Anki v WaniKani

I have been using the Anki app for vocabulary/Kanji learning for several months. I have been using the WaniKani app for two months. I’m not sure why but I seem to be able to learn a lot more vocabulary and Kanji with WK than I can with Anki. Maybe WK feels a bit more like a quiz that you have to beat, which in turn makes it fun to use. There are still certain words that seem to stick quickly and some that seem to take forever. Has anyone else found it easier with WK than Anki and do you have blind spot words/kanji.


what exactly do your cards look like in anki? i used primarily anki for all the vocab i know (12,000 or so words i’d estimate) and playing with different formats has helped a lot in how much i enjoy it and how much i get out of it.

Well I’m using mainly shared decks for Genki vocabulary and kanji. I am still learning things using the Anki app, I just think WK is more fun to use. My Japanese teacher said that if it was fun to use you will probably get more out it. I do like Anki but if I had to choose WK would get my vote. I also use other sources for learning. At the end of the day I just enjoy learning Japanese wherever it comes from.

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My guess is that the difference comes from typing out your answers. WK makes you type them out whereas anki you can just hit again, hard, good, etc. Depending on how you have it set up of course. I know some decks have cloze deletion on them. But also, I agree that the gamification aspect probably has a lot to do with it as well.


Do you also find there are some words or Kanji that take more time to stick than others. I find it interesting that some words/Kanji only need to be seen once and I’ve got it, meanwhile, others can take an age to fully lodge in my tiny mind. Is this something that effects lots of people do you think. I hope it’s not just me. LOL

Yes, absolutely that’s a thing. As you progress you’ll start running into things called “leeches” which are basically words/kanji whatever that just don’t seem to stick for whatever reason. I’m pretty sure WK actually tracks them too. There are a few userscripts that you can use to study them specifically, but I’ve never done it. The other thing to keep in mind is that at the earlier levels you’re not just learning new radicals/kanji/vocab, but you’re learning HOW to learn all those things. And you’ll get much better and quicker the longer you stick to it. The speed at which you progress isn’t as important as your consistency. The other thing that helps things stick is by actually encountering them out in the wild. Be it ready NHK News easy, a book, listening to a podcast, watching instruction youtube videos, what have you. It’s never to early to start for sure.

I’d like to also note that I’m using Anki and WK at the same time right now, but you’ve gotta be careful when using multiple SRS platforms otherwise if you aren’t careful, you can get suuppper overwhelmed by the amount you need to review each day. Best of luck to you in your future Japanese learning prospects!


I’ve tried using Anki several times and never gotten much out of it either. I’ve always wondering what the crowd out there using Anki is doing that I missed.

most of the joy of using anki for me is the freedom. when anki came into the picture for me is when i started learning from anime with japanese subtitles, raw manga, 小説 and ラノベ, online articles, youtube videos etc. i’d put new sentences, and eventually just new vocabulary words, that i came across while exploring my native input.

Those customizable cards helped me learn thousands of words and phrases in context, the vast majority of which aren’t in wanikani or any premade learning program for that matter.

eventually when wanikani ends you’ll need some way of increasing your vocabulary past what this program gives you. anki is fantastic for that.


I have used Anki for years to learn vocabulary. One thing that is important in my learning is that I do not use premade vocabulary decks. I use Anki to master vocabulary that I encounter while reading “in the wild.” When I come across an unknown word while reading, first I write the word (kanji, furigana, and definition) in a notebook by hand, then I enter it into Anki. If it is a common word or marked as coming up in JLPT then I make cards for recognition and production, if it is a less common word I do recognition only. It has been very effective for me, and when reading in Japanese I very frequently see words that I have learned through this method.

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I prefer Wanikani because of its RPG gamelike mechanic and also its mnemonics are really good that it sticks in my brain 8/10 times and I have given Remembering The Kanji and also ANKI with 6K decks a try and they aren’t as effective as Wanikani in my honest opinion.
Remembering The Kanji is probably my least favorite way to learn Kanji.

I also looked at Remembering the Kanji but didn’t like it. I look at all sorts of things to improve my all round Japanese. I have to write a short essay every week for my Japanese teacher to look at. This is good as I have to look up new words, see new Kanji and try new grammar. Different things work for different people. I’m enjoying the learning process, if it gets to be a chore I might re-evaluate things. I wish you lots of luck in your learning.

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For me it’s the ability to add my own content, as well as customize almost everything, and even what you can’t customize you can often sort of hack anyway to get it to do roughly what you want, how you want it.

Just as an example of one of the many ways you can use it to fit into your routine, here’s my current anki routine for Japanese:

Description of said routine

Front: Spoken word. If there are homophones these are listed and a noice is played.
Back: Spoken sample sentence along with all the expected information such as word written in kanji, its reading in hiragana, translation etc.

I study this by turning off the screen, often chilling out and closing my eyes as well, (hence the noise to get my attention if I need to check the homophones listed). Most of the time the spoken sentence is enough to let me know if I got the word right or not, otherwise the full information is there if I light up the screen.

These cards are sorted by sample sentence using the morphman plugin, meaning the sample sentences shouldn’t contain any unknown words aside from the one being demonstrated.

I’ve gotten these sample sentences from all over the place, but right now I’m using anki to listen to audiobooks and when I come across a sentence with only one unknown word I look that up, paste it in and move the card to my study deck.

EDIT: Also, one of the many weird things I like to do for “fun” is to take a video with subtitles and use that to semi-manually create anki cards for all the words I didn’t understand. (Mostly manually because I can’t trust an automated program to perfectly cut out sentences or split/merge subtitle lines to get the appropriate amount of context… I’m super picky…)

It’s not hugely time-efficient but the cards that result from it are often enough to hold me over for several months of study afterwards, and I find it relaxing to make stuff like this sometimes…


I use a few decks in Anki. What I do is I suspend all the words that have kanji that I haven’t yet learned in WaniKani. That way the Anki decks work to reinforce what I have already learned through WaniKani. I find that WaniKani is the best way for me to learn kanji, and Anki is great to reinforce what I have learned and to learn new words using the kanji I have already learned. The two together are perfect for me.

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Anki is very “immediate gratification without the work” sort of app. Its easy to lie to yourself and say you know something when you don’t.

I guess that is one of the things that’s difficult to get around… I’m personally pretty strict with myself so I tend to forget about this difference between Anki and WK, but if you have a hard time resisting the temptation to let yourself off easy I can see how that’d be a big problem with the way Anki works!

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I also tend to be pretty strict but, I often overlook silly mistakes. In the long run it doesn’t really matter. Who cares if you cheat once in a while? You are still seeing those words and getting exposure; going forward. Anki is just a means to an end. Especially if you hopefully are adding and reviewing content cards that you are encountering, so you are seeing those same words very likely again. If you review 200 cards and for some words you pressed ‘OK’ even though they are shaky, it doesn’t matter. That reviewing still leaves traces of those words in your brain. The words were probably not that important anway, and maybe you would recognize it in context. Anki is just a side job. Treating reviews more exposably and going through them quickly has been the best thing I’ve done for my passive vocab. Let it flood and catch what you can.

I’ve been using Anki to as an enabler to prelearn words for books I’m reading, and it’s been working great. It allows me to read without having to lookup almost anything, which is also a nice confidence boost.

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Not just you. And the funny thing is I can usually spot the ones that will give me trouble but I couldn’t tell you why

You can require typed answers on Anki cards if you aren’t confident in your ability to judge whether your answer was correct or not.

Honestly, it never occurred to me to “cheat” by saying I know something when I don’t. That defeats the entire purpose of studying and doesn’t sound gratifying at all. I guess if you depend on gamification and external gratification to learn, then Anki isn’t the tool for you.

If anything, I would say that WK is the tool that incentivizes “cheating” by requiring an arbitrary percent correct to unlock the next level. With Anki you can customize everything so you are totally in control of how much you learn and when.

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It`s the same for me. I just need a beautiful interface to be motivated. I know that content is more important than beauty. But Anki definetely does not have an appealing interface. And make my cards beautiful would takte too much time. Wanikani is pretty and user friendly especially with all the helpful user scripts.

Anki also has the downside of requiring a desktop computer. (Yes, there’s Anki Web, but it’s very limited in functionality and you still need desktop Anki to import decks and change settings anyway).