Brand New and Looking for Advice


Hey guys! I’m brand new to the site, and was wondering from lose higher level people… is it worth it? I haven’t reached any paying levels yet (and frankly still trying to figure out how to advance).

I’ve actually been studying for a few years, but have been looking for a great site to help with vocab and kanji. I can learn grammar no problem, but I have used many different tools to help with my terrible memorization of vocab with very little luck. I just can’t remember new words… It takes a long, long time.

Do you find that the system used through WaniKani works?


When I signed up for WK, I had a kind of jumbly, disorganized knowledge of about 500 kanji, but I had plateau’d hard. It took a few months on WK before I started seeing new kanji, but I love the structure and how it just does all the thinking for me. I realize I could do the same thing with just a random kanji textbook, but I don’t have the discipline. Now I’m at over 1300 and studying for N1.


I studied a year of Japanese in college and haaaaated Kanji. Barely learned the ones we covered in class and didn’t remember them long term at all. Been doing Wanikani for a little over six months, and my perception and understanding of Kanji has gotten way better. So if you want to learn Kanji and vocab, go for it. If you want to learn the language itself, you’re going to need to work on grammar and vocab outside of Wanikani, but this is a great resource for what it is.


Yes I have found it works extremely well. Just as long as you’re patient and prepared to keep up to date with the reviews. I can echo what others have said that it won’t get you understanding Japanese completely on its own, but it deals with a lot of what is often the most grindy part :slight_smile:.


I find WK very helpful. SRS is great, and forces you to stick with it.
Trying to go at it with a textbook, you don’t really have anything kickin’ you in the butt to keep moving. Potential to either get lazy, or convince yourself “I know this one, moving on”.

Yes, WK is expensive, but I think its totally worth it. (The last couple years they’ve done Christmas sales on the lifetime plan. $200 instead of $300. But, you’re kinda at an awkward time of year, where doing monthly until the potential sale, doesn’t really work out math wise)

Being level 1, I will warn you. At first, you’ll find WK painfully slow. Complaining that you’re ready to move on, but can’t. But, give it some time, and before you know it, you’ll be longing for those days. Reviews will be near constant, WK will make you its bitch.

Admin Edit: Changed Yearly plan to Lifetime Plan (because that’s what we did the sale on) <3


Good catch Mr. Koichi. Bit of a brainfart on my end.


As others have mentioned I’ve found it great to formalise a lot of what I already knew and add in readings and some vocab along with radicals. It’s a slow pace at first but for a reason. As a vocab tool alone I think there are better alternatives as the vocab learnt is based on the kanji learnt - nothing wrong with that but they aren’t always the most useful words for everyday conversation. That said they are Japanese and useful as an aid to remembering.

I will happily sign up for another year depending on where I am in 9 months.


The system works fine for me, actually is really helpful for how I picked up Japanese.

I took a couple months off of school in order to focus on reading Japanese before going back. Starting off, I had a very lopsided understanding of Kanji. I knew a lot of the readings, but not the meanings. Alternatively, I knew a lot of meaning without the reading. Wanikani organizes that and doesn’t make me have to deal with it. It’s been just under a year since I started focusing on reading and about 8 months since I started wanikani, and so far it has been very helpful.

It seems like people have different opinions of the speed it goes at. Out of the people going fast, I’m one of the slower ones. I only check in twice a day and a review session can have between 100 and 400 kanji depending on how the timing runs up, granted this is at 21. You can go at whatever pace you like, but it builds up the further you get into it.


I’ve had better retention of kanji/words I’ve learned in WK than other study methods (flashcards, anki, textbook exposure). However, as a vocab learning tool it does have the shortcoming that all of the words are picked to assist learning kanji, specifically other readings. Overall I love the site and the community here. It’s definitely worth the money to me.

Level advancement occurs after getting 90% of a level’s kanji to guru. However, most of the kanji are usually locked behind learning the necessary radicals up to guru. Altogether it’s about a 7 day process at the fastest. For more details please read the guide and the FAQ. Since you claim to have been studying for a few years the early levels will probably be exceptionally easy, so consider user scripts and third party apps to help improve the efficiency of the site. For speed leveling the most commonly discussed scripts are reorder scripts for learning, timeline (anticipating reviews & scheduling), and the ignore script. For extra practice a lot of people use a third party app called KaniWani.


Sometimes that’s true, especially for kanji with not many good words, but a majority of the time vocabulary words are chosen because they’re useful or common. Granted, this standard is set for reading and not speaking, though there should be considerable overlap between the two. Also, as our users often remind us, we will forget words too, so please email us if there’s a common / useful word you think ought to be in WK that isn’t. <3

Wanikani is just not useful enough, but could be

Yes, worth it. It makes learning a thing I never thought I’d be able to learn so structured, manageable, and fun (…sometimes).

Disclaimer that I never really tried any other method of learning kanji since I started WK when I started learning Japanese :wink: But I know myself well enough to admit I wouldn’t get so far without WaniKani’s mnemonics and SRS.


D: lucky you!


Just to add my two cents - I’m a recent starter here too. Having studied Japanese part time* for over 5 years, I found my grammar and speech were pretty decent, but my reading level was awful - I only knew about 100-150 really common kanji.

So I figured I’d try WK - committing to a minimum of one review plus five new items a day, if available, just as a bit extra. The first few levels were almost entirely stuff I knew; just finishing up level 5 I’d say about 30% of the kanji are new to me. But what’s surprised me is the number of new vocab items I’ve picked up, even for kanji I could already read in some contexts.

So, early days, but I’d say it’s worth giving a serious try if you can find a schedule that works for you. I’ve paid up for a year - will see how far I get to at my current pace.

  • As in, very part time - a few hours a week at most around work etc


Perhaps unsurprisingly, given that I stuck with it to the “end” (my review queue tells me otherwise), I find it quite useful indeed.

You’ll need to learn extra vocab in addition, but I’ve found that this is so much easier once you’ve properly learned the kanji using WK.

As a bit of an aside, I did a bit of checking, and out to the 10000 words in the Core10k deck, this is, by 1000-word batch, how many are covered by WK. Sensibly, this is heavily skewed towards the more common ones:

0000-1000 743
1000-2000 573
2000-3000 403
3000-4000 554
4000-5000 348
5000-6000 279
6000-7000 278
7000-8000 269
8000-9000 219
9000-10000 114
Total: 3780/10000

So, you’ll learn 38% of the 10000 most common words (74% of the 1000 most common).
Conversely, of the 6287 words WK teaches, 60% are contained in the Core10k deck.

Wanikani is just not useful enough, but could be

Yup. Wanikani surely saved me from a world of pain! :crabigator:


Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that list is based off of data from newspapers, which tends to make common words data a little wonky (not saying that ours isn’t wonky, but we tend to compare more with common words data from novels, which is in between newspaper and conversation). That, and we add “common” or sometime not as common words to help people learn kanji, and new kanji readings, which makes our list a little more different. And, there are many words without kanji that we don’t include.

That being said, Core 10k is pretty great. If you learn them all, you’re going to be pretty darn good (though I’d say that you don’t need nearly that many words to start talking / communicating, which is where all the real learning will start coming in).

Thanks for the list compare though, that’s really interesting!


I’m just under two months and every penny was worth it. I think I got the two year plan, but if there’s ever a good sale, I’ll go with the lifetime next time.

As for vocab words, I remember looking at long lists in textbooks and thinking ugh, do I have to anki this stuff? But as I’m learning more kanji, a lot of the vocab words just make sense, it’s similar to knowing your Latin/Greek roots and figuring words out that way. But this is so much more fun, I’m learning so many little puzzle pieces everyday and putting them together to get more and more of the bigger picture!

As for motivation, for me, the leveling up and having the community here see me progress is enough to make me do my drills several times a day. I don’t post to the forums much, but I read them all the time, an active community is invaluable to me.

Feel free to check out my blog, inside my profile, I talk about WaniKani all the time! :heart_eyes:


I’ve actually no idea where it came from apart from that the first 6k are taken from iKnow when it had an open source API. I’ve no idea how iKnow themselves came up with the list.

Post-60 I’ve been adding my own kanji and vocab to anki WK-style, so I certainly, now more than before, understand having to add some uncommon words just to get the different readings in.

I personally made the mistake of overestimating how 上手 you 日本語 needs to be before you can communicate, but I’ve been using hellotalk off and on for a while now, and would recommend it to anyone wanting to give conversation practice a go.

Turns out, actual interactive people are probably considerate enough not to bust out their most fancy Japanese when faced with a clueless gaijin :slight_smile:

I learned most of my English through reading (and later listening) though, so I guess I am a glutton for punishment in that I’ve mostly chosen to go the non-interactive route with Japanese as well, looking up and ankifying words as I go.


I feel that Core 10k is more closer to having enough vocab, although it is sometimes over Kanji’d. Still, it does miss out some N1 thingy, that is sometimes used in conversation.

Doing both core 10k breakdown and reverse WaniKani (actually coreNai), for now.


As for the OP, worth it. I love learning the vocab via Kanji. Also, I love being able to write by hand (which I practice by WaniKani sequence).

There are 300 remaining Kanji in Joyo not included in WaniKani. I attempt to learn those by WaniKani method too (by using Anki).