Slow it down!

After roughly 1,100 days away I reset from lvl 4. How ever I am finding it much harder this time around.

I have lessons set to 5 but I still can’t remember anything! Am I doing this wrong or has the ability to learn a new language set sail long ago?

Your friendly Slowpoke

The idea that any ability to learn disappears completely after X finite amount of time is one I feel should be set on fire and thrown into a dumpster. You’re worth so much more than a ridiculous saying like that.

What’s your current process for trying to remember things? How long do you study the mnemonics, if at all? Do you focus more on the shape of the radicals/kanji? It’s hard to know what suggestions to give if we don’t know what you’re already doing.

My usual process is to read the mnemonics very carefully, and then shorten them. WK’s long anecdotes don’t stick terribly well in my head if I try to remember the whole thing right off the cuff. If I chop it down to a few salient points, however, I find them much easier to recall. My mind springboards from those key chunks to the rest of the mnemonic, and then to the meaning/reading I’m trying to remember.


For kanji I initially have trouble remembering, I try to focus very specifically on the mnemonics, not just in terms of a story, but a feeling. Many of the mnemonics already encourage you to do this–to picture yourself in some kind of shocking scene. Try to really do that; if they don’t include the suggestion already, find a way to get into the scene yourself.

If you can make a connection between the kanji and an idea–any idea–you’ll have a much easier time remembering it.

Also, it’ll only get easier. I know that sounds crazy, as it’ll only get worse in terms of workload, but if this is your very first exposure to Japanese, starting to understand the rules and patterns of the language (and of kanji and readings themselves) will make acquisition of new items go smoother and smoother. So on that note, if you aren’t already also diving into foundational grammar and vocab outside of Wanikani, I’d definitely recommend doing so. It’s just one specific piece of Japanese-learning, and I honestly think without the others you’re making it harder on yourself than you need to. The only thing more difficult than remembering vocabulary and pictographs from a foreign language is remembering them with no context to put them into.

Since Wanikani also isn’t a site structured around the complexity of its vocab, but rather the complexity of its kanji, you’re not necessarily getting those easy little starter words like you would with a general language course (in the way you can teach any kid colors, animals, etc. in English and have them stick even without surrounding grammar). So again, having the more general context is really going to help. Just memorizing a random grab-bag of vocabulary in a foreign language is really going to be rough.

(I don’t actually know if it’s the case that you don’t have a grammar foundation yet; was just going off your first post wondering if the ability to learn a new language had passed. If you have that already, I’d just focus on really visceral mnemonics that involve the radicals.)


This is something I do that helps me remember the lessons. I have a journal where I draw the kanji character, write both the hiragana and romaji for the reading, write the meaning, and finally a watered down version of the given mnemonic.
If I didn’t do this, I wouldn’t remember any of the kanji and radicals - you should try it out!


Write em down. All of them. Don’t do more than 5 lessons a day at the start and really try to visualise the dumb mnemonic. It will be obnoxiously slow at the start but once you have a process in place it will get faster naturally.

Use the mnemonics, they are there to help because visual association helps strengthen the memory. Picture each one in your mind and associate meaning and reading it. The mnemonics are shared among common readings most of the time so if you associate a visual with the kanji you’ll get readings almost immediately after a while.

Do reviews at the very least daily, I would argue at least twice daily but it depends on how many reviews you have and your life situation but really regular practice and reference is the only way anything will stick. Spaced repetition and mnemonics will do the work for you but you have to put in the effort early, and take time with those lessons and apprentice reviews to make a solid mental connection with that visualisation of the mnemonic.

Edit: also, don’t study kanji in a bubble. I’m using imabi as a grammar resource and it provides all example sentences in kanji with furigana. If I know the kanji from wanikani, I write the kanji down; if not I write the hiragana. When I review the material I read the sentences and then HAVE to use the kanji I know. This method has been very effective for me and while my progress is slowish I have a very high accuracy % here. Good luck!


Just wondering how you are able to draw kanji so beautifully. I can’t draw them properly and I have trouble reading the kanji that I wrote down.:sweat_smile:


I’m flattered but it’s not that good haha. I dunno. I write slowly to make sure it’s legible and I’ve been writing about 3-4 hours a day example sentences learning grammar using as much kanji as I know, so practice? I’m rubbish at drawing, I just try to copy the font and leave enough room for each radical :S

What helps me a lot is to make drawings of the mnemonics. I noticed that if I put effort into drawing (maybe 2 to 5 minutes) I never forget the kanji and its reading. It doesn’t matter if you are not good at drawing, it’s the process of trying to picture and represent the mnemonics that will make you remember it easily.


For what it’s worth, I’ve found that using a graph paper notebook helps me a lot instead of a regular lined notebook. Using graph paper lets me A) use the guides for stroke order to get the proportions correct, and B) easily choose to make the character larger or smaller by using more or less boxes when writing it.


I find that using a microtip pen works for me. You can get smaller details that way.
Gel pens are nice to use too because then when you draw a line, it keeps a smooth and black consistency, without any skipping.

Not sure i want to spend money on such a thing thought. The occassion I will have to wrtie a kanji is pretty low

Thank you for for kind words. Right now I use the app on my phone or the web page on my laptop. I read the whole mnemonic. I say most of they stick right away. Remembering the shapes of the radicals right now is not bad, I’m sure it will change.

I try to log in once a day after work and go though reviews and take a shot at the next 5 lessons.
Like I said I got to about lvl 4 a few years back while also taking Japanese lessons from a native tutor in town. I was aiming for JLPT5, took the test, failed big time. Decided to focus on my career and put Japanese aside for a while. If you have ever put something aside because of frustration/ or feeling it’s pointless, it’s not a great feeling and eventually you want to put that demon down!

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I have never thought about learning each of them with a “feeling” before. This is a cool idea.

Yeah I have Genki I, TextFugu and started looking at EtoEto. I am terrible when it comes to grammar. My tutor had to beat it into me with a biscotti stick at Starbucks, literally.

@ lollopophuho That looks like a great idea. I’ll start logging them as I go and review them daily.

I’ve never set my lessons more than three after I knew I could set my lesson batch sizing in WK. So I could be slower than you. I think I learn nine radical/kanji lessons top throughout the day. Usually only six radical/kanji items. But somehow it could be forty vocabs if I already knew the vocab but I just didn’t know that’s the kanji writing for the vocab. But I’ve never done forty vocabs a day intentionally. It’s always unconscious when I did that!

I don’t slow it down…I write it down, read it as I write it, say it as I write it and beacuse I say it, I hear it and I do this 5 times for every new word. When I find a word that isnt sticking, I write it down 5 times in the morning and 5 at night by the third day I recall it.

Write, read, speak, listen…

You’ll never forget when you utilise all apsects of the brain.

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What works best for me is to write my own kanji mnemonics every time, for every kanji. Sometimes I have to think awhile before I can think of one that sticks. I incorporate both the meaning and reading into one sentence if possible.

I learned that for me these are more meaningful and stick much better than the pre-written mnemonics, so I’ve abandoned those to a large degree. If I can’t remember a kanji after a few reviews, I’ll tweak the mnemonic or rewrite it.

I like to plough through all my lessons at once if I have the time, and then after I’m done, I’ll quiz myself to make sure I haven’t forgotten them immediately. That helps solidify what I’ve learned. I think just learning five a day would be too overwhelming in terms of constantly processing new information while remembering the old. I like it better to take it in in large chunks and then spend a few days letting it percolate.


Good looking handwritten kanji :heart::heart:

Thanks for the replies everyone. Really great community here, everyone is really happy to help!

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You’re proof that there’s still goodness in the world. Respect!