Picking myself up again and making it to level 60 in 470 days despite the odds

nausicaa-thumbs-up

Well, look at that, another wild level 60 post appeared!
And it evolved into a very long one, so I’ll start without too much ado:

My WaniKani journey began August 17th 2022 and it happened more or less on a whim. That day, a spark came over me and I thought that I can’t just wait until things happen and that I need to take matters in my own hand. I usually am more on the planning side and impulsive actions don’t happen often but this ended up being one because I wished to pick up my Japanese learning again and make much more progress on memorising Kanji.
That impulse turned into a daily habit and I reached level 60 on November 30th 2023 after 470 days, guru-ed all the level 60 Kanji on the 8th and finished my last lesson on the 9th of December. Hence all Kanji except for the leeches stuck at Apprentice level stage are at least at the Guru stage or higher and every available item has been reviewed at least once.

While this sounds nice on paper, I still haven’t conquered WaniKani’s Kanji “mountain” in my opinion. I would say that as of now I have reliable knowledge on readings and meanings of roughly 1500 Kanji while having either the meaning or reading properly memorised for the remaining <600 Kanji WaniKani teaches. Compared to my previous knowledge of 300 Kanji and being able to recognise 150 of those consistently while not being so good when it comes to the other 150, I have made noticeable progress and the Kanji mountain seems less intimidating now.

So, in a way, I’m still just getting warmed up because there is still so much more to do on my journey to have a better grasp on (somewhat) common daily life Kanji as well as reaching higher levels in Japanese. I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep walking forward as I already had a few struggles throughout the last one and a half year. And yet, despite this humbling experience showing me my current limits all too well, I managed to come this far which is why I have hope that I still have it in me to keep my studies going.

One of my main aims, or rather hopes, for writing this long post is to provide a(nother) perspective of a person who struggles moving forward and motivating themselves. It might resonate with people who feel similarly to me and thus might feel heard because the majority of level 60 posts have an overall upbeat character to them.
This is by no means me trying to insult those posts, though! On the contrary: to everyone who had a very positive or elating experience learning all the Kanji in WaniKani and making progress in other areas of Japanese at the same time, you have every right to like what you’re doing and celebrate your achievement and hard work. You have done a great job and your good feelings as well the hardships you encountered and conquered are all valid – and I don’t wish to take any of that away!
My post is supposed to be one more case of representation of the less frequent cases who make it to level 60 without feeling quite enthusiastic about the learning process and who might have felt like walking through molasses each day or most days but were still doing the best they could and succeeding in making progress despite the odds.

The other aim of this post is to give a detailed guide on setting up one’s level up speed and general suggestions on how to deal with (many) reviews when not feeling too well. That is why the sections dealing with level up speed, reviews and scripts are geared a bit more towards beginners of WaniKani who have yet to familiarise themselves with the system – though more advanced WaniKani users might still benefit from the reviews or script section where I share some thoughts.

In comparison, the sections detailing my WaniKani journey and my Japanese learning before WaniKani as well as future plans, are more on a general note where I mention the reasons for struggling a bit more compared to an “average” person. Hopefully those sections can give people who are in a similar spot a feeling of not being alone in that regard and perhaps even motivate them a little.

Lastly, I need to add a disclaimer that the reviews and journey sections address mental health issues but I kept things mostly vague and, of course, “PG-13”.

I have a lot I wish to say about my Japanese learning journey so far and WaniKani itself and I chose to do this through sections to keep things in place.

1. Stats

Here are some visual representations of my stats taken from wkstats.com, Wanikani and the Heatmap script.

Detailed explanation on why the percentage displayed is not my actual accuracy

The percentages above are not “true” because I estimate my overall percentage to be around 92-93%.

During the first 15 levels, my percentage was still in the 99% margin because most of it was repetition for me and even the new words weren’t that complex yet. Up until level 20, I would usually get around 95-99% of items correct in my reviews, even when there were 100-150 items in one review session.

Starting from level 20 though, almost all Kanji and many vocabulary words were unfamiliar to me. From that point on, my percentage range gradually shifted to 85-95% correct answers for my reviews. Thus, my average was at 90%. Using the Lesson Filter script certainly helped keeping my accuracy higher than it otherwise might have been because I kept my lessons in such a way, that I would guru one batch of Kanji on day x and then immediately do the vocabulary lessons for said batch the very next day. Seeing the Kanji and the associated vocab almost in succession helped me a lot and kept the connections between them fresh – well, at least until the Master and Enlightened stages gave me a wake-up call that some of them still weren’t memorised sufficiently after all.

With my average for newly learned items being around 90%, I would add the remaining 2-ish% towards those displayed 95% due to me having been at a 99% accuracy in the first 15 levels.

Apart from my previous knowledge giving me a head-start of sorts, there is a second reason for the wkstats percentage being at 95%. This pertains the use of the Double-Check script to count any Apprentice stages for any newly learned Kanji as correct from level 13 up to level 60. This was in order to have a better level up time frame predictability and for keeping the level up durations consistent for the speed I was going for.

I tried going at a speed of 7 day per level from level 5 to 20 but ended up having two hiccups on level 11 and 13 where the level ups were delayed to 8 days. Overall, I can memorise the vast majority of the Kanji needed to level up (at least at the Apprentice and Guru stages) but for these two levels I messed up one Kanji too many throughout the Apprentice stages, leading me to no level up on the day I had planned for. It disrupted my level-up flow which bothered me a lot as I like to keep things consistent if I can when I actually manage to stick to habits for once.

So, after level 13 I ended up using Double-Check whenever I made a mistake in the initial Kanji Apprentice stages which is probably responsible for that latter 1-2% towards the displayd 95%. However, once a Kanji was guru-ed and the next WaniKani level reached, all the “plot armour” for all those Kanji in question was gone. Any Kanji I guru-ed from the previous level that I would answer incorrectly later would get right back into the Apprentice pile as I would not use Double-Check for any post Guru 1 stage Kanji anymore. Thus, any of those would need some more cooking until making it to higher stages again while a few of those would continuously stay at low levels as they became leeches.

Long story short: my true accuracy for new items I learn usually falls on an average of 90%, the additional 5+% come from my previous knowledge and letting 1500-ish Kanji after level 13 “auto” pass until the Guru 1 stage which certainly minimised the overall number of mistakes and kept the percentage up.


I wish I could have added a Heatmap showing my review history as well but ever since the WaniKani API was changed a few months ago, it wiped all of the review information. I didn’t bother trying to stitch it back together again through cache files which would have been a bit of a pain because I used a different device a few times throughout all those 470 days of getting to level 60 (and the extra 8 days it took me to guru the level 60 Kanji). All of this review information would thus need to be somehow implemented manually again in order to fill in the gaps.
Just try imagining the lesson streak above in different hues of blue and fill all the gaps – and you’ll have a close approximation of what it should look like! :upside_down_face:

I haven’t missed a single day doing reviews ever since August 17th 2022 and 95+% of the time, I finished all of my daily reviews before going to sleep. There were only a few days where I didn’t go through all available daily reviews for a short period from August until late September 2023 (and some days months later) when I had an excess review pile to deal with (see the reviews section of this post).

2. Scripts

Well, by the time I’m writing this post, some of the scripts included in this list have been broken again due to recent WaniKani changes. Yet, I will include them because there is a chance that there will be similar options in the future which might even be provided by the WaniKani team itself such as the upcoming Lessons Picker feature.

From the very start of my WaniKani journey, I made use of userscripts since I had read through the Ultimate Guide by @jprspereira – thank you very much for that guide! – beforehand. I decided that I would want to make use of some of them to make my journey more customisable to my needs and study methods. While I did some trial and error throughout my way to level 60, the ones mentioned below are those which I stuck to.

Some of those I started using a bit late such as the Lesson Filter which I began using around level 15. Not using this particular script sooner might be one of my biggest regrets I have for my journey and I’m still slightly sad about that because the Lesson Filter would have saved me some headaches and provided a less frustrating study structure from the start.

Although vanilla WaniKani is definitely usable, I personally think that it is unfortunate that the base product lacks some features which I would regard as core features – which is of course a topic that is an agree to disagree matter.
I’m specifically talking about such features as those made possible by the Lesson Filter, the ConfusionGuesser, the Niai 似合い Visually Similar Kanji and Keisei Semantic-Phonetic Composition script which are not already incorporated in WaniKani. Being able to choose one’s lessons more freely, immediately having similar looking Kanji and vocabulary displayed whilst making a mistake during reviews or when looking at the item pages, and getting a consistent insight into the patterns of Kanji composition and readings shared by many Kanji in the lesson sessions and pages would be valuable enhancements for the base product in my opinion.

At any rate, below is the list of the scripts I used and I have put them in groups on how game-changing or useful I found them while adding some of my thoughts. I won’t be talking much on how they operate because that information can be obtained from all the respective forum pages which I’ll link with every mention.


The “Holy Trinity”

Thoughts on these scripts

Double-Check

Personally, I wish that WaniKani had a double-check feature, preferably turned off by default but still embedded in the settings page, so that you could turn it on if needed. That way, people who don’t want to use it could completely ignore this setting, while people who need it for whatever reason could use it. In my opinion, everyone has to take responsibility for the use of such an option regardless if they are a minor or adult – if you abuse this feature and constantly correct things, you have to bear the consequences yourself.
Thus, I think it’s a shame that WaniKani’s stance towards this feature, meaning that the team doesn’t wish to add it, has never changed since the beginning and it will probably never be implemented. That’s why I’ll just agree to disagree and acknowledge the team’s stance while using the script anyways.

For my part, I have made use of the Double-Check script during the entirety of my journey and I don’t regret it one bit. On the contrary, it’s one of the best scripts in my book.

Apart from using it to amend mistakes for Kanji in the Apprentice stage in order to not delay any level ups because of one or two mistakes (see the stats section with the explanation on my accuracy %), I used this script for other purposes.

I used it for English typos that went past the typo allowance as on one hand I’m not a native English speaker and on the other hand lots of typos happened due to doing reviews at a quick speed and doing them more or less literally half-asleep in the morning. Why else do you think have I had plenty of material so far for the typos thread? :upside_down_face: And I still have some to post.

The script was also utilised for the more frequent instances where I mistyped Japanese words or readings because there is understandably no leeway for those if those happen. (I’m not talking about actual mistakes such as confusing きょう for きょ and vice versa here, these I did regard as mistakes and did not use Double-Check for).

On the topic of leeway, the lack thereof for plenty of multiple word expressions is another reason I’ve used Double-Check.
I’m talking about cases where WaniKani is looking for a very specific string of words for some expressions, but I end up putting in something slightly different that should be acceptable but the answer is still wrong.
Two very recent examples would be me typing “something to live for” instead of “something worth living for” for 生き甲斐 where my version was regarded as mistake. Same for me writing “composing a song or a poem” for 詠歌 instead of “Composing A Poem Or Song” which was also a mistake…apparently.
Those examples are just the tip of the iceberg because this happened quite a few times which frustrated me but also made me glad to have this script – and yet I’m not sure if there is a way to counteract this issue unless the WaniKani team were to go through every single item and allow half a dozen options which would understandably be too big of an undertaking…

Keisei 形声 Semantic-Phonetic Composition

Even though WaniKani does this from time to time when it draws attention that some radicals or Kanji components have specific common readings that repeat themselves in other Kanji using the same parts, this information is not consistent as I remember only occasionally encountering messages like “Hint: When you see 工 in a kanji it will often take the こう reading” in the item descriptions.

In contrast, the Keisei script tells you around 70% of the time – the other times, there isn’t a database entry with any information on some Kanji – what components posess specific readings while showing similar Kanji with the same component and reading in a short list.

Personally, I would appreciate it a lot if WaniKani could implement heads-up messages on phonetic components more consistently as it really helps hammer down the (non-exceptional) readings because you will encounter plenty of similar readings and hopefully start noticing patterns more easily, and thus make more correct guesses when encountering unknown Kanji in the wild.

WaniKani Lesson Filter

The Lesson Filter helped me create my own daily workflow and adjusting lessons to my needs. I usually used it to do a specific amount of Kanji lessons and a flexible amount of vocabulary lessons each day. For the latter, I found it convenient to set the Lesson Filter in such ways as to display, say, 20 items first.

Those 20 items would, for example, look like that:
黒人, 黒い, 黄色, 鳥, 魚, 高校, 高い, 風船, 風, 青空, 雪, 金魚, 週末, 近く, 近々, 辺り, 辺, 言い方

If I wanted to do 15-ish vocabulary lessons that day, I would deliberately stop at number x whenever a group of vocabulary related to a Kanji would end and re-adjust the number of items displayed in the filter.

Thus, I’d learn all items until 近々(ちかぢか) on day n and then continue with 辺り,辺,言い方 etc. on the next day (n+1). Rinse and repeat until all vocabulary lessons were done in a level. I also just liked the flexibility of setting the number of reviews even to 2 reviews or 10+ reviews on a whim whereas with the vanilla WaniKani options, I’d have to go to the WaniKani application settings to re-set the number of lessons I wished to do every single time, making it tedious.

The Lesson Filter, as mentioned in my stats explanation, helped keeping my accuracy higher than it otherwise would have been thanks to me laying out lessons in such a way that whenever I guru-ed a batch of Kanji, I would immediately do most vocabulary lessons associated with that guru-ed batch on the very next day. Meaning that technically I had around 4 days’ worth of sole Kanji practice and then another 4 days’ worth of practicing said Kanji in vocabulary form.

Compared to the vanilla WaniKani way of doing things where the unfiltered approach usually leaves me with having to go through heaps of previous level vocabulary before I can even start doing the radical lessons of the current level, I found the filtering more suitable to my needs. It was quite the hassle having to do 50 lessons in one heap on the first day just as I levelled up and thus accumulating most of the lessons right at the beginning instead of being able to keep an even amount of lesson throughout the level.

The usefulness of the Lesson Filter script makes WaniKani’s choice of not including such a filtering feature apart from prioritise last/current level first rather baffling to me. And yes, I know that a Lesson Picker feature feature is in the making, so I hope that this feature can fill this hole soon even though I’m still astonished that this feature has only been considered now.


The (almost as) holy “Dyad”

Thoughts on these scripts

Forecast details / critical reviews or Wanikani Ultimate Timeline

Those scripts were quite convenient in making absolutely sure when my level up dependant reviews take place since they helped drawing my attention to the hours at which those critical reviews will be available. Even after I had my study routine mostly figured out at level 22 and beyond, it still served as a daily reminder on when to set my alarm clocks for the sake of doing these reviews on time and keeping things consistent.

WaniKani Self-Study Quiz

This script might as well be part of the Holy Trinity because it’s very versatile. You can use it to study leeches, go through all or selected items of specified levels, to revise Kanji only, vocabulary only, self-made lists and more!

Throughout my way to level 60 I haven’t used it as much as I would have liked because most of my energy went into doing the reviews themselves; thus, I used it more sporadically.

There were some instances that provided some insight regarding improvements in my accuracy because I remember using the script a few times during the Death levels where I squeezed in a self-study review session of all current Kanji that were at Apprentice 1 level. I noticed that it helped me a lot to have that one session between the 4 hour- and 8 hour- interval, because the 8 hour-interval felt a bit too long at times because I had trouble remembering some Apprentice 1 Kanji already.

Whereas the regular WaniKani SRS intervals seem to work for most people, an ideal SRS schedule for me would have probably included an additional review session between Apprentice 1 and Apprentice 2 and later on between Guru 1 and 2. Had I been more thorough and energised, I might have been able to include all those interval study sessions for each level to memorise those Kanji more effectively. Kanji is my Achilles’ heel after all, so I’m not surprised that it would take me “longer” than the average person to recognise them more smoothly…

Other than the times I used it when I was on my WaniKani journey, I plan making much more use of it next year to revise some hand-picked levels, leeches or similar looking Kanji giving me trouble and other things – as long as it doesn’t break in the course of another WaniKani update. I, uh, shouldn’t jinx it, should I?.. :open_mouth:


The very useful assortment

Thoughts on these scripts

ConfusionGuesser

It’s very useful to have a similar looking item or a list of similar looking items immediately displayed upon making a mistake. Ideally, I would have compared every single mistake with the item that the ConfusionGuesser script showed me but more often than not I proceeded with my reviews because I do them at a quick pace and constantly looking at the ConfusionGuesser would have disrupted my flow too much.
However, I still used script for a few of my mistakes during the majority of my review sessions. When I encountered my leeches in particular during my reviews, I would usually click on the ConfusionGuesser item to immediately open the corresponding WaniKani page to re-acquaint myself with the kanji or vocabulary item in question and it helped a bit (albeit not enough to get rid of the worst leeches in that way).

Hide review accuracy

This was one of the first scripts I installed because I’m a perfectionist and find it distracting to see the percentage (dropping) during the reviews at all times, making me a bit nervous when I make too many mistakes for my liking. This script removed any percentage during the reviews, making it easier to just focus on the review themselves. Sadly, this script broke with the big update in early 2023 and the accuracy levels became visible again ever since but I managed to somewhat successfully ignore them…

Niai 似合い Visually Similar Kanji

I just checked the vanilla WaniKani items pages while having turned any scripts off and it seems that such a feature displaying similar looking Kanji in the items pages is not part of the base product which is unfortunate.

Seeing those similar or even almost identical looking kanji right next to each other during lessons or while looking at specific WaniKani Kanji entries was really helpful for me when it came to visualising that one part that differentiates them from another, and I think that other users could benefit from it as well.

The Niai script was incredibly useful when I was making a list of similar looking Kanji that I kept confusing with each other.

The only disclaimer I need to make for this script is that it might not work alongside some other scripts like Reorder Omega as it seems to break their functions if enabled at the same time. That’s why I recommend turning it off during lessons and/or reviews and only turning it on when you really need it when, for example, you wish to check the page for a Kanji of which you know that you often mix it up with other Kanji.

WaniKani Pitch Info

I still have ways to go to reliably recognise pitch accent just by listening which is why this script makes it easier for me to follow along on how the words are supposed to be pronounced by visualising the pitch pattern.

Reorder Omega

An all-around handy script which I started using relatively late around the Hell levels. It is very helpful if you want to do all level up relevant reviews as soon as possible in a long review session or if you wish to go through to any specific kind of item group (Apprentice items, current level items etc.) first during your reviews.
I’m aware that Reorder Omega has even more features and not just the one for reordering your review sessions but I only ever used it for that.

Reorder Omega turned out especially useful during the time where I had to deal with all my hundreds of excess reviews. It allowed for a more strategic approach where I alternated between chipping away very early stage items to make them move up in the review queue while also doing some Master stage items at the same time to space out the reviews for when they would re-appear again in the future. Another useful feature that I purposely didn’t turn on for regular reviews but turned on for those excess piles to make my life easier was to enable “back-to-back behaviour” and either prioritise “meaning” or “reading” in the script’s settings. This made going through hundreds of reviews much more straightforward as well.

Wanikani Item Inspector

This script was very useful for identifying my (current) leeches and I used it with the Self-Study script a few times but not as often as I would have liked because I didn’t always have the motivation and energy to do so…


The foundation needed for a lot of scripts to work to begin with


The “this-might-be-useful-too-but-it-didn’t-quite-work-with-my-browser, so-I-uninstalled-it” duo

Thoughts on these scripts

Jitai (字体)

Given that you’ll encounter all kinds of fonts in public in Japan or in written Japanese material and you might not recognise them if they differ slightly from what you’re used to, I think that this script can likely help getting accustomed to different styles.

Stroke Order Diagram

If you wish have a stroke order resource readily available in WaniKani instead of having to look elsewhere for it and wish to do writing practice alongside your lessons or to just get a feel on how the kanji are written because they usually follow specific stroke order rules, this script might be convenient.


The motivational support

Thoughts on the website and the script

wkstats

I would take a look at wkstats.com from time to time to check my level up duration in order to keep it consistent, check overall accuracy percentages or to look at all the listed items that have made it into various item level stages to see how far I’ve come. Apart from viewing stats, some lists such as the the “WaniKani Items List” can visually make you aware of which items are still stuck in the Apprentice stage after you’ve cleared a level a while ago. In a way, you can use this to identify leeches as well.

Whereas I know about some other WaniKani related stats pages existing, I haven’t used them and thus can’t comment on them.

WaniKani Heatmap

I only displayed it a few times throughout my journey but was still nice to literally see that I managed to stay consistent, do my reviews every day and do lessons almost every day (sometimes I ran out of lessons and had to wait for new ones to unlock after n-days). Unfortunately, I never took a screenshot of the reviews history while it still worked up until summer 2023 which I regret. I can only hope that the API will work with this script again at one point or – an even more favourable outcome – that WaniKani might implement a heatmap like feature themselves as the service probably has that review/lesson information stored somewhere anyways.

3. Detailed guide for building your level up speed and schedule

Disclaimer: this part may be long but I wanted to keep it thorough in order to provide examples on how to reach several level up speeds (6 days 20 hours, 7 days, 9 days, 10 days, 12 days – and 3 days 10 or 5 days for the fast levels). I will also say that I can’t guarantee that all of my calculations are 100% correct!

The speed one takes to level up is an integral and individual aspect of the WaniKani journey.

As far as I’m concerned, there is nothing wrong with going at the fastest possible pace or at a much more leisurely pace, or any pace, as long as it suits your needs – and you’re aware of the repercussions that such speeds might bring with them (higher workload in a shorter timeframe for max speed, tendency to forget items more often if the intervals are spaced out too much for “slower” speeds, to name an example for each).
The only thing I have to say on this matter is that it will probably help you in the long run if you try out some speeds at the early levels and tweak them if you’re not already sure on what pace you’re aiming for from the start. Hence, while it’s not necessary, it can be beneficial to figure out a consistent level up speed and mostly stick to it.

While there is a theoretical outline on creating your own pace for level ups in jprspereira’s Ultimate Guide I don’t remember seeing specific schedules laid out in this thread or other threads which is why I wish to lay out some possible level up schedules and durations, so you can literally see how those review intervals unfold. I hope these maximum speed schedules as well as the other examples can serve as a resource to assist you in finding your own speed.

Maximum level speed: 6 days, 20 hours (regular levels)

All of my elaborations below are supposed to be a companion piece for jprspereira’s Ultimate Guide and assumes that you have at looked at both the “4. Building your own schedule” and “5. Finding your own speed on WaniKani” sections of said guide already to have a basic idea on how level ups work and what the review intervals are.

When it comes to levelling up, going through Apprentice stage and reaching Guru stage is the main drive. Their intervals are as follows:

  • Once you do the new, available lesson(s), the items are at Apprentice 1 stage

  • next review is in 4 hours → Apprentice 2

  • next review is in 8 hours → Apprentice 3

  • next review is in 23 hours → Apprentice 4

  • next (and final) review in is 47(?) hours → Guru 1

Prerequisite(s): In order to be able to pick out the radicals and the n-amount of daily Kanji lessons from all currently available lessons, use a lesson filter script, an app that has lesson filtering included such as Smouldering Durtles or Tsurukame or make use of the item selection feature that will be provided by WaniKani soon.

By the way, the Ultimate Timeline script I mentioned in my script section or a similar script that visually draws attention to when the critical reviews will be available is very convenient when it comes to in keeping the relevant review hours in mind.

Lastly, just to make sure that we’re on the same page: the letters below each represent one “path” that you could follow to achieve max-speed. Thus, if you choose one of the options, for example option a), then you are on “path a)” and must follow all the a) options throughout the entire proposed schedule to make it to 6 days and 20 hours – the same goes for when you chose one of the other options.


Scenario 1: max speed (6 days, 20 hours), new (radical & Kanji) lessons in the morning/at noon

day 0 = the day you levelled up and unlocked the next level


day 0: morning/noon: a) 8:00 / b) 9:00 / c) 10:00 / d) 11:00 / e) 12:00)

  • do ALL of the radical lessons; feel free to do n-amount of Kanji lessons too

  • the items are now at Apprentice stage 1

→ 4 hours have passed, level-up relevant reviews are ready

(after-)noon: a) 12:00 / b) 13:00 / c) 14:00 / d) 15:00 / e) 16:00)

  • the items are now at Apprentice stage 2

→ 8 hours have passed, level-up relevant reviews are ready

evening/night: a) 20:00 / b) 21:00 / c) 22:00 / d) 23:00 / e) 00:00

  • the items are now at Apprentice stage 3

day 1:

→ 23 hours have passed, level-up relevant reviews are ready

evening/night: a) 19:00 / b) 20:00 / c) 21:00 / d) 22:00 / e) 23:00)

  • the items are now at Apprentice stage 4

day 2: -- (no critical review, feel free to catch up on Kanji and/or vocabulary lessons)
day 3:

→ 47 hours have passed, the last Apprentice level review is ready

evening: a) 18:00) / b) 19:00 / c) 20:00 / d) 21:00/ e) 22:00

  • the radicals are now at stage: Guru 1

  • all the remaining Kanji are now unlocked

  • on the SAME day AND hour (a) 18:00 / b) 19:00 etc.), do ALL of that level’s Kanji lessons including the just unlocked ones to get them to Apprentice 1

→ 4 hours have passed, level-up relevant reviews are ready

night/past midnight: a) 22:00) / b) 23:00 / c) 00:00 / d) 01:00/ e) 02:00

*the Kanji are now at Apprentice stage 1


day 4:

→ 8 hours have passed, level-up relevant reviews are ready

morning: a) 6:00 / b) 7:00 / c) 8:00 / d) 9:00 / e) 10:00

*the Kanji are now at Apprentice stage 2


day 5:

→ 23 hours have passed, level-up relevant reviews are ready

morning : a) 5:00 / b) 6:00 / c) 7:00 / d) 8:00 / e) 9:00

*the Kanji are now at Apprentice stage 3


day 6: – (no critical reviews)

day 7:

→ 47 hours have passed, the last Apprentice level review is ready

morning : a) 4:00 / b) 5:00 / c) 6:00 / d) 7:00 / e) 8:00)

  • the required amount of Kanji should be at Guru 1 stage (unless you made too many mistakes)

→ LEVEL UP

Just as with day 0, you need to start your radical lessons the moment you level up to keep the maximum speed – rinse and repeat the cycle above (with new starting points due to shift in starting times)



Scenario 2 : max speed new (radical & Kanji) lessons from early afternoon/evening

day 0 = the day you levelled up and unlocked the next level

day 0: afternoon/evening: a) 13:00 / b) 14:00 / c) 15:00 / d) 16:00 / e) 17:00 f) / 18:00 / g) 19:00 / h) 20:00)

  • do ALL of the radical lessons; feel free to do n-amount of Kanji lessons too

  • the items are now at Apprentice stage 1

→ 4 hours have passed, level-up relevant reviews are ready

evening/night a) 17:00 / b) 18:00 / c) 19:00 / d) 20:00 / e) 21:00) / f) 22:00 / g) 23:00 h) 00:00

  • the items are now at Apprentice stage 2

→ 8 hours have passed, level-up relevant reviews are ready

night/morning a) 01:00 / b) 02:00 / c) 03:00 / d) 04:00 / e) 05:00 / f) 6:00 / g) 7:00 / h) 8:00

  • the items are now at Apprentice stage 3

day 1:

→ 23 hours have passed, level-up relevant reviews are ready

night-morning a) 00:00 / b) 01:00 / c) 02:00 / d) 03:00 / e) 04:00 / f) 5:00 / g) 6:00 / h) 7:00* the items are now at Apprentice stage 4


day 2: -- (no critical review, feel free to catch up on Kanji and/or vocabulary lessons)
day 3:

→ 47 hours have passed, the last Apprentice level review is ready

night/morning: a) 23:00 / b) 00:00 / c) 01:00 / d) 02:00 / e) 03:00 / f) 04:00 / g) 05:00 / h) 06:00

  • the radicals are now at stage: Guru 1

  • all the remaining Kanji are now unlocked

  • on the SAME day AND hour (a) 23:00 / b) 00:00 etc.), do ALL of that level’s Kanji lessons including the just unlocked ones to get them to Apprentice 1

→ 4 hours have passed, level-up relevant reviews are ready

night/morning: a) 03:00) / b) 04:00 / c) 05:00 / d) 06:00/ e) 07:00 / f) 8:00 / g) 9:00 / h) 10:00

*the Kanji are now at stage: Apprentice 1


day 4:

→ 8 hours have passed, level-up relevant reviews are ready

noon-afternoon : a) 11:00 / b) 12:00 / c) 13:00 / d) 14:00 / e) 15:00 / f) 16:00 / g) 17:00 / h) 18:00

*the Kanji are now at stage: Apprentice 2


day 5:

→ 23 hours have passed, level-up relevant reviews are ready

noon-afternoon : a) 10:00 / b) 11:00 / c) 12:00 / d) 13:00 / e) 14:00 / f) 15:00 / g) 16:00 / h) 17:00

*the Kanji are now at stage: Apprentice 3


day 6: – (no critical reviews)
day 7:

→ 47 hours have passed, the last Apprentice level review is ready

morning/afternoon : a) 09:00 / b) 10:00 / c) 11:00 / d) 12:00 / e) 13:00 / f) 14:00 / g) 15:00 / h) 16:00

  • the required amount of Kanji should be at Guru 1 stage (unless you made too many mistakes)

→ LEVEL UP

Just as with day 0, you need to start your radical lessons the moment you level up to keep the maximum speed – rinse and repeat the cycle above (with adjusted starting points)


Consistent level up speed: n-days, 0 hours

Now with both scenarios you might have noticed that the level up times after 6 days and 20 hours will have shifted your starting point by 4 hours.

Example: “path a)” in Scenario 2 began at 13:00 on day 0 whereas the level up happened at 9:00 on day 7.

Meaning, that if you wish to go at the maximum possible speed, you’d have to always adjust your day and sleep schedules which you may or may not be fine with.

Therefore, if you want to have a consistent level up schedule of exactly n-days and 0 hours instead, you’d have to “delay” 4 hours in total at some points throughout the above-mentioned level up scenarios. The reviews work in such a way that it counts the hour WHEN you DID the reviews regardless if they were available earlier, and starts counting the review cycle hours (4h, 8h, 23h, 47h, 1 week etc.) from THAT point onwards.


Example: 7 days, 0 hours level

Just as before, I’d recommend using a lesson filtering script or app to make sure that you can go through radical and Kanji lessons immediately when needed.


day 0: you levelled up at, let’s say, 18:00

  • do ALL of the radical lessons; feel free to do n-amount of Kanji lessons too

  • the items are now at stage Apprentice 1

→ 4 hours have passed, level-up relevant reviews are ready

do reviews at 22:00

  • the items are now at Apprentice stage 2

→ 8 hours have passed, level-up relevant reviews are ready

*HOWEVER, even though the radical (and Kanji) lessons are available at 6:00, DO them at a) 8:00 or at b) 9:00 feel free to start some other n-amount of Kanji lessons at that point

*By doing that, you already have + 2 hours (scenario a)) or + 3 (scenario b)) hours out of 4 hours you’d like to delay to not get an uneven 6 day 20 hours-schedule

  • the items are now at Apprentice stage 3

day 1:

→ 23 hours have passed, level-up relevant reviews are ready

  • the reviews will be available at a) 7:00 or b) 8:00 depending on if you did them at 8:00 or 9:00 the day before

→ do them at the earliest possible time – so either 7:00 for a) or 8:00 for b) – this time around

  • the items are now at Apprentice stage 4

day 2: – (no critical review, feel free to catch up on Kanji and/or vocabulary lessons)


day 3:

→ 47 hours have passed, the last Apprentice level review is ready

  • the reviews are either ready at 6:00 for a) or 7:00 for b) HOWEVER, DO the reviews at 8:00

→ Notice, how there is a + 2 hours a) or + 1 hour b) delay by doing the reviews at 8:00 again? With that and the delay on day 0, you have delayed 4 hours in total and set the speed to an exact n-amount of days instead of the 6 day 20 hours-schedule

*still at the same day (day 3) and SAME time, at 8:00, go through ALL the remaining Kanji lessons!

  • the items are now at Apprentice stage 1

day 4:

→ 4 hours have passed, level-up relevant reviews are ready

do reviews at 12:00

*the Kanji are now at Apprentice stage 2

→ 8 hours have passed, level-up relevant reviews are ready

do reviews at 20:00

*the Kanji are now at Apprentice stage 3


day 5:

→ 23 hours have passed, level-up relevant reviews are ready

do reviews at 19:00

*the Kanji are now at Apprentice stage 4


day 6: – (no critical reviews)

day 7:

→ 47 hours have passed, the last Apprentice level review is ready

do reviews at 18:00

  • the required amount of Kanji should now be at Guru 1 stage (unless you made too many mistakes)

→ LEVEL UP

Now you have levelled up at the same time (18:00), just like on day 0. To keep this 18:00 schedule (or any other specific starting time to your liking), start the newly unlocked radical lessons immediately and do the same schedule again – rinse and repeat for a continuous 7 days/level cycle.

Although this is an example of the ideal n-day, 0 hours level-up scenario, there will probably be some days you might just miss some critical timeframes during the last 3 days before leveling up, so things might shift a little and you’ll level up slightly later, just as you can also see in my level up graph in the stats-section of this post.


Maximum level speed: 3 days, 10 hours (fast levels)

While, I’m still on the topic of high-speed levels, I will show an example for the so called “fast levels” which take 3 days and 10 hours. As of now, the fast levels are level 43, 44, 46, 47, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59 and 60, though that might change in the future.

The only thing that’s different from the regular max speed levels of 6 days and 20 hours is that you don’t have to unlock Kanji in order to pass the level – you can pass the level through the Kanji that are available from the start alone!

Consequently, this means that you have to do ALL Kanji lessons in the current level right at day 0.


Example: 3 days, 10 hours level (max speed for fast levels)
(Feel free to use a different starting time (evening, (after-)noon) if you like – refer to the 6 day 20 hour example to get the corresponding schedule for the first 3 days)

day 0:
(morning: a) 8:00 / b) 9:00 / c) 10:00 / d) 11:00 / e) 12:00)

  • do ALL of the current level’s Kanji (and radical) lessons

  • the items are now at Apprentice stage 1

→ 4 hours have passed, level-up relevant reviews are ready

(after-)noon: a) 12:00 / b) 13:00 / c) 14:00 / d) 15:00 / e) 16:00)

  • the items are now at Apprentice stage 2

→ 8 hours have passed, level-up relevant reviews are ready

evening/night: a) 20:00 / b) 21:00 / c) 22:00 / d) 23:00 / e) 00:00

  • the items are now at Apprentice stage 3

day 1:

→ 23 hours have passed, level-up relevant reviews are ready

evening/night: a) 19:00 / b) 20:00 / c) 21:00 / d) 22:00 / e) 23:00)

  • the items are now at Apprentice stage 4

day 2: -- try to catch up on the vocabulary items...
day 3:

→ 47 hours have passed, the last Apprentice level review is ready

evening: a) 18:00) / b) 19:00 / c) 20:00 / d) 21:00/ e) 22:00

  • the radicals are now at stage: Guru 1

→ LEVEL UP

As before, you immediately need to start doing ALL (radical and) Kanji lessons at the same hour you level up to keep the speed at maximum.

Extra-information: 5 days/level for fast levels:

This is just an additional remark: when I decided to go for 5 days/level instead of the maximum speed of 3 days for a handful of the fast levels, I adjusted the following: I divided up all Kanji available in 3 parts. Then, I started with batch one immediately at 18:00 (when I levelled up), did batch two at 8:00 the very next day, and did batch 3 the day after at 8:00. From then on, I only had to do those Kanji reviews during critical review hours and I would level up exactly at 18:00 on day 5.


“Slower” level up speeds (>7 days/level)

To move away from the fastest possible levels and come back to more “regular” or longer level durations, I’d like to give you some examples on how to achieve some longer durations.

Let’s take my base schedule here. After I had reached level 20, I worked out a 9 days per level schedule that I stuck to for the most time; I wanted something that was almost at max speed while still giving me a little bit of breathing room to catch up with the vocabulary lessons and allowing me to do less than 6 Kanji lessons per day.

Example: my 9 days/level up schedule
(These schedules assume an average of 35 Kanji /110-ish vocabulary lessons during one level; for the earlier levels, you’d have to do more Kanji and vocabulary lessons on average!)

Day 0 - all radicals, 4 Kanji - begin at 18:00
Day 1 - 5 Kanji, 10-ish vocabulary words - new Kanji batch each time at 8:00
Day 2 - 5 Kanji, 10-ish vocabulary words
Day 3 - 5 Kanji, 15-ish vocabulary words
Day 4 - 5 Kanji, 15-ish vocabulary words (radicals are at Guru 1; second Kanji batch unlocked)
Day 5 - 5, 15-ish vocabulary words
Day 6 - 4 Kanji (33/33), 15-ish vocabulary words (begin last Kanji batch lessons at 8:00)
Day 7 - 15-20 vocabulary words
Day 8 - 15-20 vocabulary words
Day 9 - 10-ish vocabulary words (out of 10-20 remaining words) (last Kanji batch is ready for Guru stage at 18:00)

→ LEVEL UP (and go back to step of Day 0 – rinse and repeat)

In order to achieve 8 days/level, I used my 9 days pace as a baseline and only made sure to go through the newly unlocked Kanji lessons on day 5, increase the daily Kanji number from 5 to 6 and slightly increase the vocabulary number per day. That’s all it took.


Last but not least, here are some more examples for speeds slower than 9 days:

Example: a 10 days/level up schedule
(These schedules assume an average of 35 Kanji /110-ish vocabulary lessons during one level; for the earlier levels, you’d have to do more Kanji and vocabulary lessons on average!)

Day 0 - all radicals, 4 Kanji
Day 1 - 4 Kanji, 10-ish vocabulary words
Day 2 - 4 Kanji, 10-ish vocabulary words
Day 3 - 4 Kanji, 10-ish vocabulary words
Day 4 - 4 Kanji, 10-ish vocabulary words (second Kanji batch unlocked)
Day 5 - 5, 10-ish vocabulary words
Day 6 - 5 Kanji, 10 vocabulary words
Day 7 - 5 Kanji (35/35), 10-ish vocabulary words (do last Kanji batch lessons)
Day 8 - 15-ish vocabulary words
Day 9 - 15-ish vocabulary words
Day 10 - 15-ish vocabulary words

→ LEVEL UP

Example: a 12 days/level up schedule
(These schedules assume an average of 35 Kanji /110-ish vocabulary lessons during one level; for the earlier levels, you’d have to do more Kanji and vocabulary lessons on average!)

Day 0 - all radicals, 1-3 Kanji
Day 1 - 4 Kanji, 10-ish vocabulary words
Day 2 - 4 Kanji, 10-ish vocabulary words
Day 3 - 4 Kanji, 10-ish vocabulary words
Day 4 - 4 Kanji, 10-ish vocabulary words (second Kanji batch unlocked)
Day 5 - 4 Kanji, 10-ish vocabulary words
Day 6 - 4 Kanji, 10-ish vocabulary words
Day 7 - 4 Kanji, 10-ish vocabulary words
Day 8 - 3 Kanji, 10-ish vocabulary words
Day 9 - 1-3 Kanji (35/35), 10-ish vocabulary words (do last Kanji batch lessons)
Day 10 - 10-ish vocabulary word
Day 11 - 10-ish vocabulary words
Day 12 - 5-10 vocabulary words → LEVEL UP

If you wish to go slower, you’d have to reduce the number of daily Kanji and vocabulary yet again. I haven’t done the math for longer schedules myself but I assume that a 20 days/level schedule, for example, might simply be a “halved” version of the workload of a 10 days/level schedule, that’s spread out more thinly over double the number of days. For a 14 days/week schedule the rule of thumb seems to be to do around 10 lessons daily (perhaps while reordering the Kanji lessons to such an extent that you begin the last Kanji batch around day 11, so that you can guru it after 3 days).

All of these proposed schedules assume that you use a lesson filtering option and usually pass 95+% of all of your current level Kanji reviews, because one mistake too many will push you back at least one day!

Not included in those calculations are any content additions (new vocabulary, and occasionally, new Kanji) by the WaniKani team. I used to do these lessons on the same day because otherwise they may cause you to miss doing your Kanji lessons in time if you’re not filtering your lessons.

I hope that my explanations weren’t too confusing and that all of this information in combination with the Ultimate WK Guide can help you come up with your own speed and adjust it to your needs. Happy learning! :slight_smile:

4. My Experience and struggle with daily reviews (including some suggestions)

4.1. My experience doing daily reviews for 470+ days

In general, I divided my reviews in one big and several smaller chunks throughout the day. I will specify that I had luxury to have mostly flexible work hours and education related sessions during most of the duration of my WaniKani journey which I reckon not many people doing WaniKani may have.

What worked best for me is to do the biggest part of my reviews, around 100-150 items, right after getting up in the morning. On one hand, I tend to work well and quickly in the mornings, on the other hand I also greatly appreciate being done with the biggest part as early as possible, so that I don’t have to stress much about the remaining reviews during the day. As for those remaining 50-100 reviews, I would do them every few hours, whenever they were available because smaller batches in-between were much easier to deal with than another accumulated batch of 50+ reviews.

In regards to the critical level up reviews, I usually knew when they would come up once I had set up a levelling up schedule past level 22, and I’d more often than not do them out of habit during the right time automatically. In other cases, I would just look at the review forecast (see the scripts section) and if I was busy with other things, I’d set a timer for the hour in question so as to not forget doing them in time.

Thanks to keeping an overall high retention (around 90%), I regularly ended up having around 150-250 reviews daily for the most time of my way to level 60. Once the burn items started making an appearance, the daily pile got slightly bigger to around 150-350 items per day. Whereas this would often pose not much of a problem, there were definitely days and phases where getting through all of my reviews by the end of the day proved very difficult as I could barely pull myself up.

During those 470 days…

I estimate that 10% of the time, I could only barely bring myself to finish all of my reviews on some days. My mental health was either too bad with almost no energy to spare or I was too tired or fed up with the daily review grind in general.

What worked for me in those “episodes” was to divide even my morning batch into smaller piles throughout the day. While this spacing out measure would cause the reviews to drop out of review cycles (apart from the critical reviews which I still did in a timely manner), I found the negatives negligible enough as long as progress was still made and I could keep any momentum going.

Even during such days where I felt mostly bad or terrible, there are thankfully tiny windows where even the intensity of the mental low fluctuates and I would try squeeze in some reviews during those “lethargic, yet tolerable” moments.

I’d force myself to do around 15 reviews – in case I could still go on, I would profit from that and do even more – and then take a small break. During that small break of roughly 5 minutes, I would allow myself to do anything I (technically) enjoy like reading 3 pages of a book, listen to a music track, play a very short video game session like a Mario stage or something, or even go on a 15-minute walk etc. to keep some sort of a flow going by staying engaged to (doing) anything.

After that break, I’d attempt to do another 15 reviews; rinse and repeat until I couldn’t handle it anymore for that time of the day. Then I’d wait for another small window of “tolerable” to come up in the next hours and repeat the process again until I got rid of all daily reviews.

Alternatively, instead of setting a goal of minimum number of review items per session, I’d use time as a measurement and force myself to do reviews for 5 minutes after which I would immediately stop and take a break before trying for another 5 minutes – or continue if I happened to have enough energy to keep going.

For another 20% of my WaniKani journey, I wasn’t feeling good either but at least I had enough energy for the daily reviews. Thus, I let the JUST.DO.IT motivational “speech” play in front of my inner eye and did my morning review session as well as later reviews sessions by taking tiny breaks of 1 to 3 minutes in-between during which I would usually very quickly skim through some latest community forum topics.

70% of my journey, the daily reviews went fine as I managed to do them without too much hassle and resistance except for being tired physically during my morning reviews.

And I’m grateful for that, namely that for the majority of those 470 days, the process of going through all these reviews was quite straightforward. Now, there wasn’t a single day where I liked doing reviews: neutral is the highest feeling I can muster for the whole process next to the occasional days where I was fed up with doing daily reviews – but neutral is good enough for me and WaniKani made Kanji (and vocabulary) learning much more tolerable.

Even though my journey felt okay for the most part, I do have to admit that after the halfway mark which is level 30, I began to feel a slight fatigue from doing WaniKani every single day, and I think that by that point I almost completely stopped using the recent mistakes feature as I couldn’t spare more energy for that anymore. There were also around two dozen instances in later levels where I couldn’t bring myself to do the big morning review batch which disrupted my flow a bit but a short time later, I got back into that habit again.

Unfortunately, there were a few mental health lows throughout my journey and one of the lowest was during late summer 2023 when I was around level 47. I was on very low energy again where I didn’t manage to do more than 50-100 reviews daily. Before that, I had always at least finished all reviews before going to sleep.

Those daily 50+ reviews didn’t cut it however, because I had done a handful of fast levels before level 47 and my review load became huge in a matter of a few days. The highest amount ever reached to date was 1700 reviews which unsettled me, to say the least. :fearful:

Still, I managed to overcome this and get back on track but it took me a while – that is almost two months until most of that pile moved to the Master stage, meaning that I didn’t see them again until a few weeks ago.

After things had evened out around level 54, the remaining levels until level 60 felt more or less like before and went like clockwork again.

4.2. Suggestions for dealing with daily reviews and excess review piles

To make reviews a bit less of a hassle to go through, the suggestions below might help you (too).

  • Generally, I found that having a time of day where you can anticipate the main chunk(s) of your reviews is useful and makes for better structure. Ideally, you’d set your reviews up in a way that compliments your biorhythm, meaning that you do a bigger number of reviews around evening, (after-)noon or morning, whereas you do the other review piles containing important items at a few points during the day.
    You can technically use my levelling up time calculations based on different starting times for making an exact n-days 0 hours schedule (see my level up speed section of this post).
    Instead of only using those suggested timeframes for setting up critical reviews, use them as a reference on when to do your daily lessons, so that you can start building the lessons in such a way that that the corresponding reviews tend to keep coming back around evening, morning or (after-)noon. Alternatively, you can just not do all of your lessons by the end of the day, if you work better in the mornings, meaning all of them will wait for you in the morning hours until you get to them – or the other way around, ignore the morning hours and let things accumulate and do bigger chunks at noon, afternoon, evening or night.

  • If piles of 50+ reviews already feel difficult to get through, I recommend using one of the methods I talked about above such as setting a minimum goal or time frame for one review session and start doing it. If you have energy to go on, do more reviews in that session, if not, put them aside and try again with another small batch to chip away from the main pile later. It can help to set up a little reward like a short activity you allow yourself to do after you finish the current review batch.

  • Feel free to try to get to a 0 lessons/0 reviews point during your level, if you have some extra capacity. Getting to 0/0 points during levels can give you a bit of a breather as there are no extra lessons until you guru a batch of Kanji and they can make new levels less daunting because you won’t have that many extra reviews from the previous level on top of the ones of the current level. If you need extra motivation to try this out, you can attempt the 0/0 challenge – it helped me, at least!


In the case you ever find yourself with several hundreds or thousands of reviews after going on vacation without turning on vacation mode or losing momentum at one point, I can give some advice.

a) If you wish to continue levelling up while dealing with the excess review pile (which is what I did), I recommend only doing the bare minimum lessons, so the critical Kanji needed for levelling up, and perhaps a handful of vocabulary lessons every day. Keep in mind that this approach can be stressful as you will unlock a bunch of new lessons with each level up and guru-ed Kanji still, making the lesson/review pile even bigger which you will have to deal with at a later point.

b) If you, however, don’t mind sacrificing your regular level up schedule, then the more comfortable and merciful option is to NOT DO any new lessons for HOWEVER LONG it takes you to get rid of all excess reviews or to get the reviews down to a more manageable level!

Once you have chosen an approach from the two above, it is time to try to divide and conquer your excess review pile.

Be aware that the number of excess reviews you do on day x, will come back in the same size in n-number of days – and then after another n-weeks. This means that even if you have 1000+ extra reviews, I don’t recommend doing more than 200 excess reviews daily because those x-number of reviews will show up almost immediately again if they are at Apprentice stage – or in a week or two, if they are at Guru 1 or 2 stage.

I ended up doing anything between 150 and 300 of these excess reviews every day while making use of a few Reorder Omega features (see the scripts section for my thoughts on it). It took me roughly three weeks to go through those 1700 extra reviews – all of this while going through all the other daily reviews on top of that due to Master and Enlightened items from month(s) ago reappearing again each day.

By the time those three weeks had passed, though, a part of those 1700 reviews already came back as they were still in the Guru stages (=weekly intervals), so it led to another few days of extra review sessions until most of them were at Master stage and wouldn’t come back until a month later.

Remember that you can even divide those reappearing reviews from your excess pile a second or third time; days or weeks after you began conquering them.
For example, if you get 200 former excess reviews on day x, you can do 100 of them on day x and do the other 100 on day x+1. Thus, whenever such a former excess review batch comes back in the later stages (Master, Enlightened), feel free to use a reorder script targeting Master/Enlightened items and make them even smaller by spreading them out over a few days besides working on your in the meantime (hopefully) normalised workload.

If you can’t “rush” through such an excess review pile (=doing at least 100 reviews) because of daily time constraints or don’t mind taking more time in conquering it, that should not be much of a problem as long as you consistently chip away at the big pile every day. It will just take a few months until things even out and you’ll start seeing them less frequently once they enter Guru 2 or Master stage. Perseverance is key and it will get better eventually.


By the by, all of my advice above assumes that you still have somewhat high accuracy (80+), even for the excess batch. If that isn’t the case, the whole process will take longer as well because the excess items won’t proceed that quickly to their next stages.

And if everything fails, I think it is possible to set back your levels by a bit which would get rid of some apprentice stage reviews in your excess pile immediately. I can’t confirm this myself, though, as I never reset and solely kept moving forward…

5. My Japanese learning journey before WaniKani

To sum it up in one sentence:

I first learned Japanese from 2010-2012 followed by a pause of several years until I joined courses again from 2018 until the start of the pandemic in 2020, followed by another hiatus before trying out WaniKani for the first time and picking up my Japanese language study (yet) again in mid 2022.

Below is a more thorough account of my journey before WaniKani I copied from my study log because I don’t particularly fancy writing more or less the same again:

6. My WaniKani journey

In this part, I will get a bit personal because it is my intention to emphasise that it was by no means a given that I would reach my goal of making it through WaniKani. At the same time, my story is supposed to serve as proof that even without ideal “conditions”, especially when it comes to mental health, it is possible to make it to this point.

I’d also like to point out that this is not a “complete” success story of someone picking up Japanese studies for the first time and immediately afterwards achieving great progress while also making it to level 60.

On the contrary, my studies have been an ongoing struggle and have gone through several stagnations and hiatuses because I myself haven’t managed to pick Japanese learning back up for the last decade up until somewhat recently.
I reckon that because a part of me refuses to completely abandon learning Japanese, that the spark that is hiding deep within me finally came to fruition last year. Because of that, the first thing I wish to tell you is that even if you have had an inconsistent time studying Japanese, there is still a chance that you might have that one flash of inspiration where the time is right and where big(ger) progress becomes possible.

For me, the beforementioned spark resurfaced last summer after a very difficult time: around the start of January 2022, I reached a point in life where I began breaking down mentally and physically but desperately tried keeping myself over water and forcing myself to continue my private life related tasks and obligations.

However, this turned into a burn-out, and the worst burn-out I’ve had so far, perhaps because I have never treated the two previous ones and their causes leading up to it, making it only a matter of time until all of it accumulated over the years and came crashing down. To make things worse, that burn-out was coupled with a moderately severe depressive episode and it caused me to lose almost any energy, any already generally restricted ambitions or interest and almost any kind of mental or physical feeling; everything felt numb.

Thanks to the insistent encouragement of a few people in my life, I decided to seek out intensive treatment this time around. While it took a few months because I still had to set things up by myself which was already a huge endeavour at my condition at that time, things worked out and I was given specific care that lasted up until late summer 2022.

During the treatment period, my therapist tried to get me to have a slightly more positive outlook again and one of the things they suggested was to try and remember things in my life I’ve always wanted to do and to try to pursue a long-lost dream or two to get back a sense of meaning again.
I slowly began feeling a little bit of hope for my daily life as my condition had begun stabilising a little bit. I remembered a few things that were buried deep within from the time I hadn’t dealt with depression yet (I’ve been dealing with it for many years by now), and one of my ambitions was and still is being close to proficient in Japanese.

I suppose that the impulse to almost immediately start using WaniKani once I felt a bit better manifested itself because of this and also because I wanted to have a semblance of daily structure in some way – to feel in control of my life again and to push myself to go on doing anything and not break down immediately.

My initial situation upon starting WaniKani wasn’t looking too bright and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to build the habit of learning 2000+ Kanji over the next months. It wouldn’t have been the first time to have botched a habit as it certainly doesn’t help that I have lots of trouble keeping up daily habits because I have AD(H)D (which I have only recently been officially diagnosed with) on top of all that mental baggage.
Luckily, the first 15 levels weren’t that demanding in terms of brainpower as plenty of it was familiar to me, so by the time things became more difficult to memorise I had recovered from the burn-out slightly more, making it possible for me to keep going. The rest of my experience and struggles with reviews I won’t repeat here as I talked about it in the “review” section.

Several months and a few more bumps in the road later, I finally made it to the end.
Honestly, part of me still isn’t sure how I managed to stick to it – it seems I felt compelled to hold on to this habit with all my might because I refused to let go of something that would help me get closer to one of my ambitions.

While I was doing WaniKani, I tried progressing with my Japanese study as well to varying degrees of success. To be able to keep better track of things I’ve done (so far), I decided to keep a study log because I’m notoriously bad at noticing progress and the things I’ve accomplished without seeing it laid out in front of me.

Throughout these 470 days of making it to level 60 in WaniKani, I…

… used Kamesame for a few weeks right at the beginning but abandoned it as I couldn’t find the time and energy to do more daily SRS apart from WaniKani.

… began reading regularly around level 20 and joined the Read Every Day Challenge for four months where I read every single day. One of the results of this challenge is that I managed to read my first manga in Japanese and ended up reading even more manga volumes. (Many years ago, I made an attempt to a read a short manga in Japanese but I gave up because Kanji was too frustrating to decipher with my little Kanji knowledge at that time).

read all 12 volumes of Card Captor Sakura and 3 volumes of Aria: the masterpiece as well as a few chapters in the Learn to Read in Japanese book. (I wouldn’t recommend this resource, however.)

read ゼルダの伝説4つの剣 (Zelda: 4 Swords) outside of the reading challenge but didn’t read anything else since mid-2023.

… practiced writing Kanji daily using the WK worksheets from kanji.sh during half of the Death levels but I put it aside because of time constraints in my free time again. (I plan on resuming writing practice once more in the following weeks).

… got through the Genki 1 text- and workbook which I did for beginner grammar revision’s sake.

… read a few chapters in the Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar which I will (hopefully) pick up in 2024 again.

Looking at this list, apart from the WaniKani routine I kept as a daily bare minimum in my studies, there were steps forward and steps back.
One on hand this was due to mental health fluctuations. On the other hand, I had trouble keeping up with multiple language aspects at once which is probably a by-product of my AD(H)D because I have always struggled with keeping structure and doing multiple things at once in my free time.

For almost 1 and a half year the non-WaniKani progress doesn’t look like much compared to many other people’s progress – but that kind of comparison isn’t helpful here! I recommend not comparing yourself to others, unless comparison fuels and motivates you, and almost exclusively comparing yourself with…well your former self from a few days, weeks or years ago.
If I take my current and last year’s situation including low energy levels into account, meaning that around summer 2022 I only had 30% of my total energy at my disposal and even now I might only operate at 80% of my total energy at most, and the fact that I was employed as well as still pursuing my education during all that time, I’m relieved and glad that I’ve progressed at all. And that is all I can ask for in my current circumstances.

Word of advice: if you are not feeling too great in general, then of course you’re not going to be able to progress quickly and consistently and it would be beneficial to try to not beat yourself up too much. You’re doing all you can with the cards you’re dealt with. And yes, this is an ironic statement given that it’s coming from me who used to self-castigate all the time and still does so every now and then but I’m getting better in this regard.

Needless to say, the ideal way to get better at Japanese in several aspects would be to invest several hours daily into immersion and output practice, getting plenty of exposure to the language – I technically agree with this too. What a person saying that "one just needs to put in at least 4+ hours daily" or so might not take into consideration, though, is that for a person with limited abilities or time on their hands this is simply not possible, especially not without risking a burn-out if you’re prone to those in the first place. And please refrain from telling me (or other people in my position or similar position on that matter) to my face that I’m just not trying hard enough or I’m just making excuses. This is a deeply insensitive and ignorant thing to say to a person who struggles with their mental health on a daily basis and may or be may not be neurodivergent as well.

As far as I’m concerned, I’m doing my best at picking my battles where I’m willing and capable of investing some or more energy while saving up energy through some self-care here and there as I need to find a balance in life to make progress in my endeavours in life long term.
I understand where that sentiment of dedicating one’s daily life to study or all of one’s free time to language study is coming from and that there are people out there capable of holding onto such tight schedules; and that is very impressive and inspiring. A part of me would like to do that as well to be honest.
But please don’t forget that every individual on this planet has their own life history and reasons for being as consistent with – and energised enough to do – language study in case it’s a free time activity as some of you are, or for often being drained and sometimes doing more and sometimes less, as is in my case.

Small rant aside and to come back to my main message:
Yes, making big steps is preferable and much more effective but making small steps is still progress towards your goal. Sure, it will take much longer, sure it might make you revise things because of things taking longer and not getting as much exposure as you’d probably like but as long as you’re going forward, you are still making progress and not standing still. And after a while, you may notice the progress that has almost silently snuck up on you. And even if you stand still for a moment, you might find the strength to get up and carry on again, so standing still does not have to be the end as long as you still truly wish to make progress and reach your goal.

What do I mean by “truly”? It’s not my intention to be some kind of elitist or something suggesting that only people who truly want to learn should learn Japanese – no, anyone who wants to learn Japanese should be allowed to learn it! I will, however, say that it is probably not a coincidence that a good number of people who began learning Japanese will not go through with it until their defined end goal which is usually some kind fluency depending on what one defines as fluent.
While it is perfectly fine to pick up Japanese for any reason and there shouldn’t be any gatekeeping for learning it, in order for you to make substantial progress, it seems to me that the reason as to why you’re learning Japanese needs to be strong enough to fuel you long-term or strong enough to remain a small flame deep within that might ignite into a fire if the right conditions at one point in your life are met (again).
I make the assumption that not having a “strong enough” reason is probably one of the main reasons for any hobbies or free time activities, and especially a big endeavour such as language learning, to have big drop-out rates. A “strong” enough reason will probably draw you to that one thing daily or regularly even when life has its up and downs.

I want to make sure once more that “dropping out”, as in not caring about Japanese to the extent to warrant all the work that needs to be put in to become (somewhat) fluent, isn’t a failure and nothing to be ashamed of; it’s simply a thing that just can happen at one point.
You haven’t failed as far as I’m concerned and I have a more neutral way to look at it such as that Japanese study or another hobby you tried was simply not that important, that much of a life goal for you to keep it in your life after all and that’s fine!
Instead of chasing after something that doesn’t really fulfil you, you might instead invest that time and energy for something you truly care for; you might even re-ignite one other sincere interest you had or have.

As for me, frankly, even I don’t know if the spark in me and my reasons for learning Japanese are enough to make me go through studying for years to come. But I do think that it is enough for me to come back at Japanese study eventually even if I end up having a hiatus again. I’d like to hope that one day, I will reach my goal and that this dormant fire that flares up from time to time will fuel that, however long it takes.

7. My Japanese study plans for the near and far future

Just as Koichi and the (former?) WaniKani team suggested in one specific e-mail, namely the level 60 e-mail, I wanted to leave the Wanikani nest after level 60 anyways and I don’t plan on burning all items or resetting. I will only sporadically still make use of WaniKani when doing revisions of some leeches, similar looking Kanji and the likes. …Maybe this is the point at which I should mention that I’ll keep staying on the forums still. :sweat_smile:

After all, WaniKani was “only” a means to the end for me – an elaborate and very useful one which I’m grateful for! But now that the tricycle (Kanji practice) helped me get used to the bicycle (being able to read Kanji more reliably), I can start covering bigger distances (extensive reading practice) with the bicycle. There will be easy streets and difficult trails where I’ll need even more practice or a mountain bike to overcome them but I hope that one day I will have the skills to navigate most roads (media) out there.

Thus, while I’m not at the start of my Japanese learning journey because I know some things already, I’m still at only at an estimated 33%. There will be a lot of things to do and improve on my journey until I might reach a point where I will be satisfied with my ability and knowledge overall.

At this point of time, I plan on focussing more on grammar study and start working through Genki 2, Quartet 1 and 2 once I stop doing any further WaniKani reviews just before the start of January 2024. Whenever possible, I’ll try incorporating some more Kanji practice, so that I won’t go too rusty on the ones I know well and to become better at the other 25% of the WaniKani Kanji that still aren’t as solid as I’d like them to be while learning some new Kanji here and there.

I’m likely to pick up regular or daily reading sometime in 2024 again. As for any other specific plans, I’ll make them when the time comes. I still need to get more listening, writing and speaking practice in and acquire much more vocabulary at one point. And apart from all of that, I simply want to start enjoying Japanese media once the language barriers are not as high anymore.

All in all, I don’t have a specific date or timeframe where I need to be at a high level of Japanese which is why I’m not in a rush when it comes to my studies. It will stay a personal, limited free time project since I still need to use my free time to well… freely do other, relaxing things to keep myself from burning out from life in general.
Nevertheless, I want to be at an advanced to proficient level (C1-C2-ish) somewhat soon-ish, and for that I have set a rough goal of wanting to take the N1 exam (and perhaps the N2 before that) within the next four years whenever I feel ready and afterwards continue with my studies because the N1 itself is apparently “only” an advanced level (B2-C1-ish) but not a proficient (C2) one.

Last but not least: ever since my childhood I wanted to travel to Japan. Due to my hatred of flying by plane, I figured that I would only do such a trip if I got to stay for several weeks or months.
Back then, when I got to start learning Japanese through elective courses in school, I swiftly adjusted my intention to go to Japan only if I pair it with a language school stay in tandem. This has been my intention for many years by now but I still have no idea when I will be able to set this up as private life still has some obligations I need to take care of first, not to mention all the planning and financial fuss that awaits me. I might be able to make it one day, so I’ll keep holding onto that heartfelt desire – whose Japanese equivalent eludes me right now because “heartfelt desire” is one of my big leeches. :smiling_face_with_tear:

And yet I’m not sure if these ambitions will work out because plans often don’t work due to the unpredictability of life…and the unpredictable state of my mental health as I can’t guarantee that I won’t find myself in another difficult situation soon.

Therefore, I’ll just keep to one of my life mottos: fear the worst, hope for the best. Despite things changing and my plans needing adjustments or falling apart, as long as I keep going forward in life and in that particular case, Japanese study, regardless of how small or big the steps are, things should remain okay – not great, but okay. And I’m fine with “just” okay.

Part 8. , 9. , 10. and 11. are located in my post below


If you have read through all or most of the sections, I hope that that some of what I wrote was helpful and perhaps instilled a ray of hope in some of you. You, as in the ones who just started their WaniKani and/or Japanese learning journey, you, the ones who are in the midst of it or you, the ones who just came back from a long intentional or unintentional pause. You may never know when a dormant spark rekindles and you’ll make some or substantial progress towards your Japanese learning goal.

While I acknowledge that only a minority ends up making it far in their desired level of Japanese fluency, the hope to making it as well one day is not lost for me at least despite my poor conditions – and I believe that some hope is there for you too.
There is no way around all the work that needs to be done to reach that goal and sometimes the time won’t be right, maybe leading to disruptions, but as long as there is a genuine wish preserving the flame that keeps you going or keeps making you come back to your studies, there is a is a chance that you might be among the people who will reach their goal one day.

I wish you all the best on your journey(s). これからも頑張ってください!

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My post surpassed the maximum character limit which is why the remaining parts are added here:

8. Some grievances I had with WaniKani

Wanikani has helped me a great deal in finally being able to memorise a great number of Kanji more reliably and I consider it a very useful resource. Yet, the service is not safe from criticism in my opinion and will add my main points of criticism here but not mention further nit-picks.

I’ll start with the radicals which I have some issues with, mainly that there may be too many of them. The commonly accepted Kangxi radical system has 214 Kanji radicals, whereas WaniKani has more than double the amount (485?).
While I can understand that the team doesn’t wish to overwhelm people with complex radicals and tries teaching things by ascending complexity, especially in the earlier levels, I still think that it would have been the more efficient to keep the majority of the Kangxi radicals intact and only split up a minority of them into several radicals.

The many radicals in WaniKani are not irritating for the first 20 levels in my opinion, but later on, when the Kanji become more complex, this leads to the mnemonics having to use anything between 2 to 5 WK-radicals to construct a Kanji. Having that many components consequently leads to more components one needs to memorise which might take away from the two actual most important things WaniKani is trying to convey: the Kanji meaning and the Kanji reading.

I had several cases where I was so hung up memorising the mnemonics or making sense of WaniKani’s way of constructing that one Kanji that I ended up remembering one of the radical components over the actual Kanji meanings at the first Apprentice stages because I couldn’t immediately recall the main aspect of the Kanji since I had half a dozen different components floating around in my mind.
Having only two or three radicals, usually the semantic and the phonetic component(s) instead, might have ironically made memorising more complex Kanji easier – for me, at least – and drawn more attention to the systematic building method of Kanji components.

My second point are the example sentences. To me they were not as helpful as they could be, especially in early levels because the sentences do not follow an ascending difficulty approach (n+1) but instead tend to use complex structures and unknown words (depending on the user’s prior knowledge) from the very beginning.
Unless I’m misremembering, I think I read about the WaniKani team having begun adjusting some sentences this August and making them easier in the first 10? levels in an update somewhere. If that is the case, I appreciate it even though I won’t be able to profit from this change anymore.

All in all, a complete reworking of all sentences would be desirable but not a huge priority in my eyes because it might be too much of an undertaking and probably not worth the personnel and resources it would take when these could be used for other matters like item entry additions, interface improvements and the like. This is why I kept this point short.

The final point is the biggest grievance I have: it’s the lack of customisation options when it comes to one’s study methods using Wanikani as well as the lack of some features in general.

I have already touched upon a few features that I wish WaniKani had to begin with in my “scripts” section and I wish that the base product allowed for more flexibility in doing one’s lessons in terms of lesson size and item types as well as allow more specific item ordering during reviews. The former seems to be in the works as the team has confirmed to be working on a lesson picker feature, thus one of my wishes might be fulfilled soon.
I also stand by my comment that I wish that WaniKani had built-in features that can show similar words or Kanji during reviews when making mistakes or in the item pages. A reworking of most Kanji entries to feature comments consistently pointing out the Kanji using the same readings due to component XY when you do new Kanji lessons would be desirable as well.

And lastly, the elephant in the room: the changes that have been made to Wanikani from early 2023 up to now and the aftermath. While this makes me sad to talk about, I consider the way things have been handled to be unsatisfactory and it has negatively impacted the trust I have in this service despite still feeling positive on it overall.

At the time of the first big update to lessons, reviews and extra study on March 27th 2023, I was in the “wait and see”-camp as I had faith in the team but was also ready to be disappointed. Unfortunately, the latter won over.

It is perfectly fine and in the right of WaniKani to make changes within their service just as communicated in their terms of service page. And the team has made some noticeable changes from March 27th 2023 and onwards (big review/lesson update in March, Kana only vocabulary, recent mistakes feature etc). While the changes have been either hit or miss or both for people, I won’t talk about my opinions on all these features as I don’t want to take away from my main criticism which is the severe lack of communication after any of these changes were implemented. Personally, I regard transparency over changes and goals as one of the most important aspects in a service – especially for a paid service – that is bound to get changes over time.

Regarding the summary page, the team only acknowledged that a number of users wished to have it back and said that they were working on a replacement. Unless the Recent Mistakes feature that was released in August only after months of radio silence since April is intended to be the summary page replacement, there still hasn’t been any update on an actual replacement in the works by WaniKani (currently existing replacement script for a summary page aside).

Despite there being complaints about the Kana only vocabulary launched in summer, there have been people who wish for more words to be added after the first 60 words were published. For the people belonging to the latter group, there has been no statement if more Kana only vocabulary is still to be added whereas the Kana vocabulary announcement implied that there would be much more to come

, unless I interpreted it incorrectly.

For the people belonging to the former group, there is still no guarantee of an opt-out feature being in the works in case they do decide to add many more Kana batches in the future.

These are just two examples for which the current status is unknown even after months have passed by now and this is exactly the kind of lack of communication I am disheartened about.
On the forum, you have team members replying to almost anything quickly as usual – which is great by the way – but at the same time ignoring any questions over the more controversial updates, with the exception of tofugu-scott who occasionally replies to script writers. This is something I can only assume is done purpose. However, it does not elicit any trust in the team in my opinion even if deliberately ignoring criticism or requests for status updates means that they keep themselves from saying anything damning.

So, it seems that the only chance one might have to receiving any kind of information or confirmation on things being amended after an unsatisfactory response or things that were promised still being in development is by directly e-mailing WaniKani. And if that doesn’t lead to an answer either, it creates the impression of not being heard at all because anything related to updates barely gets acknowledged in the forums and there are no WaniKani related feedback possibilities in terms of official surveys or polls hosted on the forums or on social media or notification by e-mail when it comes recently implemented or planned changes.

On the whole, I cannot overlook this reluctance for communication, especially when it comes to adjustments after launching updates or updates about promised features, which is why I can’t recommend WaniKani in good faith to others anymore without a big grain of salt as in “feel free to use the service, it’s a great (Kanji) learning resource, but be prepared that things will change, sometimes without announcements or beta testing, seemingly out of the blue – followed by a long radio silence”.
And that is quite a pity because I think that WaniKani has plenty of potential still and has helped a good number of people overcoming the Kanji knowledge hurdle.

9. What I like and appreciate about WaniKani

I don’t want to leave my thoughts on WaniKani on a bad taste which is why I wish to talk about the things I enjoy(ed) about it as well.

Apart from me lamenting the lack of a native dark mode in WaniKani, I like the overall design of the WaniKani dashboard, lessons, review and item pages. The keywords for the meanings, readings and radical composition being highlighted in lessons and entries is very handy.

The SRS seems to be working quite well for most people and it worked fine for me as well.

Regarding the mnemonics, I understand that they can be a hit or miss and won’t work well for everyone. For me, however, they were helpful and memorable most of the time even though they became a bit too complex and counterintuitive due to the number of radicals used to build them in the later levels. That aside, I love how absurd they are – my two favourite ones are the entry for 日 with the sun having quite the vendetta against Friedrich Nietzsche and 脅 for having a Majora’s Mask reference.

I’m absolutely delighted that there is an audio file for (almost) every entry and that these are audio recordings with actual human voices because computer generated ones can sound a bit uncanny at times.
Having those sound files played every single time when seeing the corresponding word in lessons and reviews helped me get a feeling for the pronunciation, the pitch and therefore recognise words a bit more reliably when heard in the wild. When I played through some games, especially visual novels, last and this year with Japanese audio, I had a few aha-moments where I managed to pick out some words I had previously, and sometimes very recently, learned in WaniKani and it made me appreciate this inclusion of recordings even more.

The next point is probably more controversial and at first, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it: it’s WaniKani’s decision to teach the common reading first, and the secondary or other readings through vocabulary while still making use of mnemonics.
I came to like this approach and found it helpful in making learning Kanji easier as I was drip fed the possible readings over time compared to having both readings or all 2+ readings right at the start, turning everything to mush.
When I tried making my own Anki Kanji deck years ago, my perfectionist tendency and my penchant for trying to optimise things took over and I got hung up over any possible readings, trying to implement all of them for each Kanji right at the beginning. I spent too much time checking and adding things that would have been probably been acquired during reading when encountering irregular readings occasionally anyways.
This is why I found it useful that WaniKani broke things down in digestible chunks instead of overwhelming me. It forced me to sit down and look at the most important reading instead of fussing over rare readings.

The gamification of the level up system is another aspect I like about WaniKani. Thinking of Kanji learning units as levels and focussing on levelling up step by step instead of glancing over at all the work, all the hundreds of Kanji and thousands of vocabulary items that still await me in the mid to late levels made the experience less dreadful.
Naturally, level ups also helped with keeping a sense of motivation and satisfaction over making it through yet another step towards the end and I also loved the level up e-mails I received. The latter literally served as a marker that another small milestone had been reached and on top of that was a source of extra silliness that I regarded as a reward for levelling up as well.

Although I only contacted the WaniKani team once by email, the support I received was quick, friendly and helpful which is appreciated a lot.
Besides that, the adjustments to item order, item entries and additions of accepted meanings are quick too and done on a regular basis which I’m grateful for. When notifying the mods about typos or block list candidates, these instances get looked at and amended in a short amount of time as well.
Basically, any specific improvements over entries happens quickly and reliably which is commendable and much appreciated. :slight_smile:

And, of course, I have to mention that I am thankful for WaniKani having a forum for its users: the community is simply great. :blush: I don’t think I’m understating it when I say that the community is one of the main driving factors that helped me stay on track because it is filled with helpful advice, supportive people and because it gives a sense of not being alone in one’s Japanese (free time) studies.

10. Thanks

I would like to thank the WaniKani team, current as well as former members, for providing this service that has had a lot of work put into it and for including a community forum where people can ask questions or simply talk about a myriad of topics.

I remember reading in a level 60 post that there seems to be a cap on how many @-mentions a post can contain. I think it was fallynleaf’s post(?)
As I would have had to list several dozen community members whom I’ve interacted with in any form or capacity and another dozen script authors if I wanted to have a somewhat complete list of people to thank, I fear it might be better to try a different approach:

To everyone who interacted with me in my or your study log and/or encouraged me, please accept my deepest thanks. I would like you to know that I’m very grateful for your support and that I found it very touching. :smiling_face:

I also want to give many thanks to everyone who interacted with me, showed me kindness or liked my shenanigans in other Campfire posts. And to everyone who participated in the reading challenge thread back in autumn/winter 2022/2023 and inspired and/or supported me when I was reading native material for the first time, I am grateful to you. :slightly_smiling_face:

I really appreciate this community for being almost exclusively welcoming and helpful and I’m thankful to everyone who is doing their part to keep it a peaceful, warm and fuzzy ( – and sometimes silly) place.

Last but not least, I want to give another big thank you to the aforementioned scriptwriters whose scripts I used as well as thank you for your aid in helping me troubleshoot when some of the scripts broke. All of you have made the process much more streamlined, informative and easier to deal with – I can’t thank you enough! :grinning:

11. Cake

My cake isn’t one of those visual masterpieces, I’m afraid. This is due to me not being too fond of the taste of “fancy” cakes with several layers, frostings, artistic looking fondant coatings etc. – no disrespect for anyone who likes them, though!

The cake I made (and ate) was one of my favourites: a simple chocolate cake (with a “sweet” drawing of the Crabigator!)

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Congratulations :tada: :slight_smile:

mental health

However, this turned into a burn-out, and the worst burn-out I’ve had so far, perhaps because I have never treated the two previous ones and their causes leading up to it, making it only a matter of time until all of it accumulated over the years and came crashing down. To make things worse, my burn-out was coupled with a moderately severe depressive episode and it caused me to lose almost any energy, any already generally restricted ambitions or interest and almost any kind of mental or physical feeling; everything felt numb.

^ this is extremely relatable except my latest burnout was this spring and the depression came with some extra “spice” which led me to seek out professional help on my own initiative. My therapy is still ongoing and I don’t yet have the energy to study japanese consistently, but I’ve recently started reviewing grammar with an iTalki tutor every other week:) Reading your level 60 post was encouraging, so thank you for writing it! and

good luck going forward, treat yourself to some :birthday: (edit: I finally reached your cake section, looks good :blush:)

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Thank you very much! :slightly_smiling_face:

Reply

I’m so sorry to hear that it is the worst part of my situation last year that resonated with you; I can imagine how you must have felt during this spring and summer.
However, I’m glad that you managed to find professional help soon after and that it has proved beneficial so far, so much so that you began dipping your toes into Japanese study again!
I sincerely hope that your situation will steadily improve for the weeks to come and I am relieved that I could provide a bit of encouragement through my post and experience. You got this! :crossed_fingers:

And on the topic of being sorry, I now remembered that I had set a bookmark on your post about you taking a break from Japanese you made in your study log some time ago and had wanted to reply to that – but then forgot. :sweat: I will do so later.

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O_O Just wow!

You’re such an amazing person in more ways than one! ^>^

Big congrats again on getting to lv 60! Well, deserved! And good luck going forward with your Japanese studies! :smiling_face:

01d

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Well, what a journey! And what a post, I see why it took you a while to get it done hehe.
Super nice that you share your experience so thoroughly and so honestly, so people can see how it can go. It takes a lot to get through Wanikani, the continuous workload and the length of the whole thing combined can start becoming a big drag. So big congrats for putting up with it despite it all and making it to the finish line!
I’m sure the time invested will be worth wise and help you a lot on the continuous journey with Japanese! So, enjoy being on the other side :smiley:
And damn that cake looks tasty, nice crabinator too :crabigator:

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And hi @Beyond_Sleepy , happy to hear from you \o/

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Thank you so much for your congratulations as well as for your kind words – it means a lot to me! :slightly_smiling_face:

In regards to my post, I knew relatively early on that this would turn into a long post and it took me quite a while to write all of it…but I didn’t expect it to be that long. :exploding_head: I was certainly surprised to see my post contain 100’300 characters according to Word’s “word count” feature which meant that it would not fit within the limits of a maximum of 99000(?) characters in Discourse topics.

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tbh, while I know people have explored the limits of posting on Discourse, I have yet to meet someone that has just ended up with too much to say! :joy: So, you’re a one of a kind! :wolf: Always remember that! :dog: :cat: :sparkling_heart:

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Thanks for writing such well written post, truly enjoined it. Some parts resonated with me, so your take is appreciated.

Secondly, well done reaching level 60.

Good luck with your endeavours and an healty life.

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Haha, I can see where you’re coming from when you say that posts of such dimensions don’t usually happen here. :sweat_smile:

Apart from the Ultimate Guide, I can only think of @fallynleaf’s and @MissDagger’s level 60 post that didn’t fit into one topic post either off the top of my head. I suppose that would make us (more than) two peas in a pod in terms of writing posts that go beyond the limits. And I only know about the post limit because of one thread made by fallynleaf on this very topic, by the way. :grin:

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I’m very grateful for your kind words as well as for your well wishes and I’m glad that my words resonated with you. :slightly_smiling_face:

Likewise, I want to wish you all the best in your studies and future endeavours!

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@Akashelia, I’m so grateful for the kind words and for your continuous support – thank you! :face_holding_back_tears:

While I do feel that my post turned out a tad bit too long, I don’t regret it because, as you say, I wanted to talk about most of the process it took to get to this point openly and without sugar-coating it while still retaining a sense of hope.

Haha, despite investing quite some time for Kanji practice during those 1 1/2 years, I still have kind of a panic reaction for the first few seconds whenever I see paragraphs or dialogues full of Kanji because part of me thinks I can’t handle it at all. :face_with_spiral_eyes: But the moment I take a closer look, I notice that most Kanji seem at least familiar by now and that I can decipher some things immediately.
So, I’m pretty sure that once I get into extensive reading practice that this feeling will gradually go away and hopefully all of the prior work memorising plenty of Kanji will have been worth it.

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Congratulations!! :tada:

I’ve been looking forward to this post! As soon as I saw how long it was, I got happy, haha! Thank you for taking the time to write such an in-depth account of your journey! I think your perspective is super valuable, and I bet you’ll help someone else who is struggling to make it to 60 by showing that it is indeed possible!

It has been really exciting watching your progress over the past year and a half, and really inspiring seeing you manage to keep pushing through the hard times, and keep coming back despite high review piles, and despite all of the other obstacles in your way. And you’ve managed to read a bunch of manga and such on top of all that, too! That’s an incredible achievement!

Congrats again for making it as far as you have, and I’m glad you’re still planning on sticking around the forum! Good luck on your future goals! I think if you can achieve this, you can achieve the rest, too. :heart:

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Mine was long, but not that long. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: I wouldn’t be surprised if I was close though.

Well done, friend. Also well done on the post itself. Truly an epic undertaking. It is so nice you felt comfortable sharing all of that. And for me, it was more about feeling comfortable fully sharing how you use WK. :joy: That is where I barely touched on it until comments.

I’m sorry it was as much of a struggle as it was. Mental health is no joke—says MissDagger who have had life coaching (that was more like therapy) for the past 6 years. I’ve only recently started wondering if I am undiagnosed neurodivergent, but it would certain explain some things I deal with. So I hope the diagnosis is helping, learning how to adapt to working in ways that your brain/hormones/body works is truly life changing. If sometimes a slow and frustrating process. Ask how I know. xD (So much left on the road too, I’m not sure the road ever ends, but I have a certain plateau/rest stop I’m currently hoping to reach…)

The length of my WK journey is all due to mental health issues, although I feel like for a big part of that I was kinda in denial about it. I feel like I’ve been in a partial denial about my mental health for most of my 20s, and only in the last couple of years (I’m early-mid-30s) have I started to realize how bad it was and I just couldn’t see it.

Yes, this will lessen, or rather you’ll need more intimidating strings to get that panic reaction. I think for me nowadays, it isn’t so much paragraphs or anything like that, but when one word is like a string of 5+ kanji that I just blank and don’t know how to handle it. My brain always insists it must be Chinese. :joy:


Anyway, enough about me. :sweat_smile: You are admirable. Picking something and sticking with it as you navigate your mental health, the recovery after burnout and all. It is an achievement worth celebrating. That cake looks delicious.

I’ll admit I like layered cakes (wow, I managed to make it about you for one whole paragraph… :joy: sorry :smiling_face_with_tear:) and multiple textures playing together, although I’m not a fan of fondant, I’m marzipan/almond paste covered cakes all the way. (The most common cover of cakes in Sweden, at least I think it is the most common, maybe whipped cream (not from a can)—certainly more common in homemade cakes since whipped cream is easier to do than a nice smooth cover of marzipan.)

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Thank you so much, @fallynleaf and @MissDagger ! :grinning:

Reply to @fallynleaf

Haha, I’m glad that the amount I wrote seems to have been satisfactory. :wink:

This is basically the main reason I decided to write this much because I hope that it can help a person or two. Otherwise, my post would have turned out much more compact because I didn’t really write the post with the intention of trying to be “woe is me” about my situation. It is what it is and it’s not pretty but it is my responsibility to find ways to deal with it. (And I suppose that the level up speed excursion while not really necessary either was added because I wished to impart some knowledge on this matter as well since I familiarised myself with possible schedules during my journey.)

Thank you so much! :pleading_face:
I am still relieved that at least my WaniKani journey and the daily review habit worked out and I hope that I can start building a similar daily, or at least regular schedule with the planned grammar study in a few weeks.

Admittedly I’m a bit more pessimistic about my future Japanese study habits but that’s because I’m a big pessimist in general. :sweat_smile:
But I do agree with you that I can use the fact that I managed to go through all of WaniKani and simultaneous albeit irregular study up until now as a proof that I am capable of making steady progress for somewhat long durations and I will try channeling that feeling when trying to overcome or prevent a potential hiatus in the future.


Reply to @MissDagger

Haha, perhaps I misremembered the exact length of your post but I do remember it being an thorough and enjoyable read!
And I think that your post is certainly a source of insight when it comes to how WaniKani can be utilised with a reminder that WaniKani is still a component but not the proof of reaching (a) Japanese fluency (level). Just as you said, by sharing one’s methods, other people may start thinking about implementing some of the methods that have been shared themselves or about what other kind of directions they wish to take instead.

As for my post, yeah, I wanted to make an exception for this post by sharing a bit more about my situation and try to make it clear, how difficult my starting position when starting the WaniKani journey was – and that the path forward was also riddled with hurdles.

This is going a bit further than just replying to this part of your comment but I wanted to mention it:
I’ve been reading all your log updates ever since late 2022 but I didn’t find it (which word to use…) adequate(?) to comment on your struggles and thoughts in regards to your life. The main reason is rather simple because every time I thought of wanting to say something, I always thought “hmm, what can I even add onto this matter because it seems that MissDagger has things mostly under control thanks to her thorough analysis”. :astonished:

Of course, I can only imagine how much thought and pain you must go through every time when making those hard decisions for your path in your life, so “under control” might be putting it too far. But I mean that due to you mentioning having a coach and writing thoroughly as in sharing your inner thoughts about taking the time to figure out what you feel, identifying roadblocks and what you would like to change and then making plans to adjust, it feels like you have plenty of tools on how to navigate daily life and life phases.

Those tools may not be foolproof as you can still stumble and in a worst case even fall. Yet, I think that those tools help tremendously when it comes to identifying lingering feelings or issues that make you unhappy with the current course of life and therefore trying to find methods to steer away from catastrophes before they can happen.
The transition time until you managed to steer away from a “harmful” path will be difficult too but it might lead to feeling better again once you adjusted your schedule or current priorities.

And when I think of the things you mentioned in the past year (thinking of pursuing further education, picking up music etc.) and the adjustments you made (trying to incorporate more exercise in your life, focussing on piano lessons etc.) it sounds like things are going well given the circumstances that you’re still in a process of deciding what to pursue next, no?

So, what can I say except for that your tools as well as your ability to dive deep into your mind to find some answers are very admirable and I’m fairly certain that the hard work on acquiring them in tandem with getting coached all these years has paid off so far. :slightly_smiling_face: To me, you seem very capable of planning ahead and adjusting depending on what life throws at you.

Also, I think I’m not wrong to assume that one of your “sparks” is reading given the information you shared in your log and level 60 post. Even though you have taken a bit of a break when it comes to regular reading in Japanese for some weeks now, I think that you will be back at it soon as you already mentioned an itch in your last(?) log update. :wink:
Noticing that one activity you usually love is growing a bit stale – or rather, you yourself have put too much on your plate by forcing yourself to do it regularly – and taking a small break is usually not a bad idea. It’s another proof of you, MissDagger, being able to notice what’s off and adjusting your approach until some things almost “fix” themselves by letting your intrinsic desire to read take the initiative again.

On the topic of neurodivergence, looking back (now that I know I have AD(H)D), the signs were there in my childhood already but I never put 1 and 1 together and it took an offhand comment of one therapist, them assuming that based on my explanations about some behaviours and daily struggles I might be on the ADHD spectrum for me to start questioning things.
This year, I took matters into own hands to get an official diagnosis. While it took quite some time, now I know that this is something I have and am affected by and I can finally begin to understand my behaviour and also all the cons (and pros) that come with ADHD better. The past decades are starting to make sense and I might even have to “thank”sarcasm my neurodivergence for my tendency to burn out. But just as you say, with this new albeit late understanding I can start adjusting things in life and perhaps lessen the chances of burning out even though it won’t be an easy road ahead.

If you truly wish to know, you can also try getting an official diagnosis, but to me it sounds like you have already identified that some of your behaviours would certainly fit ADHD and have already taken the time to adapt parts of your life accordingly. As long as this works out for you, the diagnosis process is likely not even needed here.
(In my case, it just literally never occurred to me that I could be on the spectrum because I didn’t know of the signs and typical behaviours of ADHD except for “person seems to be quite fidgety during classes or something” but even the typical symptoms present themselves differently in people depending on masking capability and tendentially differently in terms of gender at birth).

You can say that again; that part hits very close to home – I too was in denial for several years on how bad my situation had gotten ever since the first signs of depression started showing (which I also ignored) many years ago…
I can very much understand that your denial during your 20’s which probably didn’t make it possible to get to the bottom of things, let alone start doing beneficial things for your mental health didn’t make it any easier for your life in general and for sticking to Japanese language study or other things you technically like – and I’m sorry to hear that. I hope that in the recent years, you managed to get an understanding of some of the parts affecting your mental health and are on your way of driving those “demons” away and finding ways of making daily life more comfortable.

And speaking of nice things…

…perhaps you could treat yourself to some of the covered cake you just described soon? :smile:

Btw, I might have to take a break and it will take a while before I can write answers again. It took me almost an hour and quite a few breaks in-between to write both of these replies, that’s how slow and prone to blockades I am when writing… :smiling_face_with_tear:

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Congratulations! :confetti_ball: :confetti_ball: :confetti_ball:

I’m sorry for all the tough times during your journey. Still, you managed to overcome it all and reach the finish line!

This resonated so much with me. Speaking as someone whose japanese learning journey has been a cycle of starts and stops, and only recently does it seem to be going somewhere, your study log was an inspiration — even when you were struggling, you always kept going (for more than a year of consistent daily japanese study!). I’m sure this post will be very encouraging to all those who are going through some tough times.

I hope that you can reach your goals, both in japanese and in life :blush:

And that chocolate cake looks delicious…

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Thank you very much! :smiley:

When I read your level 60 post, your Japanese journey involving some breaks until you picked it up again in full force in 2022 likewise resonated with me.
And I think that we are far from being the only ones experiencing such fluctuations because just on this forum alone, I remember seeing a few topics made by people starting over or coming back to studying Japanese again in the relatively short time I’ve been using WaniKani. I think it also applied to a few level 60 posts by other community members I’ve read.

Thank you for the kind wishes – I wish you the same! :slightly_smiling_face:

Spoilers

The cake was indeed delicious! :wink: :cake:

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Congratulations on such a grand achievement! I too have been struggling trying to keep up with the Japanese I learned in college almost 30 years ago now! Now that my daughters are in college themselves, I’m finding some more free time on my hands and am hoping to try getting back into Japanese again. Just found WaniKani and have only been using it for a couple weeks but, it seems to be exactly what I need! We will see if I have the perseverance you do to keep it up!

Thank you for the long post! I love reading about the trials and tribulations that people have and how they worked thru them. If I just wanted to know how wonderful WaniKani was, their homepage does a pretty good job of that! But, your post gives it more credibility talking about how difficult, yet achievable it is. Thanks again for the insights and good luck with your future endeavors!

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Congratulations! I’m sure a lot of people have had struggles in their learning journey as well, but sometimes people are less likely to share when they’re going through hard times. Props to you for pushing through one day at a time :slightly_smiling_face:

Also, want to say that once you start Genki 2, you’re welcome to swing by the Genki 2 casual study group if you want! We’re pretty loosey goosey over there so no worries about being behind schedule or anything like that.

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