At what level would someone who is just starting (me) be able to understand basic tv shows and books?

Like really really basic, like tv shows for 2 year olds


What do you mean “what level”? WaniKani is for Kanji, not grammar.


Yes, but using wanikani alone is there a level on it where you could understand 90% or more of a basic book

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you can’t understand sentences without any grammar

you could start N5 and have an idea how sentences are constructed. Also try bunpro for a month, you can easily finish N5.

From lvl 10 or 11 here on WK you will get recommendation to use daily nhk easy news

to this day I read it all the new articles and still sometimes words that I still dont know appear.


The free Tadoku books on Natively, sorted by level.

Start at 0 and see how far you get.


No there isn’t. In fact you could finish wanikani and still be completely unable to read anything or understand the simplest TV show in existence. If you’re just starting I suggest to pause wanikani and come back when you have a basic knowledge of grammar and vocabulary (level N4 or at the very least N5). Beyond that kanjis start to be very important hence wanikani will he extremely useful. But if you’re starting from zero there are much better ways to use your time to get the maximum benefit in terms of learning


That’s actually a good question I’m not sure. It’s hard to say cause Japanese children aren’t learning based off the JLPT or WK so I honestly don’t know. But I would echo what others here are saying is that you have to learn grammar. It would be a really bad idea to go all the way up to level 60 with no grammar knowledge. You won’t be able to understand TV shows, manga, etc without grammar.

You can try the website

Their grammar explanations are really good and they just recently added a grammar SRS system. As long as you don’t speed through WK and MaruMori’s SRS system and do lots of reviewing you’re going to be just fine.

I think in the meantime you can try Crystal Hunters a manga that teaches Japanese and keep an eye out of Japanese language learning video games like Koe, Nihongo Quest N5, and Shujinkou.

There is an app called Lingo Legend that teaches Japanese through RPG card game.


No, because you need to know grammar and way more common vocabulary than WaniKani has to offer.


Like others say, only studying kanji won’t make it so you can read. You need to know grammar. No need to learn super advanced grammar before you start reading, but at least know basic grammar.

But once you have some grammar under your belt… I’ve noticed many people (including myself) starting to read around levels 20-30ish? But you can definitely start much earlier!

It also depends on what you’re reading. Picture books often don’t use kanji because they are aimed towards small children who don’t know kanji yet. Graded readers often will use simple kanji. Many easy books will have furigana, which will help you if you don’t know a kanji.

Here’s some stats from wkstats:

  • Level 8: you’ll know all kanji a first grader knows. I.e., you can start reading books aimed for first graders!
  • Level 17: you’ll know over 80% of kanji used by NHK News Easy
  • Level 18, you’ll know all 2nd grade kanji. Also, you’ll know the majority of 3rd and 4th grade kanji (see below). If you’re not already reading by then, I’d suggest starting then!



note: percentages are cumulative

As for grammar, going to use my own experience as an example:

  • Felt like I could at least try to read when I finished N5 grammar (aka when I finished my first textbook). However, I knew very little kanji, so this was a great time to start working on that.
  • Really started reading a lot after learning N4 grammar, but still had to look up quite a bit of grammar
  • As I worked through N3, a lot more was clicking!
  • Now, with N3 grammar complete, I no longer need to look up as much grammar, and vocab has become more of a hurdle!

But all of this was also paired with me practicing reading, learning kanji, learning more vocab, etc. Everything builds on each other. So it’s also not like you’ll magically be able to understand everything if you cram grammar either. You’ll need to use that grammar by reading and listening, otherwise you won’t retain it (trust me, I’m speaking from years of experience of simply studying and not using Japanese… something I regret).

No matter how long you wait to start, no matter how many kanji you’ve learned and grammar points you’ve studied, it’ll be difficult to read at the beginning, because studying is different than using the language. Reading is a skill all on its own. I’m not saying this to deter you, but to set expectations. But don’t give up! You can do it! あきらめないで!がんばって!

Listening doesn’t rely on kanji at all (unless you’re using subtitles), so that’s something you’ll have to practice separately. Like reading, listening is also a skill of its own. So the answer to your question for that is… level 0?


Here are the two resources you can probably already start right now:

Level 0 books there are really easy to read.

There is also a great resource to help you start reading

And while, unlike the previous one, it’s not free, it is a resource designed to make reading as easy and comfortable for beginners as possible. And it teaches grammar too.


You can be level 60 and understand none of it.


I’m a fan of starting as soon as you want. Learn natively is a great resource for finding stuff for any level. For you anything in the 10s might be a challenge but worth the practice. Plus I suggest a grammar resource. If you want free, Tae Kim is good enough. If you want paid, I’ve come to appreciate Minna No Nihongo over Genki because the textbook itself is all Japanese and you can force yourself to comprehend more. Where with Genki, the English is right there and I think people fall on that as a crutch like furigana.


Really really like this advice! So I’ll second it!

Comprehension is also kind of a tricky thing! Especially with picture books and manga, you can often make a pretty good guess what what’s going on in a panel just with the visual context and a few words (especially the nouns and verbs) and a basic grasp of the grammar, even if you don’t entirely understand the nuance or “why” of certain parts. You might not be able to go read something the same way you would in english, but you can certain still do some reading and get enjoyment out of stuff pretty early on.

My first experiences trying to read manga were when I was in the 10-15 range on wanikani and had made it through tae kim, and they were pretty hard. I couldn’t read ホリミヤ or even からかい上手の高木さん very well when I first started, but, as I’m sure you’ve seen mentioned before reading is its own skill. Reading (and language use more broadly) is a complex combination of all the vocabulary, grammar structure, pragmatic, etc etc knowledge that you have, and in order to get better at reading the best way to do that is to simply keep doing it. The more you try to read, the better and faster and more you will understand in what you are trying to read! It’s a slow process though, so don’t get discouraged.

IMO there’s never a time too early to start trying out media in a language you’re learning. Even if it’s not the same kind of value you’d get out of doing something in your native language, or if it’s not obvious that you’re getting value out of it, you brain is still building up that experience and pattern recognition you’ll eventually need, regardless of your level.

The tadoku free graded readers (which other people have also shared) are excellent and start at basically actual level 0, and will eventually work their way up to stuff that’s closer to the easiest end of native level material


When I reached level 60 at WK, I had only read Genki 1 and perhaps half of Genki 2 (grammar books) so even stuff for children was very hard for me to read, only after getting grammar level equivalent to JLPT N3 level, reading something interesting without wasting hours become possible. Without grammar knowledge, one can even have a hard time identifying the words-- in real Japanese, often there are no spaces between words! And even if one is able to parse the words, it will be hard to make sense of the meaning without grammar knowledge.


Now just silence…

As other mentioned, make sure you learn some grammar, bunpro has a similar structure to wanikani.
You should dedicate time to reading way way before you reach lvl 60. I Started at lvl 23, was very hard at the beginning, now while I’m still slow, my brain is no longer exploding ^^’

If you want to learn how to read it’s simple: you read
If you want to understand spoken Japanese it’s simple: you listen

Wanikani is just hear to allow you to do the reading part : ) But the reading is what will allow you to get better at it, nothing else.