The long and winding immersion path to WaniKani level 60

\huge \color{purple} \textsf{I’ve made it to the top!}

Unbelievable! I never thought someone at my age could actually learn kanji. I had given up before I even started. But, here I am.

Apparently nothing is impossible if you just keep at it! ^>^

\color{blue} \textsf{ The long and winding immersion path to WaniKani (and then to level 60)}

aka "The Secrets of My Fast Leveling Pace"

When I started out I had no real plans for my Japanese learning. Back in the days of fansubs I guess I just wanted to be able to spot the translation errors! :rofl:

But, then I encountered Drama CDs, specifically the Drama CD to the anime Yami no Matsuei , and they became my next big goal. I really wanted to be able to listen to them! :star_struck: From anime, I was already a huge fan of Japanese voice acting, so I really wanted to get into that pure audio media. :drooling_face:

So, I worked diligently on my listening comprehension. And a couple of years later of just watching anime regularly with subtitles in English, I found I could actually understand/follow along the story of Yami no Matsuei, which when I had originally listened to it had only sounded like gibberish. :headphones: This opened the flood gates and I started to listen to various BLCDs EVERY DAY for several years. I was in love with this medium. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

But, since I’m also a gamer :video_game:, I really wanted to get my hands on games in Japanese. So, my next target became being able to play them. I found ways to extract text from games and did slow, painstaking translations as I played Visual Novel games. :sleeping: (since those are easiest to do dialogue extraction from). This was still before WK, so I didn’t really know any kanji beyond 人 (?). But, with loads of patience, I found I could actually play games like that. But I was clearly pushing it. I wanted to be able to play them normally without all that work! (and at normal reading speed ^^;)

This longing connected to my larger goal of wanting to be able to read light novels. :books: And that meant reading Japanese without furigana (unlike the manga that I had also started reading in Japanese by then). Which obviously meant, KANJI was now the big hurdle for my Japanese media consumption!

Around this time I took the opportunity to take the JLPT N5 test in Copenhagen. Just to test the waters in a way and perhaps summarize what I had learned so far. Mind you, besides hiragana and katakana and numbers, I had not really learned any kanji at that point (though BLVN games counts for something I guess). Nor had I taken any lessons or read any books about Japanese. I was just a self-learned immersion learner. Still, I wanted to gauge how far that had taken me! So I intentionally went in blind with no further studies. I passed the test just fine (A+). :partying_face:

Clearly, I had learned something! This finally gave me the confidence I previously had lacked, to move onto the next thing: kanji.

Because at this point, I found I was not really moving forward anymore. I played Ni no Kuni and was still overwhelmed by the accompanying Magic Master, even with the furigana. And manga without furigana was still a huge struggle, even though I had started to read some with a dictionary in hand.

I happened to start watching a YouTube channel called Life Where I’m From, and during an episode where the Youtuber talks about why he sucks at Japanese, even though he lives in Japan with his Japanese family, WaniKani made a short appearance on this episode. “A gamified app to learn kanji? Now that’s something I might wanna a try!”, is how I felt.

So, this is how my WaniKani journey started, around 15 years after I first learned ちょっとまって from watching Cowboy Bebop, when I was still just guessing what words and phrases meant when hearing then in the context of anime.

Let’s summarize this as the super long and winding non-efficient way to learning Japanese! :joy:

It turned out I loved doing WaniKani! I guess I just like the reviewing process! ^>^

And due to my long time spent immersion learning, I found that I could breeze through a lot of lessons, especially vocab lessons.

(I mostly recognize them from Audio Dramas or anime dialogue. Sometimes the games I’ve played, so then I actually recognize the kanji itself.)

The first 20 levels I knew around 90% of the vocab. That number steadily got smaller, but, shockingly to myself, all the way up to lv 60 there were items I knew from before WK.

That’s the power of immersion learning for sure! You really learn tons of stuff of varying complexity. And it certainly goes way beyond just learning こんにちは.

The down side is, you might not be able to access what you know. By that I mean, you know stuff, but you don’t know what! Or you don’t know how to express that knowledge. It’s become intuitive to you. So, it’s just very hard to define.

It doesn’t stop you from using it practically. I visited the local Language Café and spoke Japanese with strangers for the first time before Covid-19 hit (again before WK) and I had no problem speaking Japanese I found. Broken for sure, but considering I hadn’t studied grammar formally, or taken iTalk lessons or similar, I managed speaking Japanese intuitively. I had tons of fun!

But there have also been times when WK have proven me to have learned stuff wrong, mostly because of how certain words or phrases are pronounced in Japanese. Such as 今晩は こんばんは which I could have sworn was written こんばんわ (because that’s how it’s said). There’s been other cases, but mostly, learning vocab from listening resources is a great way to expand your vocabulary (if you have the patience for it ^^;)

Doing WaniKani has been a life changing thing for me. Not only has it improved my Japanese immensely, making the knowledge I’ve had since before “real” somehow. But also, because of the wonderful community here on WK. So, I’m very grateful that I found out about WaniKani and started using it. ^>^

And now: I’m very happy to say I managed to get the very end! :partying_face: :tada: :confetti_ball:

\color{pink} \textsf{ THANKS!} :heart::purple_heart: :blue_heart: :green_heart: :orange_heart: :black_heart: :yellow_heart: :white_heart:

I’m indebted to a lot of lovely people her on Wanikani. People who’ve helped me keep on going and keep me motivated. Especially POLLfam! :heart: There are too many of you to tag in one post, but you know who you are! :cat2: :kissing_heart: :hugs:

Thanks everyone who ever participated in one of my subforum study group threads (Death, Hell, Paradise, Reality) on my WK journey! Again, you are too many to mention here, but I loved the friendly competition, helpful tips and emotional support. <3

Finally, thanks Wanikani team for creating this app that has made something I thought impossible clearly possible to do: mastering all those kanji! Thanks! :heart: :crabigator: :durtle:

\color{purple} \textsf{ Some statistics}

Second Run Update 2023-06-02 ~ after reset to lv 6

These stats are highly skewed I feel. I mean, I have clearly not forgotten everything, it’s just my memory that feels a bit murky about certain items. XD

Second Run Update 2023-06-02 ~ after reset to lv 6

I thought I was taking things slower, but it’s the other way around! :rofl: I’m pretty much speeding through levels, though I’m keeping a close watch on how I feel about the difficulty so far. :eyes:

UPDATE 2021-04-29

Well, that’s certainly a change for the better. :sweat_smile:

(I only installed the 2 cool 4 progress-script after reaching lv 60, so as to get a better overview on where I were on the completion of WK)

UPDATE 2022-08-16 ~ after restarting my yearly sub 220612

Second Run Update 2023-06-02 ~ after reset to lv 6

Looking pretty good to me. I’m never close to the apprentice count I got used to on the first run. :slight_smile:

Review intervals: 1 / 40 /100 /200 /400

Heatmap UPDATE 2021-04-29

You can really see the cool down since reaching lv 60. :relaxed: I’m mostly getting under 100 reviews a day now. Nice and easy!

UPDATE 2022-08-16 ~ after restarting my yearly sub 220612

Second Run Update 2023-06-02 ~ after reset to lv 6


Lessons intervals: 1 / 40 /60 /80 /100

UPDATE 2022-08-16 ~ after restarting my yearly sub 220612

Second Run Update 2023-06-02 ~ after reset to lv 6

Well, you can clearly see how my workload is very uneven and spiky. This comes from my habit of lesson binging. I do all lessons throughout the day after leveling, but for a couple of exceptions (late night leveling for example). Or I was busy for some reason.

But, I plan it out and do 2/3 or all last level lessons the day before level up, just to immediately get to that sweet spot of doing the new level lessons directly. It’s all about planning and more planning. ^^

@rwesterhof Thanks for your workload script! It came back to me! So, I edited my post now with the graph. I think it gives a clear picture of what lessons binging does to workload.

While I don’t find this too much, it probably is for some people. :sweat_smile:

So, doing a regular set of lessons seems more easy long-term. Though, I honestly enjoyed doing it like this. I would have stopped lessons binging long ago if it didn’t work. It’s just different from the method most people on WK use. I don’t recommend it as such, but it’s certainly doable.

UPDATE 2021-04-29

That dramatic drop from the height of madness that was rushing to the finish line and binging all my lv 60 lessons (see below). Dang! :rofl:

UPDATE 2022-08-16 ~ after restarting my yearly sub 220612

Restarting WK with the final sets of lessons (of the items added during 2021, after my sub ended), shows as a bump in reviewing. Farewell, WK lessons! :wave: Welcome slow reviewing days. ^^

UPDATE 2023-06-02 ~ after reset to lv 6

Workload obviously has gone way up from before, but that’s to be expected as I’m doing lessons again. :slight_smile:

@saibaneko I hope you’re satisfied! :wink:

\color{orange} \textsf{ Leech training}

My Apprentice count had been steadily increasing so around level 30 I felt I had to do something about it! (110-180 was a common number by then).

So, this was the start of *ekg’s leech battle blog - a study log of sorts

Just check the link for details on how I’ve tackled leeches throughout the levels and other concerns I’ve had during my WK journey. I don’t feel like repeating all the details of what I’ve written there as it’s a fairly short study log (only updated once in a while).

I hope other people can be helped by how I’ve tackled my leeches, but I do think there is more than one way to do so.

\color{red} \textsf{ SCRIPTS}

Some very helpful user scripts I’ve relied on on my WK journey:

@rosshendry’s Shin WaniKani Leech Trainer Link to Greasy Fork Shin WaniKani Leech Trainer

What do you want now? (Request extensions here) - #792 by Sinyaven @Sinyaven’s WaniKani Later Crabigator script. This is a fantastic script! :eyes:

\color{purple} \textsf{ CAKE!!!}

Some say the cake is a lie. But, that’s not true. Cake is definitely the reward I settled on to celebrate this day! :grin: :birthday:

And what better than a Swedish smörgåstårta! :yum:

Full disclosure: it was very yum! :yum:

How to make Swedish smörgåstårta?

Second attempt at this dish, 1 year later “smol” 4 pieces version: 2022-04-01

->Recipe for this second attempt smörgåstårta. A tweaking of the first recipe for better flavor balance! 2022-04-01

\color{pink} \textsf{ What now?}

After finishing the last lessons, I’ll continue to do my reviews and attempt to burn as many items as I can. I don’t plan on renewing my subscription, so there will be items that don’t get burned. That’s fine. WK is just a help to get started anyways. The most important part is that WK have taught me how to learn kanji.

I do plan on picking up BunPro at some point for some grammar training.

I’ll probably retry Torii and the 10 000 most common word pack.

But, I’m really just looking forward to spending more time reading, playing games, listening to drama CDs, watching anime, and just having fun with the Japanese I’ve learned so far! :grin:

Wish me luck and see you all around the forum! ^>^




Thank you! :blush: Finally I’ve done it! ^>^


Congrats!!! :partying_face:


I’m out of likes, so please accept a Dio instead :green_heart:


The long awaited post! Congratulations!! The cake looks amazing :drooling_face:


you’ve done it and 0/0 gloriousness on display to boot!

gotta work but i’ll come back with some more love and some badly drawn cat!


Congratulations!!! You’ve done amazingly!


A BIG congratulations!!! :crabigator: :durtle_love: :durtle_noice:

You made it to the end!

Time to burn some turtles!


Sniff sniff



:star_struck: :star_struck: :star_struck:


Thank you everyone! Iz feeling the love right now! :blush: <3<3<3

happy cat


Congratulations! :grin:






You did great and fast!!! :muscle:

I am happy to have been of some help in this journey. I hope you will keep hanging out with the POLLfam. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOO you did it !!! and that cake looks awesomeeeee!!!


Congratulations! :cake:


Congratulations!! :cake: :cake:


Thank you! ^>^

Thanks! :slight_smile:


Wow smörgåstårta! I’ve never heard of it before but it looks goooooood :yum:

Congratulations! :partying_face: :partying_face: :partying_face: :partying_face: :partying_face: :partying_face: :partying_face:

How did you get so good at the listening? I’ve watched a lot of anime over the years but I still can barely understand anything (maybe it’s just the way my brain works…) I get a word here and there but it’s mainly gibberish!!