Do I "need" WK?

Hi everyone. Recently I started studying Japanese again, which means I was greeted with huge piles of overdue reviews in various srs apps. (WK, Bunpro, some random apps).

Right now, I’m trying to figure out whether I should focus on WaniKani or another app / website to learn vocab. I started using KameSame which I actually really like, but I realized that I just can’t do WK and KameSame together, despite having a lot of time right now. (I’m also studying Chinese… :upside_down_face:)

I noticed that I’ve learned a considerable amount of words just by using KameSame in the recent weeks, and I know that I wouldn’t encounter them in WK until I reach level 40 or so.

My question is:
What will I miss out on if I stop using WK? I definitely liked the mnemonics, and they probably did help me a lot with getting started. Would there be any other disadvantage for me if I stop using WK and instead focus on a website / app that solely teaches Vocab, without teaching each individual Kanji and their various readings? (for example KameSame or anything else like Anki for vocab).


Personally, I’d recommend doing WK. If you know kanji – then in many cases you’d be able to guess the word. Of course, it’s not always so – there are words like 弁当 or 珈琲・・・

But there are also words like 電気 or 自動販売機 where the meaning of the word is quite easily deduced from the meanings of kanji.

There are also words like 地獄 where the meaning might not be directly deduceable, but at least you’d be able to get a vague idea of what it is.

But again, this is just a purrsonal recommendation from a small clumsy cat :cat2:


Since you’ve reached level 17, I think you can trust your own intuition at this point. Do you feel like learning individual kanji first has helped you pick up vocab? Or does skipping straight to vocab work for you? Both approaches are valid and have plenty of advocates.


You don’t need WK. There are plenty of other ways to learn kanji and I’ve kind of come to the conclusion myself that learning kanji out of context isn’t all that useful and you might as well just learn vocab, kanji and all, and pick up on the readings and meaning/nuance implications that way.

Whether you want WK is up to you. If you’re not sure, why not just take a break from WK and see how things go?


For me personally I couldn’t imagine my life without WK. WK is what helped me get over my fear of kanji and I can see the progress I am making when I practice reading low level Japanese material, Crystal Hunters, manga, and tweets in Japanese. I actually get excited when I see a word I had just recently learned in what I am reading.

Learning the kanji individually has been extremely helpful for me. As I am learning the kanji WK gives 3 vocabulary words that has that same kanji. If that vocabulary word is on the same level that I am on that I take my time to learn that word on top of learning the kanji so I know I will be seeing it really soon.

I also agree with a user here where at times just knowing the kanji can give you an idea of the meaning of the vocabulary word even though that’s not always the case. I definitely feel you would be putting yourself at a disadvantage if you aren’t learning individual kanji meanings on top of the vocabulary in my opinion anyways.


WaniKani is not primarily a vocab learning app. It uses vocab primarily to reinforce and expand upon the kanji readings and meanings, and to help embed the kanji into context to aid remembering them.

I have tried KameSame in the past, and for what it is, it is a good app. However, it was too unstructured for me, and I ended up adding way too many random words and it became overwhelming to review everything in my review pile.

Recently BunPro has added vocab support as one of its current Beta features (to access, need to opt-in to the Beta features in your Settings), and I’ve discovered that I really like it.

It is still in Beta, so it’s not 100% smoothed-out, but it is still easily usable and – more importantly for me – is at least a little bit structured.

For now, it has 1100 vocab entries in the JLPT N5 category, and another 1100 in N4. These are just in a basic dictionary-like order, which isn’t the greatest. But! When you access the Beta features, you also get access to the new Decks feature, which presents existing grammar & vocabs in different orders, according to different textbooks and other learning resources.

So, for example, if you use the Marugoto decks and the Genki decks, you’ll get the vocab according to how they are presented in an introductory textbook. This is very useful for getting a good solid base of vocab words to start yourself off with.

Once I finished off all the vocab (and grammar) from all the introductory textbooks, I switched over to the built-in BunPro deck for JLPT N5 to finish off the N5-level vocab (it’s not 100% of N5 vocab, just the most common 1100 (for now!), but still plenty).

After that, the other textbook decks only have grammar (no vocab (yet!)), so I switched to the BunPro JLPT N4 vocab deck, and I’m working away at that.(about 68% through so far).

The BunPro vocab reviews are recognition-only, so you only have to give the English equivalent of the word/phrase, which means that reviewing them is not as mentally taxing as say WaniKani vocab where you also have to produce the correct readings. [BunPro does provide furigana, though, so you can also learn the readings; you just don’t have to produce them.]

This means that you can go a lot faster than with WK vocab, learning many more words than you would be able to in WK. Thus, I find this a much better alternative than WK for the purposes of reading vocabulary, which WK isn’t really/primarily meant for anyway. So, it’s a good alternative/supplementary tool for learning vocab. And it’s more structured than KameSame, IMHO.


Wanikani was the best thing in terms of studying that happened to me in many many years.

My daily companion, so far I cant even imagine what is gonna be after hitting lvl 60.

Everyday when I watch an anime episode with japanese subtitles and I can understand a lot, I always think ‘wow’, thanks to WK I can get directly to the source without waiting someone to translate to english or my native language.

Use it as a tool, WK worked for me and I even tried different sources and books, none of them stick to me, they could work for you.

Ando of course, after getting a lot of vocab I could start grammar as well, I did with bunpro, just started N1 yesterday there. With a lot of vocab, understanding grammar becomes much more easier.


In my opinion, what it really comes down to is what you’d prefer spending your time doing, and whether you’re getting enough out of the time that you are spending to make that worthwhile.

I’ve spent almost my whole WK journey learning roughly 3 kanji a day. Would I be learning as many kanji if I wasn’t using WK? Definitely not. I have learned a couple dozen kanji outside of WK, and I have a system in place for that, but creating my kanji flash cards how I like them is more work than just learning the ones WK gives me, and since I want to learn as many kanji as possible, I’d rather just let WK make the flash cards for me, especially since I have a lot of scripts augmenting the experience, like the Keisei script.

It’s definitely possible to go faster than WK’s speed, and it’s possible to tailor the order you learn kanji so that it’s more optimal for you than WK’s order, but the main question is… would you? Some really self-driven learners have no trouble with this, but many other people struggle. It does take more work to tailor your learning journey like this, though the rewards can be very high. I’ve had many points where I simply would have not had the energy to create flash cards, but did have the energy to do at least my daily WK lessons.

As far as learning kanji individually or with vocab goes, I think different people have different preferences. I definitely lean toward learning kanji individually because I feel like having a strong base of kanji knowledge gives me a lot more mnemonic scaffolding when learning new vocabulary, and I’ve seen how much easier it gets to read print books/manga/magazines when you know a lot of kanji.

I think if you primarily read digital text, kanji are less of an obstacle, but if you read anything in print, you might find yourself struggling a bit more, because you will find many kanji in unfamiliar combinations, and you might have a harder time recognizing them when they aren’t in the words that you learned, which will make look-ups tougher.

Have you tried reading much native media, especially media without furigana? How has it gone for you? Are you able to reliably read the words that you’ve been learning in KameSame and recognize the kanji? If you’re happy with your pace of learning new items, and you’re happy with your gains in reading comprehension, then by all means keep sticking with something that works for you!


Not really. It takes more discipline generally and is probably less easy to do, but at that point its just a matter of if you have the ability to maintain that or not. If you do, no problem and you’ll probably be spending your time learning more words. If you don’t, well then stay with wanikani because the alternative is probably going to be failure.

You can try one out for a little bit and just see how you like it. It sounds like you already fell off the horse once, so it would be worth it in my mind to assess why that happened and the attitude you have towards your studies this time around. The answer for the best thing to do is probably indirectly or directly related to the answers to those questions.

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