My Journey of 368 days (+ The Ultimate Guide for WK 📖 )

Hello everyone, new :turtle: here!
(also, what’s up with the :turtle::turtle:? And :crabigator:? The back story hasn’t わかった for me yet)

Originally I came for the guide/holy you can do all of WK in a year how’d you do that - very late congratulations! Hope your studies are going well and you’re having a lot of fun with them! - but then I stayed for the community. I love how everyone’s so supportive of each other.

To be honest, I’m kind of on the fence about WK, because I’ve been learning Kanji the ‘traditional’ way, that is with textbooks plus Anki for the SRS, so starting from the ground up again sort of feels like a step back. I’m also planning to keep up with textbooks to get to N3 level grammar, even if I stick to WK.

I have until level 3 to come to a decision, so I’m not too stressed about it (yet). I’m assuming other ppl might have done this and have experience and an opinion to share?

Also, this might not be the place for this topic. Feel free to let me know. :smiley:


From a Tofugu’s article:

2000BC-ish, that’s around 4000 years ago) people needed to ask questions to the heavens. How did they ask questions? Not by shouting at the sky. Instead, they’d take turtle shells or animal bones and burn them.

Now, when a turtle shell or animal bone gets burned, cracks form. From there, they’d analyze these cracks and write them down (i.e. copy them down), pulling meaning from them by comparing the cracks to real life things (i.e. if the cracks looked like something, they’d attribute some meaning to it). By killing lots of turtles, you could figure out if it was going to rain, if there’d be a disaster, or whatever you want (heck, you’re pulling meaning from burnt turtle shells here).

Read more here: Kanji History - The Origins of Japan's Writing System

In other words, WK items are recorded on turtle shells by burning an item (an item reaching the max SRS level on WK). Think of the analogy as getting something memorized.

Appreciate your kind words :heart: Really do. They’re going at a good enough speed :grin: Things aren’t as organized as I wish to, but they’re getting there! :v::slight_smile:


We’ve had users that were at a higher level and decided to go for WK. Not only you’re able to have a 2nd look to everything that you already know (extra reinforcement), but you also get to use a more innovative system that will allow you to obtain a better learning from the stuff that you indeed not know yet. Actually, @Naphthalene can confirm you this (sorry, I know you’re busy). They’ve joined us in here after passing JLPT N1 and they’ve been loving their experience and say that it has been worth it (they’re level 58 currently).

In what JLPT level kanji wise do you put yourself in? N4? N4 is around level 16, which is not that hard to reach. I definitely agree that you should give it a try until level 3, since it’s free. Have a read of the FAQ, WK Guide and my Guide. It will help you figure out WK’s potential in your studies as well.

Don’t get me wrong, if your current system is working for you, please continue doing so. But I don’t regret using WK a single bit. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s the best one around.

There are threads with people in a similar situation as you. Maybe you could find some value there… but I swear to God I can’t find them :sweat_smile:


I was summoned.

I’m not the only one who came here with that level, by the way. I know @SyncroPC also joined at a level >N1 (I don’t know if they have the actual piece of paper).
And also yes, I’ve been enjoying the ride. It really helped to hunt down some weakness I still had, hiding in my kanji/vocab knowledge. For me, it was worth it, especially with the discount on lifetime (which should come around soonish, by the way)


Thank you for taking the time to reply to me in such detail! :blush:

Thanks for the link! I’ve read some about that before, but it was a pretty fun read. :slight_smile: all that turtle talk and burning of the kanji/vocab makes more sense now!

Perfect! :smile: what more can one ask of in their studies. How are you continuing them, if you don’t mind my curiosity?

Yeah, I know about 500 kanji by sight and meaning, but only know the roughly 300 N4 kanji with reading. Thank you for the estimation. I’m guessing lvl 16 should be comfortably doable in 3 months or so~

Right?? :turtle::grin:

Thanks for dropping name’s and info! That sure sounds like the kind of experience I’d like to have, too! Very encouraging!

Thank you for your time and effort, and most of all your kind words! I shall look through the forum some more these next days!

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That’s quite the effective summon! :wink:

Thank you for sharing your experiences with me! I truly appreciate it.

Well, I do like discounts! :dollar: so it will come around sometime around the new year, I’m guessing? That is very good to know!

Thanks again, I appreciate the extra information! It’s gonna help with the decision making! :smile:

Since my first post, I’ve also happened upon the reform that’s in the works here. Looks like it’s not a bad time to start WK.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to getting to know you all a bit better over the next weeks (and who knows, maybe years :grinning:) よろしくおねがいします!


If I remember correctly from last year, the discount should be officially announced (and should start) in 10 days or so. It’s usually $100 off of the lifetime. So $200 instead of $300.

So, I :100: suggest you to give WK a try! :slight_smile: By level 9, you’ll have already learned 309 kanji and 908 words :grin: For level 16, it’s 556 kanji and 1735 words :v: Level 9 is around 2 months, if you go for a 10 day/level speed.

Where I got these cool stats: [STATS] Statistics site

For the level that you seem to be at, I’d definitely recommend a combo between Wanikani, Kitsun and Bunpro. Once you get a little more comfortable kanji/vocab/grammar wise, you should give FloFlo a try (sorry, I’m running out of time, can’t really do a more detailed explanation xD - just check the links I just shared with you).

Personally, I’m doing extremely well. Learning around new 35 words/day and now slowly trying to get into the daily habit of reading books/watching media in Japanese (the later with JP subs). I’ve been chatting with natives pretty much everyday on Hellotalk (app to find language partners - check it out), but I feel like I need to broaden my exposure a little bit more. Once I get that sorted out, I’ll go back to study grammar (N2) and I’ll restart with iTalki lessons (mainly for speaking practice - check that website out as well).

And… I think… that’s it :grin:



That fits very nicely in my schedule, what with wanting to finish some levels before deciding anyway! :smiley:

Thank you for all the links, especially since you’re short on time! I will definitely check them out tomorrow probably. (okay, already looked at bunpro and kitsun :sweat:) Also, I love me some stats.

Your Japanese schedule, if you will - or maybe just habits - sounds very nice. I’m working at getting there. What are you watching/reading?

I’m fine talking to Japanese people usually, since they’re very good at adjusting the difficulty level. Also, texting is great. Additional option of actually looking up words you don’t know, instead of missing it. :smiley: (oh, eh, some context: currently in Japan on a working holiday visa)

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Someone called me.

Yes, I’ve also joined Wanikani (a lot) after passing N1. I do have my piece of paper, but I took it five years ago by the end of my first year in Japan, so I have serious doubts I would pass it again if I tried it now, even though my spoken Japanese is by far better than it was by then.

I joined Wanikani because after years in Japan I felt like I was forever stuck with the 1300 or so kanji you need to get away with everyday average reading and never got past that. I had tried RTK and Anki decks before, but I felt like Wanikani has a good short-term goals approach, a nice design and a good community, what would help me to stick to end of the Joyo Kanji. That being said, I also study kanji in parallel the traditional way, using the Kanken books and DS game, also because I want to pass the kanken exams to hand it to my company.

I’m sure one can find what WaniKani mainly offers by using a good kanji book and an Anki deck, but the thing is WaniKani gamifies it for you, puts it into a nice design, helps with the management and gives you a nice community that does book clubs (not that I take part in any). I think it is a nice deal.


For now, I’ve been just watching anime with JP subs and some manga I had here. My first non-fiction book might arrive tomorrow though :grin: Other than that, I might subscribe to Netflix JP to get some exposure to actual real people. I could do youtube videos, but everything seems very meh (and they don’t have subs, which I still need).

Yuup! This is also why I still appreciate using subs. I see the word right away instead of guessing xD

Ohhh, nicee!! :clap: How’s that experience going?


Same :sob: I’d say a bit more than 1300 but the actual number doesn’t really matter.

And yes, while there are many options to learn kanji out there, I never found one that I could stick to. At least, not anymore; I used to be fine with barebones Anki back in the days I was preparing for JLPT. Gamification plus community has proven very effective.

One additional bonus: while preparing for the kanken (well, just level 5), I found that the WK “radicals” really helped get a simpler idea of the structure of kanjis. I suddenly didn’t have to remember a bunch of strokes, just two or three words. E.g. 段: 9 strokes versus comb+ikea
For me, at least, the WK radicals are more useful for recall than recognition.
(Kinda hyped about the overhaul tomorrow, btw)


You definitely need to get to Japan. I’m here because I went and knew very little. I fell in love with everything and now I need to know how to speak and read it for when I go back. I truly hope you get and have the adventure of a lifetime. It’s more than you can imagine and will make a huge impact on you.

Also thanks for the tips in your review, implementing those ASAP.

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Really appreciate the kind words :slight_smile: I’m on it :muscle::heart:

And I’m glad that you got to appreciate your trip! :grin: What was your favourite thing that you got to experience in Japan? :slight_smile:

Let me know if I can help you in any other way \o/


All of it. :stuck_out_tongue:

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I’ve considered getting a Netflix subscription myself, since I heard there’s lots of Japanese content on there… But I didn’t know you could or had to get a Japanese one. Good to know! :smiley:

I’ve found a lot of YouTubers follow the theme Japanese TV shows have going, especially the game shows. So they’re ridiculous, often fast paced, with that special, Japanese humor that is actually often quite mean… Yeah, I don’t really like those either :smiley: as for Japanese speaking YouTube channels, I’ve found foreigners making videos for a Japanese audience more my thing. They’re also a bit easier to understand, which might not be a good thing… Seeing as it reinforces non Japanese accents. :sweat:

Very nicely! The first weeks were a bit overwhelming in the language department, that is to say I used exclusively English in the 2 weeks I was in Tokyo, because it was easy. So if you’re anything like me, who shies away from difficulties and actually using new languages I’m not confident in - Tokyo is a great experience, but maybe take to the suburbs/rural areas/other, smaller cities where the locals aren’t that used to accommodating tourists with English. :sweat:

But maybe that’s just me. I’m sure you can use Japanese in Tokyo as well. Maybe.

I’ve visited Japanese language school for a couple weeks (homestay included), WWOOFed on a dairy farm in Okinawa and will be starting my first actual, paid job next week in a hotel in Nagano. (nothing fancy, just cleaning staff for the ski season :smiley:)

I’m kind of worried about that. Here’s hoping we can both get used to the new routine quickly!

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Using radicals was not introduced to me by Wanikani because my original Japanese language school gave some emphasis on radicals (I mean the official ones, 部首) with their Japanese names and all, so I always thought it was natural using them, but it seems it doesn’t get much attention on some other methods.

But they surely help a lot on remembering the kanji, and I also find knowing the Japanese names pretty useful for talking with Japanese people (since they all know them).


Same, the language classes I attended in Japan had some focus on actual radicals, but that’s why I mentioned “radicals” instead.
Knowing that a kanji has a 手偏 or 草冠 is nice, but it doesn’t help with the rest of the kanji. The usual way is to use another kanji with the same part “oh, the right part is like in 投” But then, you have to remember 投 first, which is a bit of a circular problem for me. Giving a specific name to those parts as well is helpful, in my opinion.


Funny enough, the Japanese school who taught me radicals was the one back at home. My Japanese teachers in Japan couldn’t care less about it, haha.

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Wow. Just found this post and I’m thrilled to have found it and the knowledge within but also it makes me feel pretty dumb. I first joined WK in 2013 (this is my second account) and in 2014 I quit around level 18. I decided Japanese wasn’t very useful and I had other pursuits so why was I learning it when I could focus on them instead? (spoiler alert I didn’t really benefit from dropping it, in the end)

At some point in 2015 I started over so I created a new account (you used to not be able to reset your account). I didn’t start using that account until January 2017, but I got really sick in the middle of the year for a while and was still only level 7 and it knocked it off my schedule.

Now, I am determined to actually finally get through WK, become conversational, literate, etc. But wow. I have been messing with this crap for 5 years and here comes a babby who did it in 1 year. Feels bad man.

Anyway, thank you, good babby, for the tips on how to get through WK before dying of old age. I really wish when I signed up for WK, when it was in beta, when I was still in my twenties, it explained this.


japanese teachers in japan teach mostly chinese people it seems, and those progress very quickly. no use wasting time on that lone westerner in the classroom.

I’ve never been to one, but people do say private Japanese courses are filled with Chinese, so I imagine it is true.

I attended 東京外国語大学 classes (not that I was a student there, tho), my class had no Chinese person. We were 2 from Latin America, 3 westerns, 2 Mongolians and 1 from Israel. But I guess the main reason was that we all arrived Japan on intermediate level, so it’s very complex to make a curriculum that makes sense to everyone in the class. Most of the time we were learning grammar, writing endless compositions (very, very useful) and training speech.

My Japanese teacher probably assumed that if we got to that level we probably already knew how to study Kanji by ourselves and just gave us the weekly list of new Kanji to remember and used her class time on other things.

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