New People Questions! ~~~<3 [Lost?! Confused?! We're here to help!]

I got an email when I hit level 10 saying that’s around when I should start burning items. But I’m level 12 and my first burn is 85 days away. Have I missed something?

When I do reviews, I see soundless shapes. What attracted me to Wanikani was the idea that someone had worked out effective mnemonics to give sounds to those shapes. While I could make my own mnemonics, I thought I’d try to get the value out of Wanikan. Since plenty of other people are finding success, I assume my inability is…mine.

I looked at several study logs, but I’m not seeing any particular technique for using Wanikani. It seems that most people find the mnemonics good enough to actually remember the kana that make up the sound of a kanji.

At the moment, I’m writing everything down. I think my recall is a little better, maybe from 30% kanji reading accuracy to 34%? But I’m still looking at the paper for almost every kanji I review. I keep plugging along because the advice is that SRS is working even if I don’t think it is.

The thing that startled me was the ‘promotion’ to level 2. I absolutely feel like I learnt almost none of level 1. I can’t work out if I should take more lessons, to make the review periods closer together, or keep failing at my current 12 hour spacing, hoping that SRS is doing its thing in the background and it’ll all pop together at some point.

Welcome to the forums! You haven’t missed anything, you’re just going a bit faster than others at this point. It’s possible to get to the mid 20s without burning any items- if yours are due in 85 days and you’re happy with your current pace and number of reviews, then great. Hope you’re enjoying the journey so far.


While the mnemonics are part of the appeal of Wanikani, they do vary pretty heavily in effectiveness for different people. By the end of my time with Wanikani, for example, I was largely ignoring them and throwing together my own quick mnemonic in the notes and typing the reading a couple of times. It might just be the case that something hand-crafted for yourself would be a lot more effective than something general.
People or places that mean a lot to you, for example, are often more memorable than generic everyday items Wanikani can provide.

The part where you mention:

I think is normal - and you can think of the SRS reviews as a way to repeatedly associate that shape with a sound until down the line, they’re so closely associated that they do feel like they have a sound, so to speak.
So a couple points about that:

  1. Even if recall isn’t effortless, you might still be learning.
  2. But if the mnemonics consistently aren’t successfully getting you to the reading to associate with the character, then you may need to experiment with other ways to try to do that.

For point #1, if you’re at level 2, then surely you got enough answers right that the kanji got to guru-level, right? Were you looking at your paper during reviews in order to get them right? If so, I’d advise against that, but if not, then while you may not have learnt those items in the sense they’re etched into your bones, surely they’re a bit farther a long the process than they were when you started, and that’s all that’s expected at that stage.
The goal at that level isn’t to get things right every time, or to have every item be an easy correct answer, it’s just to let those association connections slowly form as the items move through the SRS stages.

For point #2, I would say anything below 50% accuracy would be a sign of a problem, but not necessarily an unfixable one.
Are you having any trouble recalling meaning, or is it only the reading? What about vocab readings, or radicals?
If you can identify a particular aspect that’s working least for you, that might tip you off as to what to do.

Anyway, good luck!


Thanks for the warm welcome and yeah I am enjoying it a lot. I am completing each level in around 7-10 days and don’t feel like I’m grinding too hard so I think I will stick around :slight_smile:


Thanks for elaborating. I wasn’t really getting what the question / issue is from you previous post. That’s why I was asking.

How do you tackle foreign languages in general? Again ~ to be able to give you meaningful advice it helps to understand how you in person are functioning :slight_smile:

In that case ~ honestly speaking ~ you might want to reconsider. What works for others does not necessary work for you as well. Have a look into the following thread:

The reason I’m mentioning the thread in here is that different durtles have different needs.

Maybe it is helpful for you to form a basic understanding of the language itself before tackling kanji. Again, do you know hiragana (by heart)?

If you like, have a look into irodori tesxbook before proceeding with WK. Maybe it helps you to be able to understand how to “use” words before learning how to “write” them in kanji…

Anyways, good luck with your studies :four_leaf_clover:

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I’m usually making my own mnemonics at this point, which is level 12, but I have been doing it since maybe level 7 or 8. Once you get more comfortable with Kanji and using the WK mnemonics, it becomes easier to just make your own that stick with you better. You may read the hiragana and a different word or idea is conjured in your mind before you even read the wk mnemonic, and you use that instead. I also highly recommend setting the vocab to play the audio reading every time a new vocab word is opened in your reviews.

The point of mnemonics is to creat multiple connections to the word in your brain so that it sticks better. The more connections your brain makes to something, the faster it is able to conjure it up when you need it. For words that I am struggling with, I will usually go an extra step. I create my own mnemonic and I close my eyes and visualize it. I try to think of smells, see myself interacting with whatever mnemonic I have made. Reach out and touch it, or imagine really fine details. Sometimes I will take 4 or 5 minutes doing this. The key is to emulate a real memory. In an actual memory, your brain remembers how you moved around a room, what the kitchen tile feel like under your forearms, what the popcorn smelled like out of the microwave etc. Try to bring these things into your own mnemonics and visualize them as thoroughly as you can.

Good luck, and more than anything, try to have fun with it, even if it is hard right now.

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[quote=“rodan, post:2239, topic:16421”]

  1. Even if recall isn’t effortless, you might still be learning.

For point #1, if you’re at level 2, then surely you got enough answers right that the kanji got to guru-level, right? [/quote]

Yes, but I already knew my numbers cold, so I had a head start. It’s…interesting to go on faith that somewhere down the line the associations will be solid enough to begin reading entire sentences, but I’ll keep going. Maybe what’s getting me is that all of the feedback is negative :slight_smile:

Meaning is pretty good. 90% kanji, 73% vocab. Radicals near 100%.
Reading is 34% kanji, 42% vocab.

I very much appreciate your thoughts. Thank you for taking the time to share with me!
I will take your advice to write out my own mnemonics in the notes and carry on!

You have given me much to think about. I especially appreciate the advice to think about the specific question/problem I’m having. That’s been very helpful to recalibrate my expectations. I’ll be reading the threads you shared!

Oh. How do I learn languages? Spoken/immersion. Going from the audio to the written word is not so hard when using the familiar alphabetic system. My spoken Japanese isn’t that strong right now either, so that may be another recalibration for me.

Thank you so much!

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Thank you for this! I have a feeling that this will be very helpful!

Going to add on here - the sounds sticking gets much better as you learn more kanji and more Japanese because the types of sound combinations that are frequent/likely are more salient in your brain. E.g. after many kanji that sound like ‘しょう’, it’s easier to associate that sound with a new kanji because you’re more used to that being a sound that goes with kanji. At least, that’s what I’ve found as I progress. It can definitely happen at the start that all of the sounds feel random and not at all like words or word parts. I found things sticking better as my vocabulary of Japanese words that I had heard/learned grew a bit so I had a better feeling for common sounds.

I also found on early levels I needed to study more to get things to stick - I did writing things down during lessons a lot more then - again, I think part of my brain getting better at learning Kanji over time.

Finally, I’m sure you know this, but especially after you first learn an item (or generally when it’s at Apprentice 1), it’s really ideal to hit that 4 hour review interval to help get it to stick a bit better in your brain. If you can’t (because of work, life schedule, whatever), you might want a quick way to review the kanji at that shorter than 12 hour interval - e.g. a flash card for the new words that you look at 1-2 times between the lesson and the first review; a note on your phone with the kanji etc. Some people note that they really need a lesson, 1 hr review, and then the 4 hour review, so review their lessons about an hour after taking them to help things stick. Obviously ability to do this varies based on your life schedule, but it might be helpful.

Good luck!


I wonder if you might do better spending more time listening to Japanese before starting kanji. If you can build up an auditory vocabulary, where even if you don’t always know the meaning you can recognize words when you hear them, it allows you to use that when learning kanji (and vocabulary) readings. A lot of the time the way I learn a kanji reading is remembering the word it’s a part of. For example, the way I remember the reading for 才 is by remembering that it’s the さい in てんさい.


Completely mundane but why does my level username ball thing not change to 9 if I already have all the level 9 kanji on apprentice?

Did you try with logout and then login again?

With the new updates you can also set it to a fixed number now in your preferences here in the forums. Did you maybe (accidentally) activated it?

Man, that sounds like a really hard task! Hope it’s possible. From my experience I’d compare learning kango as a non native without learning the kanji to chinese bamboo torture

I had that same reaction to the level 10 email. Lesson to burn, if you don’t miss a review, is about six months. I certainly wasn’t working at record pace, but my burns were months away when I got that message. Maybe the average time to level ten is pretty long?

I’ve just started with Wanikani, and one question I have is what is the easiest way to go back and review kanji/vocab that you forgot or failed while you are doing reviews. So far I’ve had a second tab open in my browser and have just been searching for the forgotten item in the list of kanji/vocab on the site… but I feel like once I get to a higher level this will become very inconvenient (it’s already slightly annoying and I’m only level 2).

Is there a better way to do this? Perhaps a script that provides a list of recently failed items on the homepage, or a script that provides a link to failed items you can click while reviewing?


You can open up the full item info during review (hotkeys F and SPACE), so I would just look at that whenever I don’t remember an item


In addition to what Kumi said, you can also check them after you’re done with the review session.


I mean if you fail them consistently enough they will go back to apprentice one and you can set the self study script to tackle those as a way of banishing leeches from existence :nerd_face: it’s what I do