My journey of 1353 days

As is tradition, I’ve come with a post to commemorate my ascension to level 60 (a little over a month late, but who’s counting)

Sappy backstory

My parents were pretty strict when I was young. I wasn’t allowed to watch anime and we never had a game console, so I never had a chance to have a childhood fascination with Japan. That all changed one January night when I clicked over to catch up on RockPaperShotgun and found myself reading about a little game called Katawa Shoujo.

“Visual novel? Is this a genre? What’s going on here?”

Intrigued, I downloaded the game and gave it a try. I was spending the winter in the middle of nowhere, house-sitting for my parents, and as much as I like my space I was getting a bit lonely. I ended up completely losing myself in this story, spending days doing nothing but reading in front of the woodstove, zoning out listening to the gentle music, staying up so late that when I finally passed out I would wake up as the sun was going down. It was a surreal, magical time and I still look back on this experience as one of the best times of my life.

As I read, there was one thing that kept sticking out at me. “What’s all this chan and kun business?”

I found an article on name-ending honorifics and my brain exploded. Encoding your relationship with someone into their very name? Nothing like this had ever come up in the other languages I’d dabbled in. As goofy as it sounds, if it wasn’t for this OELVN made by a bunch of weebs on 4chan, who knows whether I would have ever had my first taste of the Japanese language.

I don’t know how common it is for someone to discover anime through the Japanese language, but I’m willing to bet it’s slightly rarer than the other way around. I spent the next few years exploring and eventually decided I wanted to take a stab at it, and luckily I happened to find Tofugu around the same time.

I happen to know the exact day that my Japanese-learning journey began in earnest, thanks to an email I sent to Koichi telling him that the link to the hiragana chart PDF was broken :sweat_smile: I started studying kana on March 1st, 2016, and started WaniKani just three weeks later.

Here’s my chart (thanks to the completely invaluable WKStats):

I made a lot of mistakes using WaniKani, and the biggest one was naively assuming that I could just learn all the kanji and words ahead of time, and then I’d be home free. In pursuit of this, I devoted myself entirely to kanji/vocab study for a long time. Like, a year and a half, maybe more. It wasn’t until I was around level 30 that I realized I still couldn’t even read よつばと… Can’t thank @pushindawood and the fine folks at Bunpro enough for getting me out of that rut.

Another mistake was not engaging with the community. This is actually my second topic ever I guess? I totally ignored the forums for the longest time, and I think if I’d found the unofficial FAQ earlier on, I could have avoided a lot of grief. There’s a ton of great info here, even if y’all are creepily obsessed with polls.

Yet another mistake: I thought it might be fun to get my Apprentice items down to zero before I moved on. See that black bar on level 20? Yeah…

My best success came once I realized how the SRS timing intervals work and started making the schedule work for me. No more lessons at night! You do as many as you can between 9-10am, then make sure to review at 1pm and 9pm. Drilling those lessons into short-term memory was the only way I was able to do anything approaching “fast levels” for a majority of the second half.

And finally, hands down, the best thing I did was to start reading A LOT and not worrying about comprehending everything. Some of the vocabulary on WK is pretty wack, but you know one I’ve literally never gotten wrong? 鎮魂. Why? Because I happened to see it in Fire Force basically the day after I learned it, even though that manga is so laden with tortured kanji compounds that I almost gave up on it. Grounding your study material in reality is incredibly powerful. Read more books!

A huge shoutout to the fine folks over in the 0/0 streak club for helping keep me motivated. Thanks to everyone who works on the userscripts that helped me tailor my studies to be just right. And of course, thank you for reading this post :sparkles: You’re all truly wonderful.


Congratulations on reaching 60! :birthday:

What are your next plans in Japanese studies? Have you done JLPT?



Other than the above, congratulations on this tremendous achievement! Have you taken any of the JLPT tests? Also, how far are you in BunPro? I just started there earlier this month.

Wow. It must be nice to finally get that golden 60! Congratulations again!

choo-choo :nerd_face::steam_locomotive:


Congrats! Have you made plans yet for the next step in your Japanese learning journey? I imagine reading must occupy a bulk of your time?

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Yabai! Kare wa reberu 72. You can check yourself on BP Forum. Same username.


This year I’d really like to get better at speaking. I’m a big believer in getting a lot of input before trying to output, but I think I have a pretty good foundation now, and you don’t build muscles that you don’t use.

I took the N3 in 2018 and only failed by a few points – but I was literally finishing up the last few N3 lessons on Bunpro while I waited for the exam room to open :sweat_smile: so the fact that I didn’t bomb is completely inexplicable. I had planned to take N2 this past time but my test location filled up, so the current plan is to try for N1 this December. Who knows whether I’ll pass, but I’d rather aim too high than too low.

That’s the idea! WaniKani still takes up a good chunk but my daily reviews have been going down for a little while now. I have an average of 80 reviews per day for the next two weeks, which feels great.

My goal for this year is to read 52 volumes of manga and I’m already on a good pace to exceed that. I’m also participating in the WK book club for 氷菓, playing Persona 5: Royal and Radiant Historia (both in Japanese) and watching unsubbed anime whenever I get the chance.

At this point I’ve finished all their content and my subscription is on hold for a little while. My Bunpro pace was pretty insane; I literally dumped all N5 lessons into my queue day 1, then worked through N4 and N3 at 10 lessons/day, only slowing down when I got to N2. It was review hell for a while but it stabilized eventually and the gains were huge. I really like Bunpro’s manual burn feature – it didn’t take long to realize that I didn’t need to review だ anymore, and it’s nice that you can just get it out of circulation forever.

Bunpro is a phenomenal resource and I can say for sure that I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.


Congrats and great post overall!


Thank you for the response. I am just starting out so that tip on manual burn is helpful. All the best on your future plans for the language!

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Are we obsessed with polls? Or POLLs?

  • polls
  • POLLs
  • poles
  • Poles

0 voters

Anyway, congrats! :smiley:


Congratulations!! :confetti_ball: :tada: :partying_face: :tada: :confetti_ball:

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Seems like you do a lot of reading, any good reading reccomendations that you felt were a good transition away from furigana?

Congratulations!!! :tada: :confetti_ball:

Hmm…that’s a bit of a tricky question to answer. So far nearly all my reading has been 総ルビ manga. I only follow a few series that don’t have it.

Something I find is that seinen manga (which uses limited furigana) often has a more limited vocabulary than shounen manga (which has furigana on every word). When I read 3月のライオン I find that I can go pages without encountering a single unknown word, whereas with 鬼滅の刃 I barely go one page without seeing a few of them. It’s almost like the authors take advantage of the furigana to introduce words that the average person wouldn’t be able to read automatically. So if you want to expand your vocabulary or learn unusual kanji like 痙攣 or 五月蠅い, reading shounen is the way to go.

For some easy recommendations, I like 甘々と稲妻, ゆるキャン, and 少女終末旅行. I’m currently reading3月のライオン and not having much trouble with it, though the shougi stuff might be a bit stiff for some.

Another transition tactic could be to play games in Japanese. Video games and visual novels usually don’t have any furigana at all (the only exceptions I can think of are some of the Zelda games and SMT IV), but they often have voice acting, which can help you out as well as helping you train your listening ability.

Furigana will always be with you in my opinion. There are so many good series that are 総ルビ; just off the top of my head I read 鬼滅の刃, 5等分の花嫁, 古見さんはコミュ障です and Flying Witch, all of which I intend to keep reading until they stop running. Don’t stress about it inhibiting your progress; I’ve found it to be the the opposite.


Thanks for the detailed response!

I agree with you here, it just becomes an issue when trying to read things outside of manga. When relying too much on furigana it can make it hard to transition into short novels. I guess it’s just a case of practice makes perfect.


what is the jump like from manga to novel? did you feel like it was much harder or very different? i’m really curious since i just read manga and novels look really intimidating. :sweat_smile:

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Well, this is my first novel and I can say for sure that the lack of furigana is not the most difficult thing. In fact I’m not finding all that many words I don’t know.

I’m gonna say it was a little harder but mostly just different. In manga the vast majority of text is dialogue and you can get a lot more context clues from the images. Oftentimes video games are nearly all dialogue (visual novels excluded, but my main experience here is the Persona series).

Novels on the other hand have a lot of narration and descriptions that would otherwise be covered by the manga art, which is a style of writing that can be unfamiliar (it is for me at least). I’m sure it’s something that I’ll get used to in time. Everything is impossible until it’s not!


Congratulations and thanks for providing so much helpful information! :tada:



I wish I’ll be motivated enough to finish WaniKani one day, all these posts about reaching level 60 are one of the best motivation material !

See you in way too much time when i’ll finally make on like this :grin:

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Congratulations! GJ.
Yeah, twentieth levels are indeed death. Pretty much the same.
And I agree that WK forums are an excellent place for motivation and fun.

I wish you good luck with N1 and overall.

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And thank you very much for your post. It really gave me a motivation boost.

Usually when I read posts like this, many people in lvl 60 made almost every level in 7 days. But seeing that even with a higher average the journey can be ended, make me feel that I’ll make it someday.

Thank you, and 頑張って!