Tactical skipping/marking some things as "correct"

I don’t think there’s much debate, in that if you point to any particular animal, they will probably immediately say the same thing as other natives. But asking “where’s the line between them” elicited some hard thinking, haha. They didn’t really have a good answer except to give more examples of animals that were in one category or the other.

In many cases with WaniKani, when you try to cheat the system, you’re cheating yourself.

Perfect is the enemy of good enough… Wanikani needs a better strategy for handling leeches.


Before every review, I usually go through all the ‘Critical Condition Items’, and revise the mnemonics I’m using if necessary. I also write down similar Kanji so I can visually see the difference.

This is a good practice, but I’ve found leeches often don’t show up as Critical condition items. It is especially true if the leech ends up going all the way up to Enlightened multiple times… there is a high enough percentage correct to not get triggered.


I find Critical condition items to be useless because mostly, critical condition items are very new items (just started to be learnt). Better detected via Leech Detector or Stat site, or Item Marker.

It would be nice if I could tweak Critical condition items’ column to Leeches’ column


Yeah, and I’d add that it makes distinguishing some Kanji a lot easier. The simplest example would be the difference between stone and right. Remembering stroke order and length was a lot harder for me than remembering that one uses the leaf radical and the other uses narwhal.


I agree that for me at least, radicals aren’t important. I memorize my kanji as a whole, and not as radicals–rarely do the radicals work for me and when they do, it’s often enough my own name for it rather than the one WK assigns it.

However, while I’m glad it works for you to remember kanji through vocab rather than studying them separately, I DO NOT learn my kanji best through vocab. I never remember things like if it’s “ryo” or “ryou” for one of the kanji, and I never manage to figure out the meanings of the kanji very well as part of a compound either. I My mind is too focused on learning the compound kanji as a word than as separate parts, and so I struggle to remember things like kanji pronunciation/phonetic spelling, kanji meaning and, more importantly, the vocab itself BECAUSE I don’t have a good basis in the kanji themselves.

I’ve found this can be a relatively common problem with others, and I think spending the time on the kanji individually is actually much better in the long run, not the least because if you plan to take the JLPT there are sections that test your ability to use kanji correctly and if you don’t know the word but know the kun and on-yomi readings, you might be able to figure it out more easily.

Also re: counters in Japanese (like number + "day " or “month”) I also agree with what others have said: There’s enough “exceptions” to the way things are pronounced or written in Japanese that it makes more sense to spend time learning it correctly early on than trying to figure it out later since you might not be understood otherwise when speaking. That said if you get the meaning and don’t want to be fluent in speaking/listening (or don’t plan on taking the JLPT) and only want to focus more on reading, it’s more understandable, though of course you would never be fluent in those conditions.

I saw you said this is the 4th language you’re learning, with English, French and German being the others. Japanese is so different from Latin/Germanic languages like those that it will require a bit more work in some areas even if it is annoying at first and even if it doesn’t seem necessary.

I say all this not to shame your learning method but because I want to help direct you towards having a good base in the grammar and language. I think if you want to actually learn Japanese you need to be willing to put time and effort into it, especially if you want to make sure you’re learning it right. It does depend on your goals however (reading proficiency vs full fluency in reading/speaking/writing) so like I’ve said if you’re just going for reading proficiency then it doesn’t matter as much.

-Hops off soapbox-


Sometimes I can’t stand the circle-jerking about how good WaniKani is and how every other learning approach is less effective. Just because it works for some doesn’t mean it is effective for all. One-size-fits-all solutions are usually bad solutions. It’s one of the biggest flaws of WaniKani in my opinion. I like that it takes an opinionated approach on how people should learn kanji, but sometimes there are things that need to vary by the individual who is learning the language, and it’s incredibly rude to dismiss someone’s observation as “wow you just sound lazy.”

Just a reminder that it’s ok to criticize and provide feedback. Thinking there are elements of WaniKani that could be improved on is not equivalent to thinking the whole thing is shit and that we should just go use other solutions.


Thanks for the detailed answer.

Well I am mostly interested in reading/listening - speaking and writing aren’t needed, as I don’t have neither wish nor intention to live in Japan, and likely will never have a real need of holding a complex conversation in this language.

I decided to go with this for now: learn kanji through RTK, use WK as a tool for memorising readings in context of words. Because:

  1. The disparity between the time required to learn readings and the time required to learn meaning is huge - I don’t see a reason to slow down the overall kanji recognition process for the sake of learning both simultaneously, as WK suggests. By the time I theoretically could finish WK, I could have the ~2k kanji in memory for the long time already, and could repeatedly reinforce them by seeing over and over in various places;
  2. The radicals WK uses are not that good sometimes, and so is the kanji build up. Instead of using a previously learned simple kanji to reinforce its meaning it goes with its own radicals for the sake of creating a mnemonic story;

So will use override on kanji prior to Guru in order to level up promptly and not get dragged down by leeches. Then maybe will take leech-digestions breaks if I feel that the new vocab is getting out of control.

Also, about the English, French and German - they are different from Japanese for sure, but I was talking more about the general learning principles. And the general principles are:

  1. Perfectionism is not a virtue;
  2. Practice and real life application trumps classroom study;
  3. Keeping up with the learning and having the motivation is more important than learning things “correctly”;
  4. Some things can be learned later if needed and shouldn’t be obstacles towards getting to the real life usage;

Because with English, for example (my native language is Russian just for the record - so it is another European language, but from a different group, Slavic) - the reading/listening ability only kicked in after I decided that I want to consume native English-language materials and actually started to deliberately use English resources - like switching all the interfaces to English and forcing myself to read English Wikipedia when I wanted to read an article (it was quite painful for a while).

Then writing and speaking kicked in after I started to work with Americans and had to be able to somehow converse about complex matters on natural speed. And that’s when all the stuff came in, like American sports idioms which aren’t taught anywhere, real life manner of speech and other things. Then Australians, and I realised that I don’t understand shit. Similar experience with British - which is funny, because in my school they taught the British variant. Which was some very refined Received Pronunciation and didn’t really help a lot. And later I realised that the fancy grammar we had learned is almost never used by the native speakers, and even more, that in some English variants some constructs would be totally fine, while other variants would consider them incorrect or unnatural.

tl;dr - practice and motivation was most important to be able to use the language in the real life, even if the usage is far from the ideal. So the point of learning is to get to the real world practice as soon as reasonably possible.

So yeah, your mileage may vary and all that.


Whilst you’re gonna get very pro WK responses on a WK forum, I also agree that it simply sounds like WK just isn’t for you and that you should learn vocabulary elsewhere and maybe practice over Skype on one of those you help me practice Japanese and I help you with English schemes.

That is a supper long post but from what I gather it seems that you might benefit from picking up a vocab book if you’re not really completely benefitting from wanikani. I suppose if the SRS is slow as you say then in my opinion this is because wanikani is intended for for long term memory not short term conversational skills.

The vocabulary used by the site is for the most part just to give you an idea of how the kanji is applied in readings and as mentioned above you will most likely miss out on the many exceptions and irregularities adopted by the Japanese language (not just because of on and kun readings but also because the examples used to reinforce kanji explain the trends in how to read these kanji). I recommend you check out a quick master of vocabulary which is what I use to supplement my learning. Basically it focuses on vocab and breaks these down into categories - food, hobbies, counters etc.

I found this weird youtube video also which shows you the inside but not sure what’s going on with the piano in the background :wink:

That is a supper long post

That’s why I put a tl;dr in the end :smiley:

Hm I wonder how effective this book is on its own. I mean, just listing words and examples wouldn’t get you far, unless your memory is really, really good.

Although I like that they have Chinese translation along with English, interesting to look how something Japanese would be written in Chinese.

Yeah I read the tldr then skim read the rest aha - I don’t know how effective the book is on it’s own but in terms of going over what I have learnt on wanikani and using this to test myself (using the red card to cover up the readings so they dont show) as well as learn new words that might not appear for some many levels later I find it really helpful.

No one is saying it works for everyone, and no one is saying it should. The point that is being made is a rational argument which explains why learning kanji through WK is important alongside a divide between those who believe radicals to be critical, important only until a certain point, or useless.

Further, laziness is not necessarily a bad thing. In my experience the best scientists are lazy by our standards, primarily because we fail to realize that most of the work we do is wasted. I strive to be lazy on a daily basis, and am happy to say that I am succeeding. There is a huge difference between being lazy and this.

If you wait till then, the SRS levels are so far apart that you’d be waiting ages to fix your leeches.

A big point of SRS is specifically to let leeches drag you down. This is where SRS shines. If you you really believe This is a good approach, like many here, I too believe that perhaps WK is not a great resource for you…

  1. this is largely true, but is unfortunately used too often by people who just don’t want to put in the effort.
  2. only once you get to a point in the classroom. Try going to Myanmar and learning the local language on your own with zero classroom experience. Then compare how long it takes you compared to someone who bothered to learn the foundations before jumping in.
    Approximately: The classroom gets you from 1-3 a lot quicker than real life. Real life gets you from 3-8 a lot quicker than the classroom. And the last two notches are a bit of a crapshoot.
  3. this is another one of those ways to wiggle out of difficult learning that requires effort. Doing things correctly is important. If it takes longer to do it right, it’s usually worth it. Pacing yourself to not burn out and doing this correctly is possible, it just won’t give you any instant gratification. :confused:.
  4. again another way too avoid hard work. Virtually everything can be learned later, this doesn’t really mean much at the beginner level. Foundations are critical and need to be done correctly. Once you get to a point where you can learn Japanese through Japanese, you’re likely to be in a better spot to gauge what is necessary now and what is necessary later. This is because, at least at that point, you know that you will be capable to learn it later. At the beginning, you have no idea what foundations you might be skipping and what relies on them.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to customize your experience to suit what works for you. The problem comes up when the customization essentially defeats the purpose of the experience to begin with. There will not be much support here for your method. Not because people are just in love with the Crabigator (as people seem to think that’s the only reason we disagree), but rather because through going through the levels and spending as much time on these forums as we have, we’ve gleaned that there is a bare minimum that needs to be done for usage of this product to be considered productive and correct. It only helps you when people tell you that your method is not suited to the product. What you do with the responses though, is entirely up to you :slight_smile:.

I think you’re a bit late to the party, looks like Mr. “having the motivation is more important than learning things correctly” went the way of the dodo at level 12. Nicely told people how to get stuff done, though.


Mr. @anon13312298 is probably still here somewhere with another name.

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I seem to be doing that all the time. When a radical comes up i usually use the kanji name and get it wrong :confused:

Also what do people mean by leeches on here? see it a lot in forums these days

Something tells me you could find out by searching… but, it’s just a pair of items that you keep getting wrong.

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If the forum has a search button for all categories i would have…