Wani-Kani – 90 day challenge

Like most people learning Japanese, the approach to learning Kanji really differs. A lot. From Heisig’s – Remembering the Kanji, to mobile apps and flash-cards – there are many ways to try and get the jƍyƍ (2,136 characters) to stick into your head.

Of course learning kanji is only part of progressing with the Japanese language – it is a critical pillar, and without it, your Japanese learning will be incomplete and you certainly won’t be able to read any texts of any real depth.

This brings me to Wani-Kani, which is an online kanji learning tool from Togofu, that makes use of SRS and mnemonics to improve memorization quality. For the next 90 days I will be using Wani-Kani every day to see how much benefit I get from this – and track the updates right here!

As I close in on the 90 day mark now (its end May 2021) – I am on level 6. Its been a commitment to keep doing this every day, but I haven’t missed a single session over the 90 day period!! Small tip – finish as much of your reviews each day as you can – these build up and then one-day you just have tons to do. Not fun.

Review after 90-days

I have enjoyed using Wani-Kani every day over the last 90 days, and will continue to use it until my 1-year subscription expires. Its definitely given me confidence with reading kanji, and also helped add some vocabulary to my speaking. Before buying

Pro: There is so much going on with language acquisition (and life) that any tool or systems that can remove some of that load is welcome. WK handles what, when and how to learn the kanji along with pretty helpful mnemonics. So winning. Great community and scripts to enhance the experience – use them both to help you.

Fantastic customer support. Big plus.

Con: Stay on top of the reviews or you will be toast. Enough said. This is a commitment – so know that upfront. You will need more than just this to make any real Japanese language progress.

Tips – check https://www.wkstats.com to get you progress and cool stats like how much of NHKEasy you could read (for me its 45% at level 6 🙂

WaniKani by Togofu

There are many views on how useful these tools can be considering how the reviews can stack up and chew through your precious time. So even though I’d give Wani-Kani a quick try roughly a year ago – I thought I would now commit to 90 days and see what kind of results it would yield and investment in time this would take.

So lets see…

Week 1 – 90 Day Challenge

Ok, so I started over the weekend and got myself back into the swing of this again. The stats don’t look good – but as noted, I toyed around with this a year ago!

wc – 8th March 2021

8th March 2021 – WK Stats

update – 11th March

Ok, well this does take some time to do! Feels like there is a review to action every few hours. I’ve not done the research as yet into the specific timings for all this – or how to be most efficient, but I can quickly see that as the levels increase this can become a full-time job!

That being said – I am enjoying it so far.

I was not aware of the whole world of plugins and scripts for WK, but I’ll share more about what I’ve used for my setup in coming updates.


Week 2 – 90 Day Challenge

wc- 15th March 2021

Well I’m glad I made it to level 2 – but this does take some commitment for sure. The plus side is definitely a sense of confidence that my Japanese is progressing with vocabulary AND crucially the kanji.

I never knew about the massive world of scripts and customization that are available when using WaniKani, and that has truly made this webapp next level 🙂

The other bit of secret sauce is definitely the community forum which is extremely supportive and really welcoming. Tons of useful information, guides, links and all sorts of support as we all battle against the kanji to one reach that elusive level 60.

I have already started making some initial customization to the way I do the reviews and lessons – so I can balance my day along side my Japanese. If only we have the freedom to spend all day learning languages…

update – 17 March 2021

Leveled up to 3 this morning – yay! I will need to buy premium Wanikani to gain access from level 4 and up, but looking at how much it helps its definitely something I will do.

Yay for L3

Week 3 – 90 Day Challenge

So I’m still on level 3 after about 12 days and 3 hours.

Working through the levels can be done at a faster rate – and many people have written detailed guides to this already – however consider your lifestyle, other work commitments, family etc – so this is likely to take longer. Which I am fine with, as I’d rather make sure I have these kanji properly ‘burnt’ into my mind – as opposed to reaching some random Level.

Update – 2nd April 2021

Happy to make level 4 this morning – officially out of the ‘free-zone’ of WaniKani. I did read interesting thread where I spotted that you should be ready for all the required JLPT N5 kanji by WK level 16 or so. Hmm, that’s quite a way down the path. Of course I get that WK is not there to ‘align’ with JLPT in any way – but did strike me as quite far off in the distance looking at my progress.

Alrighty – onward to Level 5 then!

Update – 16th April

Yay! – Level 5 attained. That felt a bit harder than 4, even though it took less time.

As I’m not really in any race to complete any target level by a given date or time-frame – I am doing these when I can, and what works with my work schedule.

Overall with my language strategy, I have WaniKani learning as an INPUT category. So learning to read the Kana falls into this broad group – and since this is primarily tested using recall, not reproduction – I am not counting this as part of my OUTPUT category.

I am busy writing a more detailed breakdown of my learning strategy as it matures (at changes over time)

3rd May 2021

So its been almost 2 months now (of my 3 months challenge) with my WaniKani challenge. I am proud to say that so far I have not missed one day of review!! However, over the last 3 weeks I’ve had to slow down with the new lessons and stick to a bit of a review holding pattern.

A few reasons for this.

Most important – life was just getting hectic, as it does from time to time. So I did not quite have the free bandwidth and mental capacity to throw it at new things. I’ve also found that I ‘do WaniKani’ but somehow those bits of vocabulary don’t quite jump across to my conversational Japanese as easily. I mistakenly thought that if I ‘knew’ them during my revision – then surely I would seamlessly use them in language. Not sure why I thought that – but of course, its wrong. So what I do now is while doing my reviews, I try to make a sentence using the word or phrase that is being tested. This does make it a little bit slower – but the return is better for me, and adds to the ‘output’ part of may language learning. More on this later.

oh – still level 5. And its been 17 days and I’m in no rush to level-up until I’m ready!

16th May 2021

So its about 60 odd days into my 90 day challenge. I am very proud that I have not missed a review day since starting! This may sound easy, but its not particularly when work or family life ramp up for some reason. Not sure how those few WaniKani folks at level 60 managed to do this – but I guess its just one step ahead of the next like most things.

Currently I’ve been on level 5 for 30 days – so that isn’t exactly steaming along, but work has been hectic so I am doing just enough to keep the reviews in holding pattern by not doing too many new lessons. Likely over the coming weekend when I have some free hours I will try close this off.

26th May 2021

After a slow-down with level 5, I am happy to report that I’ve persevered and now on level 6 – just before my 90 day window is complete. Also worth noting if you don’t want a particular month added to your average/median times due to some skew. (like my first year of doing nothing!) – you can just click that month, which makes it slightly translucent and then importantly removes that from the calculation. If that sort of thing bothers you.