At level 16 you can read about 70% of the kanji in a wikipedia article, but

This is a dumb moment i had today and i want to share with you

I was checking on the wkstats page that according to the frequency of the kanji that appear on an average article in wikipedia you could read almost 70% of it, so I was shocked by the good news and decided to give it a try.

Yeah so i try reading for about an hour on a myriad of articles just to learn that being able to read doesn’t mean actually understanding…

-this was me:

so yeah, naturaly this is because there is a lot of vocab, grammar rules and other nuances the language has, but you know what? it is in fact mindblowing that you can actually start to grasp what an article is saying, i’ll keep studying and i’ll see how it goes when i get to level 31.

xoxo or whatever




Yes, 70% sounds great, but when a sentence has 10 kanji you still have to look up 3 each time. And unfortunately the interesting new information if often in the kanji you don’t know yet :slight_smile:

I think Wikipedia is not a good place to start reading, the authors there have a strong desire to make sentences as convoluted as possible.


agreed, really you should just be reading amazon reviews


@JupiterTomato is right. The only way to become a self-assessed N1 is to read reviews.

To be serious, though, the Tofugu article on the Minimum Effective Dose of Japanese might be a helpful read for you! (Also, their Japanese-learning articles in general are a nice resource, at least when I’ve looked for different ways to spice up my studies in the past.)

I’m totally with you on the combination of frustration and elation that can happen when you’re able to start reading native Japanese content but not quite grasping it. It took me forever to start really understanding causative and passive verbs, and I still have a really long way to go :sweat:

So, anyway, keep it up; you’re doing great! がんばってね !


ayy lets go lvl 16


Even at level 26 now, it’s still not much better. Although I feel I am in an ok spot with grammar right now, reading any piece of writing and understanding it is very very difficult. I still often find unknown kanji in everything I try to read, another thing I have trouble with is onomatopoeia and slang, not to mention all the vocab I end up having to look up. Even though I said my grammar is alright, I do also end up having to look up grammar often, but a lot of the time those are almost like vocab in how they are used rather than things like verb conjugation forms.


If only there was a section on this forum where you’re guaranteed to be able to read some Japanese :open_mouth:


Tell me more…


would ebay reviews do the trick as well?


Oh thank you for the link, by looking at your current level i know there is a long way to go for me, but hey, you’ve got it, passive and causative verbs are one of my main leeches sources… so let’s go!! ganbarimasho-!!


YouTube comments are the future of literature.


We should share the discoveries found on this thread, on the ultimate guide to learn Japanese with social networks comment sections + Amazon reviews. @Sezme @fiertia @JupiterTomato

You’re all great, had so much fun


Well it isn’t just that. 70% is still a nearly useless amount of understanding. Even if you get the 70% vocabulary in addition to the kanji.

Here’s an example of what 80% reading comprehension looks like.. That’s with everything at 80%. 70% in vocabulary in Japanese is way more useless as you still have to think about grammar as well. Here’s a [mandarin version of that if anyone wants it], which puts it under better context since written mandarin, also uses Chinese charters, although simplified ones at that.

Realistically, anyone should be looking at at least 92-94%. You’ll only be torturing yourself with reading with less and learn (next to) nothing. To learn, you need context clue. But you can’t use context clues when you can’t really understand the context either. As @acm2010 put it, “but when a sentence has 10 kanji you still have to look up 3 each time”. That isn’t enjoyable.


Can you start Harry Potter at 16? ^^

I’m level 27 now and I struggle with even reading manga, I can’t imagine how a novel would be. It’s not because of my grammar either, I feel I’m at a pretty good spot with grammar comparing to my WK progress. The thing that gets me the most is vocab and kanji, sure I can look those up easily but it’s not fun and even exhausting at times when you have to look up several words on almost every page.

While yes you might be able to do it if you have a solid grammar background, but unless you’re really prepared for how challenging it will be I’d probably go with something easier for reading material.

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That is too bad. I will have to wait a long time before opening my favorite book series!

I was able to get the gist of average reading material at around 3000 words. That was good enough for me that I could somewhat enjoy reading Japanese visual novels, but that might depend on how much you can tolerate. You will have to beat your head against raw Japanese material someday, so might as well start there in my opinion.


From my experience translating light novels, I would say reading Japanese is (by content) a 30-30-40% split between Kanji, Grammar, and Vocabulary. That means that no grammar or vocabulary (outside of WK, I mean) would equal an estimated 21% literacy ability. Even then, those numbers do not reflect the time required in order to navigate weakness in those areas, where I’d change them to likely 10-60-30% (Kanji, Grammar, Vocabulary) for time required to acquire understanding.

Knowing Kanji means you have to look up less kanji and have a higher chance of at least a vague understanding of vocabulary, but looking up kanji is simple by keeping a tab of Jisho open and searching by radical. In addition, kanji are likely to repeat themselves, so taking new kanji to memory means you’ll rapidly speed up.

Grammar is the hardest of the three to simply look up, as even having a basic understanding of how a construction works doesn’t guarantee you’ll understand how it functions every time it appears. Grammar, however, in Japanese, is quite consistent to my experience, and, if you can read every word in a sentence, context can often guide to the proper meaning.

Vocabulary is the biggest monster for reading. While you can look up words just like you can kanji, it’s likely you’ll have to look up more words than you will kanji, as you are in no way guaranteed to know what a word means even if you know all of its kanji.

All that being said, don’t give up attempting to read native Japanese! Wikipedia is not the best place to start for exposure to good Japanese necessarily (just as English Wikipedia is not always the best source for English reading!), but the ability to set the English and Japanese pages side by side will help you understand grammar and context of words that otherwise may seem identical to other synonymous terms by translation.

As @xyzbuster said, you will inevitably have to face the raw material at some point, so testing the waters now is not a wrong move. :grin: Just never let yourself get down over the difficulty, and pace how long you spend doing it. It’s a great experience to witness first-hand how much each level of WaniKani allows you to “peek” into Japanese whether you know the grammar or not!

WaniKani has done much for me personal in my ability to understand written Japanese due to my prior experience before starting, but it has made me able to actually read it (as in, pronounce what I read as Japanese as opposed to just turning it into English) significantly better. While I used to only be able to translate the text of Japanese games I play, I’m now pretty good at reading the lines with the voice actors (as I’m greatly enjoying doing with the new re-release of Utawarerumono on PS4).


I can sort of answer this. I think maybe you could, but it depends on your motivation. I once met a Mexican university student who read Siddhartha in German (a language he didn’t speak) using a dictionary. I’m not sure if he enjoyed it.

But back to Harry Potter, I did in fact listen to an audiobook reading of the first chapter of HP and the Philosopher’s Stone in Japanese recently. I understood very little. I transcribed the first paragraph of the chapter and had to look up a lot of words, probably most of them. I was exhausted.

Having said that, it may well get easier as you go, and if you had the patience to brute force your way through, you’d no doubt learn a lot. But it might be more work than fun. I have a copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in Japanese, and that looks a bit easier (I read it in English when I was six). So maybe I’ll give that a try next.

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