What made you realize your studies were worth it?

Sometimes there’s times where you feel like you’re going nowhere with Wanikani/Japanese in general… and then there are times where you realize it’s worth it! This thread is about the latter: sharing those a-ha moments that made you feel proud of your progress and want to keep pushing on. Hopefully this will also be of some help to those who are struggling (as I did for many months).
I have two moments to share:

  1. Seeing my first WK word in the real world. I was drinking a bottle of Ramune (try it if you haven’t!) and I saw the word ビー玉 on the bottle. I recognized that word, and I was super happy that something came out of my studies (even though it hadn’t been that long)

  2. 1st successful interaction with Japanese people. My dad and I were resting at a footbath on Mount Daisen in Yonago (オススメ!) when this Japanese mother and son came up to us. They asked my father where we were from, and when he replied “Texas,” I jumped in with “遠いですね” (That’s far, huh?). The woman said to me, “You speak Japanese?” and I replied “話せます!” (I can!) After that, we had a long conversation in Japanese, and I can’t remember the number of times she turned to her son and said “すごい上手!” (Her Japanese is really good!). Now that is what I call a 気持ちいい moment

What about you guys? What moments have you experienced that made all your progress and struggles worth it?


I don’t really get how recognizing ビー玉 on a soda bottle can excite you when you already speak Japanese fluently, but that’s awesome!

Funnily enough this summer I visited a Sushi restaurant and ordered my first ever bottle of Ramune. I studied the bottle intensively to find Kanji I already know and also stumbled over ビー玉. I recognized it immediately and I knew that I had learned it on WaniKani, but I didn’t know anymore what it meant and had to look it up. So so much to that.


I recently had one of these moments. I have been studying Japanese on and off for over a decade now. First with university classes (but I was too nervous to speak), then a long gap of nothing. Then with after work classes (I could actually speak, and me and my friends would meet up after class to talk in our slow, beginner Japanese). Then another long gap of no years of studying.

I went to Japan a couple times and each time talked more and more with people. But it was always so hard. I would break out into a sweat and have to focus with the strength of a million suns to understand some of what they were saying.

So, after a year of not looking at Japanese, I decided, okay, I am going to really get my act together. I want to put in the time. So I booked an iTalki lesson and said I only wanted to do conversation. Just chat for an hour.

And…I achieved my first glimpse of fluency. Although it’s fluency with training wheels since it’s with a teacher. We’ve been chatting for an hour each week for a month now, and I can do it as a reasonable level of ease. We talk about all sorts of things, life, my house, TV shows, politics, even the pains of our medical insurance system. We joke about things, it’s really fun. I can’t always express myself well but I can get what I am trying to say across. And the thing is, I can relax while doing it! I’m just having a conversation. This is such a wonderful feeling and has made this decade long journey worth it for me. :slight_smile:


I’m currently on the very beggining of level 5, and sometimes I feel really good and like it’s worth to spend the small time I have avaiable when I recognize a few words, and sometimes, even understand the small phrases. And sometimes I’m afraid of all of this be a waste o time, and even though, I never stop. I’m waiting until level 7 or so to start grammar, because until now I’m able to create only simple phrases. At wich level you guys felt that reading wasn’t going to be a problem anymore? Thanks and sorry, for anything, it’s my first comment here in the community.


Hmm…I think start reading, or better yet, watching Japanese media as soon as you can. If you can’t understand it, that’s okay, try the easiest thing you can understand. The sooner you start immersing yourself, the better things will be.

I think if you go through Genki 1 and get to Level 7 on WK, then you can probably read easy manga. Genki 2 and lvl 15, and you can read books. But don’t listen to me. I started reading Kiki at lvl 12. It’s hard though! :slight_smile: I am determined to finish it, but I think watching JP TV with JP subtitles is probably a bit better for me right now.


I started my first manga today, and I could actually (sort of) understand it! Since I just set up a Japanese Amazon account a couple of days ago I’ve been making a very long wishlist and grabbing freebies and it’s very exciting! Reading manga and light novels in Japanese is one of my main goals, so it’s awesome to be able to do that even a little bit.

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For me it was the first time when watching anime and realizing I didn’t need the subtitles for every single line anymore - that I could turn them off and still follow the story okay even if I missed some things. I think also every time I get to use it to read something, or I find some untranslated fan work or art on twitter it always makes it feel like learning the language has been worth it.


I’m constantly trying to read raw mangas and watching anime. And what is Genki 1, 2, … ?

Genki 1 and 2 are two beginner textbooks for Japanese that a lot of people recommend. I’ve heard the first book roughly covers JLPT N5 material and the second one N4, but they’re not specifically intended for preparing for those tests

They are textbooks. But any textbook or source of grammar learning would work! Sorry, I just figured that’s what you were using since it’s so popular on this site. I think Tae Kim’s guide is very good though and it’s free.

Oh thanks for the explanation, I’ll start right away searching for them. And what is JLPT? I’ve already seen people mentioning it sometimes. It’s some kind of knowledge test for japanese language?

Oh, it’s okay. Actually this was the first time i’ve ever seen about it, but Tae Kim’s guide a few people recommended and I was using it through an app called Obenkyo. It’s a very good one, I recommend.

Yes, JLPT stands for Japanese Language Proficiency Test. There are 5 levels N1 to N5 with N5 being the easiest one and N1 being the most difficult one. A lot of people like to compare their progress with those JLPT levels, although it oftentimes doesn’t really make that much sense in my opinion

Oh, thanks, it’s exactly what I imagined it was.

I started grammar around that time, I think (it’s been three years so I can’t remember). Personally, I used Tae Kim’s Guide to Japanese Grammar; however I can see how some people might not like it. There’s also Japanese the Manga Way, which I liked. I read articles on NHK News Easy and stories on Satori Reader to practice in the beginning.
If you’re looking for a grammar reference instead of a step-by-step guide, though, I highly recommend the Dictionary to Japanese Grammar series. A bit pricey, but very worth it!

Even for me, after studying for 3.5 years and reaching level 60, sometimes reading can be a problem! There will be hundreds of words/expressions you find that are not taught on Wanikani and you’ll have to learn them for yourself. (It would be the same for every language; no matter how many words you think you know, you’ll always discover new ones.)

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I used an app named Obenkyo, its content is based on Tae Kim’s guide, and personally, I find it really helpful, but at that time I noticed that wasn’t worth to learn grammar knowing not a single word. But I still remember the particles section and what I’m learning here and what I learned back then are doing very well together.

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I think I may have mentioned this on another thread but I’ll go ahead and post here too. Might be a bit long.

I was in the plaza outside the Tokyo Metropolitan Building with my friend. We were both visiting Tokyo for the second time from England (this was back in November last year). My friend doesn’t know any Japanese other than hello and thank you.

I was trying to build up the courage to go over and ask a nearby lady if I could take a photo of her shiba inu (it was dressed up and looked hella cute). I rarely practice my speaking and it falls massively behind my other study areas. Even so, I finally managed to walk up to the lady and ask 写真を撮ってもいいですか

She was very friendly! She introduced us to her dog straight away. Me and my friend took several pictures of ローラちゃん. The lady started taking to me in Japanese afterwards. I was extremely nervous as a big part of my anxiety in speaking Japanese relates to the fear that I’m giving people a false idea of my skill when I talk. I might just say a few standard opening phrases, then the other person starts talking and I am here completely out of my depth as the other speaker’s dialogue goes at breakneck pace. Regardless… I somehow understood a good amount of what the lady way saying!

She talked about how how her dog had been in various pet food adverts and is always getting dressed up and going for photoshoots. She was curious about how I was from England and mentioned how her favourite band was from there too. I can’t remember quite much else from that conversation but it was a very interesting exchange. My friend didn’t get much out of it of course. The lady asked if we could follow each other on Instagram. Me and my friend continued our exploration of Tokyo afterwards.

I see a lot of ローラちゃん on my feed nowadays. We are always liking each others posts. I sometimes comment in Japanese too. My friend tends to comment in emojis, given the language barrier. I sometimes get comments back on my posts from her saying how beautiful England looks in my posts and how much my Japanese has progressed.

So yeah. Knowing I could have only have had that experience because I learned a language felt very exciting. I always assumed I would give up when I started learning Japanese three years ago. This exchange really made me think about how proud past-me would be of future-me!


What made you realize your studies were worth it?

When I can finally understand (roughly) what the pure JP vtubers are saying on stream and what they wrote on their twitter posts.

I am also well informed about Japan’s current affairs thanks to being able to read NHK News Easy articles. Although since the site is targeted to kids and Japanese beginners, some of the articles does not entirely describe what happened. An example is about a certain criminal keeping certain things in his apartment. Too gruesome for the targeted audience of NHK News Easy.

Funny anecdote, at a Japanese restaurant when I was reading the menu I was looking at the kanji. When it’s time to order I said “meat udon” instead of beef udon. 肉うどん really caught my eye.

Who hasn’t seen that ビー玉 on a bottle of Ramune? I couldn’t figure out why Wani kani taught that particular word but now I know haha


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