Why are levels 50 to 60 seen as being harder than others?


I’ve just started WK to revise some kanji I haven’t covered/used in a long time. I’ve got a degree in Japanese already. The feeling I am getting from reading some of the forum posts are that levels later down the line are seen as ‘harder’ than levels covered earlier.

Why is this? Why would I expect say Level 50 to take much more concentration and time to complete than say Level 20? Or do different levels not take longer really - are they all supposed to be generally the same difficulty and it’s just that by Level 60 you are bored and want to kill yourself from doing reviews? I’ve browsed some of the kanji in the later levels and to be honest there seems an even spread to me across ALL the levels of some I may or may not know. For example I’ve just seen the kanji for arrival 到着(とうちゃく)is in Level 50 something, when it’s a basic kanji/term in Japan (or at least it is to me). Equally some of the kanji in earlier levels seem to me to be quite difficult ones in that they aren’t necessarily commonly used terms/words.

This is not criticism of WK - it is genuine curiosity. Obviously my case is that I probably already have a large amount of difficult kanji/readings/meanings stored away somewhere back in the deep dark memory box from many years ago when I did my degree that pop up to me in a gut instinct way. Because of this maybe some of the kanji I think seem ‘easy’ in the later levels are not actually that easy if you’ve never seen them or used them before.

So have you found WK much harder the higher level you go and if so why?

On the contrary, I actually found it to become progressively easier/more manageable as I continued leveling because my brain adapted to kanji learning as a whole and it all stopped looking so foreign to me, especially because it helped me develop a regular learning routine.

The stigma with the last levels (49-60) is that you can go twice as fast and complete the levels in 3 days 10 hours, and learning hundreds of items on a weekly basis if you’re going max speed starts frying out your brain a bit :upside_down_face:


Higher level items tend to have more strokes which tends to look more intimidating. Additionally levels 49-60ish have almost no radicals which means that you can get to 90% kanji known (and therefore level up) in about half the time.

Most high levels on the forum go fast which is why the workloads can get ridiculous and they get stressed out for a month. So more like they make it hard on themselves I guess.


It’s easy to pick out a common word here or there in those levels. Generally speaking they get more rare as you progress.

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The number of reviews/day also tends to be the highest in this phase, since even though you might be burning items every day, you’re still adding more and more new ones to the pile.

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Hmmmm yes I think maybe since I had a baptism of fire into kanji over 20 years ago by being thrown into economics lectures in Japan when I could just about order a beer in Japanese means that I’m probably not scared of kanji with many strokes in them. Plus I was made to hand write all of my kanji back then so anything in comparison seems much less torturous.

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I see thank you for this information.

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Well, I mean, if you’re talking about the complexity of the kanji shapes themselves, then no… things never get much more complex than the first 10 levels, with the exception of a few things like 鬱.

But I think we all know that that’s not really the hardest thing about kanji.

丫 is a Level 1 kanji on the Kanji Kentei. Obviously it’s not a difficult shape, especially for a native English speaker. It’s only “difficult” because you have to know over 6000 total kanji at that level of the Kanji Kentei. It’s a matter of keeping them all straight and studying all of them thoroughly.


That’s good to know MissMisc - let’s hope my brain adapts in the same way!

With regards to speed - I’m currently at home with two very very demanding small children so I’m doing reviews and lessons at break neck speed before the next cry for food/nappy change/save me from putting my fingers in the electrical sockets goes up. Hopefully this level of intense ‘rush’ approach will prepare me for Level 50+ :joy:


I’m not quite up to 50 yet, but the reason you might hear people say it gets harder as you go along would be because:

1. The more items you’ve seen, the larger your pile of “leeches” (words you repeatedly get wrong in reviews) grows, which leads to bigger review sessions and more incorrect answers, both of which are discouraging.

2. You learn a kanji and feel very confident about it, and then get hit with one (or three or five or…) very similar looking kanji later on. Suddenly you start getting that earlier kanji wrong all the time because you’re mixing it up with the later kanji. So many times I’ve gotten a kanji right every review until the burn review, where I completely forget it because I’ve learned four other similar looking kanji in the interim, and the visual association I’ve been relying on to remember it is no longer adequate.

3. I’ve also found that later levels tend to have a higher proportion of abstract concepts and uncommon words, which are always harder to remember.

4. And of course since WK roughly orders kanji by visual complexity, that makes later levels harder too.

(The above all apply to vocabulary too of course. Recalling one word meaning “need” or “demand” is easy. Keeping half a dozen straight is a nightmare.)

Since you already know a ton of kanji you won’t be as susceptible to these issues, I assume. But they’ve certainly made things harder for me, coming into this with no kanji knowledge.


I don’t think they are harder, oftentimes they are basic kanji like 召 you know already as components. Actually, once you reach level 50 (or even 40) it’s pretty much guaranteed that you will make it to the end (if you want).

I think levels 51–60 were added later, Ye Olde WK ended at level 50. So it feels more like a random bag-o-kanji, and there is no pacing with spreading vocab and kanji around a bit by radicals.

And if you want to go fast you basically get a pile of like 150 items at once every time, and you shouldn’t get more than ~3 kanji wrong ever or you will be stuck on the level.

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It even means fork, bifurcation :smile:


Can you even get a single one wrong? I did the last kanji in a new hour last level and that forced me to stay in lvl 51 for +1h.

Yeah you should be able to get 2-3 wrong/level; I specifically remember getting 2 wrong during a middle of the night review but I still had enough kanji correct to get the 90% and maintain max speed for that level

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Number 2 :sob::sob::sob::sob::sob:
Wait a min, I know you…:fearful: wait what!? I’m sure the mnemonic was memorable…what was it again? :x::dizzy_face:

If you find a lesson-pace that works for you while moving towards 49+, there’s no reason why you’ll suddenly have to go faster.

You can, but by then, you’ll probably be able to judge whether you should.


Everytime my husband and children even look my way I get one wrong. They are already banned from breathing in my direction if I am doing WK. My lecture seems to be working as my toddler was overheard yesterday bellowing to my husband, “Don’t speak to mummy she’s doing that WANIKANI thing!!!”

I will endeavour to ONLY do reviews when the children are asleep or out of the house (difficult they are kinda like my own little leeches most days).

Everyone’s responses make sense - especially the part about getting a kanji wrong after getting it 100% correct for months and months when you confuse it with a similar looking kanji.


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