At what level have I learned the "useful" vocab and kanji?

I know that the word “useful” is quite subjective and depends on what one would like to do with their language skills. I don’t have any immediate plans to go to Japan, I mostly practice Japanese by watching j-dramas and listening to Japanese music.

As such, I’ve noticed that a lot of the vocabulary I’m learning in Wanikani doesn’t have a lot of practical use for… well, for just about anyone, I would imagine. I’ve found the system incredibly effective for learning to read and understand kanji, but that effectiveness is dampened a little when I’m using that knowledge to memorize words like “forked tongue”, “sugar sculpture”, and “brain death”. I think the vocab from the first several levels was really useful and practical stuff, and some of it still is, but I also am starting to get the feeling that my time would be better spent learning vocab that is more frequently used.

For those who have gone further than me-- is this a trend I can expect to continue? For the average person looking to simply understand conversational Japanese, is there a certain level where you feel that Wanikani is no longer that useful? I’m curious to hear your answers!


It’s definitely the case that WaniKani vocabulary is not targeted toward what is useful in conversation. There are better resources out there for that, if that’s your main objective. As you noted, it’s for learning the kanji and their readings, primarily. That being said, for just about every word that people mention in topics like this, you can find examples of people saying they found it helpful or they encountered it shortly thereafter, etc.

EDIT: But to answer the other aspect of what you were asking, there are still things that coincidentally use harder kanji and are useful in conversation throughout all of WK. It’s just that since it’s not the focus, there are things that are more useful in other aspects of Japanese as well. Browsing through the level 50+ vocab, I see plenty of things useful in everyday life. Lots of difficult, literary, or stuffy words too of course, useful for non-conversational pursuits.


Well, that one, at least, is nice to know if you’re ever at a festival. :slightly_smiling_face:



It might depend on your goals. If you just want to be able to understand conversional japanese, kanji are kinda useless anyway and you be better off using other ressources (like iknow)

If you want to be able to consume any kind of media (or just master the language), they’re words you’ll have to learn one day anyway.

I always find it striking when people say ‘such’ word is useless when they obviously now it in their mother tongue. You know the concepts of ‘forked tongue’ or ‘brain death’ and yet didn’t learned them from a vocab list, meaning they do appear enough in a ‘normal’ setting to remember them.


One thing to realize is that no matter what list you use to learn vocab, there will always be specific words you have to learn for whatever media you consume.

WK provides a good foundation, but it’s really only the beginning.


This is a good question and I’d be intrigued to hear an answer too. But I suppose the people who feel they’ve ‘learnt the useful vocab’ have generally left already and aren’t here to answer. And the people who learn more than those people and are still here (either because they are still finding it useful, or they are determined to finish all the levels) might say something different. So perhaps it’s not an easy question to get an answer for, Noona?! And certainly the makers of the site would say Oh definitely all of it :slight_smile: But I suppose if you use WKStats you can see which vocab comes into which levels of various ways of measuring it (school grade, amount you can read on particular websites, vocab in the N5,4 etc tests). So that might be worth a look if you haven’t so far?

Is that edible?
Edit: that’s actually curiousity not sarcasm. I generally only think of 飴 looking this picture

Sure. It’s pretty much just straight hardened sugar syrup.

Though, how you eat something like that is another matter. Do you just stick Pikachu’s head in your mouth and bite it off?

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I agree with others that there are useful and weird words mixed together at higher levels, too. But you’d be surprised where you encounter some of those “less useful” words. I’ve encountered Wani Kani words I never thought I’d hear several times-- people talk about all sorts of things on anime shows.

I prefer Wani Kani to other systems for actually being able to read, which is what is clearly designed for. Formerly, I found the process of reading with a dictionary too frustrating. Now, I can at least guess the pronunciation most of the time, which makes looking up words easier. Are you interested in reading Japanese? There are lots of books clubs here in community forums, including a fair number reading manga.

For Kanji, I find that once you hit Level 35 you’ll be able to read 60%-70% of standard level Japanese on the Internet. At least that’s the case for me anyway.


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