The Ultimate Guide to Wanikani - COMPLETED!
Become the best version of your Wanikanian self.
Heads-up: this Guide is really longgggggggg. You can read it all in one go, but there’s no need to if you don’t want. Think of it as the place to come to when in doubt/need of help. Thanks for checking this out <3
Table of contents
1. Why you should read this.
Dear awesome person,
Welcome to this journey of learning 2027 kanji and 6303 words! Knowledge, together with a great feeling of achievement awaits you!
In my humble opinion, Wanikani is the ideal solution for anyone wanting to dominate the kanji used in the Japanese language. It’s a system that allows you to efficiently learn in 1 to 2 years what Japanese natives take their school years to learn. However, like anything else in life, this journey is simple but not easy. From you, it will require dedication and willingness to show up every day to do the work.
My goal with this guide is to teach you everything you need to know in order to be successful on Wanikani. I will teach you how to make this tool part of your routine, much like brushing your teeth. I will also teach you what to pay attention to, which tools to use and how to make the right decisions during your journey. Whether you’re a beginner or you’re halfway through the program, there’s something in here for you.
This is what I wish I was told when I started Wanikani.
Hope you enjoy it.
2. Level 1 is slow: why?
Why is level 1 soooo slooowwww? - Every WK beginner ever.
Welcome to your first problem ever on Wanikani. Here you are, just starting and eager to learn. However, the system isn’t letting you. I know how you feel. When I was in your position, I felt like I was betrayed. I was craving for more: “Can’t you just unlock more items or something?”
No, you can’t. Don’t worry though, and here’s why. At the moment of writing this, Wanikani has in total 8804 items (radicals + kanji + vocabulary). This means that at some point during your journey, each of these 8804 items will show up for lessons once and for reviewing at least 8 times. In comparison, you start this program with lessons for only 26 items.
Here’s a graphic that is quite eye-opening when it comes to understanding the actual workload that Wanikani requires with time:
Note: If you’re the author of this image, please let me know.
This graphic assumes 100% accuracy and the y-axis represents not your daily workload, but the total number of items in various stages of learning (burned excluded). It’s not perfect, but it does a good job in conveying the reality that Wanikani is in my opinion
Wanikani works much like the snow ball effect. At the start, it does not seem like much, but things will definitely start to pile up and that’s precisely why it’s important for every beginner to understand how this system works.
Don’t be in a hurry to do Wanikani - Japanese always has something else for us to do.
While you wait for things to heat up, the best advice I’ve got for you is to use this more relaxing time to let yourself get involved in the world of learning Japanese. See what textbooks people recommend you, watch media related to Japan, tell us your goals, let yourself be absorbed by what made Japanese attractive to you in the first place. This language will be a big part of your life from now on, so taking control of it is the best you can do at the moment. Mainly, engage with this lovely community as I’m sure they’ll receive you with open arms like they did to me.
Success is never achieved alone, and it’s best served with the company of others
3. Kaniwani: the Wanikani's sibling that you need to meet.
What’s that word again?.. I forgot.
Has it ever happened to you that you’re able to remember exactly what a word means when you see it/hear it, but then when it comes to actually write/say it, you simply can’t?! Well, both these two things have their own designations:
Recognition: the ability to see a term, compare it to information stored in your memory, and identify what it represents. In language learning, this is what people call as passive vocabulary.
Recall: the ability to retrieve information from your brain without a clue and be able to produce the correct term for it. In language learning, this what people call as active vocabulary.
- Being able to identify a friend by their face is recognition, but being able to remember how their face looks like is recall.
- Multiple choice is recognition because the correct answer is right there in front of you, you just need to identify it. An open answer is recall because you have to come up with the whole concept by yourself.
- Writing/Speaking is recall. Reading and listening is recognition.
Why does this matter? Because one of the keys for Wanikani to be this successful is because they merely focus on recognition, which is quite an easier process than recall. Think about it: in the context of kanji learning, recognition would be seeing the kanji and knowing its readings/meanings. Recall would be to actually learn how to handwrite them (Japanese school system way). The thing is, we live in a world where foreigners needing to know how to handwrite kanji is literally not necessary. We work with computers these days. You just need to type the reading of the word you want and the computer will literally give you suggestions (<= recognition).
Look at it yourself:
I literally just typed こい. Those are all words that can be read as こい. I didn’t need to write anything by hand. It’s all there, like a multiple choice question. I just needed to choose the right option in order to get what I wanted. Plus, If you know me well enough, you’ll know that I was looking for option 2.
All this to explain why focusing on recognition is a key feature of Wanikani that will lead you to a much faster success in learning kanji. However, it begs the question: what about vocabulary? If recognition basically represents our passive vocab and recall represents our active one, shouldn’t we also worry about recall for words? How are we supposed to remember them while speaking/writing? This is where I introduce you to Kaniwani.
Kaniwani is a free website developed by Wanikani users that will give you the opportunity to practice recalling the vocabulary you learn on Wanikani. Instead of going 八 => はち/eight (WK way), you’ll go from eight => はち/八 (EN => JP). The best time to start with it is right together with Wanikani. A lot of people complain about WK being slow at the start, but here you have something important to entertain yourself while things don’t heat up
KameSame: another option to practice recalling of Wanikani vocabulary.
The only reason I mentioned Kaniwani first is because it was the first tool to allow us to do recall practice together with Wanikani. It has been up for almost 4 solid years and the team behind it does not seem to intend to stop supporting it, which is something to appreciate. Nevertheless, KameSame came out recently and promises to be a better option. I’m not here to tell you which is better. I sticked with Kaniwani because that’s where I started in the first place. My advice would be to try both out and see which you enjoy the most. Once you choose one, stick with it.
Recalling is unecessary and a waste of time - Some people.
A lot of people will tell you that recall is unnecessary for language learning, the main reasons being that it’s harder than recognition and that with enough exposure to the language, you’ll develop a decent recalling naturally.
In my opinion, both aren’t valid enough justifications. I’m basing this on my experience. I’m not an English native speaker and Japanese is the 3rd language I’m learning. Being the universal language that it is, I’ve been exposed to English since I can remember. Somehow, I’m writing in English. Then how am I saying that exposure isn’t enough?!
Being able to do recognition does not mean you can do recall:
Learning words through exposure definitely has its advantages, as it allows to learn in context. However, the process itself is recognition. You’ll find a lot of people around the world perfectly able to understand English, but not being able at all to build a solid paragraph of text. This happens because you have exposure, but not actual practice. One needs practice through speaking/writing in order to be able to get it right. SRS only gets in this equation because it’s a method of accelerating memorization, whether if you’re doing recognition or recalling.
The only reason not to wish to SRS recall (EN => JP) would be if you don’t have as a goal writing and speaking a language. Yes, it’s more common than you think. A lot of us are here to be able to read light novels/manga or to watch anime/drama in Japanese. That’s recognition. In my opinion, postponing recall for this reason is perfectly acceptable. It’s a matter of choosing priorities. However, SRSing EN => JP definitely has a fundamental role in helping you improve your writing/speaking skills, if those are part of your goals.
At the end of the day, practicing writing and speaking (recall) and listening and reading (recognition) is what will actually help you win the game of fluency. SRS is like having the best rowboat to take you to the final destination, but you’ll still need to row.
4. Building your own schedule.
If you still haven’t read the FAQ and the Guide, please do so before proceding. It will make things easier for you to understand from here on
I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times. - Bruce Lee
Assuming that one actually succeeds and reaches level 60, Wanikani takes around 2 years to get there on average. Even for the fastest runners, it will take at least 1 year. Plus, I’m not even mentioning the couple thousands of items you’ll have left to burn once you reach there. What I mean by this is that Wanikani will end up being part of your daily life for the next year(s), and that means coming here for 400+ days, every day. Sounds like a big project, doesn’t it? It is, but that’s why I’m writing this chapter: to help you simplify it.
SRS intervals explained + why they’re important:
SRS intervals on Wanikani:
||Waiting Time For Next Level
Observation: The tilde (~) is used for the sake of keeping the numbers rounded. Those SRS intervals are actually 1h less to those presented above. For example, the waiting time for an item to get to Apprentice 4 is actually 23h, not 1 day.
If you pay attention, you’ll notice that WK is divided by intervals of 12h and 24h:
- Apprentice 1 (4h) + Apprentice 2 (8h) = 12h. This means that you need to wait at least 12h to get a lesson to Apprentice 3.
- After Apprentice 3, it takes ~1d to reach Apprentice 4, then ~2d to Guru I, and so on.
Why is this important? It’s simple. This will allow you to build your own schedule for WK.
Imagine that you do a lesson at 9am. This means that you’ll get the 1st review at 1pm (+4h) and the 2nd review at 9pm (+8h, considering you got it right both times). Did you notice the pattern? That’s right: 9 am and 9pm . It’s the WK’s pattern working. Now, think about the time it will take for the next Apprentice levels. That’s right, Apprentice 4 at 9pm of the following day and Guru 1 two days later also at 9pm. The same will happen with the remaining SRS levels. Can you see the magic happening?
In order to use WK to its full potential, it’s better to respect the SRS intervals of Apprentice items on WK. Why? If you’ve read the FAQ/Guide, you’ll know that WK’s goal is to show you an item right before you forget it. By being loyal to the intervals, you’ll be more successful in your reviews. Does this give you extra work? Not at all. Just notice the pattern again.
For an item which lesson was done at 9am, you’ll need to:
- Review it at 1pm.
- Review it at 9pm.
You basically only need to use WK three times a day. Forget about trying to be here every single waking hour. You don’t need to. Waking up at the middle of the night is also complete nonsense. Your sleep is way more important than WK and the cool thing is that you can get both right.
There’s another time when you can do lessons: 4h before your last review session. Imagine that the last review session you’ll do is at 1am. You’ll then do the lessons at 9pm, Apprentice 1 at 1am and then Apprentice 2 at 9am. It’s the 9pm/9am magic happening all over again.
Some people even do both schedules by splitting the daily amount of lessons into 2 parts. Go for the one that fits your routine best.
Observation: Obviously, missing reviews by an extra of 1 or 2h will barely do you any harm, but my point here is for you to understand the system. In practice, an extra hour here and there for recent learned items happens all the time and that’s fine.
I understand the logic, but what if I don’t do it?
Imagine you know that tomorrow you’ll be able to use WK at 8am and 8pm (12h interval). By following the above line of thought, 8am would be the the right time for lessons. However, If you do them at for example 2pm instead, it means that the 2nd review will only be available at 2am. A little bit late, don’t you think?
What happens next is that you’ll probably be skipping these 2am reviews and be back to WK at 8am of the following day, but 6h late. This isn’t a problem at all when we’re talking about Guru+ items, but for an Apprentice 2, it means a 75% increase in the SRS interval. Sure, you might skip Apprentice 1 and 2 and still do fine during reviews. But what if you don’t? What happens after 3, 30, 300 days of WK? Rule of thumb: harvest before the storm.
5. Finding your own speed on Wanikani
The Reorder Script to reorder them all :
Basically, by installing the Reorder Script, you’ll be able to organize the lessons as you wish. Do you want to order all radicals in a row? You can. Kanji? The same. Do you want to just do your vocab lessons for now? You can. In other words, this script will allow you to achieve the process I’ll be describing.
Observation: If you have yet to know what a script is, don’t worry. Chapter 7 explains it to you.
Before starting making plans about how fast it’ll take you to reach level 60, I always recommend just focusing on turning Wanikani into a habit first. You might think this is not necessary, but skip 1 day and you’ll have twice as much work to do the following day. Then instead of being a hobby, Wanikani becomes an annoyance. We don’t want that, do we?
Even for those that ambition to go maximum speed, taking your time to figure things out is important in my opinion. You could achieve the first 30 levels at maximum speed, but if you burn out after that, everything will be in vain. There are numerous cases like that around the community. Don’t get me wrong though! Life shows up once in a while to give us an extremely hard time. I get it. Everyone has their own priorities in life. However, I’m sure no one wants to give up, right? This is why it’s important to settle down for a while, feel the wave and see how everything goes. Focus on getting WK into your daily routine until level 10 or so. Once there, you’ll be able to better figure out your pace and therefore define your goals.
Enough of depressing talk, let me give you the real sauce now.
The 2 types of levels on Wanikani
- Normal levels, where the fastest speed to level up is 6 days and 20 hours (~7d).
- Fast levels, where the fastest speed to level up is 3 days and 10 hours (~3d12h).
The fast levels are 1, 2, 41, 43-44, 46-47, 49-60.
The normal levels are all the ones left and represent most of your WK journey (41 levels total).
If you’ve read the Guide, you’ll know that “guruing” radicals from x level will unlock the lessons of kanji from that same level, which then will lead you to “guru” those kanji and unlock vocabulary from this same x level. In order to level up, it’s necessary to have “guru’d” 90% of kanji from a certain level at least once.
Usually right after leveling up, you’ll unlock all the radicals and the 1st batch of kanji from that level. This is the Part 1 of normal levels. Once you “guru” the radicals and unlock the remaining kanji lessons (2nd batch), you start with the Part 2 of the level. Eventually, you’ll reach 90% of “guru’d” kanji and level up, just to start this process all over again.
This is where the difference between fast levels and normal levels is. Fast levels are levels that unlock more than 90% of kanji right after you reach that same level. There are no two parts. All the radical and 90%+ of kanji lessons can be done after leveling up. This is why you can do them in half the time. Be careful however, fast levels are just as intense as normal ones. Just because you can do them in half the time doesn’t mean that you should.
Defining how many days you’ll spend per level:
The best way to know the ideal speed for you to level up is by figuring out the number of lessons that you’re able to learn efficiently every day. By efficiently, I mean being able to actually learn them and maintain a good accuracy during reviews. For some people, that will be 5 items a day, for others 20. This is one of the reasons why I recommend focusing on adapting to WK until around level 10. By then you’ll have a good enough workload of reviews to figure out your ideal pace.
Personally, I prefer separating radicals & kanji lessons from vocabulary lessons. Let’s imagine that you level up every 10 days. This means that radicals and 1st batch of kanji lessons should be completed within the first 5 days, so that you don’t get delayed with the unlocking of the 2nd batch of Kanji and you get to level up in the defined period. Vocabulary lessons on the other hand, will depend on how many you have available to do. For example, levels 10 to 20 average around 120 words per level. If you level up every 10 days, it means that you’ll have to do around 12 vocabulary lessons per day in order to keep on track (120w/10d=12w).
Observation: Captain obvious here again to tell you that 1 or 2 days more/less per level is nothing to worry about. My point here is for you to understand the system.
Full speeders: the 4 golden rules of leveling up.
This is the reason why a lot of you are probably here: to learn how to achieve that sweet full speed on WK. Besides knowing what I’ve written on chapter 4 and on this one, these are the missing rules that you must follow to achieve the 7 days/levels:
- Do the radical lessons as soon as you level up. The sooner you guru the radicals, the sooner the 2nd half of Kanji will appear.
- Do the lessons of the 1st half of Kanji in the days between the unlocking of radicals and the unlocking of the 2nd half of Kanji. This pretty much establishes that most if not all of your 1st half of Kanji will be already Guru before you level up.
- Do the lessons of the 2nd half of Kanji as soon as you guru the radicals.
- Do the lessons of vocab available during the time you spend on that level (think of “total vocab/number of days” in order to know how many words you should learn per day to achieve this).
To get the 3 days and 10 hours speed for the fast levels (41, 43-44, 46-47, 49-60):
- The earlier you do all your radical and kanji lessons, the sooner you’ll level up.
- Try to do as many vocab lessons as possible without killing yourself. Splitting them through sessions might be a smart choice to take.
- Scream x2.
6. Doing WK at the maximum speed: Is it worth it?
Observation: If you’re looking for the explanation on how to go maximum speed on Wanikani, please read chapters 4 and 5. Chapter 6 is just me telling you not to go full speed (read it also).
Everyone wants to go fast. I get it. I’m the dude that named their thread as “My Journey of 368 days” after all. I don’t have much of an opinion here to tell you to do otherwise, or do I? Please hear me out here: I’m a college student with too much free time. I had the time and the motivation, so I did it. Not a good enough explanation? Fine, I’ll give you the cool ones then instead.
First 30 ≠ Last 30.
My first argument for full speed not being necessarily a good thing is that the last 30 levels won’t be as productive to your Japanese learning as the first 30. Let me drop you some cool stats (found them thanks to [STATS] Statistics site):
- By level 30, you’ll be able to identify 88.07% of kanji used on Twitter and 86.48% of the kanji used on Wikipedia.
- The extra 30 levels on the other hand, will “only” give you an extra 10,11% for Twitter and 11,71% for Wikipedia.
Don’t get me wrong, the last 30 levels are still very useful. Imagine not knowing around 1 kanji every 10: still annoying, don’t you think so? But this is an interesting concept: Maybe you can go faster for the first 30 levels and then slow down a little and focus on other areas of Japanese learning Wanikani works so efficiently that some people end up getting to level 60 with barely studying any grammar. In my specific case, I definitely neglected my reading practice just to have a cool title on my level 60 celebration thread.
Japanese is not just about kanji.
Here’s my 2nd argument: Japanese is much more than learning kanji. It involves learning (extra WK!) vocabulary, grammar, practicing your writing, reading, speaking, listening, etc. I know that at first, kanji seems pretty scary. It really was to me as well! However, once you’re around level 10, you’ll realize that Wanikani is doing wonders and that you’re now slowly able to start working on other skills. Don’t lose this momentum to expand your other skills. My opinion is that your kanji knowledge should be above your level on other skills, so that you can learn without kanji being a problem. However, don’t let the gap between skills get too big. Aim for balance.
Not everyone can do it that fast.
Sometimes, the answer is this obvious. At the last 10 levels, I was doing 400 reviews every day while also trying to keep up with my other Japanese studies (and life!!!). Not everyone has the same time, mental energy or interest to go full speed. We don’t need to. In 5 years time, if all goes well, we’ll all be level 60. Patience. Know how much you’re willing to give to Wanikani, but never give up. The turtle did win the race against the rabbit, didn’t it?
7. Scripts: enhance your performance.
In short, userscripts for Wanikani are tools developed by a third-party (usually by WK users) which goal is to improve Wanikani. This community offers quite a big amount of these scripts which in my opinion, are a game changer in allowing you do have a better experience with this program and learn its content more efficiently.
Scripts that make up the cake (★★★★★) :
These are scripts that I believe completely change the game in terms of using Wanikani. They will make your whole experience with this lovely tool much more smooth and efficient. These are the big guns, the scripts everyone wants.
Override: Have you ever got a review wrong because you answered with the reading instead of the meaning? What about typos? No one wants to see these precious items getting downgraded because of a typo. This script fixes your problem by adding a small button in the bottom right corner that will negate your wrong answer and let you try again. Also, careful in order to avoid abusing it. Giving a wrong answer and then overriding it because of a “Oh I knew that” is not a good enough excuse.
Reorder Ultimate 2: This script allows you to order your lessons and reviews by item’s level and type (radical, kanji, etc). As I explained before, this is essential for managing your WK routine. Do you wanna do the radical’s lessons right after leveling up? You can. Don’t have enough time to do all your reviews, but want to review the items you just learned 4h ago? You can
Ultimate Timeline: This script is like having your own WK personal secretary. It will show you a detailed view of your reviews from the “now” to the following 7 days of reviews. Do you want to know when the items you just learned a few hours ago will show up for reviewing? Do you want to know what will be your last review of the day? You can easily check this and much more.
Scripts that make up the cream (★★★★☆):
The above category was about scripts that will completely change the way you do things on Wanikani. However, don’t let yourself get fooled by the ranking of this next category. These scripts might not affect Wanikani as significantly, but they are in no way inferior in terms of improving your efficiency in learning.
Hide review accuracy: This is the most underrated script on Wanikani, at least in my opinion. Have you ever noticed that you’re too distracted by your accuracy during reviews? Mainly when you’re doing not so well? Notice how it can change your mood. To me, it did. It disturbed my focus, which then would even lead me to do even worse. What this script does is removing the accuracy % during reviews. No more feeling pressured about keeping that % high. Now, you’re able to stay entirely focused on what you’re doing. No distractions.
Pitch Info: This one shows you a small graph with the right pronunciation/tone of every vocab on WK. Not sure what your native language is, but the further your native language’s phonology is from Japanese, the more you’ll need this. Getting used to Japanese tones is important and this script, together with the audio that Wanikani offers, gives you a great opportunity to work on this. Plus, this extra reinforcement will also help you with the memorization of the vocabulary.
Self-Study Quiz: Have you ever wished to review a certain type of items from a specific level? This is it. This script allows you do an extra and personalized reviewing of any items you learn on WK. Do not worry, as this script will not influence the SRS level of items.
WaniKani Open Framework Additional Filters: This script serves as an upgrade to the Self-Study one I mentioned above. Basically, it will add filters such as “most recent items learned” and “leeches” (most difficult items for you) to your Self-Study script. For the distance of just a couple clicks, you can get all the extra reinforcement on the items you need the most
Self-Study Hide Info: This script is the reason why I was able to learn 30 kanji in a row for 60 levels and never get them wrong while they were in apprentice for the first time. Basically, this script is a companion to the above mentioned Self-Study Quiz script and what it does is hiding the meanings/readings from the radical/kanji/vocabulary pages. Why did I need this? Because right after doing all the kanji lessons, I’d go to the list of kanji in that level and say out loud all the meanings/readings to myself a couple of times. This helped me with actually make sure that I knew all the kanji. Believe me, without this, I’d have gotten less than 50% accuracy 4h after the first review session.
Lesson User Synonyms 2: During your Wanikani journey, you might find yourself wanting to add synonyms during lessons, whether because this new meaning that you wish to add makes more sense to you or because you’re not a native English speaker and you want to add the equivalent word in your native language. Unfortunately, WK only allows you to do this after the Quiz. This script fixes the problem.
Dashboard SRS and Leech Breakdown: This script allows you to know how many leeches (items you have trouble with) you have on each SRS category (Apprentice, Guru, Master…). It also allows you to have access to the number of items on each subdivision of both the Apprentice and the Guru categories. For example, instead of just seeing 110 items on Apprentice, you’ll also see “10/0/37/63”. [Explanation: 10 in App 1, 0 in App 2, 37 in App 3 and 63 in App 4].
Jitai (字体): The font randomizer that fits: If you’ve ever been in Japan or if you’ve ever seen pictures of streets in Japan, you’ll notice how they use these weird fonts and how it seems so much harder to read them (even if you know the kanji). Yes, Japanese fonts can be a little messy, but this is why I recommend this script. With it, you’ll be able to install extra fonts to your WK reviews, which will allow you to get used to see kanji looking slightly different.
Visually Similar Kanji: We all know how messy it is to try to distinguish very similar kanji. What this script does is adding a section with a list of kanji to the kanji’s page that are similar to the one you’re looking at in that moment. Whether if it’s during lessons, reviews or even on the actual item’s page, you’ll have quick access to this list, allowing you to compare similar kanji and idenitfy their small differences.
External Definition: This script basically adds a definition in Japanese to the vocabulary you’re learning on Wanikani. This one might feel a little more extreme, but if you’re ready to challenge yourself and get some sweet reading practice along the way, go for it.
Stroke Order: This script shows you the stroke order of kanji during reviews, lessons and on the kanji pages. Awesome for those wanting to get some handwriting practice.
Scripts that make up the cherry on top of the cake (★★★☆☆):
This category is made of scripts that are not necessarily game-changers, but that together will make your experience much more intuitive and natural. In my opinion, every script on this list should be native to Wanikani. There are very simple things on this lovely website that are not perfected and that end up hurting the user in terms of fully experiencing the product. This list fixes it.
Real Numbers: If you ever got 42 or more lessons/reviews available to do at some point (which pretty much happens on a daily basis), you’ll notice that Wanikani will display “42+” and not the actual number of lessons/reviews you have. This is all part of a very good joke, but it hurts the user. One thing is having 43 reviews and another is having 100+. The urgency to review (before it gets out of hand) is much higher in the latter. Same with lessons. This script makes it so you only see the real numbers and nothing else. No need to worry about checking the actual number anymore
DotDotDot Expander: If you ever searched for items on Wanikani, you have probably noticed already that sometimes meanings will display incomplete and with three dots during the search. This can get a little annoying, since you might have to check which item is actually the one you were looking for, between other things. This script removes the three dots and shows the entire main meaning of the item.
Show Specific SRS Level in Reviews: This one is very simple. Instead of getting “Apprentice”/“Guru” every time you review an item, you get the specific level that it leveled to. For example, “Guru 2” and “Apprentice 3”.
Order Vocab’s Kanji Breakdown: During lessons/reviews of vocab items, you might want to try recalling what each kanji of that item means just to test yourself. I do it all the time! The problem is that the displaying of the kanji incorporated in that vocab item isn’t in the same order as in the word. This might not seem like that big of a deal, but having them following the same order makes the experience a lot smoother, mainly when the word uses more than 2 kanji.
Lesson Hover Details: This script lets you see the lesson breakdown by type (radicals, kanji, vocab) when you hover over the lessons circle in the menu bar. No need to go into the review page anymore.
Progress Plus: This script adds a progress ring around the radical and kanji progression section on the main page, so you can see how far you are to guru them and therefore, leveling up.
Level Duration: This script will add the time you’re at your current level in your dashboard page. In my opinion, this information is more useful that it seems at first. Why? Well, I’ve wrote on this Guide before that building a routine on Wanikani is essential for success. So if you’re leveling up every 11 days and this script tells you you’re on day 9, it means that you’re almost leveling up. This helps you manage your lessons and see if your progress is going as you wished to.
Scripts for the forums:
If you’re here, the chance of getting stuck in an infinite cycle of lurking on the forums is quite high. Maybe you’ve found yourself neglecting your reviews due to the latest @MissMisc’s award or simply because everyone in here has a beautiful story to tell. Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
On a more serious note, this community is awesome. I’ve made some great friends in here and I believe the same will happen to you. So while you’re here, why not make your experience better?
Wanikani Forums: Lesson/Review Status: This script allows you to know how many lessons/reviews you have available to do and when the next review session is. If you’re on the forums, you won’t need to open a new tab to check for this information out. This script is also a very passive way of telling you to go do your reviews…
WaniKani Forums: Like Counter: Do you want to check if you’re running out of likes? Do you want to know how many likes you’ve got on the forums for the last 24h? Well, this script allows you to do just that
Note: Scripts are to be used on the computer and they’re not supposed to work on smartphones. For Android however, there’s a way to do it. Take into consideration that this method wasn’t tested on all the scripts released, so you might find some not working. For more information about this, check the hyperlink I added.
Also related to using scripts on smartphones, there are non-official apps available both on the Play Store and on the App Store that come with some of the most wanted scripts integrated (linked at the very end of the next chapter).
8. Threads on the forums that you should know about.
In here, I have listed threads/sections of the forums that I believe you should know about in order to improve your Japanese.
The Ultimate Additional Japanese Resources List: Like the name itself says, the community gathered a list of the most popular resources, from textbooks to podcasts, in order to help you take your Japanese to the next level. Need to find a complement to Wanikani? It’s there. Need to find a place where you can practice with natives? It’s there. When in need to find something, start there.
Resources for Starting to Read Japanese Content: This thread made by my lovely friend Radish gives you a detailed perspective on how to approach reading in Japanese. You’ll find resources for all levels of Japanese, how to buy books, etc. If it’s about reading practice, it’s probably there.
Beginner Japanese Book Club: As a continuation of the reading theme, this is the book club for beginners where the community gathers, reads and analyses the same book together. The participants establish a certain amount of the book to be read in x time, so that everyone can follow along. This is an incredible opportunity to start your reading practice and get all your questions clarified by more advanced members of the community.
Intermediate Japanese Book Club: This works exactly like the book club for beginners, the difference being that what’s read is suited for people with an intermediate level of Japanese and above.
Japanese only section: This is a Japanese only section. Sounds like trouble already, doesn’t it? Don’t worry. Wanikani has a team of Japanese natives actively participating in this section on a daily basis. They’re there to help you practice your Japanese while giving you corrections. Everyone is there to learn. The team is also completely available to help you out. Go ahead and give it a try
Short Grammar Questions: Do you have any grammar questions you’d like to get an explanation of? Do you feel like they’re not significant enough to make a new thread? This is the place. Post your question and the community will help you the best they can Tip: Reading the whole thread, post by post, will do wonders to your grammar knowledge.
The short Language Questions Thread (not grammar): This is basically like the grammar thread I mentioned above, but for other aspects of the language.
Race to the Cake: Are you looking to have a friendly competition with the community? Here’s where you do it. From several different groups, you can select one that fits your style on Wanikani. Everyone is there to help you go and reach that sweet at level 60. Join us!
The 0/0 Streak Challenge: Do you have trouble keeping up with your pile of reviews? Have you been avoiding doing those vocabulary lessons from 3+ levels ago? This is where you can get your game straight. Everyone is there for a common goal: to get both the lesson and review piles to 0 every level. Get to 0/0, post a proof there, come back next level and do the same. It’s time to stay committed, and this is one of the bests ways to motivate you to do so.
The Ultimate Japan Travel Guide (User Recommendations): Whether you’ve been in Japan before or you want to visit, this thread is for you. You’ll find from general travelling advice to recommendations of what you must see at each prefecture. If you have any experience with travelling to Japan, please let us know there
The New And Improved List Of API and Third Party Apps: I know I already wrote an extensive list of scripts on this Guide. However, in case you’re wondering what else is out there, start here.
Statistics site: Would you like to know how many kanji and vocab you’ve learned on Wanikani so far? Do you want to see where your knowledge of kanji stands compared to the JLPT? Do you want to check your average leveling up speed and get a super cool graphic, just like the one I posted on my main post? This is where you’ll be able to access it.
[iOS] Tsurukame - native app with offline lessons and reviews: This is by far the best (unofficial) app out there for iOS. The fact that it allows you to do reviews offline and that it has some popular scripts integrated is a big win. If you’re iOS, give it a try
WaniKani for Android: This is the best (unofficial) app for Android in my opinion, as it has the override script integrated and it’s intuitive. It’s always good when you can keep up with your lessons and reviews on the go
9. The level 30 syndrome.
Welcome. You’re halfway it. I’m so proud of you, I really am You’ve done what thousands before you didn’t. Literally:
Observation: Graphic kindly made by our goodest boy @Wantitled.
You’re not over though. There are still 30 levels left to conquer, so I’d like to give you some advice on how to go through the rest of this journey as smooth as possible.
The First 30 ≠ Last 30 Principle - Remember?*
If you’ve read Chapter 6 of this Guide (if not, please read the The First 30 ≠ Last 30 part), you’ll know how I explained that the first 30 levels have a much bigger impact on your learning, compared to the last 30. However, I also explained that the last 30 levels can still have a significant impact, so they’re far from neglectable. This is a key problem though: the gains from the first half are so big that even if you continue seeing results during the 2nd half of your journey, it’ll feel as too little and you’ll almost definitely lose motivation. The fact that after 30 levels, you’re so good at WKing doesn’t help. You lose the momentum you once had because you’re so used to this program already. It feels like climbing the same staircase over and over again: you’re going up, but it’s still the same staircase. It’s no longer a new challenge.
It’s time to find another challenge - You’re too good to do just one.
Exactly that the title says. Your passion for the Japanese language isn’t disappearing out of nowhere. You’re not done with learning either. So go find a new challenge, whether if it’s joining the book clubs here on the forums, whether if it’s finding Japanese friends, whether if it’s studying grammar, whatever you wish to accomplish. Don’t leave Wanikani behind however. Use your solid routine to continue with it until the very end (you can do it! o/), but in case you find yourself losing momentum and staying behind, know that it isn’t your fault. It’s time for a bigger challenge. Go find it. Go embrace it
10. Going on vacation: the dos and don'ts of Vacation Mode (+ how to do it right).
Wanikani is a big investment time-wise. Just to have an idea, users that reach level 60 are expected to use this program from 1 to 3 years on a daily basis. Here’s the thing: during this period, you’ll eventually go on vacation or life might even get in way of your studies. This might make you consider taking a break from Wanikani. Don’t worry, this is completely understandable. This is why the Wanikani team offers an option called “Vacation Mode”, which allows you to freeze all reviews in time so that you’re able to go do whatever you have to do without worrying about them accumulating. When you return, your account will be exactly the way it was when you left. This seems like perfection, right? Well, it has its problems too.
Imagine this situation: you just came back from a two week vacation in Japan. You activated vacation mode on Wanikani at the time of departure. Although all the items all got frozen in time during those 2 weeks that you traveled, time still passed in real life. FKHGKJHKSHKSHSDSD WHAT SHOULD I WRITE HEREEE ! In other words, items that you would have to review in 8 hours, 2 days, 1 week, were all rescheduled with 2 extra weeks (vacation time). In reality, you’ll wait exponentially more to review those items.
The table below helps explaining how the SRS increase can be tremendously bigger than it should in case you activate vacation mode.
I WANTED TO INSERT A TITLE HERE BECAUSE IT LOOKS COOL, SO HERE.
||SRS Total Interval
||SRS Interval Increase (%)
Observation: The tilde (~) is used for the sake of keeping the numbers rounded. WK’s SRS intervals are actually 1h less to those presented above. The %s are also rounded for the sake of simplicity.
Notice the last column. See how the SRS interval increases exponentially, mainly for Apprentice items. Now that you’re back from your vacation in Japan, you probably forgot most things. You’re destined to spend the following days missing Japan, getting your body’s internal clock back into place and hitting your head against the wall because it feels like you don’t know Japanese anymore.
What should I do then? Should I not use vacation mode then?
I’ve said that this increase is far more significant with your Apprentice items, correct? Notice how Apprentice 4 gets a 800% increase in a 2 week vacation. The solution is simple: 2 to 3 days before going on vacation: stop doing lessons. What will happen is that you’ll Guru a big part of your apprentice items during that time, so that when the actual day of travelling comes, most of your items will be Guru and above. The extra time of travelling won’t affect your reviews nearly as much as before.
The 24h vacation mode - an option for the most dedicated.
I know that some of you will want to try and continue reviewing during your trip. So here’s an advice: put your account on vacation mode for 24h. Yes, 24h. Why, you may ask? SRS works by hours, not by timezone. So if you’re travelling to somewhere with a completely different timezone, you’ll find yourself having reviews at weird times of the day. Not only now the review schedule is messed up, but whatever you do during vacation time will make your schedule weird when you go back home. I’ll give you an example:
Let’s imagine Japan’s timezone is an extra 5 hours to yours, so your new schedule will now be 5h delayed. Instead of having reviews at around 7pm, you’ll have them at midnight (+5h). This is why you need the 24h vacation mode. The trick is to desactivate vacation mode at the same time of the day as you activated it back home. If you activated it at 4pm back home, you should desactive it at 4pm in your new country. Now, the schedule will continue as it was before. When you’re going back to your country, do the same process.
In case you actually go on vacation: please do enjoy your vacation and relax a little. If you wanna keep up with reviews, I respect that. Doing new lessons however, might turn everything into a mess. You aren’t really focused on what you’re doing, and remember that your first exposure to items is important in order to avoid turning them into leeches.
11. I came back to WK and now I have an insane amount of reviews: what should I do?
You have 2 options: to go through the pain and do the batch of reviews you have available or reset a few levels back. Which one is better will depend on how long you were away, your number of reviews, your level. Mainly, it will depend on your preferences. I’ll offer you my perspective on both approaches, so that you feel more comfortable making a choice.
Go through the pain of doing the batch of reviews:
This one is as simple as it gets: success means seeing that 0 on reviews once again. For that to happen, you need to go through the pain of reviewing what you have available. I do have some suggestions:
- Don’t do any lessons. At this point, trying to force new knowledge to get into your head would be like trying to extinguish a fire while throwing gasoline at it. It doesn’t work. First, get your review pile back to 0. Only then you can go back to your daily lessons.
- Divide the review pile in smaller batches. Do 20, 50, 100 reviews at a time, throughout the day. Choose your number. Only crazy people cough cough will be able to face the whole pile at once. Choose the way that makes you less wanting to kill yourself.
- Use the Reorder Script and go through reviews level by level. This allows you 2 things: it allows you to measure your progress in another way other than total number of reviews (ex: yay I finally did all reviews from level 10 to 20 \o/), and it helps controlling the amount of reviews that will come back at you while you’re still murdering the pile. For example, if I’m level 40 and I do reviews from level 30 items, I know that they’ll come back at me much later than reviews from level 38 items. This allows me to better control the mountain of reviews and steadily reduce it until it’s goneeeeeeee.
These are some ideas I have. Personally, I advise not to abuse the reorder by levels. Your brain might not know the difference between kanji A that is level 10 and kanji B that is level 40, but because you’re aware that you’re reviewing items level 40, your brain now knows which answer WK is looking for. You however, didn’t know the correct answer without tips. So yeah, use it sporadically and only in extreme situations like this.
It’s time to reset back:
It sucks having to go back a few levels, but as we say, sometimes it’s better to take 1 step back in order to take 2 forward. The main question this raises is to which level you should reset. I have a solution for you: Self-Study Quiz.
The trick is to use this script to review items, level by level. The moment you find a point where you know less than you’re comfortable with is the moment you figure out which level to reset. I do not wish to say the obvious, but if you think you’ll reset around 10 levels, start with the closest level that you think you’re comfortable enough. Don’t start from the very level 1
Hope this helped you make a decision. Good luck
12. The famous fast levels: do they have a hidden message to tell us?
As previously mentioned, the fast levels are named by the fact that they can be done in just 3 days and 10 hours. In this chapter, I’ll focus on levels 46-47 and 49-60, since they’re the last stretch to reach the so desired level 60.
Wanikani became boring - until I’ve reached level 46.
The forbidden fruit is always the sweetest of all: this is how I view the fast levels. Even the Wanikani team acknowledges the levels 51-60 as “additional ten bonus levels” on their FAQ. However, ask people level 40 around and most of them will tell you that they feel tempted into trying to use this chance to go faster. It’s a good temptation however, don’t get me wrong. Why, you wonder? Because it’s an opportunity to discover new limits.
Until level 40 something, I was doing between 200 and 300 reviews a day on Wanikani (take into consideration that I went maximum speed the whole time). After a while of having reached the fast levels, I started having to do between 300 and 450 reviews a day on Wanikani. I also had to do 40 new lessons a day, compared to the 20 that I did during the rest of my Wanikani journey. Now you ask: but what was the point of going through it? After all, the last levels are less useful. Well, the point was that I discovered that I could go above what I thought was possible for me. Memorizing 40 words per day definitely sounds like one of the most silliest things to do, but this simple thing taught me that I can take bigger jumps than I thought. Since I increased my ability to go through WK levels, it begs the question: Am I limiting myself in other parts of my Japanese studies/life?
This is what the fast levels taught me. They are a fun little experiment to do before finishing Wanikani. If it doesn’t go as well as it should, you can always go back to your old speed. However, will you miss the opportunity to just be silly and throw yourself into the claws of the Crabigator? Life is already serious and monotonous enough, so if you’re willing, my suggestion for you is to just try to challenge yourself during this phase. Try taking 2 steps instead of 1. Once you’re done, see how it feels. Discovering that we can do better is never a bad thing, isn’t it
13. The level 60 syndrome.
I’m so proud of you that you can’t imagine. You did it, you really did it! People will finally think that you’re knowledgeable of Japanese even though you’re far from it! That’s success on my book!
On a more serious tone, just look at this:
Observation: Graphic kindly made by our goodest boy @Wantitled.
See how many people are behind you. See how far you’ve come. Really great job But now, what are your plans? Yes, your plans. Plans for what? For what’s coming next! You didn’t think you’d get to level 60 and be fluent, did you?
Here’s my story after reaching level 60:
I got comfortable, very comfortable. By this point, my weakest point was vocabulary but for that I could just do a quick google search. In terms of grammar, I was with a very solid N3. I was able to chat with my Japanese friends with barely any other difficulty except slow typing. In other words, I was without any strong goals, I was without a wall to climb through. My main goal was Wanikani in 1 year, after all. I’ve made it, but then I got lost for 3 months. For 3 months, I didn’t know what to do next. This is precisely the reason why it took me 3 months to actually write this Guide. Japanese wasn’t captivating anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t burned out. I simply didn’t feel like I had found a new path to follow.
This is why I insisted on finding a new and harder challenge on the chapter “The level 30 syndrome” and this is why it’s important to do a Level 60 celebration thread for yourself in order to organize your ideas and next goals. Even then, the latter didn’t work for me. I’ve learned then that the trick is to actually never stop moving forward.
Realize that the journey is far from being over.
You can rest, but start nibbling on new stuff. Find your missing piece of the puzzle. Gradually, dedicate more time to it. Remember, you started learning Japanese because this challenge attracted you. Remind yourself of that exact attraction. Remind yourself of how it feels. Move forward
14 And possible more stuff, if I end up remembering.
15. A thank you and some words of encouragement.
This is the end of the Ultimate Guide. I hope it served you well in understanding about how Wanikani works. I also hope that it will help you through this journey. If you wish to ask me any question or give me a suggestion, please do not hesitate doing so
I’m feeling like I’m turning this into a bigger thing than it actually is. However, I can’t end this without thanking the people from this community. You guys know who you are. Even though it took me more than 3 months to get around myself to start writing this, during that time people would come to this thread or PM me in order to motivate me into writing this. I never asked for encouragement, but your guys were there, more than once. So thank you. This is precisely the advice I’ve got for you reading this: be part of the community. Remember that we’re all like-minded people, we all have the common passion for the Japanese language.
In a world where #dog has 38 times more tags than #human on Instagram, we forget that even though animals are incredible, humans are as beautiful. I’ve met Japanese natives and people from this community that I’m sure will be part of my life for at least a couple more years. Some of them, I even had the pleasure to meet in real life, days that I’ll make sure to keep in memory.
If you are to acknowledge something from this giant Guide, acknowledge that people moving towards the same goal together are stronger. Take your time, but try to be part of the History that has yet to be written. It will do you good
16. My challenge to you: the #MessageMe in 1 month challenge.
I’ve been noticing that a lot of you guys are taking value out of this guide and are kind enough to leave me a message in here right away. I appreciate this so so much and I want to be able to give back. We’re all here to win, after all. Because of that, I’m creating a very simple challenge: after you read this guide, I’d like you to take note somewhere or add a notification/an alarm on your laptop/phone to 1 month time. In 1 month, I’d love to hear you on the number 1 thing that this guide helped you achieve on Wanikani. Whether if it’s that single script that made things so much easier, that new schedule that is allowing you to move forward on WK, anything. This not only will help me figure out the type of suggestions I should be giving more, but it will mainly allow you to look back and think “Damn, such a simple step forward took me so much further in the journey. I can’t wait for what’s coming next.”
Do we have a deal? #MessageMe in 1 month. I’ll be waiting
42+ Want to read more of my content? Check this.
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