Wanikani Inconsistency & Limitations

Does anybody else get frustrated by the inconsistency of Wanikani’s definitions of individual kanji? Sometimes it only recognizes the verb form, sometimes only the noun form, and trying to guess which is driving me crazy. It seems to prefer verb form whenever one is available, but I still don’t understand why, for example, 勝 is only “win” and not “victory,” or 競 is “compete” but not “competition.” Outside of context, should these meanings not be of equal value? Or is there some trick I’ve missed?

I also wish there were some kind of context for the vocabulary and radicals so they could be more easily distinguished from the pure kanji forms when speeding through hundreds of quiz items…

Is there any way to practice kanji between quizzes other than picking up a pen and paper? I’d like to be able to review without having to wait three hours just to be quizzed and told I messed up again.

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Kanji definitions tend to be the verb form of the word. Not always, mind…

As for studying between reviews, the point of the Spaced Repetition System is the spacing - the idea is to get the kanji stored in your long term memory. Studying between reviews - or worse, immediately before the next review - defeats that purpose. By all means, read up on what you missed immediately after your previous review. But yeah, if you get it wrong, you’re supposed to see it again sooner.

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Don’t user synonyms take care of most of this.

You can use the self-study script to repeat the new kanji a few times, for me it feels easier to get them from short-term to long-term memory when I try to recall them a few times right away.

[also: use the ignore script (responsibly)]

No it doesn’t and too many people here seems to believe that. Indeed reviewing just before a quizz isn’t good but it’s because, in the case where you get it wrong, you will succeed in the following quizz even though you shouldn’t.
HOWEVER reviewing between reviews isn’t a problem. How are you supposed to learn japanese if you can’t practice japanese outside of WK? And what you’re basicly saying is that someone who follows SRS will remember an item better than someone who reviewed it every day? This doesn’t make sense.
Just to be clear, the purpose of SRS is to find the best balance between reviewing enough to store it in long term memory and not overloading the user with reviews. The more you review items, the better.


Someone who follows SRS will remember an item better a month later than someone who studies it three days in a row and then not again. The “a month later” is the important distinction.


No ones says you can’t study Japanese outside of WK. That’s not what “reviewing between reviews” means.

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I’m on the team SRS is a good system… but here I raise a question… is it a one size-fits-all system?

I’ve used other SRS based systems, and no one uses the same time separation between reviews. Also, everyone is different. So maybe some people need a study between reviews, like personalizing the SRS system so to speak.

For example… i’m really good getting right apprentice items up to guru, like really good. But from guru 1 to guru 2 my accuracy drops a bit… a bit more for master things and a huge fall to enlighten items (like 80-85% accuracy)

So I’ve started to force myself to use the self study userscript to review items half way before mastering them and two times between master and enligthen, i havent started to study between enlighten and burn reviews but im sure im going to do it, because that’s the srs i need, i might not be as smart as other people here.

For me it’s usually a matter of what is useful for yourself at the end, what works for you, i’d love that the current SRS model be perfect for me but it isnt.

About the OP question… man, you rather get used to it or you start providing your own synonims because you’re going to get mad a lot of times in the way ahead of you, thing is this whole system was made by another person but they do give you the tools to personalize it your way, so i really think you should do that

Full disclosure: I didn’t have this issue with the kanji when I started.

One theory I could propose for why this tends to happen is that if a kanji has a really common verb that goes with it, then the requested meaning will probably be a bare infinitive. Of course, the developers decided what is a correct and incorrect response for items, so it’s not going to be exhaustive. In the end, Leebo is correct that adding synonyms may be your best bet if the uniformity of the class of words will help you remember.

Additionally, whether the meaning is a verb or noun is immaterial after a certain point because dealing with the meaning of kanji is so abstract that if you understand the underlying concept, it’s enough. But I’m sure you already know that. It can be really frustrating when a virtually similar answer is okay while another is not.

If you put an item on a post-it above your bathroom mirror so you see it every day, yeah, that won’t make it stick even though you repeat it every day. However, it also won’t hurt your retention if you’re being quizzed on that item as well by an SRS. You are allowed to think of words and remember them outside the actual quiz, even if you’re using an SRS. You don’t “break” the SRS by practicing outside it.

That was the point Welteam was making as far as I understand it.


i agree with most of your post, but the statement ‘the more your review an item the better’ is not entirely true. In fact, spacing the reviews improves the chances to move an item to long term memory.

Just to throw some anecdotal monkey wrench into the discussion…

I’ve found that, without question, the things I remember best over many years are the ones that I drilled extensively over several days, and never again afterward other than occasional recall by happenstance.

In 7th grade, I had to memorize the list of English prepositions. I repeated them extensively for three days, and I still remember the list almost 30yrs later. In 9th grade, I had to memorize the opening sonnet for Romeo and Juliet. Same method, and I still remember it word for word. Same for the Boy Scout law, oath, motto, and slogan.

The keys – at least for me – are attentive repetition, some form of rhythm, having a long enough piece of content that your brain processes it as a sequence rather than just a datapoint, and extensive repetition over several days (i.e. with sleep in between).

My main issue with WK’s review style – which I think can allow people to develop leeches – is that it doesn’t demand attentive repetition. They tell you to be attentive in the FAQ and/or user guide, but the reviews don’t have a way of encouraging or enforcing that. It has to be done voluntarily. When you miss one, if you don’t put attentive focus on it, your subliminal brain doesn’t recognize the information as important. And I suspect that attentive focus doesn’t come naturally to some people, so they need to be taught or guided to into it.

  • Attention is a signal to the brain to trigger memorization.
  • Sequences are one of the brain’s most powerful memorization mechanisms (due to the necessity of temporal pattern recognition).
  • Having more than just a small datapoint (e.g. a standalone vocab word) allows ‘sequence’ to become useful in data recovery when you lose (i.e. forget) part of the sequence. This is the principal behind Viterbi encoding in computer science.
  • Repetition with sleep in between allows the brain to encode-then-[refine/reinforce].

Maybe. I mean, nobody really knows, but that’s one theory, yes. The reason is what some other people have alluded to (“attentive repetition”, etc). Sure, you see the sticky on the bathroom mirror every day, but do you really LOOK at it and concentrate? How does that scale? You can put three or four stickys and learn them through osmosis, and it will work. But hundreds?

What SRS lets you do is wait until you almost, but not quite, forgot, then recall it with some effort. The theory is that effort makes it even more memorable and you can go longer before the next review. In the mean time, you’re triaging your attention to the other ones you’re about to forget.

It’s not the best way to memorize a few things, its the most time efficient way to remember a lot of things.

Edit: explained another way, the waiting period is like increasing weight in weightlifting. There’s only so strong you can get lifting the same weight every day. You have to make it progressively harder. By analogy, you go longer without seeing it and then try to remember. If you can remember it after not seeing it for six months, you’re probably going to remember a long, long time. Seeing it on the sticky every day doesn’t let you test that.

Edit edit: whoops, pardon the double-post, I did it wrong.

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