Annual membership or lifetime?

Hi all,

I started WaniKani 10 days ago and have already almost completed the first 3 levels. I have an advantage in that I lived in Japan and already speak Japanese, so I’m here to refresh myself and also fill in the gaps as I never had any formal education in Japanese and just kind of picked it up out of necessity, which has left a lot of holes in my knowledge.

So I’m here ready to commit to a membership and I’m wondering, given the current ongoing sale, if it’s worth splurging on a lifetime membership or if an annual one would work out cheaper overall.

I think if I take over 2 years then lifetime would be worthwhile at the sale price, but under then annual would work out better. So I guess the real question is how feasible is it to hit level 60 within 2 years with real life and things likely to get in the way (I’m a virologist. My working life is currently very busy as you can imagine so I’m not expecting to be able to keep up my current pace once the holidays are over).

I know it’s a hard question to answer as everyone is different, but for those of you with lifetime membership do you think it’s worth it? Anyone regret buying it/not buying it?



i started off with yearly and got lifetime because even if i finish under two years and i should, there are still 6 months left of burning after that with perfect accuracy.

two years is about the same cost as sale lifetime and finishing in one year is very hard so if you’re gonna go annual twice you might as well get the lifetime on sale.

Being a virologist has probably become quite interesting these days. although we have lots of covid projects where i work, i only do stats so i’m not very involved.


I find the subscription is better mentally than buying it out. Because I spent 9 dollars, I better use those 9 dollars good. It encourages me to zero-out my lessons!


It is very difficult to reach level 60 and burn everything in under 2 years; someone on the forums can probably tell you the minimum time to complete WK provided that you do your reviews all exactly on time and get everything right (which, you know, isn’t very likely).

In my option, if you intend to finish WK, then whether you get annual vs. lifetime is a matter of how much money you can afford to spend at one time, because unless you have the time and ability to speed run the program, it’s not very likely that paying annually will end up cheaper.


I started WK about this time last year, and am now at level 15. So there’s essentially no chance that I’ll be done in one more year. Which is why I got the lifetime membership during last year’s sale.

OTOH, your base fluency is probably greater than mine. If you can already read native Japanese materials at intermediate level or better, then finishing WK in 2 years is probably at least plausible.


Welcome to the community :sunflower:

It depends whether you see WK as a one time go or more like a tool to add to the tool box. There are reasons for advanced Japanese learners to do the one or the other (and we have both groups here in the forums).

You already addressed that future is unknown and sometimes RL catches up. Also keep in mind that WK kind of implies users will read along a lot. The idea is to have additional exposure to make the vocab and kanji stick.

I’ll give you a couple of threads for reading, written by people that already hit level 60 and went full speed or have been advanced learners already when they started WK. All of them are still active in the forums so feel free to ask them as well in case you have more questions :slight_smile:

Sorry I can’t give you more specific advice :sweat_smile:


I’ve also thought about whether to go lifetime or subscribe as I needed. In the end I decided to go as needed.

My thought process was: WK is, like other resources, just a tool to further my studies in Japanese. If I intended to keep using the tool beyond its estimated usefulness (> 3 years) then I would’ve gone for the lifetime sub but… so far I can’t think of any use of WK beyond level 60. Also, (this may offend others) restarting over again from 60 just to refresh seems a waste of time compared to just… reading Japanese media.

The money and time that’ll be saved after “graduating” from WK can be invested on immersing/using the language which is the point of learning Japanese, right?


Thanks for the advice. That’s a good point as I hadn’t considered the extra 6 months on top of finishing, which will obviously draw things out. It seems like lifetime is a worthwhile investment to make.

Being a virologist right now is really interesting. I’m working on SARS-CoV-2 right now and it’s definitely a massive global effort to try to keep ahead of things and my role is very small, but it nice to be doing something to help! I’m sure you understand that as well. Don’t say only! Stats is such a important role! Honestly, I admire data analysts so much, they are a total godsend to me!


Thanks for the advice. I am lucky enough to be able to afford the annual membership at the sale price, so it really becomes a question of which is best and that comes down to what’s a realistic time frame to finish in. It seems like under 2 years is a bit fast paced and lifetime would be better. Thank you!

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Thank you! This is super helpful. I’m able to read Japanese texts after spending 9 years there, but having been out of the country for almost 2 years now I feel myself forgetting some things and there’s least been holes that I didn’t really have time to address when living there (as since I was constantly absorbing Japanese in daily life it didn’t seem so pressing).

I am studying outside WK, but a friend recommended this site as a way to improve my kanji as RTK didn’t really work for me and I do better with SRS than self study.

I’ll read through those blogs as I think it would be interesting to see how intermediate/advanced learners found WK. One things I’m noticing is that I answer radicals as their kanji meaning or answer kanji with the wrong reading as I know more readings than WK teaches at lower levels. It’s a little frustrating to get it marked wrong when it’s not, so I’m interested to see how others got around this. Thank you!


I LOVE wanikani. But it’s typically unwise to get a lifetime membership on anything, at least without a massive time investment already there. I’d say annual would probably be best, but it’s your call. It’s a fantastic program either way :+1:


Thank you for your input. This is kind of my dilemma. Will I use WK after level 60? I don’t know, but I can’t see myself restarting as I already read/watch Japanese media and communicate with friends in Japanese. I’m just trying to reduce my reliance on dictionaries when reading texts, as I have other resources for improving other areas. If others prefer to review everything then that’s what works for them and it’s fine, but I find I remember more stuff I picked up by encountering it through immersion that I did from my text books (karaoke taught me so much!) so I think that style of reinforcement suits me best.

Out of curiosity, did you know Japanese before you started or did you start with nothing? How long has it taken you to get to this point?


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Had the same issue as you 4 years ago!

Went for Lifetime. It was worth every penny. It allows you to go at your own pace, you support the development of a great app.

The deciding factor to me was to realize that Japanese for me wasn’t going to be a passing fad or something I’d do temporarily, but a choice that would impact me for a lifetime. After realizing that, I pulled the trigger and never looked back.

If 10 years from now I decide I want to do WaniKani all over again, I’ll be able to. If I want to take another 2 years to finish all the way till 60 and then burn it all, you know I can and I will.

Also the badge in the forums is neat.


As for radicals: they are teaching their own names specific to the WK program. There is an article on Tofugu blog why they are doing it, in case you are interested.

  • I usually try to learn the name WK uses since they will use it in the mnemonics for the kanji. I remember though, that I’ve added my own name for two or three radicals after they hit the guru level mainly because I’m not English native and I can’t make out the difference between f. e. “few” and “little”.

As for kanji: WK teaches the reading they think is used for roughly 80% or more. That’s why in some cases it is a specific kun’yomi and not on’yomi or why it is one / two of them and not all. There is a podcast where they are elaborating a little bit more on the ideas behind WK but I can’t remember the exact podcast number, sorry.

  • for kanji a correct reading should not be marked as wrong => the app may shake and tell you it is looking for a different reading but there should be no penalty. In case you found a kanji where a correct reading is marked as wrong, please email the Tofugu team so they can correct this.

I recommend the Lifetime just because it’s convenient at this juncture (with the sale being current).

Otherwise, you’ll spend much more than that amount and/or quit.

A little over a year ago, I paid for monthly in August/September until the lifetime sale, and then picked that up. If I had had a lesser subscription, real life would have forced me to abandon the site altogether around August or Septemberthis year, but I’ve stuck with it…

The other question is on how YOU want to use the $ in your bank account, of course.


If I’m in your shoes, I’ll just cut myself loose from WK right after getting 60 (or even earlier) as you’re living and breathing Japanese anyways!

There’s no harm in using a dictionary especially if it’s in your target language (Japanese) just think of it as part of your immersion. Since you already know that immersion works for you, you can basically recall Kanji (through how it is used as a word) by repeatedly encountering it. You should note that WK is not a resource for vocabulary, as vocabulary is mostly used to reinforce the Kanji to memory.

Truth be told, I’ve just started learning Japanese this September from basically zero knowledge except from anime. However, I’ve surprised myself of how far I’ve come in a short span of time. I’m no genius, but I can now read and understand NHK Web News Easy articles which is unimaginable to me four months ago.

So to how I started, after learning hiragana/katakana from Tofugu (super effective) I started WK and Genki I. Continued to but dropped Genki II at chapter 19 because I hate the Genki way of teaching. Genki is very hand holdy (like being at school again) and the Japanese sentence is structured and explained through the lens of an English speaker. If anything, I was thankful for the hours memorizing the readings and meanings from its vocabulary sheet which is very helpful every time I encounter the reading in WK and articles with furigana.

So I moved onto Tae Kim’s Guide to Japanese which is straightforward and seems to be written for the big boys and girls. I reinforce the grammar points through an anki deck because I don’t have funds for Bunpro.

During all these grammar studies I was also immersing through reading. I started with Tadoku graded readers. Got bored at around level 3-4 which made me read N5 level watanoc articles. Breezed through them (I can finish 8 articles a day) because it’s really that easy. Some articles also have an audio track which can help with listening practice.

At N4 articles I’ve reached a roadblock as my WK level haven’t caught up with the JLPT level. So I started reading NHK Web News Easy articles which is geared for Japanese kids and learners. Its usage of grammar is quite basic, so the only limiting factor is the Kanji and related jargon.

Then, out of the blue I tried to read a grammar book that’s in Japanese titled Tadoku and it’s surprisingly easy. Currently I’m two chapters in and enjoying the learning experience.

I won’t delve onto the other path’s I’ve tried (which didn’t work or plain bored me) to learn Japanese. So what I’ve summarized above is what worked for me. After Tobira I’ll gradually increase the difficulty of what I’m reading and maybe I can finally read doujin- er I mean manga, light novels, and Japanese subbed shows. I may also start to do some listening/talking practice.

That’s it so far. Since you’re basically more fluent in Japanese compared to me, I think WK won’t be as much use to you.


I didn’t read the whole thread but this is my unpopular opinion, in my case I bought lifetime on sale knowing I would probably quit and pick up later on. indeed it happened,…this is my third time lol. So yeah lifetime give me the opportunity to hop in anytime I want. My recommendation is get lifetime. Cheers!


I’m in a similar -ish situation! I’ve studied all the kyouiku kanji in the past, and I use my spoken Japanese on a very regular basis in my daily life but kanji has been a weak point as I don’t do much with it. I just started 10 days ago, too… and I went for lifetime yesterday.

I have a busy/crazy 2021 coming up (I have two little kids and another one on the way this summer) so while I’m not a virologist, I’m assuming my life and time constraints won’t be magically easing up/lessening/slowing down in the coming year. But I’m still hoping to be at level 30 a year from now.

I’ll be aiming to finish level 60 October 2022, but like others have said, that still leaves at least 6 months of burns to do in the queue. I figure I am committing to 3 years of WK before it runs out of total usefulness for me, even starting from the knowledge I already have.

I’m gonna add you to my leaderboard script so I can keep an eye on you as you continue to level up!


I assume that the majority of users here are Americans, but if you are not (and I am not), this amount of dollars is actually very different from year to year, as there there are SOME MINOR EVENTS happening here in 2020, which affect currency exchange rates. If I went Lifetime/Annual a year ago I could have saved around 20% worth of money compared to today. But I didn’t, as I was just getting started and wasn’t sure it was worth it. So I went on monthly subscription for a whole year, every next month being more painful. When the sale hit, I suddenly realized - I just can’t afford even discounted Lifetime anymore. But since the things in my country doesn’t tend to get better, I went with Annual, as I am only halfway through, and I definitely regret not getting lifetime last year.

Long story short, if you can afford it - go for it, it is worth it if you would like to contribute to learning Japanese. Whatever you do - don’t stay on monthly subscription. :smiley:

As for the time - I am exactly one year at WaniKani, 30 level right now, but I had two major burnouts (45 days each), so two years is pretty doable. But it is considered somewhat casual pace, so Lifetime might suit you better.


Considering lifetime sales at the end of year is up right now.
You should grab that deal.
After you finish your 60 you still need at least 6 months or so to burn everything (assuming that you don’t have leeches, which appear quite frequently).
Plus life can happen xD