Making notes?

Hi everyone :smiley: I’m very new here, just made it to Level 2 recently and really enjoying it so far. I’m going on honeymoon next year to Japan (well, hopefully…) and what started as a fun little lockdown activity learning a few phrases has snowballed into a good few hours a week study. :slight_smile:

Having read a few posts on the community, it obviously seems like the workload increases pretty significantly as you progress. What I wanted to ask was - does anyone take notes throughout? I’ve got a notebook with sections for radicals, kanji and vocab, which I write out the mnemonics for as I find it helps me to remember. Does anyone else do this or do you just learn online? I feel like it might take waaay too long going forward, so any advice is appreciated!


Hello, welcome and congratulations on your wedding. :wink:

This depends on what kind of learner you are. Some people need to write things down to make them stick, some people can learn by just reading.

For me it’s both. Until now reading the meaning and reading of the Kanji is sufficient most of the times. But writing down similar looking Kanji helps to memorize the small differences.

As for grammar, reading about it is not enough for me. I (digitally) write a few sample sentences for every grammar point I learn. And I write short essays trying to use different forms every time.

So my advice would be: Try both ways, start with reading only and see if this is good enough. Make notes on difficult topics / Kanji to memorize them.
And most important: Have fun.



Congratulations on your marriage. I wish yourself and your partner the best on the journey. Fingers crossed that you’re able to go on that honeymoon! :fireworks: :confetti_ball:

I’d say, what @MeepleKun said would be the best line of thinking to consider for yourself overall.

What I’ll share is that… Like yourself, when I started I was writing everything down in my notebook. Radicals, Kanji, Vocab, and mnemonics — the whole shebang. Usually it helps with the way I learn, but, I found firstly, that writing started to become a bit of a nuisance with regard to time spent (life is still going on) on WK as I have/been progressing through the levels. My slow pace bothered me enough, to dive into relying solely on my imagination. Like you said, the workload only increases, so stiff hands from writing and tired eyes make it a bit rough going. So it comes down to your personality.

With my WK experience thus far, I’ve found that if I make a serious effort of utilizing my visuospatial systems in forming mnemonics — truly getting those senses involved —; it makes a huge difference. It’s one of those things I used to “knock” before trying. I’ve found from this practice, like any other practice, I’ve improved in the speed/effectiveness of using these parts of my memory. Also, I’ll add, a regular meditation practice helps greatly with this.

All the best and have fun! :slight_smile:

I use a spreadsheet for Kanji and Vocabulary, either paraphrasing the mnemonic or inventing a new one. I find that typing it out helps it stick a little better on the first few rounds fo reviews. I don’t have the time or desire to learn how to handwrite it all, if that’s what you’re doing.

I started as learning as a lockdown activity back in December, and yes the number of reviews pick up a lot, depending on how many lessons you commit to. But if you’re looking for other things to fill in while waiting for reviews, I’d check out KaniWani (or KameSame, I think it’s called), BunPro, and definitely the Self-Study Quiz scripts, especially once you start acquiring leeches. There are plenty of posts on these topics if you need more information.

This does sound like a lot of work for me. In the end, you don’t need to remember the mnemonics. As you progress it’s normal to forget them and just remember the reading/meaning when seeing a kanji. That’s what you’re aiming for.

As for taking notes in general, I think it’s a good way of increasing retention. It takes longer to write down, so somehow that helps you build associations with the things you learn.

That being said, I didn’t take any notes using WK. It’s just not necessary. If you fail items, the SRS will give you more chances to review the items, and thus you’ll get more exposure to the information and eventually the items stick.

What I’m trying to say is that while your efforts are commendable and good for you, you can save a lot of time by focusing on only those items that you don’t learn on the first try. The rest tend to progress through the SRS all by themselves.

You can use the Self-Study Quiz for that and the Item Inspector to identify which items you’re failing more often than others and needs that extra bit of work.

Good luck with your studies! And congrats on your wedding!


I don’t personally write note and i have seen multiple people who do it successfully. However i am afraid it might take longer time and effort as you progress through levels. if you figure away around it go for it if not be cautious.

Thanks for your reply, I never thought of using a spreadsheet - such a good idea! And thank you for all of the other recommendations too :smile: I’ve heard really good things about KaniWani so will definitely check that out.

Thank you for all of your kind replies guys :hugs: this really is a lovely community. A lot of really interesting approaches and some great advice. I haven’t used scripts so far so will definitely give them a go, and maybe I will mix it up a bit and write the more difficult kanji but not the radicals.
Looking forward to continuing on this journey with everyone! :relaxed:

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I use to take all my notes, that way I have everything in one place, I can use the automated insights for how many times I check up on readings and I can check readings/meanings on the fly.

It won’t be for everyone but works for me.

I am a massive fan of spreadsheets for many things, but not for Japanese for some reason.

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I have three notebooks: one for radicals, one for kanji, and one for vocabulary. Overkill, maybe, but physically writing what I’m learning (hopefully) makes it stick better. It’s also very satisfying to look at all I’ve written and be like, “yeah, this is everything I’ve learned so far in WaniKani!”

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Haha yes it is a very satisfying feeling to look back on your notes! Although when I do this with my French notes I realise how much I’ve forgotten :rofl:

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If any notes, the only thing I write is an alternate mnemonic that works better for me since I want to avoid reading over notes like I’m studying for a test. I want to understand Japanese so no school-style notes for me.

Hi, here’s my humble contribution to the already great advice of this post: I don’t use a notebook for everything but sometimes when I feel confused between two kanji or vobac writing them both down next to each other helps to differentiate them. My most recent example was between 部室 (clubroom) and 部屋 (room), which for a few days before that I couldn’t get straight.

So not writing everything down, just when it’s helpful for me.

I really hope you get to have your honeymoon in Japan :slight_smile: what a cool project!

That’s such a good idea! Although that looks scary, I thought L2 had some similar looking kanji… :stuck_out_tongue:

Ahh thanks so much, we are really looking forward to it :crossed_fingers:


貿 貸 貨 賃 資 賀 are the bane of my existence atm… a lot of them also mean pretty similar things :sweat:


Wow, actually writing all of these down next to each other might be more scary than helpful :sweat_smile:

What are you planning to visit in Japan? Just out of curiosity :blush:

We’re going in July (so I know it’ll be super hot)… Planning on flying to Tokyo and spending a few days there and then Okinawa for a more chilled week. Really want to do Osaka/Kyoto or even somewhere in the countryside in between but just trying to work out how to fit it all together logistically. So many places we want to go!!

I don’t write anything down because whenever I do, I have trouble remembering it. But that’s a very individual thing. I don’t think anyone ecxept you can know whether taking notes is worth the effort, and what the optimal amount of notes for you is.

I hear you, Japan really is a beautiful country! I’ve never been to Okinawa, but always heard good things from people who had been there :slight_smile:

If I had to choose between Tokyo and Kyoto though, it would be 100% Kyoto, especially as a first-time traveler, but I guess it depends on your taste :grin:

I hope you and your fiancé have fun there~🌸