sure it’ll be quite an experience.

Are there any other practical ways to motivate myself?
There are! Well, there is. This is going to be the last one and that’s progress. But before that, I think I have to be transparent here and admit that I haven’t actually learned anything else besides kanji in the past two years. I initially do my reviews on top of some grammar from Tae Kim’s guide. But as reviews kept piling up, I didn’t think I could dedicate any more time and so I decided to finish my kanji first.
So back to progress. What I meant by progress is checking how far I’ve been from time to time. As I do my reviews and leveled up, I also tried to expose myself to some Japanese. I started from simple things such as song lyrics, random reading from google search, and watching videos. As I learned more kanji, I can feel that I can read more and understand more and it felt like I’ve made progress. That made me wants to read/watch/listen more and in turn learn more. That itself forms a virtuous cycle and I think that also keep my motivation in check.

To sum it up, here are the things that has been keeping me motivated that might hopefully help you guys in getting your motivations:

  1. Going to Japan. Specifically, setting a target before my trip and interacting with the natives.
  2. Reading my level up emails. Yeah it’s automated but there’s one or two words that stuck and adds to my motivation.
  3. Checking my progress from time to time.

Hope it helps! Good luck for you guys who are still working hard to reach level 60!


Thanks for this! I’m so new that I don’t even know what “日本語は上手” means, but I feel like I took that to heart. That feeling of connection through learning Japanese. I think I can use it as if it were said to me. I really want to experience that!


It means “you’re good at Japanese”, though coming from a native speaker, it sometimes comes across as “you made a good attempt!”



This is the one that helped me the most. It’s hard to see progress in the later stages and I mostly used WKStats to keep an eye on my overall progress.

It’s like a three-year-old handing you a drawing and you say “Good job!” regardless of what it looks like.


Perhaps, but it can also come across like Rembrandt showing you the very first rough sketches for his next work, and you say “that’s a masterpiece!”, even though he can… well, paint a Rembrandt.


That’s why I like the 3yo analogy. He could be a child prodigy and hand you the Mona Lisa, but the response is the same.


Congratulations! Lots of good advice in here. Hope you have a lot of fun with your Japanese studies now above and beyond Wanikani!


First post, level 60, wow O_o
Welcome to the forum! There is a lot left to learn and the community is amazing =)
Completing the levels is only half of the WK experience (the forum is the other :wink: )

Also, I’m nearing 5 years, currently at level 56 (so nearly there, just, took a detour :crazy_face: )


You’re welcome! Oh my bad for not explaining what 日本語は上手 means. But thank god that others have already explained it better than I ever could. But If I might add, I think you’ll learn 上手 and 日本語 soon enough as they do appear quite early in WaniKani. Also, I’m really glad that you could also get motivated just by reading that. I suppose you’ll get even more motivated once someone eventually told you that. You still have a long journey so best of luck!

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Thanks! I sure hope I will! And I hope you can find my advice useful so best of luck for you too! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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Thanks! Yeah I suppose this is my first ever post but I have been a silent reader up to now. Looking back, I should have been more active in the forum since there are lots of useful information here and clearly the people here are lots of fun to talk with. It’s just that I felt like doing my reviews and lessons have been taking a lot of my time and I just couldn’t go to the forum very often. But now that I’ve reached level 60 and daily review will start dropping soon, I think I will be more active here.

Oh nice you’re almost there too. I didn’t find any real difficulties from level 56 to 60 so maybe your experience won’t be too far off. Good luck! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:


Wow, congratulations!!! And welcome to the forum as well… I think?

Thanks for all that good advice, I’m actually planning of going to Japan for a year as an exchange student!!!

Also, did learning kanji only first and getting to grammar and co later give you any inconveniences, would you recomend that I do the same (since I don’t have much time on my schedule) or not?

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Well done!

I guess you deserve this, you’re probably the highest level first poster I’ve given this to, haha…

\textcolor{pink}{\huge \textsf{WELCOME! ^-^}}

Even if you’ve been a member for a while, so aren’t really new hehe
welcome gif - crabigator

Take the time to check out the FAQ and GUIDE if you haven’t already…
…but you probably have, because you seem like you’re diligent and awesome like that ^-^

There’s also a lot of good stuff on the forum to help you…
…that you’ve likewise probably already seen, but it still worth mentiioning!

The Ultimate Guide for WK
The Ultimate Additional Japanese Resource List
The New and Improved List of API and Third-Party Apps

I hope that you continue to enjoy WaniKani that your worship of the Crabigator is eternal!



I want to go to Japan soon, just got to level 9 like 20 minutes ago lol, I wonder how much I’d be able to interact with people haha


Welcome to Wanikani and Farewell?

Great job man and congratulation!!

I should have saved my first post when I reach level 60… May be creating a new Wanikani ID and restart again might be a good idea. See you guys two years later!!

You are really optimistic with this Covid-19 situation these days lol.



Wow that sounds exciting! I’m glad if my advice could be of use.

Hmm no, I don’t think so. I didn’t find any inconveniences at all. In fact, I think it’s the contrary. Learning kanji first makes everything else easier. The more I learn kanji, the easier it is for me to understand grammar and listen to conversations.
If I remember it correctly, the tofugu’s guide to learning Japanese also recommends prioritizing learning kanji over everything else. This is also one of the reasons why I decided to focus on kanji first. Now that I have reached level 60, I can attest to that recommendation. And since your circumstances (not having too much time) is similar to mine, my answer is yes, I do recommend you to do the same.

Good luck for your exchange student program and hope you have fun studying!

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Oh my, thank you so much! Especially for the links. I think I could still use some of that :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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I think the first 10 levels provides you with some of the most useful words so you probably could interact quite a bit. And if you take me as a reference, I was level 7 when I went to Japan and I can still make do somehow. When I was at the bar, I talked quite a bit of topics with the natives there.
Music, anime, my own country and its culture, how my trip in Japan is so far. These are things I didn’t expect I could communicate at all seeing how much I’d learned at that time. But I did it somehow. Sure, there were times when I hit the language barrier but I could say most of the things I meant and most importantly I had fun.
One trick I’ve learned is that when I don’t know the Japanese word, I’d just say it in English. Everyone I interacted with understand every English word I said although they would still reply in Japanese. Perhaps you could use this trick too when you’re in a pinch.

So, good luck to you! Hope you can go to Japan soon!


Thanks man!

But…but… you’re already more than halfway there!

I just hope that I’m not setting a bad example here :laughing:

Like I said in my previous reply, I really think I should have posted sooner though. I just didn’t have too much time and so I became a silent reader up until now.

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Thank you, thank you!!!