Does Bunpro teach vocabulary?

The thing is that, as has been said, WaniKani is really a tool for learning Kanji. The vocabulary that’s there is related to the Kanji you’re learning, so they may not be the most used words in everyday life, but they are the most common words that use the Kanji that’s being learned. That’s the difference.


I found WK very useful to get on my own two feet when it came to learning kanji years ago. Made the task a lot less daunting, so I could start tackling it by myself bit by bit. I still keep up with it, and reset whenever I max out/ditch it for a year and come back to 70 million reviews. I think it has its uses but at this point I consider it a “healthy” procrastination tool when I’m at work, rather than twiddling my thumbs and reading my can of coffee. But it’s worth mentioning I’m in a constant state of review with WK now, rather than still making my way through, so it’s all relative.

As a vocab tool? Yeah, no not really. It helps in looking at different parts of the kanji, and trains you to put one kanji with another to make a New Word™, but it’s not a vocab tool. WK just uses vocab as a crutch to aid you in learning kanji.


This may be ‘slow’ if you’re looking for vocab or for something like verbal/conversational Japanese, but it is (IMHO, and in my experience so far) much ‘faster’ for learning how to read Japanese – and, in particular, kanji (of course!).

I mean just personally this isn’t true (although it is impossibe to tell because you can’t do Wanikani, delete your memory, learn with a different system and compare 笑) just because: I hate mnemonics; I think the “radicals” that Wanikani uses are a bit dodgy; having to pass “radical” cards to progress seems like a strange choice, especially for higher levels; the kanji order is busted; bad SRS; inabality to skip or mark as known so it is basically unusable for anyone who wants to start using it beyond the absolute beginner phase; having to recall yomikata in isolation is not great; the amount of time reviewing Wanikani takes surely becomes a timesink on more productive activities; and, just in my own personal experience you can 100% just learn vocab and start reading. This is entirely personal though and I am not intending to make a post that is just ragging on Wanikani - just, even for learning how to “read” Japanese as quick as possible I don’t think Wanikani is optimal (for me, in my opinion).

Just to be balanced, Wanikani’s strengths (as I see them) are that you can just sit down and do it and not have to think about any meta or deck creation or anything; the community; and you can just frontload kanji for 1 or 2 years if you aren’t in a hurry and enjoy SRS.

quick edit: It is something that I tell anyone who asks me about learning Japanese or kanji to look at, amongst other things, because some people swear by it. I just can’t personally understand it.


I agree. WaniKani is not for everyone, just like AJAT and other methods of learning a language are not. Different strokes for different folks. Nothing wrong with that :blush:.


Is this new? Or am I late to notice that we now have N3 - N1 vocabulary decks?!

In any case, thanks to the BunPro team!!


The problem with Wanikani isn’t the vocab, the words are not niche for reading books. It is just that going all the way to level 60 is a middling option and a timesink for most learners. Along the way there will always be alternatives that become better suited to the learners needs.

If anybody’s considering WK, just make sure you don’t get lifetime so you give yourself an easy out to re-evaluate whether if it works for you at that time.


I think the main problem with WK is the order.

You need to reach very high levels to have an usable knowledge even at basic level for some usage of the language.

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And even more! Through the search A1–A12 levels are available! (A stands for Advanced I guess?..)

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This is a bit off-topic, but I really like the Flashcard (yes/no) style. It was mentioned in another topic that this style is planned to be coming to the grammar reviews. This would be AWESOME. Does Bunpro have an estimated timeline on that?


Disagree, I’m only level 14 on WK and have about 95% of N5 and N4 kanji covered (+ almost half of N3 and some more from higher levels), and about 60% of vocab for N5 and N4 (after synching here on bunpro).

As someone who completely gave up on Japanese before after several years because I couldn’t get beyond the first ~100 kanji, I don’t understand most of the complaints about WK. Maybe that’s because I use several other resources and it’s really just about the kanji for me. It’s not slow at all imo, I’m further along in my kanji knowledge than the rest of my Japanese class, and I’m going super slow on WK already, and most of the mnemonics really work for me - I’m glad I got lifetime btw, takes the pressure off, and probably helps with the feeling of WK not being slow/trying to slow you down? And I guess I’m also a bit unusual in that I don’t mind going through the basics again and again, I’ve started at 0 on bunpro and am doing it again on marumori (both for grammar and for kanji/vocab). It’s nice to reinforce that knowledge, and maybe discover some gaps here and there. So going through some of what I already knew on WK didn’t bother me at all.

More on topic: Bunpro adding vocab decks was super great and it’s helping me a lot, especially the decks for more books than they have grammar paths for (we use Marugoto in class, so now I can actually add some of it on here as we’re going through the material in class - unfortunately the decks are still a bit incomplete concerning vocab, and we’re almost done with the last book bunpro has)


It might have changed or it might just be that it wasn’t for me.

I dropped WK years ago, I was way past level 2X, and I couldn’t read anything aimed to low school graders comfortably at all. Some very basic Kanji that you find everyday would be buried on higher levels, probably just because the amount of radicals or strokes would scare off a beginner.

In the end WK is not for everyone, like any other learning tools.
Obviously it works for a lot of people and that you can see in their success and worth of mouth, but yeah… not for me, and sadly I think I realized too late in my opinion.


They do adjust things pretty regularly, so after several years of refinement maybe their order is more beginner friendly - I definitely notice how I recognize more and more and am able to just “read” a non-textbook sentence sometimes instead of deciphering it character by character. That said, if the system doesn’t work for you, that’s fine too. Just wanted to clarify that point for any passersby who might be scared away from WK even though it might be right for them. If you’re fast you can reach close to 100% of the N5/4 kanji and 50% of N3 in ~4 months (I’m not fast).


At around WaniKani Level 30, you should be able to read about 80% of almost everything you see online (unless it’s some technical paper or something like that, of course), which is not as bad as some people may think. It would take about 6 months to achieve this at the fastest speed, which I did and do not recommend.

Doing WaniKani in 2 years is a much better pace, in my experience. It’s because learning 30-40 Kanji every week, and maintaining that pace for a year, is VERY time consuming. You’ll also forget a significant number of them overtime unless you’re reading everyday. Unless you have a ton of free time, and you don’t think you’ll burn out, it really is not worth it. Every level 60 who did it at the fastest pace will tell you the same as I am.

Just think that Japanese people take 9 years to learn all of these Kanji, so even if it takes you 4 years to do the same, that’s still fast.


80% is still very low, honestly. A standard page in a Japanese novel is about 400 characters and we can say, for the sake of the example, 60% of those are kanji meaning that there are something like 240 kanji on any given page of a normal novel. If we say that you can recognise a rough meaning and possibly a reading of 90% of those kanji then you are still looking at over 20 kanji on every page that you don’t know. This is also ignoring grammar and the actual nuance of vocabulary. Maybe it is personal but that is still pretty low comprehension, in my opinion. And this is assuming you are learning kanji purely by frequency.

The main issue with kanji is that the returns diminish greatly past the first 800ish and then even more so after 1500ish. Even at 99% coverage of kanji you are still looking at not knowing roughly 2 kanji on any given page of a novel.

Also, regarding the fact that Japanese people take 9 years to learn kanji - this is kind of misleading, in my opinion, since they take 9 years to learn to write and read kanji amongst also learning like how to do basic maths and what the difference between a bird and a mammal is etc since they are literally children when they do this. They do not spend that much time in their day doing it. And one massive difference is that they are already able to speak and understand Japanese (to the level that children can) which means that they almost always are not learning to attach meaning or seemingly nonsensical readings to a kanji but, rather, they are just learning to associate something very meaningful (a word) with a symbol. Whether this makes it more impressive or less impressive that L2s, in the fastest cases, can learn tens of thousands of words and thousands of kanji in a few years, I don’t know.

I am sure I am preaching to the choir with all this anyway (笑)


No estimated timeline for Flashcard input on Grammar Points, but we’ve done the groundwork to implement this feature pretty quickly in the future.

We’re about to push the Vocab 2.0 update, so first we will focus on fixing Vocab bugs, moving Reviews 2.0 out of Beta, and implementing Dashboard in the new system.

Good to hear someone’s excited about it though!
I’ve been using Bunpro for like 4-odd years, gonna feel weird to have Grammar Point flashcards :sweat_smile: :cowboy_hat_face:


Something that often happens to native Japanese people, unless they worked real hard in their 国語 classes at school or have a real strong interest in learning by themselves! From speaking to people, it seems like quite often if they come across an unfamiliar kanji, they’ll either try and guess the meaning from context and/or deciphering the radicals, or they’ll just write it into their phone and give it a quick Google. Same way that we, as native speakers of whatever language, will still come across new words!

All this to say, any progress you can make is good progress, and not knowing everything isn’t the end of things. To go from 0% to any% of kanji comprehension is nice in of itself. Whether you get there with WK, Anki, Heisig, following the same grades as Japanese kids… whatever. It’s all good enough in my book. Everyone has different goals and is aiming for different achievements, and that’s why it’s great to have as many resources as possible.


Natives definitely don’t need to check 2 kanji for every page of a novel but, of course, people look up words. I tend to collect rare or interesting kanji when reading and ask natives if they know them but almost always those rare kanji have furigana. Most of the time the native won’t know the kanji but will know the word. Or being told the word will cause them to “remember” the kanji. My vocabulary is still not large but only 4 or 5 times have I said a word that a native hasn’t heard of. The time when I see natives really having no clue about kanji is when looking at very old texts. That is a bit different though.

I am a native English speaker and in an average novel I look up probably 1 word. I read a fair amount and many novels I look up no words at all. If I were looking up a word or two per page then I would start to doubt my own English ability.

Having said that,

All this to say, any progress you can make is good progress, and not knowing everything isn’t the end of things. To go from 0% to any% of kanji comprehension is nice in of itself. Whether you get there with WK, Anki, Heisig, following the same grades as Japanese kids… whatever. It’s all good enough in my book. Everyone has different goals and is aiming for different achievements, and that’s why it’s great to have as many resources as possible.

I totally agree with this. Didn’t mean to sound so harsh or negative originally. More just venting the frustrations that come with comprehending a fair chunk but seemingly never 100% of Japanese. It is a long journey.

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Using WK alongside a class is one of the best scenarios for WK since you can leave it in the background, chip away at it and you get to be ahead of your classmates. It is also great for helping learners get off the ground with kanji which suits your needs since you mentioned struggling with the first 100 kanji.

That said, I think you are misunderstanding what Megumin is saying, an example of a book for low school grade would be something like this

If you scroll down there are comments/reviews from kids in grades 2-6. There is furigana so not knowing the “readings” is not a detriment.

Different goals require different levels of vocabulary


Strong disagree. Of course it depends on the person and their needs/goals, but for me getting lifetime was a no-brainer for me. I had already tried Anki, and then tried out WaniKani’s first three levels which are free. I could easily see the benefit (again, just speaking for myself) over Anki.

And, knowing myself, I knew that it was either 1) get lifetime, or 2) not use WK at all. This is because, for me, doing a monthly or yearly subscription runs the dangers of getting a monthly membership at a gym: I could easily end up paying month after month, but not actually use it, for whatever reasons (again, just talking about my own tendencies).

Similarly, even if I was using it on a regular basis, I would always have in the back of my mind the feeling that I need to ‘get as much value for money’ as possible, which would make me feel like there was time pressure. In other words, I would have felt a need to ‘go as fast as possible’. And again, knowing myself, that could easily have led me to the opposite extreme: Using WK too much, neglecting other things in life (both in terms of Japanese study, but also just life in general).

For me, lifetime membership is 1) a much better ‘value for money’, since I already knew from the first three levels that I wanted to go all in on WK, and 2) complete alleviation of ‘time pressure’.

The exact same thing goes for BunPro, too. I got my BunPro lifetime the same time I got WK lifetime. Both have well ‘paid off’ by now, having been around 3-ish years already.

Each person’s different. The key is to figure out what your own goals and needs are and decide based on that. Blanket saying, “Whatever you do, don’t get lifetime,” is not good advice, IMO.


Yeah, I should have added that I don’t mean Japanese people will search several kanji per page, but possibly several kanji per novel. Unless it’s a specialised text, or an archaic one - then the frequency will really shoot up. More often than not it’s a situation where if they were reading out loud, they’d be able to muscle memory their way through the word in context, but just reading it on a page is like “Wait, do I know this?”.

Also depends on the person, haha. To speak of one incident with my friends, they were reading a leaflet we got passed and one of them was like “Wait lmao what the hell is this kanji”. And roundly got roasted by the rest of the group because it was one they’d learnt in junior high - and one I knew, too - but he was a terrible student when it came to Japanese. (I’m sure he won’t mind me dragging him as an example, haha!)

Nah, don’t worry! I just wanted to add it as a reminder to anyone that however they learn, whatever works for them, is good.

It’s the same for me - it’s nice having them there all paid for and ready to use whenever I need, rather than having time constraints. I used a rolling sub for both for a good few months though, just so I knew they’d work out for me. Took the bullet on Lifetimes as soon as the holiday sales rolled around. However, it is a big chunk of change, so only really worth it if you have the pennies spare for it.