Lvl 60! Reflections and some handy habits I learned along the way

Congratulations on making it to the end!

Or the end of the beginning!

Or the beginning of the end!


Anyway, congrats! :slight_smile:



I am also guilty or learning Japanese again thanks to the current situation. :sweat_smile:

As I reach closer to 20, I feel as though I am finally starting Wanikani for real(since burns are now popping up). It’s not as bad as I thought, but I am taking it a bit slower.


Yep, I completely feel your pain there. The way I’ve addressed this is to rely on the abundance of English words that have either soft or long o and u vowels in them, or distinct spellings to create mnemonics. For example, 相 = mutual = sou. I would use the English word ‘soul’ e.g. ‘mutual soulmates’ because it has an ‘sou’ in it. For 組 = group = so, I would use something like ‘sorority’ because it only has one ‘o’.

I would also use English words that don’t sound like their kanji equivalent, but the spelling is identical to the romaji e.g. if I had one of the many ‘kou’ on’yomis, I would use the word ‘couch’ because it has that spelling that tells me I need a ‘u’ to follow the ‘o’.

To make this easier, use The Free Dictionary which will generate a bunch of words based on spelling.

When you encounter a reading with very few English phonetic or spelling equivalents, then you should employ some creative mnemonics that may involve people’s names, have more than one word in it e.g. toe cheese for ‘tochi’, or alludes to previous kanji you already learned.


Congrats on the cake :birthday::smiley:

This is so true. Many times I should just wrap up the session when I feel like I’m just taking the hit on a review just to get to the next one.

100-150 in one session is about my max depending on time of day.

The ones that come to mind for me are 顧みる, 覆る, and 翻る.


I try to stick with consistent mnemonics for each sound:

そ - sew
そう - soul
こ - child
こう - Kouichi
と - toe
とう - tokyo
しょう - shogun
しょ - short shogun

That last one is my own. :wink:


You’re not wrong. What I use the ignore button might be considered abuse by others. My most frequent use of it is when I start cracking through a review pile, get one wrong, ignore it (don’t look at the answer) and come back to it to analyse later when I’m down at the bottom of the pile. 50% of my mistakes are stupid (e.g. fat fingers, writing the first thing that comes to you without really soaking in the kanji, or narrowing it down to one or two possibilities and seeing which one is right) which I don’t think should be counted as equivalent to ‘you forgot the kanji’.

It’s slightly more nuanced. In this case, I’m consciously choosing to sacrifice 100% purity for a faster review process. But it’s not like I refuse to accept when I’m wrong; it’s important to be honest when you are actually wrong, rather than when you write ‘discussion’ when the word was ‘conversation’. But when you do have the kanji narrowed down to one or two possibilities, and you’re not willing to knock it down some levels, it’s absolutely your responsibility to iron out the kinks in your notes so that you narrow your understanding down to the absolute correct answer the next time around.

I take 100% responsibility for those purists who might consider this cheating. You need to make the accuracy/speed tradeoff for yourself, as in many disciplines.

Edit: I’ll also add that I sometime even find myself learning new things about the kanji all the way up to the Burn level. Sometimes I’m shocked that the answer I entered is correct and burns the kanji. I then, feeling guilty, do some more research on Jisho to see what it says, and find that I can refine my understanding of the kanji some more even after burning it. My point is: you need to constantly refine your understanding across the SRS stages, and the ignore button is a good tool in getting you closer to a real understanding of the kanji as you progress, even if you were off by a little bit before. As long as you’re honest with yourself and keep updating your notes with each new insight, even all the way to Burn.


Yeah, that’s a perfect example. Once you realise that ‘return’ or ‘change’ follows this ‘kae/gae’ pattern, it makes so many otherwise stupid mnemonics irrelevant because they don’t acknowledge the relatedness of them at all.

1 Like

i really like these mnemonics for those kana! mind if i use them to remember my vocab? :sweat_smile:

1 Like

Agreed. Make your own rules to get consistent English mnemonics. For me, I would do something like:

そ - soft, sock, soldier, etc. Short 'o’s
そう - soak, soul, sound. Long ‘o’ sounds, or words that are spelt ‘sou’.
こ - core, cost, cot, cog. Short 'o’s, single 'o’s.
こう - coast, cone, cozy, couch, coup, coagulate. Long 'o’s, or ‘cou’ spellings.
こお - Coors light, coop, cool. Double ‘o’ words.
と - top, toss, tongue, torch, etc.
とう - toast, To(u)kyo, tone, tour, etc.
とお - tool, toon, took. Double ‘o’ words.
しょう - Sho(u)gun, shown, show business, shoulder.
しょ - shot, shop, shock, shore, etc.

Do the same for things like ゆ (yuck, yummy, Yucatan) vs. ゆう (youth, you).

If you can’t find a natural mnemonic that mimics the phonetics, use similarities in romaji spelling with English words.


Those are actually the WK ones except for the last one. They’re just not always consistent in applying them. :wink:

1 Like

Congratulations on reaching level 60, and thank you for sharing your tips with people, I’ll be sure to do the same as you one day when I am level 60 aswell :blush:


You should try and see if it sticks :slightly_smiling_face: I found that I would naturally make associations in my head and it helped to solidify them by writing them out.

1 Like

Your tips are really useful!

1 Like

Some tips I haven’t seen before that make a lot of sense. Thanks for that.

I hit the level 20 wall too. It only took me 6 months to get there, but I slammed into a wall then, and unfortunately, that wall coincided with the pandemic lockdown, and I never recovered. Maybe this time will go better.

Congratulations on making it to the end. Hopefully someday I’ll be able to join you there.


this helps tons! thank you so much!

1 Like


But what have I been doing wrong.
I have done more reviews and I am not even halfway?


I really enjoyed your post.
I have just started, but have already decided on abandoning the WK mnemonics for my own, so good to hear that other people use WK like this.
I really like the way the website works, but some of the content seems unnecessarily convoluted and time-wasting. I really find it silly to use pop culture references as mnemonics, i.e. Charlie Sheen, who will be an irrelevant figure for much of the world outside of a certain age group. I understand the theory behind making something outrageous to stand out in the memory, but when it takes an effort to remember the twists and turns of a mnemonic, it isn’t helping.
Luckily there is space for own notes and also that using own words as answers works, that was what pushed me to getting the lifetime sub during the sale.
Good Luck and thanks for your insights.

1 Like

It’s hard to say without just seeing what sort of mistakes you’re making. By the looks of your accuracy rates, they appear fairly consistent. They probably also explain why your levelling up rate is half as fast as mine. Everyone has a different speed and short term memory capacity. I generally have very good recall up until about Enlightened. When I try to get from Master to Enlightened, I think my accuracy drops to about 90%. From Enlightened to Burned, I think it’s another 5-7% drop in accuracy.

Have you always been doing as well as you’re doing now? Or have you gotten better or worse recently with your reviews? Do you notice any improvements from the earlier levels and have you changed how you use WaniKani?

I have also been doing WaniKani now for twice as long as you. This may explain the difference. I spent a year with the trial version up to level 3. A year getting to level 21. Then a year getting from 21 to 60. My first year would have had an accuracy rate of about 92%. The second year it dropped as I became overwhelmed with more kanji. But this last year, I really committed to being thorough with my notes and efficient with my reviews. That’s where I learned basically all the tips I wrote out in my post.

100% agreed. The WaniKani mnemonics may work for some, but it can only get me so far. I literally NEVER leave a notes section blank. Even if it’s repeating the same information e.g. an obvious reading. I just write the little kanji maths down so that I know explicitly what the structure is: hand (手) + sack (袋) = glove (手袋). Te + fukuro = tebukuro.

Making outrageous mnemonics works only when they’re few and far between. Charlie Sheen on a unicorn is not memorable if there’s Shouguns playing volleyball and dinosaurs in top hats. I really encourage people to pull out a Japanese and English dictionary and find mnemonics that make sense. I recently came upon ‘shell/husk’ (殻) which has the kun’yomi ‘kara’. Guess what? There’s an English word, ‘carapace’, which means shell (e.g. of a turtle or crab). So easy to remember!

Only when the reading or meaning has no entryway into something remotely familiar in English should you rely on the super tenuous and fantastical imagery of WaniKani-style mnemonics.

I’d even be happy to open a WaniKani clinic on sensible English mnemonics for anyone struggling and who would like a suggestion. I can also do Spanish, but not nearly as well.


Congrats on hitting that sweet 60! And thanks for sharing so much useful advice. You’ve confirmed some points I considered trying before but held back from because I thought it would make the memorizing process more difficult than helpful.

[quote=“Demarco92, post:4, topic:48487, full:true”]The biggest thing i’m having a problem with now is trying to remember words that end with
う or お and words that don’t have those. for example the on’yomi for group (組) is そ. the on’yomi for mutual (相) is そう. There are tons of examples like this and i find it discouraging when i’m off by that one kana. any tips for this would be appreciated.
This might not work for all of them, but what I do to memorize a word with that extra う, I try to use emphasis in my mnemonic for that sound. For example, for my mnemonic for 早 (そう): It’s SO early! I don’t want to wake up!"

Or with your mutual (相) example: “If our mutual friend is SO cool, why don’t you hang out with her?!”

It helps to make it a dialogue you could hear yourself say so you can recognize the emphasis.

1 Like