At what level did you feel confident in reading basic Japanese?

Hey, I started using WaniKani a few days ago and was wondering at what level you personally felt like you knew enough kanji that you could actually read a newspaper, or even a children’s book confidently? I’m only in high school and don’t have much money so I was kinda wondering if WaniKani would be a good investment of my time and money in order be able to understand Japanese. Hopefully your answers to the first question will help my decision with the second. I do realise I will need to learn grammar and conventions on another site because WaniKani doesn’t seem to cover that knowledge.


Depending on what you mean by “children’s book,” you might not need to know any kanji at all to read one.

A newspaper, on the other hand, might not be something most people can read comfortably even after they get to level 60.


I’m still not comfortable reading anything more than simple sentences.
There’s more to reading and understanding than just knowing the characters. If you don’t know the grammar and vocabulary, you won’t be able to understand much despite knowing the kanji. So, wanikani can get you only so far with reading and understanding japanese.


To be able to actually read you’re going to need to learn grammar which WK doesn’t teach such as particles, verb conjugation, etc. Being able to read 6000 words only goes so far if you don’t understand how even the basic particles like は, が, と, に, で, etc. work in sentences or recognizing a conjugated verb and understanding the meaning. For example, it’s great that you know the reading of 上る and that it means to climb but do you know what 上ろう or 上りたい mean if you encounter them in a sentence?

In answer to the general question, I was reading graded readers before level 10 but that was because I had enough basic grammar down to read them well enough. WK vocab helped, but grammar was key.


I might have a N4-ish level in kanji, but my overall level in Japanese isn’t above N5 JLPT. I often try to read News Web Easy articles, but it’s quite frustraiting. Although I can recognize more kanji now, I end up pasting text in google translate. I definitevely understand what its about, I get some sentences, but not an entire article, no.

Fort the third time of my life, I went to Tokyou with lvl 9 Wanikani in my head (250 ish kanjis).
It help me sooooo much !!!
I could order food without problem, ask for second hand product (and you really should buy those !!), and discuss with people !
I could even read the metro plan in Japanese, and event better, read the proper exit in the metro (And believe me, you have a shit tons of them, and it’s really easy to get lost or miss your friends !)

I can’t wait to go back, with more kanjis in my head !!!


You’ll have to talk to your parents about if WaniKani is financially possible. But WaniKani has been the most effective method of learning kanji for me. It’s been the most effective in teaching me the various readings, which was starting to seem impossible to me prior to WaniKani.
WaniKani sends an email when you finish the first 3 levels about how much kanji you should be able to read at various levels. I don’t know if I’m supposed to copy/paste it or not so when you finish level 3, look out for that.

Edit: I just remembered, WaniKani usually has a discount on the lifetime subscription around the New Year (although I personally can’t guarantee they’ll do it this year). If you do well with WaniKani lessons until then, would you be able to show your parents and ask them to cover most of the cost?
You might also want to look into Tae Kim’s guide to Japanese (he has a website and book) while you try to figure out how you want to learn Japanese. I found it to be a useful introduction to the language although eventually I used other methods.


I think WaniKani is a great resource not only for kanji but also a ton of vocabulary (a lot of which actually help). However it would only be a worthwhile investment of time and money if you were actually going to stick with it to the end, which takes upwards of a year for most users.


As everyone said, words aren’t everything. You need grammar and other vocab that Wanikani doesnt teach to back it up. This is not to say that Wanikani is useless. Without this amazing website, I would have been very very far behind compared to what I am now.

Another very important part to being able to read is experience, in my opinion. In this regard, Wanikani, or at least the wonderful people that make up this community, have you covered. Theres numerous book clubs that are going on on the WK forums, and people are always glad to see more readers.


For reading practice, I find that Duolingo gives a powerful boost to that. Although you kind of have to hammer the kanji in your head, it reeeally helps to learn phrase structures and grammar. And the best part, it’s free :smiley:
The hammering kanji gets complimented quite nicely with WK, I use both in my daily studies!

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