Should I use vacation mode while I'm trying to fix my understanding of kanji?

So I’m at Level 7, about to Level 8, and up until now I’d been able to get by pretty easily with an extremely basic understanding of onyomi and kunyomi.

I’d just kind of casually remember one is for words with hirigana and one is for stand-alone and kanji-words but not really study the kanji properly for lessons. I’d fly through the lesson instead of recognizing “this is onyomi”. And then just kind of remember based on memorizing vocab words.

I’ve now gotten to the point, or maybe just a brain freeze, of me messing up the onyomi’s and kunyomi’s for vocab words and doing pretty poor on reviews. Maybe it’s a plateau, maybe I just do my reviews when I’m not in the right headspace but, regardless, I’d like to completely revamp and reinforce the kanji I currently know.

To me this means going back to every level, recognizing which are kunyomi and which are onyomi, going through each vocab word I’ve learned and making sure I would either guess what the reading is correctly or recognize irregulars.

My question is would it help or hinder me to go on vacation mode while I do this? It’d prob take 1-3 days. It’d probably also mess up my SRS for the words I’ve learned recently but towards the end those will be reinforced anyway.

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Vacation mode won’t hurt. If will freeze your reviews instead of letting come due and pile up which is nice. You will pause your reviews either way so the effect on SRS is the same whether you use vacation mode or not.

An alternative is to study just the items that are causing problems. I suggest you use my script Item Inspector, to identify them and display them on you WK dashboard. You can them move over these items reciting reading and meaning aloud. Then you move the mouse over the item and this will reveal the answer in a popup. You could also start a quiz on the problems items using the Self-Study Quiz buttons.


Have you stopped lessons?

I’m not totally clear on where the hang up is in understanding… or I wouldn’t worry too much about putting each of the potential readings in the right bin of kun or on.

Ultimately with vocabulary - there is a correct way to say the word, and that’s that. No need to overthink it. For individual kanji, there are a variety of potential readings… and WaniKani will let you know with the “shake” effect if it wants one vs. another.

Most of the time the standalone reading WK teaches for kanji is on’yomi, but not always. And most of the time 2+ kanji compound words will use an on’yomi reading. That’s where it gets easy to guess at a lot of vocabulary readings when you’ve already seen the individual kanji.

But really you don’t need to commit all of these specifics to memory. Ultimately, if you’re doing poorly on reviews - let’s figure out what specifically you’re getting tripped up with and address that directly.


I’m not worried about not getting the kanji answer correct because wanikani will just tell me it wants a different reading.

My main problem right now is on getting vocab correct (my main purpose is learning how to read so the vocab is important to me). If I haven’t seen something in a while or even if something is relatively new, I take a guess based on hirigana or lone kanji, patterns, etc. Lately, for some reason, I’ve been using kunyomi when I should be using onyomi or vice versa. Just because I don’t know which readings are which. If I recognized it was onyomi, based on patterns I would’ve known the right answer but I thought that specific reading was kunyomi. Does that make sense?

I have not yet but if I stop and restudy all of these, my intention would be to stop.

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Just to be clear, you are aware that the tendency for on’yomi and kun’yomi to be used the way you described have a decent amount of exceptions, yes? There are probably a dozen or more single character vocab words in the first 5 levels or so that use on’yomi, even though this is often taught to people as one of the main ways to recognize words that should be read with kun’yomi.

I would say your main concern should just be getting the vocab right. It doesn’t really matter if you know which category the reading is when you’re a beginner. It will work itself out over time.


Personally, I would keep trucking on. If you accidentally use the onyomi when you are supposed to use kunyomi for vocab and Wanikani marks you as wrong, I would use the ignore script, do a quick review of the mnemonic for the card and move on. However, its easy to abuse the ignore script so try not to.

That being said, most of the kanji and vocab used in the first 10 to 15 levels are reinforced heavily when you start studying grammar (especially via YouTube videos that teach Japanese grammar in Japanese + Japanese subs). What you lack is exposure to the language which unfortunately can’t be rushed. Some words are easier for your brain to make connections and will take very little effort to memorize in the long run whereas others will play cat and mouse until you’re ready to quit.

I promise that it gets better so there is no need to use vacation mode in your case. Maybe if you are feeling overwhelmed by lessons / reviews then maybe you could but even then I would vote against it. Let SRS / your exposure to the language guide you.

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It’s a really common thing when you first start WK to feel like you need to know which readings are on’ and which are kun’, but it’s not important. You’ll get a good feel for it with time anyway.

Keep up with your reviews and do lessons at a pace that’s comfortable. Everything else will work itself out.


I think the advice from @jprspereira ’s guide would probably help here:

The solution is simple: 4 to 5 days before going on vacation: stop doing lessons. What will happen is that you’ll Guru a big part of your apprentice items during that time

You’re not going on actual vacation, but if you want to turn on vacation mode I think that’s the best way to do it.


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