Level 60 postuuuu

Hello everyone, yesterday I reached level 60, so here is the post!

About me

I am a 36 year old post doc. in astrophysics. I have been fascinated by/interested in Japanese since my early twenties, and have made some small efforts towards trying to learn. Various things that has happened in recent years have made me take things more seriously, and WaniKani is such a blessing for this - I had no idea how I would be able to tackle the seemingly unsurmountable kanji mountain without this. It has made it possible to have a process I can just repeat and know that some day I will have been exposed to and learned decently well most of the kanji I’ll meet in the wild.

My Wanikani routine

I ended up on a fairly straightforward routine:

  • I would typically level up in the evening.
  • The next morning I would spend ~3 hours learning the new kanji and vocabulary. This was possible because of flexible work hours. For the slow levels I typically went through the context sentences, but I was too stressed during the fast levels to do that.
  • After four hours I would do the first reviews for those lessons.
  • Then, for the next four days I would do all my reviews in the evening.

When the fast levels arrived, this would change a little (I would split my ‘new level’ lessons into two consecutive days, essentially, where I did radicals and kanji the first day and all vocab the next).


Towards the end, I used three scripts more or less actively:

I used the Flaming Durtles app @ejplugge great work :slight_smile: and this app is what I would use for most my lessons (lying in bed). For the reviews I would typically use the computer. Towards the end, on the fast levels, I used the feature of Flaming Durtles to have radical and kanji lessons come first.

Stats and graphs

I generally spent more time on kanji mnemonics than vocabulary. In addition, I didn’t make use of the user synonym feature, which is responsible for at least a couple of percentage points in the vocab (“crushing failure/overwhelming defeat”, I am looking at you).

Towards the end, my accuracy really tanked. I don’t really know why this is, but I suspect it’s a combination of consistently high workload every day and thus a perpetual mind fatigue, and perhaps more abstract/difficult vocab towards the end? I guess also the end is where you have the highest accumulation of leeches.

That apprentice count was way too high in the final ten levels.

I managed a pretty consistent level-up schedule, though the fast levels were very sensitive to whether you got most of the kanji right so sometimes they would last a day or two longer.

I felt that sharp rise at the end. I don’t think I would have been able to maintain that for very long, so it was only because I knew the end was coming.

The early twenties were especially tricky, I suppose, and I expect the final levels to have similar error percentages once they reach burned status, though perhaps with the workload lessening it might not.

As you can see, there is a day for which I kick myself a little, which was my friend’s bachelor party. I could have just done a single review using my phone but for whatever reason it slipped my mind. Kind of annoying but, it is what it is.

Worst leeches
  • 作用, both the reading and meaning were tricky!
  • 変わる - I had trouble with all of the “to be changed”, “to change”, “to transform”, “to intersect”, “to be mixed” type of verbs.
  • 陥落 - Ugh. When is it “fall” and when is it “fallING”???
  • 並 - classic case of “I should have used the synonyms”. What kind of decision making in Tofugu has made them only use a subset of “common, average, ordinary” for the various words that mean these things I will not understand.
  • 追いかける - something about かける made me always think this meant to catch up to someone.
  • 一生懸命 - again, when is it “with all one’s MIGHT” and when is it “with all one’s STRENGTH”???
  • 議論 - all of the debate/argument/discussion/criticism vocabulary really confused me.
  • 甲斐性 - “sei” vs “shou” :frowning:
  • 憶測 - all of the “estimation”, “prediction”, “guess”, etc etc words would make me stumble.
Other resources

The only other resource I’ve really made use of so far is Cure Dolly’s videos. Yes, she’s unsettling, but she’s also explaining grammar in a way that was superior to what I saw in e.g. Tae Kim.

I started reading some books, but haven’t gotten too far.

I also played the PC game “Cultist simulator” in Japanese, which was a good way to learn a lot, since it’s a storyish game that you kind of need to understand the various texts to make sense of.

The community

This community seems very good. I haven’t interacted with it as much as I would like, partially because I’ve been too busy. I did join a reading club initially, but quickly fell off.

In february I joined the Olympians XXXII thread. It was good to be held at least a little responsible.

I hope to become more active in the community now that I don’t have more lessons to worry about and can start consuming more media.


I went through Wanikani at a relatively high pace. Although I am happy I have been through it, I don’t recommend doing it this way, unless there’s some kind of window in which you have the possibility to do Wanikani which has a definite end. One could argue that the pandemic was such a window for me - I’m not certain how consistent I would have been able to be with more social interactions in the evening and so on.

But the downsides of rushing through are pretty evident for me at least: You end up doing more reviews, I think. Especially towards the end I noticed that a lot of the stuff was not really sticking, and the stress of knowing I had 300 reviews coming up every evening for the next couple of weeks was detrimental to learning. I firmly believe that anything worth doing is worth doing properly, and I can truly say that rushing through Wanikani is an example of me not doing it properly. In addition, it took so much attention that I was not able to focus on any other type of media consumption, which is a more ideal way of learning, I think. Towards the end, with the fast levels, the workload became almost unbearable, and sitting through 3-400 reviews every night gets demotivating, and affects all other aspects of your life. The final weeks especially became a kind of review-fog, not enjoyable at all. It really did become clear to me over time how true it is that this is a journey which you can enjoy if you want, not just a race which you’re supposed to check of your bucket list. Hopefully in this respect the wanikani experience has made me just a little wiser.

Use user synonyms! I decided early on to not use these, because I’m an idealist, and because I wasn’t confident that I knew the context well enough to know what would be an acceptable synonym, and stubbornly stuck to that. But there are some vocabulary that will just end up leeching because you forget the exact wording they’re going for, which in many cases is kind of arbitrary.

Wanikani mnemonics: In general, I think Wanikani is doing a good job on these. I consistently used the radical names provided by Wanikani, and eventually I would start forming my own mnemonics when I thought the one provided wasn’t really sticking for me.

When it comes to vocabulary, I think Wanikani has made some strange decisions when it comes to explaining vocab. I think they would have made things a bit easier for themselves by kind of explaining that certain kanji has meanings that are not the one we learn, and kind of use that meaning in the mnemonic instead. Like 管 - it means pipe, but it becomes clear over time that this also has to do with managing things, which would have made several vocabulary more easy to remember instead of thinking of managers with pipes all the time.

Furthermore, sometimes it seems the vocab mnemonics are more ‘unintuitive’ than they need to be. 軌道 for example, which has a pretty involved explanation (“A rut in the road is for some reason an orbit or trajectory. Maybe imagine a big ol’ rut in the road. You drive at it at very high speeds, hit it, and fly into the sky at a trajectory that will send you into orbit. Now you’re up in space, circling the earth, wishing you didn’t drive so fast.”). The kanji combo though, kind of intuitively suggests something a lot ‘easier’ than this. Something like a path that is fixed because it has been deeply “rutted”. I’m not saying this is a good alternative mnemonic :slight_smile: Just saying that it seems in many cases there is an obvious (but perhaps not so easy to spell out in words) meaning that is discarded to make a more literal but very involved mnemonic. This was not the greatest example, but I hope it kind of shows the point.

All in all, I am very happy with the product that Tofugu has put out. Without it I would have struggled a lot more, and maybe even not been able, to learn kanji. Thank you so much!

Next steps are switching my username (when I chose it I didn’t realize the kind of poor connotations it gives if you misread it - it’s really just the name of a character from a book I loved!) And then I think I will try to join a book club once reviews are becoming manageable.

I am looking forward to interacting with all of you in the forums! Thank you to the community for being so great, it’s rare on the internet!




Your name made me laugh.

Also GRATSSSSS!@!@@!@!!@!@!@!@!!@!@


おめでとうございます!Thanks for sharing your journey with us!



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Congrats on making it to level 60! :ringer_planet: :milky_way: :first_quarter_moon: ^>^

How about checking out the various book clubs? :eyes: Studying is more fun when you do it with other people! ^>^

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As the author of Item Inspector I am glad this script was of use to you. Level 60 is quite an achievement. Bravo!


Congratulations! I’m a wild thing that doesn’t really use the provided mnemonics though, that will make a fun lv60 post :rofl:


Wow, thank you! They said there would be cake but I figured it must have been a lie! And such an appropriate cake as well, all starry-nighty!

I will take your advice and look for a book club - that seems like a good way to get into things more. Thank you for that as well :slight_smile:


Congrats! A great write up which, by the way, are probably the most valuable posts that really keep me going. I love seeing all of the hard work that people like yourself have put into learning Japanese.



Those leeches are very familiar for some reason…

I used to think it was so strange seeing people get to level 60 then reset to a low level and go through it all again, but now it makes so much more sense. I think it’s human nature to focus on finishing rather than taking your time, enjoying the process, and really focusing on details, retention, and quality of understanding.

Maybe you would enjoy going through again at a much slower pace with less angst about missing a review?

I started several months before you and rarely have more than 150 or so relatively low-stress reviews on any given day. Even after taking my time I’m still pretty sure I’ll restart when I “finish”. I’d miss my daily WK reviews if I stopped cold-turkey, and I’m certain many of my “burned” items aren’t quite as burned into my memory as I’d like.


おめでとうございます! :cake: :partying_face:

Leech list is very relatable :smiley:


Congrats @schtitt san :grin::tada:


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Thank you for the very well written post. Pretty much everything you described matched my experience to a Tee. It makes me happy to know I wasn’t alone out there with my struggles :grinning:


You know, the thought of going through it again because of what I mention above has struck me. Right now it’s not a very tempting option and I need to clear it a bit out of my life before I can make space for it again. But I think you are definitely right and probably the second time around would be something completely different! It’s certainly true about the burned items; I hope that reading will start reinforce those a bit as well.

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Congratulations! I never dared doing the fast levels at a fast pace. Apprentice numbers and daily reviews will drop after finishing the last lessons. You get used to that all too fast though…


Holy smoke what pace :open_mouth:

Congratulations, amazing feat. I have only masters on random-physics, no wonder you are post doc.


Congrats! This is an incredibly impressive pace.
I could never take the fast levels that quickly. The final levels are difficult enough as is.

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Wow, quite an achievement! I can’t believe how fast you finished!

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