Salting the Leeches

The time has come.

I have a few days off work, and I have a whopping 183 leeches that are slowly sucking the life out of me and tanking my review percentages into the 80s, 70s, and even sometimes the 60’s :grimacing: My plan is to divide and conquer: I’ll make a set of kanji leeches and another of vocab leeches.

For the kanji ones, the tactic is simple: go hard on the mnemonics. Make up my own to really get it all to sink in. Research the kanji and check out other people’s ideas for remembering. Possibly come up with slightly adjacent meanings if they’re not too far off an it’s already stuck in my head that way. (I feel like i’m always getting my ass kicked by ‘exceedingly’ and ‘extremely’ and ‘recently’ and ‘the other day’).

As for the vocab leeches, I have high suspicions that these mostly exist because I haven’t learned grammar points for the differences between transitive and intransitive verbs well enough. So I guess study some grammar (kill me), but I’ll do what I have to to stop seeing the sad red bar when I hit enter.

How many leeches are you currently sitting on? What’s your tactic for banishing them to the abyss? Are there certain kanji that you’ve come up with a way better mnemonic for and now it never leaves your brain? Share it! Let’s take some time before the end of the year to take a flame thrower to those lil’ bastards together!


Question, and then I’ll get back to you: how do we see the specific number of leeches? I mean, I know there are things I should have burned already based on the level that I can’t seem to get right. But where do I check for that?

You must install the WaniKani Item Inspector!

It takes a bit of jiggery pokery, but it’s pretty useful for giving you in depth data on how you’re doing item by item.


There also is the notice-your-leeches userscript

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nice! I’m not sure about this script because I don’t have it installed, but I like the Item Inspector because it has a little built in anki program that allows you to review your leeches outside of your regular WK reviews so you can really go to town on getting them baked into your brain

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Somehow, I managed to get from about 450 to 400 leeches in the past month. I’m guessing it was old leeches burning.

My main focus during this time has been my apprentice leeches, which often contribute to more than half of my reviews each day. I’ve managed to get that from being around mid-50’s to being around lower-40’s after a month. Different leeches cycle in and out of being apprentice.

For vocabulary, it’s helped to search through subtitles for anime I own on DVD for matches. Then I can watch up the scene where it’s used to get a better feel for it.

I also look up a Japanese definition. I do a web search for the word in Japanese and 意味, then drop the result into DeepL for a translation (as very often there are kanji I don’t know in the definition).


I am the author of Item Inspector. Here I have to give credit where credit is due. I think you refer to Self Study Quiz. This is a very popular script by @rfindley that has a programming interface to allow other scripts to call it. Item Inspector uses this interface to provide the quiz functionality. As much as I would like to make a script as successful as Self Study Quiz I really can’t take the credit for this one because I am not the author.

Again I have to give some credit. I have used this script to jumpstart the first version of Item Inspector. Item Inspector displays a leech table similar to the Dashboard Leech Table script but overtime it has grown to provide much more functionality. Install both scripts and compare. You will see the difference is huge now.


Thanks for clarifying, and thanks for your contribution to the community!

This is a solid tactic. I started yesterday by knocking out some radicals that hadn’t stuck, hoping it would make their kanji fall into place but I’m starting to get nervous that I’ve managed to forget ones I burned years ago :grimacing:

Some progress from yesterday:


I have a couple of strategies:

  • for kanji I learn to write them by hand and then usually differences between whichever ones I’m confusing become more apparent

  • for vocabulary I concentrate on learning the sound of the word as a whole, as if it was just written in hiragana, rather than trying to remember each individual component.

  • if I get really desperate I try to just expose myself to it irl so often that it becomes second nature - currently watching a lot of hiking videos on youtube because I have apparently answered the meaning of 登山 correctly 65 times since 18 March 2019 but still not managed to burn it. I admit this is quite time intensive for one word but I’ve learnt loads of other great hiking vocabulary at the same time (and have a very long list of places I want to hike when Japan re-opens)!


That’s one of mine too! I’ll join you watching hiking vids

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After reaching level 20, leeches were a real demotivator so I had to change up my game plan. Early this week, I had almost 200 items in the apprentice stage but they are now at 117. What I do is use the Flaming Durtles app and it has a self quiz feature. I study all items in the next hour before a review will occur. This allows me to see what is coming up and review it multiple times. I have a desk job and work from home so I’m able to do this during working hours.

After using the self quiz feature in the Flaming Durtles app, I see that a lot of mistakes do occur with typos that I don’t correct before hitting enter, forgetting the rendaku, or confusing which reading to use (じん vs にん)for example. There are times when I’ve completely forget one of the readings or the meaning all together and it ends up being a real life saver. Seeing a Guru 1 drop back to Apprentice 4 is really hard to watch or missing an opportunity to get an Apprentice 4 to get up to Guru 1 because I forgot about that stupid *&^$^ rendaku again.


Anki automatically suspends them, and then I never look at them again :man_shrugging:.

Okay, I lied. I usually delete them afterwards (unless it’s a word I really, really like and want to learn).


@ChristopherFritz Thanks for mentioning DeepL! I never heard of it before so I was using Google Translate when mining Anki cards out of manga. Such a huge difference!

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Is DeepL vastly better than Google translate?

YES! See the two images below


WELP. I’m convinced! Switching immediately


Gettin’ there.

Just remembered to check on this, and it looks like my leeches have gone from 183 in December to a late April total of… 47! :grin: Progress feels good.


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