What is your leech quashing story?

Leeches are annoying, often frustrating. How do you get rid of them? Do you leave them to SRS until they are learned? Do you have a special study procedure? How does your method work out? Do you get rid of them or do they resist you? This thread is for sharing these stories.

Let’s start with mine. I believe leeches must be aggressively squashed as soon as they appear. If left on their own their number will grow. A large enough number and they will be a substantial portion of the review pile, increasing the review workload. They will be a substantial amount of apprentice items, delaying the time of doing new lessons. There are advantages to squashing leeches beyond learning the items.

I use the Leech Table script. This script conveniently lists the top leaches in tables such as this one:

Leech Table

Each line item is clickable. A click on a leech and its item page is displayed. I go over the leeches everyday. Their current number is small enough that it takes only a minute. When I see a new leech showing up I make sure I know the meaning, reading and mnemonics. I also check leeches for which I notice my memory has faded. This way I can keep my memorization of leeches up-to-date at all time. I dread the day where the number of leeches grows large enough that this procedure is no longer feasible.

Sunday is the thorough examination day. I go over each leech one by one and make sure I recall the meaning, reading and mnemonics. Any doubt and I check the item page. When I am done I test my knowledge with the Self Study Quiz Script. I use the Leech filter from the Open Framework Additional Filter Script.

So far this procedure has kept the number of leeches below 20. It works like a virtuous circle. It keeps the leech count low. The workload from the procedure is kept low because there are few leeches. I can consistently perform it because the workload is low. This in turn keeps the leech count low.

The procedure is not yet battle tested. I am still level 7. I have still to see leeches that come down from failed Enlightened and Burn reviews. I have still to see the kind of leeches that resist any amount of study. I will see how to adjust when that happens.


I use BishBashBosh after every review session (i.e. 3 times a day); I usually click on the ‘All that stuff’ button, but will use the ‘+ 4 ancient gurus’ once every day or so.

P.S. There was a discussion somewhere about the formula used for the leeches list (which the Self-Study Quiz script uses for the leech-training aspect of the quiz) - it turns out if you get an item wrong enough times (5? 7?) the formula is such that the item can never leave the queue. I had several such items, so stopped using the leech table and the eventually the quiz.


Properly dealing with leeches has been a consistent weakness of mine when it comes to SRS stuff. :sweat_smile:

It would have been better if I had taken the time to develop a sustainable strategy to deal with WK leeches, but that just ended up not happening. I wanted to keep up a certain momentum of studying kanji, vocab, and grammar, while trying to read and listen as much as possible. I ended up not having the umph to incorporate a strict anti-leech regime.

For me, by far the most effective has been native exposure. Some leeches instantly stuck when I encountered them for the first time in a book, game, or on subtitles. I have thousands of memories of learning WK words - it can all bleed together a bit. It feels easier to remember how that one leech is the word a character used in that one funny scene on a show. Or someone shouted it dramatically during that tense scene in a book. The recollection becomes more unique and easier to filter out from other words when placed in a distinct context. Don’t know if that explanation makes sense.

I’ve also found that visually similar items that are leeches on WK / FloFlo / Torii are sometimes no problem at all when I encounter them in the wild. When in the vacuum of a review, I start overthinking whether it is kanji A or kanji B (and invariably talk myself out of sticking with the right answer, of course). While reading, the context of the sentence weeds out a lot, or all, of the alternatives, and there is no confusion on what it might be.

I would endorse taking leeches seriously, since I must have gone through literal thousands of reviews that were just repeating the same leeches. But even if there is a leech problem when it comes to SRS, it turns out that it can still end up okay. The fear I had that SRS leech would mean eternal real-world leech has so far proven to be unfounded, luckily.

Here’s hoping everyone can find their best quashing tools! Good luck, all! :muscle:


I totally agree. I’m trying as much as I can to connect all new kanji and vocab to words I’ve encountered in the wild. Sometimes “hearing” to my inner ear how a certain person says a word etc. It just sticks better that way.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. Because my vocab accuracy is so much better than my kanji accuracy. I guess, it’s as you say. If you see a kanji in a sentence, it’s much easier to get the meaning, and you don’t actually have to be 100% sure to still understand it, because of the context. It just gets rid of the options for interpretation.

I’m considering starting to address my leeches by now. Some of them are clearly stubborn and I confuse 2-3 with each other. I probably should study them side-by-side as to definitely remember their differences. :thinking:


I have noticed one thing about the SRS method, which I’m completely reliant on still. It’s that since I tend to do reviews as they appear throughout the day, I find that that often causes leeches to be served in smaller numbers from my “leveling-reviews”. And that can be a huge help in squashing them since you get more focused when having just a few items.

I believe it also helps to stick to the timing of repetition than having a fixed schedule of reviewing 3 times a day or however you do it. Because the leeches need to be repeated not too long between reviews for it to make a dent in how you’re misremembering an item, to create a better way to remember it. I find that the timing of the first couple of Apprentice-stages are very important to follow to make sure I remember the items.

So, that’s why I still haven’t felt it was a must to do leech squashing. Foolish as that might have been… because I certainly have a bunch of them.


I don’t much care about them.

The 4 month interval (i think it’s 4months, or is it 6?) between enlightened and burn is where I forget most stuff. But then if I see the term in my immersion then it usually fixes it. (It also works the opposite way, where I’d keep forgetting a kanji reading from immersion that hasn’t come up in WK yet, and once I’ve gone through it in WK I can remember it.)

Also if it didn’t come up in 4 months of immersion, it tells me that that’s not really a term I need to remember at this moment. I can always come back to it later.

My plan is to do level 60 + 6 months. If anything is left after that then whatever.
It’s not like getting a item to WK burn level means you’ll remember it forever anyways.


Interesting how of all things “Genki” is one of your leeches. “Nanzen” is probably because of the rendaku, “youka” (if it’s even that, it’s one my top leeches too) and the top one (is it “number” - “gou”?) has been one of mine for a long time, too.

(Sorry for not typing in kana, I type on my Laptop at the moment, where I don’t have Japanese enabled).

No. Its because I reply ‘How many Thousands’ and WK wants simply ‘Thousands’.


I see. Yeah, it’s a bit strange that 何 does not mean any kind of “what” but instead something like “many”.

For some reason I always remember that, but let’s see.

For the moment words ending in 月 drive me up the wall. 今月、来月、先月… All げつ。
何月… がつ, come on.

I abuse the undo and skip button in Flaming durtles. I undo and skip like 2/3 times and if I still get it wrong I give up and let it get marked incorrect.

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