My cautionary tale about Vacation Mode

Just a little story to go with my return to wanikani. Hopefully one that will scare you baad boys and girls back to your reviews.

So, I’ve been doing WaniKani since about the middle of last November. I joined in anticipation of a planned two week trip to Japan in May, and studied seriously with WK and Genki for the next 6 months. At first, it was just an attempt to get as far as I could before the trip, but it eventually turned into a genuine passion. When the time actually came to visit Japan on May 14, I put WaniKani in vacation mode. After all, I was on vacation, and there’d be japanese to read all around me.

Two weeks passed by in a flash, and I turned Vacation Mode off on the way home. Suddenly, everything looked (figuratively, rather than just literally) foreign to me. I chalked it up to exhaustion and let WK be for the flight home. Over the next week I tried to dig through my reviews more, but found myself getting frustrated at my low recall and turning it off quickly. Work picked up, and I turned vacation mode back on. The vacation switch got flipped a handful of times between then and now, but ultimately I found myself out of Vacation mode at the start of this week with over 600 reviews.

With a little effort, I’ve been able to make some headway, and my usual accuracy after a session has gone up from 20-40% to 40-60%. It’s still a far cry from my prior 70-90% recall, but I’m beginning to feel normalcy set in. The next step is to pick Genki back up…

TL;DR: Be careful with Vacation mode. If I could redo it, I’d probably still have left it on during my trip, but I’d have put more effort into clearing the reviews immediately upon returning.

And if anybody’s curious: Hitting level 20 in WK was definitely helpful in my trip to Japan. I wasn’t able to speak as much as one of my tripmates, but I was definitely the best reader of the bunch. More than anything, it was a ton of fun to just read things in the environment, just for the hell of it.


Totally hear you. This is almost exactly my story too (I started late Dec, went to Japan June 13th for 2 weeks). I got slaughtered in recall % after coming home and turning off vacation mode. It took a week+ to get back to the normal success rate.

The interesting thing to me was, yes there were tons of kanji around me in Japan, (there are certain Kanji that have been “burned” in my memory due to seeing them in context so many times there), but yeah other kanji that I had been exposed to, particularly in my most recent levels prior to my trip, I couldn’t remember even seeing them before. Reviews were really discouraging for a while there.

I’m glad you got back at it! I had just hit level 18 before my trip, and one of the neatest things was being able to read so many things around me.

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Yep. Japan was a fun experience, but it Ironically made my Japanese worse by virtue of my not studying for two weeks.

The desire to go back with stronger language skills has made me hungry to improve, though.
Other things I am hungry for include:

  • 大人のたけのこの里 (The dark chocolate ones, not the normal ones. These are frustratingly difficult to find and expensive compared to their more common milk chocolate cousin)
  • Ramen
  • Yakiniku
  • Grapefruit Strong Zero (Thirsty, I guess? How did they make it so good? This stings the most, since it’d be illegal to import to where I live if I even could find someone exporting it at a reasonable price.)

I’m on my way to catch my flight home from Japan as I type this, and I also started mid-November. For some reason I didn’t put on vacation mode and have just kept doing reviews. Kinda stressful, I don’t necessarily recommend it…

But yeah, the ability to read over here has been SO NICE.


Yeah, it’s not something I’d have strongly considered. Sure, some days I’d have had enough time on trains and other downtimes to do my reviews, but I didn’t want to take extra time out of my trip and being able to simply look around to do them.

My hungry-for list would be something like:

  • Lawson snacks / rice balls
  • Melon flavored water and soda
  • Definitely ramen
  • Vending machine Asahi. Why isn’t this a thing in the US? Oh right… laws…

…which is why I enabled vacation mode when I went. No regrets here.

You don’t want to enable Vacation Mood on the other hand. If you do that, you won’t be able to stop thinking about holidays.


I’ve used vacation mode twice, once for a month and the other time for two weeks.

The first time, I put WK on vacation mode cold turkey for a month and recovering was as difficult and frustrating as you described…

The second time, I hadn’t done new lessons for about two to three weeks before (I was working on clearing out my leeches). When I came back two weeks later I was hitting the same ~85% mark I usually hit.

Those newer lessons that haven’t been reinforced will come back to bite you and make everything frustrating. Obviously you’re not going to break any speed records with this method but it was a worthwhile trade off for me.


Oh dang. I forgot to put salmon rice balls on the list. So salty.

I am harboring a grudge against Lawson’s, though. I bought a store’s last pack of Karaage-Kun Red in Nara on my way back to my AirBnB in Osaka. It was good. So good that I sought out another Lawson’s as soon as I got off the train and bought 3 more and called it dinner.

I, uh… I lost nearly a third of my next day to the toilet.

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It’s cuz vacations break up the intervals and nix the “magic” power of the SRS. shrug And you’ve neglected your daily habits, which takes a bit of work to make natural again.

It’s still far better to put on Vacation Mode and halt reviews than not turn it on and come back to an overwhelming pile. Though even 100 items or so is hard to reaccustom oneself to. It may help to treat the ones you don’t recognize like lessons. It takes me a week or two to get back in the saddle after vacation, even when I have turned on vacation mode. (Without it’s more like a month. Or three.)

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My story is very similar.

I was at the brink of turning level 15 at the end of March when I put it in vacation mode for 2 weeks and a half. Until then, except for level 13 I was doing each level in about 8 to 12 days. And now, more than 3 months later I’m still only at level 17.

But I think that without having the opportunity to do reviews in a good condition during my vacations, it would have been worse without vacation mode.

I had thought of that so I hadn’t done new lessons for a few days before activating vacation mode (I didn’t have any items left under Apprentice 4) but a few days was obviously not enough.

I have put myself on vacation mode for 6 months, it made me forget most of the things from last 10 levels and it has been a chore to catch up. But real life needed me

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But on a different note, tell us about your trip? :slightly_smiling_face:

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It was a great time. I was there with two friends for two weeks. We’re all into nerdy stuff, so we tended to stick to areas relevant to our interest, and only hit a few natural and historical sites. Lots of arcades, thrift stores, Book-Offs, and anime-related stores. I ended up returning home with over 40 volumes of pre-owned manga I hope to be able to read before too long, Dark Souls and Splatoon art books, a couple of anime figurines won from claw games, and probably close to a hundred dollars worth of gashapon prizes. We bookended almost every single day there with a trip to a convenience store, and I gotta say, they do a great job of living up to the hype.

We made a lot of good memories over there. Little interactions with people are always the highlight. Nearly everybody was nice and polite. We got asked a bunch of questions by and took a picture with a middle school class in Kyoto Tower. One of my tripmates (Who is far better at speaking than I, both in english and japanese) offered to help an old woman bring her bags up the stairs at a train station. She refused the help, but came over to us 5 minutes after getting up the stairs and gave us a bag of mochi taro.

Overall, it was excellent, and way too much to talk about in a thread in the forum that’s intended for the discussion of WaniKani. My decent-paying internship should be turning into a well-paying job in December, so I’m hoping to go back in a year’s time with another year of language study under my belt.



I’ve finally done it! I beat back the endless tide of reviews. Now to start on these lessons. Let’s see how many I have…


Oh…Well. Better get on it. I’m sure I’ll be getting a reasonable number of reviews each day now that I’ve beat them back to 0…



Stay diligent, kids.



Next trip, I HIGHLY recommend checking out this place:
Located in Ueno here: Google Maps
The best stuff is upstairs on the second floor.

Cheaper that コンビニ and they have eeeeeverything. Tax-free for 外国人.

(Be sure to bring an extra bag to bring back all your loot.)

And yeah, I just got back from 3 weeks in Europe with vacation mode on and it’s like I’ve never seen a kanji before in my life. Even stopped doing new lessons the week before I left. Sucks. :cry::confounded:

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