My 435 Day Journey to Level 60: But Some Work Remains

It surprised me that it only took a year and couple of months time to reach level 60 - because it felt longer. The early levels took longer because of time spent learning how the system works. After I got a feel for it I averaged 7 days and 8 hours per level after I hit my stride. My chart may look fairly steady and routine, on the fast side but not the fastest that can be seen on the Forums.

The Forums almost scared me away in the early stages when I learned about user scripts and the technicalities associated with their installation. The techie talk struck me as a foreign language which I didn’t understand. So I decided to plow forward and got this far without them. Hope others can be inspired that these are not de riguer for a successful WK experience. After all, the WK Team members advise us just to do the reviews every day and they promise that will get us there. This advice really works!

Maybe it will also inspire others that I have reached this level in a little over a year without having been to Japan and without extensive or advanced Japanese language training in college as some on the Forum posesessed. I had merely four semesters at two universities which offered elementary and intermediate Japanese, sans Kanji. Testing was on basic oral proficiency only. They didn’t have grad level Japanese. For good measure, I did complete a Japanese course via Mango Languages. But that was also a strictly oral approach with no Kanji exposure and transcriptions offered in Hiragana - if one even cared to read them. So I could not draw from this material to assist me with my daily WK tasks. Still, the experience attuned my ears to hearing Japanese words on a daily basis and kept my commute to work interesting for a year.

After my introductory experience to Japanese I was open to learning about the writing system and when I spotted WK I recognized it as a wonderful opportunity to learn Kanji. Before that I had briefly tried the Heisig system but it did not give feedback and required too much discipline for me to stay with it. The more interactive, systematic and multilevel approach of WK did better fit my learning style.

Still, the WK approach is not an easy one for most and requires motivation to stay on task on a daily basis while working steadily toward each level up. Surely each successful level 60 striver had their own motivation as they kept up the daily grind toward rising in levels. Motivation enough for me was my love of languages. European born and traveling annually to Europe, I get around in five of them (German, Ukrainian, French, Spanish, English) and therefore have a good stock of cognates to match up with Japanese vocabulary, if I need to create mnemonics when WK doesn’t satisfy. So I suggest that other bi- or multilinguals may have a good foundation from which to embark on a potentially successful WK journey.

After I reached level 60 I learned from a WK Team email reminder that the game is not over yet. They invited me to stay on and burn out my remaining items. So that is my current mission and at the same time I am using this as a transition phase to begin reading Japanese books. I estimate that a number of my 3000 remaining items could be burned out within four months but not any sooner because they are served up at intervals conforming to the SRS waiting period. Others in the Forums I understand are exercising their option to reset to earlier levels. Besides reading and resetting I had not seen a lot of other suggestions about what one might do after reaching level 60. For those able to do so a Japan visit, I imagine should provide some inspiration about how to further develop the skills honed by WK and other language learning systems.That would be my preference if given the opportunity.

Finally, my own example might become an inspiration or motivation to some who think of themselves as too old to learn another language, after they see that this 74 year old has reached WK level 60! While lurking about in the Forums, my take on the typical WK aspirant is that he/she is more or less around college age. But would be interesting to know if there are many fellow learners further past this age marker who are involved in the WK daily grind working toward level 60. At my age, lest I may be suspected of having all the time in the world for WK, I volunteer that I was working full time for the first six months of my Kanji quest. After retirement I did not find myself with extra time for WK because of SRS and the fact that my release from work gave me more time to enjoy reading French, German and Spanish writers in the original, without dictionary usage. Certainly other priorities in life do come along and must be attended to as well. These are similar to small fires that need to be extinguished so I can quickly return to feeding my obsession for language learning. Maybe this is the kind of mindset it takes to help one persevere to finally reaching level 60!


Congratulations on making it, and I’m glad that you mentioned not using userscripts! I’ve made varying use of them throughout my journey, but I think it’s important for people who aren’t the most confident in their computer literacy to see that they can finish this program in a reasonable amount of time. Enjoy the cake :slight_smile:



Congratulations, and great accuracy too!! What kinds of books are you planning on reading in the future?


It’s interesting that people are considering the moment when they add up the last batch of kanji to their learning set as the moment they’re done learning. And that they’ll quickly burn the remaining kanji. I have reached 60 in a year and a half, a year and a half ago, and I do reviews every day, and there are still several hundred kanji that will simply be forgotten every time, no matter what I do.


Which ones are they?

Also, I think at some point you’ll just have to let those go, and focus more on consuming media content, reading, or actual conversation. Maybe they’ll be easier if you just encounter them elsewhere, or maybe you won’t need them for a long time to come.


Oh, I do. I am going through Kanji Garden, using Kaniwani,’s 10k most used, Duolingo, reading news on Manabi Reader, all daily.

Kanji that are left are usually similar to each other, and I always forget what the minute differences between them are. So when I see them, I typically know it’s one of the four or five similar ones, and can rarely hit on exactly the right answer Wanikani requires. When reading the news, it’s usually obvious from the context, so it doesn’t hamper reading.

I don’t consider this a problem, it’s just that I like to finish learning courses (not only language ones) the way their authors meant them to be finished, trusting them they did everything necessary to be maximally effective, like I trusted them when I began the course. It may be that my mind just needs to see those paricular kanji more often, and it’s taken into account in the Wanikani recipe.


I’ve already decided to let some items go that I know for a fact I won’t need until I happen across them in the wild. I do feel exited when I find words I didn’t think important in the wild however, proving me wrong! :joy: (turns out I do know them!)


Congratulations of making it across the finish line @mikemasu! :partying_face: :tada: Plase have a turtle cake to celebrate! :confetti_ball:


I’m aiming for a similar time frame as you, but only the future knows how long it’ll take. :sweat_smile:

I think this kind of motivation is inspiring. Sure, I love Japanese games and anime and whatnot, but just loving learning language is a very deep well of motivation for keeping on going past the rough spots that you’ll encounter. :smiley:



You made it. This is great.

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Congratulations! :smiley: :cake: :crabigator:

Congratulations! Will you do the remaining 155 joyo kanji separately or just let them come to you via native content? It’s something I think about when I consider my “graduation”.

Also, impressive accuracy! Honestly, it makes me a little bit insecure about my own, which is only ~90%. I’m not quite sure how bad that is or if I am doing anything wrong. Until I saw the stats of other users I felt like I was doing pretty well.

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Congratulations @mikemasu on the achievement :tada:


While reaching level 60 at all is a massive achievement I think this makes it even more amazing considering I’m in my late twenties and at times I struggle to remember items :sweat_smile:

It’s really inspiring to see this and I hope it inspires others who feel they are ‘too old’. You’re never too old to learn something new and you’ve shown it’s possible with hard work, dedication and passion.

I wish you the best with wherever your Japanese and other language journeys take you.

Now, time for some cake, you definitely deserve it :blush:



Not OP of course but I am continuing until I hit ~3000 by using Remembering the Kanji 3 as well as logging any new characters found while reading.


@mikemasu Extremely inspirational. You waited until the last paragraph to place the cherry on the top revealing your age :smiley: I will show this to my mother. She is about your age and is doing a great job learning English and French. I am sure she will be thrilled to hear about your achievement in Japanese :slight_smile: Keep going, and once Japanese is not a challenge anymore, move on to another language (I speak Portuguese, English, French, Spanish, and Italian. Now I’m tackling Japanese, and I see myself learning languages until my last breath :smiley:)


Between your accuracy, consistency, and lack of user scripts, this is honestly the most impressive level 60 I’ve ever seen. I commend your efforts and congratulate you on a job well done! There’s a whole lot more out there to learn, but it seems like you’ve figured out how to enjoy the ride. I wish you the best of luck in your continued kanji studies!


don’t worry about your accuracy, 90% is still great. Honestly, it’s still unnecessarily high, you could say you didn’t need all of these reviews at that time. If you hit 100%, you haven’t corrected your memory of anything, only strengthened.

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Congrats but how do you have so few Guru’d vocab without a reorder script? I would expect at least 6000+, not 2700…your review count is extremely low even with a high accuracy.


I was wondering how they had so little reviews myself, since I have a higher accuracy but still a higher review count. But looking at their guru’d vocab, it makes more sense how low their count is. Seems unlikely without a reorder script, since even if they failed enough vocab to keep the count that low, that would show up in their incorrect answers.

My stats, for comparison


Well, congrats to you too. Whew! Those are nice stats :+1: I imagine a lot of lessons left behind here. Do any apps have built in re-order capability?

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I know for sure that the Flaming Durtles app for Android lets you do Kanji and Radical lessons first if you enable it in the settings, since I made use of that feature to get optimal level times. Presumably the iOS app has similar features.