Considering getting Wanikani. Would like some insight

Recently, I was thinking about rounding out my study materials with Wanikani. I have been using Bunpro for grammar of course. I have been using Anki for vocab which works for me. But for some reason I can’t seem to stick to anything strictly Kanji related.

I’ve used resources in the past such as Heisigs Remembering the Kanji, various Kanji flashcard programs, even made some cards with Migaku’s Kanji God Add on which is quite good, but does not offer a consistent path.

At this point through years of studying, reading, watching TV, and immersion, I probably know about 500-600 Kanji well, and am okay at about 1000 or so in total. There are still many gaps in my Kanji knowledge, and I am looking to take care of that sooner than later seeing that something like vocab is endless and I’ll probably always keep learning when it comes to that. But If I master those 2000 or so kanji, I’m thinking it’ll just make the vocab learning easier. The Kanji I currently know has most certainly made every other aspect of learning Japanese easier.

So, what do you guys think. Wanikani is probably a good value for someone who is starting from scratch, but would it be worth it to someone who has workable, but very scattered knowledge of Kanji?


Wanikani is great for learning how to read but it’s really easy to get caught up in it and forget to do everything else. After Wanikani my kanji was close to N1 level but everything else was at like N4.
Basically, Wanikani teaches you how to read aloud but not understand what you’re reading.

So, it’s excellent as long as you do other stuff too. If you do Bunpro and Wanikani and read stuff that’s level-appropriate as well as get some listening practice from somewhere then Wanikani is excellent.

But also Wanikani does tell you this if you follow their newsletter. I mostly just ignored it but if I followed their advice and read level-appropriate material as I progressed instead of just racing through levels, my Japanese would be so much better.


I think you opened the gates of japanese learning here, I expect a ton of responses.

I can’t give any insight on how good it would be as a intermediary/advanced learner, but I plan on doing the same thing as @Asher did, when I reach a point I’m not spending too much time on grammar and vocab. I’m not having any blatant issues by ignoring mnemonic-based Kanji studies so far.


Can’t speak for wanikani, I tried it for a couple days but really hated the forced mnemonics. I know people seem to really like wanikani but it just didn’t match with my learning style. Couldn’t get into it

For kanji I just use Kanji Study. An app made by Chase Colburn. I absolutely love it. It’s got srs for the kanji, example sentences, vocab database, option to draw the kanji in quizzes or just anytime you like for practice, option to learn the kanji in graded reading contexts (like seriously), entomology if you’re into that. It’s got a lot going on with regular maintenance. The guy is super nice and good and fixing bugs/ working with suggestions


To offer a positive note I started Bunpro and WaniKani together after years of half-heartedly learning Japanese and I’ve found its been far and away the best way for me to make consistent progress. I think its popular for a reason but its only drawback is you can’t skip levels to reach your current ability level so you’d have to grind a significant amount of the basics. The first 5 levels are free to I’d recommend just trying it out yourself to see if you like the style :slight_smile:

Icy’s right that in the higher levels the mnemonics are so complicated it gets a bit redundant but you can always think of your own and the ‘teaching radicals first as building blocks’ approach really works to help with visually similar kanji.


I was in the same boat as you, scattered knowledge of kanji. It was to the point where I hit a wall on how and where to learn, so I just went with WK in the end.

The first several levels were basically review of course, and the mnemonics and radicals did help for a while. But when it came to around level 30 or so I started to completely disregard them as they didn’t feel as helpful anymore.

I rather turned to scripts like the Phonetic-Semantic Composition one which shows you the reading patterns a lot better than WK does. WK sometimes tells you like ”When you see the radical construction (工) in a kanji, it will often take the こう reading” or “(賁) will probably be ふん”. But IIRC those are the only times WK tells you, probably to just push their own mnemonic and radical system instead.

By level 50, I didn’t feel the need to use WK anymore and have been reading native material for a while already. It definitely felt really good to see kanji or vocabulary I just learned that pops up while reading the next day. Though, I will still finish it to 60 regardless to get all my money’s worth for the lifetime sub. It’s definitely worth purchasing in smoothing out the rough edges, and then giving you a more established springboard to learn the rest on your own.


This is just my opinion as someone who has learned most of the 常用 kanji already (and a few hundred that aren’t on the 常用 list) - but most options available for learning kanji are bullshit distractions and do not actually teach you Japanese, and I consider Heisig and WaniKani to be up there near the top of the list of bullshit distractions - WaniKani especially as their product limits the rate at which you can learn the material which guarantees a long string of income for them and incentivizes you to pay for the lifetime account option, and then they use FOMO marketing every January to further sell lifetime accounts to new people. The actual method they use is ok but it’s not ideal to use that for every single kanji.

I personally tried just about every way. I learned some in Japanese classes at the beginning of my journey, I tried textbooks, kanji drill books that native kids use (they had puppy dogs in them), rote memorization and brute force methods, Anki, KKLC, and I even did the WaniKani trial. In the end, I was able to memorize a few hundred kanji.

What ultimately worked for me was learning kanji in context by learning vocabulary through extensive reading.

You don’t need to learn all the readings for every kanji or memorize a story or a funny truck to remember the meaning or write them all down. Just learn words and you will figure out the possible readings as you learn new vocab. This is not only the easiest method, but it’s also the fastest method.

How: read ebooks and look up words you can’t read using yomichan.


I bought lifetime on WK a long time ago, knowing that it would take me a while to learn things, and having something that gives me a direct path on what to learn next really helps out.
After a few years, and putting it on holiday mode more than I should have, I became more serious about learning Japanese, I started using it more as something to practice writing my kanji. So if I get something wrong, I’ll write it out three times. Doing that alone has helped with both my writing speed, and with being able to identify the smaller differences between similar kanji.

Other people will suggest downloading anki and just learning things from some of the premade decks there, which isn’t a bad idea, but I use my anki for learning vocabulary I find in the wild.
I just like having multiple different platforms to learn things from, instead of one platform with too much on it, so it feels overwhelming to open it.

Like others have said about the mnemonics, they get really goofy, or way too difficult.
I used to try and focus on learning their mnemonics, but now I don’t bother with them when first learning an item, instead I see if the meaning and reading can stick after a few days.
If I’m still struggling with remembering whatever it is after a while, then I’ll look at their mnemonic and interpret it into something that makes sense with my own life.
Keep in mind with mnemonics that they will be much more effective if you do come up with your own.

At the end of the day, each platform has it’s perks and benefits, and it’s up to you how you use them.

As others have said, they do have a trail for up to a certain level, so just use that and see if you like the platform itself. Even if you know everything you learn in the beginning, just see if the way the website itself is structured is something that you’ll enjoy using


I had the same problem, and Wani was the solution. It’s really good; you can customize it with extensions according to what you need. I don’t recommend doing that at the beginning.

You can try the first levels for free, try it and decide if you like it. Also, I saw someone saying something about Wanikani luring you into buying a lifetime subscription. That’s an exaggeration; they send you an email and have the message at the top of the page, which you spend 10 seconds or less on…

WaniKani is a great tool, but you also need to do your homework. Reading or consuming input , you won’t learn every kanji just by using the app. Take it at your own pace; I find it really easy to burn out if you are not careful or too harsh with yourself while using the app.


IMHO Wanikani is a great tool for someone who’s just starting out. Absolute beginners who don’t know how and what to learn to get started can pay someone else to outsource figuring that out and setting up an SRS with most of the 常用 kanji and a decent set of basic vocabulary cards that also keeps getting updated etc. And they can start right away and don’t have to spend their motivation on learning Anki first. I think the pricing is also absolutely fine.

But the more one already knows the more frustrating it gets because outsourcing all of this means there is no choice at all. No way to mark cards as already known and skip ahead, no way to mark cards as leeches, no way to add your own cards, no way to choose your own order to learn cards in, etc.

Notice how bunpro allows some of these things. Bunpro is also great for beginners, but unlike Wanikani, it actually scales and doesn’t become more and more annoying as you learn. Don’t expect that kind of flexibility from Wanikani.

So in your situation where you know about 500-1000 kanji I think Wanikani is not super useful anymore.


I like free software not only because is open source, but also because their philosophy usually reflects in making very customizable software.

Bunpro is not open source, but feels like that because is very customizable and “pro”. Wanikani, Duolingo and others are easy in the beginning, but you can’t customize almost anything. It’s fine if you don’t know what you’re doing, but If you’ve been studying for some years…

In that regard, I’d recommend you to use, I’ve been an anki user for years, but merges the dictionary functionality of jisho, and the SRS of Anki/Bunpro. Adding words is super easy (even if sometimes I have to review what I added to the queue and delete some), and the free version is more than I could wish for, there are no limits on how much you can learn (only on useful features)


wanikani’s forced mnemonics, snail’s pace to keep you on the hook for longer, and inability to mark characters as already known were all cons that put me off. I read one too many accounts of it taking people 4-5 years to learn the 2000 taught by wanikani while working at a decent pace. That’s not even all of the jouyou kanji.
Personally I use Kanji Garden. It breaks down the characters phono semantically and teaches you readings with vocab words. I have it set to type in my answers instead of the default multiple choice and I was able to learn over 1000 kanji already. I like their srs and that I can set my own pace and skip kanji I already know. This app coupled with reading books has helped so much.


why dont you skip kanji individual study? I did and am reading without problem now. Just learn it from vocab by sight which will happen naturally


I’ve used Wanikani for several months before I got started on Bunpro. I find it to be a great tool overall, the way it handles reviews and paces the levels works perfectly for me and I like that it teaches both on’yomi and kun’yomi readings separately depending on what’s most logical, usually one when learning the kanji and the other when learning the vocab. ie it teaches the /kanji/ 山 as さん and THEN the vocab as やま.
That said, it’s sort of curated for the long haul, in the sense that it doesn’t teach kanji in JLPT order or anything like that but in a custom WK order, there’s some JLPT1 kanji that are in early WK levels and vice versa, and also it “forcefully” paces your progress by only unlocking kanji when you pass the associated radicals, and only passing a level when you pass all the kanji of that level. Some see that as a downside, for me it allows me to pace myself while still studying fairly fast. Definitely wouldn’t call it a slow pace either, you can easily end up with a hundred+ daily reviews. There’s also tons of userscripts to curate your experience.

The two biggest downsides to me are that you’re unable to mark something as already known (though that in itself is fairly minor since you’ll just ace through that kanji’s reviews) and the forced mnemonics/fake radical names.

With how many kanji you already know though I’m not entirely certain it’d be valuable enough for you? I guess you could have a look at their list of kanji and see how many you know (or not)? Or give a try to the first couple free levels and see if it’s even worth bothering going through stuff you already know.


For me it’s very useful. I love the space repitition method and the gaming approach. It’s not for learning japanese in total, it’s for learning vocabulary. Try out the first 3 levels for free, you will qickly realize if they match your learning style or not. I combine BunPro and WaniKani with Todaii which does work for me so far. But I’m still working on my N5 :smiley:


I don’t think so.

I started WK from scratch a little over a year ago and I’m going to reach the end within a couple of months at my current pace.

For me WK was very valuable early on, when I didn’t really know how to deal with kanji. Japanese is not my first foreign language, but it’s the first language I study that uses ideograms and I was really struggling to figure out how to approach those. Should I learn them on their own or with vocab? In which order? Which readings should I memorize? Using WK meant that I didn’t have to overthink it, I’d just do the lessons in the order provided, learning the readings the site wanted me to learn and I’d progress.

But once I got to about a thousand kanji known (so basically around halfway through the course) I started getting frustrated with WK. Not being able to chose what you learn and in what order, not being able to manually push words and kanji you already know to a higher SRS level etc… It just gets a bit frustrating for me and I’m happy that I’ll be done with this soon.

Also at this point since I’m generally learning more niche kanji, I find that it makes more sense to learn them with the vocab instead of in isolation.

So in summary, no, I wouldn’t recommend WK in your position, unless you’re fine having to review and re-review and re-re-review kanji and vocab you already know and in an order you can’t modify.

At this point I almost get more from this Anki deck I made:

It’s not really meant as a replacement for WK though, it’s all about drawing practice, but I really find that it helps with memorization.


I used it for just over half a year, and whilst it was useful initially to add structure to learning I found its rigidity soom became frustrating.

It forces a strict order for learning kanji which you can’t deviate from, so if you see a kanji outside of WaniKani and would like to add that then you can’t - in addition, the primary method it uses for learning kanji is by accompanying them with multiple vocabularly words, so if you don’t care about those words then your reviews fill up with out of context vocab that isn’t immediately useful.

I’ve switched to adding vocab I want to learn in books/films ect to jpdb and extracting any new kanji I don’t know to an anki deck, it feels like more progress is being made this way as all the related vocab are words I want to learn.


It’s worked wonders for me. WaniKani + BunPro is a dream for learning Japanese.

First 3 levels are free, so give it a go. I ended up grabbing the lifetime subscription because it honestly has been the reason why my kanji recognition is so good and it’s taught me how to approach jukugo with words I may not have learned in BP/WK. Also taught me how to estimate a reading for unrecognised kanji based on the radical.


I began learning with it, but moved away from Wanikani toward a custom core 1k deck that I am creating with Yomitan and Anki. I have found that Wanikani slows down my pace artificially, and its user interface is clean, but not my personal preference for learning efficiently. Anki allows me to put kanji into context (vocabulary/sentence contex) more easily, with more options for variation, and also allows me to customize my deck (I am using my own modification of the one-deck method from Cure Dolly).

This allows me to suppliment the Core 1k Japanese vocabulary with words that I am learning, say, from my practice of Judo, or from my immersion. I really like this system and it works for me well.

I am a new learner though, so take my advise with a grain of salt. My goal is to get into immersion as quickly as possible, since I may be moving to Japan in the next two years. Your goal might dictate a different pace and system.

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I can share the sentiment a lot of comments have about WaniKani hindering progress. I do see it as a positive though. I would never put all my eggs in the same basket. Having time to do other things than just doing kanji and vocab is just as important in my opinion. Some kanji you will learn naturally through exposure, and others will come through WaniKani when that time comes. This also applies to vocab and grammar-points (Bunpro). So for me it is more of a “making time available for other things”, than forcing you to wait.

I will note that I did start WaniKani 3 months before starting language school, so everything in WaniKani was, and mostly still is new to me.