What's your WaniKani learning process?

Hey everyone!

I’ve been wondering about the exact learning processes that members of the community follow while doing their lessons on WaniKani. My long-term memory has always been a bit bad, so I prefer to write down stuff while I’m learning. My exact process is:

  1. For each item, read all the information (except the example sentences) before writing anything.
  2. Write down the Radical/Kanji/Vocabulary, its name/meaning, and its reading (for Kanji and Vocabulary). For Kanji lessons, I also write down one or more example Vocabs, so that I can remember how to draw the Kanji better.
  3. Read the example sentences (though to be honest I do get lazy with these sometimes).

I find that this process works for me, retention-wise. I know that many people here don’t actually write down anything, and yes, doing so does slow down my pace. A full-time job and other hobbies keep me busy as well, so my pace is about 12 days per level advancement.

It would be great if you guys could share your processes with me as well. It might give me some ideas to improve my study method, or change it altogether if one of your methods seems to work much better.

P.S. For those wondering, I’ve been here for about a year now but I’ve only recently started being regular with my lessons, which explains my level.


I have to confess that I am not nearly as digilent when it comes to writing kanji.

I’m not awful, and I am doing the Japanese GCSE at the moment, so I need to know how to read and write 200 of them. But with the ones not covered under my GCSE syllabus I am just trying to be able to read and type them. From my point of view, I can learn the writing passively after learning to read them fluently.

I truly admire your dedication though, let me know whether you’re still writing every kanji and radical in about twenty levels :slight_smile:.

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Do whatever works for you and feels comfortable.

Mine is currently abnormal. But it works for me.

I went fast for the first 20 levels… and then hit a major wall at Level 26/27 … both for personal life reasons (all good stuff that became higher on my priority list)… and because I found that I needed to focus more on grammar, listening, and speaking than I was,… and because, according to WKstats, I was already approaching levels of kanji far beyond my basic skills.

So…: Now, I mainly use WK to review what I’ve already been presented with here, and I only occasionally do lessons (basically, a few on the weekends or on holidays), and I spend most of time dealing with normal reviews and the loads of leeches I have.

And then there’s my daily schedule. Some days, I take the day off, but most days I actually do a few reviews in the morning and a few at night. My review queue is sometimes too high because I often am unable to use WK at work, and the WK continues 24/7… so I have developed a habit of using vacation mode if my review stack is over 100 and I’ll be unable to use the app for the next 8 hours or so…

I’ve found that this is the best way for me to maintain my motivation during the work week or on busy holidays.

Next week, however, I’ll have lots of free time, so I’ll be able to press on a bit more and give a little more focus to it…

Still, though, my priorities have switched to my textbooks and other language resources.

Edit: I’ll add that writing them out by hand is a great idea. I need other resources to address this issue, but I’m coming around to it. I’m actually in the process of beginning a better notebook that is organized by topic, usage, functions, and compiles related kanji + other vocabulary.


I usually just read the reading and meaning, listen to the audio if it’s vocab, then go on to the next card. I usually do it in a 20 lesson batch using lesson filter.

If I fail the reviews, I will look at the info on the summary page.


I read the reading and meaning, listen to the audio (usually) if it’s vocab and really focus on the mnemonics. I also use the lesson filter script and do 15 lessons a day. I use the script so I can learn new kanji last so when I level up I don’t have an overwhelming pile of lessons (combined from the last level and new level).
I review once or twice a day. Depends on when things are coming due. Sometimes three times if I have a big pile of reviews.

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I’m usually good at remembering the mnemonics, so my leaning process looks like this:

  1. Read the reading and meaning, write down every single kanji/word alongside the translation and reading (in hiragana).
  2. An hour/two hours before Apprentice 2: take handwritten list and use it to review everything twice, verbally. Do Apprentice 2.
  3. Review again an hour or two before Apprentice 3.
  4. No seperate reviews for Apprentice 4/5. This usually gives me a retention of around 98%
  5. After Guru, repeat every word through KaniWani. This really improves my long-term memory, usually.

As for my general working process:

  1. I try to do every lesson within 2 hours, I can usually manage 60 lessons per hour, as long as most of it is vocab. These are reordered so I can do radicals and kanji first.
  2. To prevent frustration and burning out from said frustration, I correct every single mistake I make, both in WaniKani and KaniWani.
  3. I try to review everything as soon as I get it. The only exception is early morning Master/Enlightened review.

I’m kinda blessed with a pretty squishy memory (which I’m probably gonna lose soon as a product of getting older, which is why I started learning in the first place). My process is:

  1. See kanji
  2. a̷̜͋̚b̵̳͈͋̃s̸͍̾ŏ̵̩r̸̢͙̈́̎b̸̠̩̎
  3. Try and remember the mneumonic, which I’m needing less and less these days, especially for vocab. They tend to just stick right in.

For a bit more detail, I’ve recently switched my review style from “struggle to keep up” to “keep on top of it at all times even if there’s only 1 review to do”, because it turns out 1 review is a lot easier than 40. I try to do 5-10 lessons a day as doing more than that lead to a recent burnout that made the review problem even worse.


Thanks! I’ll try to keep it up, I kinda enjoy writing them as well :smiley:

I do two batches of 10 lessons, pretty much the same!

I have a 100 vocabulary backlog in my lessons, and I try to maintain it. Every level seems to have around 100 vocab items, and I do 10 every day. So while I am learning the Kanji for my current level, I also learn vocab from the previous two levels (using the filtering script). It keeps the previous Kanji fresh in my mind as well.

Wow! You’re quite efficient, given that you write the items down as well. I get distracted while doing lessons sometimes and my average rate is something like 15 vocab items every 30 mins.

That’s amazing! The age problem is starting to set in for me I guess, my retention has surely gone down over the past 10 years. I was quite upset when I first noticed it, but I’ve realized I can still remember stuff by spending some extra time to make sure things stick.

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I also write out my lessons

Kanji~reading, meaning
→note about mnemonic

Sometimes I made my own mnemonics.

If I get something wrong in reviews I write the vocab or kanji in my notebook

At about level 13 I started writing. I couldn’t remember anything otherwise.

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I try to do reviews each and everyday so that I’m always down to 0 there. For lessons, I somewhat always accumulate a big pile I need to work through :smiley: Trying to do 5-20 lessons per day, depends on my mood, work schedule and all the other things I want to do on that day.

WaniKani is just one part of my study routine. I have weekly/bi-weekly italki classes where we work through Minna no nihongo I and I review that, do exercises/homework, listen to japanese videos or podcasts or sometimes I do JLPT mock exams to practice.

I basically want to have a well rounded study routine which makes me slower in WaniKani I think but overall I’m happy with my progress and enjoy what I’m doing :slight_smile:


I found out what works best for me: learning 20-30 items at one sitting. I read mnemonics for reading and meaning only 2-3 times for an item. Usually I pay a little more attention to radicals and kanji and less to vocab. After learning i immediately repeat all items on a “Lesson summary” page, then i make a pause like 10-30 minutes, then repeat again, than pause again, than repeat again. At this point i’m not doing mistakes most of the time. And i’m not doing handwriting at all (Handwriting in 2020? Not for me)

It sounds like a lot of work but for me it’s much more forgiving and less stressful, also it makes reviews much, MUCH less time consuming even with Jitai

I even attempted to learn ~70 items at one sitting that way (succesfully), but it takes more time than I would like to pay. For some people it can be ok though.


I just load them into my head and then I know them. Unless I don’t. Then I load them again. Doing your reviews on time is more important than always having the right answer.

But then the real answer: I really focus on visualising it. I usually take the shape of the kanji itself in consideration too. For example: with 圧 I feel the pressure the cliff is heaving on that poor dirt. I even push my head a bit down to feel it even more.

With 喉, I really used the story provided by Wanikani, and I tried to see how the hook moved into the mouth to look inside the throat. Now I just ‘see’ the kanji.

But then when it came to the reading of 喉, I touched my throat (because that part I knew now) and said のど. Weirdly enough, in reviews, I could not get to the answer, but when I touched my throat, I knew it was のど.

So, my main three points:

  • I use the shapes of the kanji to make the story work
  • I play the story in my head, nothing beats a good story and there are a lot of good stories in Wanikani
  • I physically move my body with kanji or vocab I find hard.

At this point in time, I don’t need to touch my throat anymore to recall のど, I just need to think about touching my throat. I’m sure I’ll lose that part too at some point, probably after posting this.

Ah and one last thing: I am never worried about “getting it wrong”. By first just putting stuff in your head like this, you shift out the hard ones. Just take your time to look at the ones you did not get and enforce their stories and movements. And watch the review times: that 4 hour mark is more important than getting the answer right.

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I complete at least 20 items per review. After first 20 items are completed(both reading and meaning), I continue doing reviews as long as it’s a radical(so completing it immediately decreases review count) or I’ve seen it during this review(e.g. I answered reading and now it asks for meaning) or it’s a “freebie”(i.e. something that I remember very well like “土曜日”). If none of these conditions are met, I take a break. Sometimes as short as 5 seconds.

Point in shorter sessions is quite simple and silly: the less items you have to review in total, the bigger step progress bar at the top makes after each completed item. The bigger step of progress bar is, the more impactful and rewarding it feels.

I start new lessons only if I have no reviews left and review forecast shows that I’ll have <500 reviews a week later.

Nice! I do this too, but I go for <±100 items in apprentice and <±600 reviews in a week. Not taking lessons but prioritizing reviews is a good way to go と思います.

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