These leeches wont go away

Hi everyone, this is my first post ever at level 32… please be nice :stuck_out_tongue:

I’ve got to the point recently where I can’t seem to shift a whole ton of leeches and it’s stopping me from progressing any further. Until now I’ve just been trudging through them without any real tactic and it’s not working. Does anyone have any tips for getting through items you’ve had forever? At this point it feels like there are some that will NEVER. GO. AWAY. (I’m looking at you 評判 and friends…)

I could build an Anki deck or similar but that feels like just moving a problem from one place to another.



The way that I deal with leeches is to just focus on memorizing the particular ones that I notice are troublesome for me. It takes some extra time and there’s no guarantee that they won’t be replaced with three times as many new leeches, but at least it’s progress.


How about trying the leech training script?

  1. Complaining about them seems to help (and I mean that sincerely because I realize that sounds a bit sarcastic). There’s a thread for that.

  2. I’ve never gone and hunted down any of my leeches specifically, but I’ve noticed that when I find a leech in a Japanese song I like, it really helps quash it. (For example, I heard 評判 in a Utada Hikaru song and finally have conquered it. Only 100 more to go)

  3. You say you don’t like making decks, but I recently made memrise decks with my leeches and recorded myself saying the words for an audio component. It helps me, I think, because it gives my brain another way to connect the word (I can hear my own voice saying it in my head, idk, it’s probably something psychological but I feel like it helps)


Wow thanks for this! I presume this just singles out the leeches into a separate review? That what it looks like for me, very useful.

Just found a userscript to show leeches for each level… it’s looking pretty bad…

@Shadkat Thanks, I think I just need to treat them differently like you said, give them some attention.

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I have a whiteboard which I write leaches on. Usually my leaches are ones which I get the meanings confused with other items, so putting them all out onto something I can look at really helps to break down the difference. It’s not even the act of seeing it often, just simply being able to observe the differences and come up with a suitable mnemonic. 9 times out of 10, this cracks the item for me.

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Also, [Self-Study Quiz] + [Additional Filters] Leech Training for quizzing yourself on leeches as often as you want.


I don’t know about you, but lots of my leeches are groups of items which are similar to each other.

Whenever I notice that a particular group is causing me trouble, I find it really helpful to track them all down and look at them as a group. I look for differences between them or similarities, and work on picking out the things which will help me to stop muddling them up.

I first had to do this for all those words meaning ‘soon’, ‘right away’, ‘as soon as’… :confounded:


I don’t have many at my level but the self study quiz script seems to be pretty helpful for me. Also if the leaches are vocabulary words you could spend time making sentences with them and the such to not only help your grammar but really reinforce them in your brain. I’m not a fan of anki decks but that is another method.

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This. I think attacking them in groups is a good shout.

I think the other major issue which was mentioned above is use - I think most of my leeches are words I’ve never come into contact with in songs/films/tv or in Japan. You could say this means they aren’t very useful anyway… (who would say such a thing…?) :wink:

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I like this idea. I suppose I could start with the WK sentences at least…

Also, I find using is a big help. It’s frustrating, but it forces you to learn these words in both directions (J > E and E > J) I’m on the level with 評判 now, and I have an unusually high number of leeches in this level (GRRR).

So in kaniwani, because there are no kanji to help me remember the reading, I make up mnemonics for each one that’s giving me trouble. For example (and this is very stupid - don’t judge!), “The fact that HE OWEs me BUNs affects his REPUTATION”. I use that for ひょうばん - 評判.

And because my accuracy for Vocabulary on this level have been so abysmal, I’m planning to really drill them with the the self-study script that rfindley linked to.


Love it!! This is the exact level of stupid needed for a mnemonic :smiley:


I sometimes have troubles with vocab that the meaning is only changed by a hiragana character. I overthink it because I know I mess up on them then end up putting the wrong thing, when what I originally thought was correct. I make up some kind of story or way to set the two apart.

this is a good one.

I deal with leeches using a couple different methods.

The most important thing is recognition. Knowing which kanji are giving you the most trouble and identifying them as troublesome is often times half the battle. It forces you to stop and consider the kanji and think about the source of your confusion. This doesn’t always cure the leech, but in order to fix a problem, first you need to know that you have one.

I use a leech trainer user script to help me get extra exposure to leeches. This script creates a “mini review” that focuses on my worst items so I can pound them into my head. Some leeches will still cling after a few times through the leech trainer, but most of them drop off pretty quick after I give them a little extra attention.

For the ones that still stick around, I set aside some special study time in meat space - writing the character out by hand. Comparing it to similar looking kanji. Looking it up in kanji dictionaries. Reading practice sentences containing the word using … Whatever I can think of to give myself a better grip on that kanji. If my original mnemonic isn’t working for me, I’ll come up with a new one.

Lastly, if I have a leech that refuses to die and it isn’t a common word … I use ignore script to kick it into a later SRS group and move on to other things, because I’m wasting my time.

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That’s an excellent idea! I just started reading Tofugu’s “Get better in 30 days” leaflet, and they suggest putting up e.g. 10 sentences in the toilet. (I mean, not actually in the bowl, but, you know, where you can see them while … you get the idea.)

Now that combined with your idea of writing the leeches and their friends down sounds really powerful. Thanks!

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I think focussing on the leeches helps, rather than cursing them and moving on. So just by starting this thread I think it’s half the battle. Feel free to post some of your most problematic leeches. Simply doing so and then perhaps getting feedback from others might be all you need to nail those leeches.

In addition to that I have a few strategies I use that you might like to try. The leech review script is excellent if a little time consuming. I have tons of leeches and it’s soul destroying spending a session reviewing them only to finally remove one or two from your leech pile.

I have also started to screenshot the troublesome ones. I think half the time my leeches are ones where the characters seen in isolation look very similar to others and I frequently mix them up. I quickly screenshot the troublesome leeches when they inevitably roll around again and again and either leave them on the desktop or put them into my wanikani leeches folder. Really this is true I have such a folder.

From time to time I spend a few minutes sifting through the screenshots in there. Sometimes something as simple as seeing two seemingly similar kanji side by side is enough to notice the obvious difference that you’ve been missing the whole time. In this way I’m able to delete several of the leech screenshots because they’ve now clicked.

Works for me, maybe it will for you.

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If I get an item wrong more than twice I search for a sentence online that contains the word, add it to my anki deck which gives the word a context. I also had trouble with「評判」 so 「彼は自分の評判をとても気にしている。」fixed it for me.

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