Do you guys really tough it through all this vocab? (Noobie) (level 10)

Thread title. So much vocab in wanikani, maybe 30% is frivolous or stuff I never would need to know or want to learn. e.g. 一文字 二十日 四十二 etc. I just got to level 10, and at this point it’s 100+ vocab a level. Do you recommend sticking with all of the vocab or do you do anything to bypass any? I do find that I remember the readings better the more vocab I study. But learning all of it takes so much time.


(Don’t mind me being at level 2; I’m currently studying for the N4 with a teacher).

First of all, I’d like to say this: while WaniKani has some obscure niche vocabulary that will mostly appear in high-level specialized texts, the majority of what it has to offer are things you’ll see and use on a daily basis (depending on your goals, though, I guess).

One thing I’m not sure about from your post is why you wouldn’t want to learn dates and numbers. Those are essential. You will normally see them written in numbers sure, but WK focuses on teaching you kanji and vocabulary together, which is why it has them written in kanji. And if you’re going to talk in Japanese, there’s almost a 100% chance that you’ll have to deal with numbers occasionally.

In terms of vocabulary increasing in numbers, it will be harder and harder as time progresses in terms of quantity, but it does eventually get easier once you have some base of knowledge behind you.

An advice I’d give is don’t try to binge all 100 lessons as soon as you level up. Find an amount of new words that you’re comfortable with learning daily (let’s say 5-10, for example) and go with it. This will both prevent you from piling way too many reviews and will make it easier to remember those chunks of information, since you’ll be learning new words in a more balanced manner.

One last thing to remember: there are no real shortcuts to learning a new language. While there are some little lifehacks people come up with to make the process smoother for themselves, it still takes a lot of time, patience and hard work.


I don’t think my 例えば was very good. But I think people will know what I mean, some other examples are Marble, mountain road, eye doctor, loaf of bread counter, to make an animal sound. etc. It feels like there should be a higher priority list of vocab covering the fundamentals and if you want to pick up specialty vocab later it would be nice.

I guess the frustration stems from that I really want to learn kanji. That’s the main reason I picked up wanikani. Now the amount of time I’m being time gatted behind vocab is significantly reducing how much time I can spend learning more Kanji. My goal is to be able to read a lot more. (I’m at about 300 kanji now), but the immense amounts of vocab per level feel like they may be an inhibitor.

I really appreciate your reply though! This was very well written. And I definitely agree with everything you said. Like how language can’t be short-circuited :slight_smile:


I’m gonna express an opinion that seems to upset many an internet Japanese learner. The way to learn kanji is by learning vocabulary that uses those kanji. None of it is useless, it is essential. It doesn’t matter how “useful” or frequent it is. It doesn’t matter if it’s a word you already know well, you should review it anyway; it is never a waste of time to review what you already know, no matter how well you know it. If you’re not on some strict timetable where you need to reach a certain level before being thrown into the wilds of the language, then the amount of time something takes should not be of concern. It takes exactly how much time you need for it to sink in.


I totally agree with you, It really helps reinforce learning kanji especially the readings. What I’m looking for is to see if anyone bypasses or has tips or tricks to get through some of it. I’m a full time worker and have very little free time so I love the wanikani model of picking up and studying when you can. I dedicate a lot of time to it. But it feels like the higher level I get the more I have to sink into vocab. And when it’s unused or rare vocab, it feels like a waste.

Oh plenty of people use scripts to bypass needing to do vocab reviews (just letting them sit there in the pile). Other than that, there aren’t any tricks to it. My only tip is that by finding a routine that works for you the amount of vocab won’t seem that relevant.

I recently settled into my current routine a few months ago and it gets me a level up every 2 weeks (between 12 and 16 days to be precise, depending on how much vocab was unlocked). I could double the amount of vocab lessons I do in a day and probably increase that to around 1 week per level, but that’s not sustainable with my current level of busy (and I only really need to do three short sessions in a day to maintain this, which works fine with the busy schedule).

I know it’s very tempting to think the rare and specialized vocab is a waste, but it’s really not. All of it has been helpful to me in reading Japanese, whether that’s encountering the word itself or encountering a whole new word using the kanji (it helps because I can guess with high confidence what the pronunciation of the word is, which aids in being able to quickly look the word up; then I don’t have to spend any time also learning its pronunciation and can focus just on the meaning and usage).

Plus, Wanikani has been making a lot of updates to content including moving the more rare and specialized things to later levels, so try not to worry too much, they do understand where it’s a problem and are working to improve it ^-^


I think there’s a slight misconception about the purpose of the vocabulary on wanikani:

Wanikani is ultimately a service that’s supposed to teach you kanji not be an all in one introduction to japanese. The vocabulary included are reflective of that, and focus on reinforcing different readings of the kanji that you learn in each level in an order based on the “simplicity” of the kanji, so they build up in radical complexity over time. If you want to get a well rounded exposure to common vocabulary, the best way to do that is to start exposing yourself to actual japanese!

That might look like: doing graded readers (tadoku has a bunch of free good ones), listening to some beginner podcasts/videos, or even joining the Absolute Beginner Book Club and reading along with them (they just started a new manga, so it’s a great time to join! although it is “absolute beginner” in the sense of reading native level material, not an absolute beginner to japanese as a whole)


From how you are using the vocab taught on WK to what you seem to deem useless vocabulary, it’s quite easy to see that you are not really in a position to decide what’s useless vocab and what not. That might sound harsh, but isn’t meant like that.
The vocab here serves a purpose: to learn Kanji. It won’t make you fluent and you won’t be able to read a book only after finishing WK, it’s sole purpose should be seen as cementing Kanji, everything you learn on top should be seen as a bonus.
In the end if you want to skip the vocab you can do that, you can learn however you want, but at least I wont encourage anyone who is learning in actually doing that.

As people before me wrote, this site is not meant to teach you all you need to know about japanese, I would even say it’s one of the least important parts. You will need exposure through more than WK, much more in fact. Gladly there are also a lot more fun sources than Wanikani out there. :slight_smile:

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The problem is that there are multiple ideals here pulling in different directions:

  • simpler kanji before more complex kanji
  • as you introduce each component, add the kanji that use it before moving on to the next component
  • more common kanji before rarer ones
  • teach vocab that teach and reinforce each reading of a kanji at the same time as that kanji
  • teach commonly used words before rarer ones
  • have a learning programme that works for everybody
  • teach vocab that each particular student is going to want to use

and it’s just not possible to achieve all of those at once, so compromises and tradeoffs have to be made. That doesn’t mean WK necessarily made the best tradeoffs, or the ones that align best with your personal learning journey; and it doesn’t mean there aren’t places where some other choice or ordering would have been straightforwardly better without compromising anything. But it does mean that the ordering and the vocab choice are difficult problems with no clear and obvious solution.

PS: 鳴く is super common and you will want to know it; it’s only the English translation “to make an animal sound” that makes it sound a bit odd, but that’s just because English happens to use a lot of different verbs for the cases Japanese collects up in one verb.

The bread loaf counter, on the other hand, you could perfectly well ignore for the next five years, IME (I still don’t know it and I’ve been studying for two decades :slight_smile: ). I think it is this early because the axe radical is important and worth teaching early, and WK wanted to put in the corresponding kanji, and then you need a vocab word or two for it.


You hit the nail on the head. That is exactly what the vocabulary are there for. To reinforce the kanji and readings you are learning.

In terms of vocabulary that are “useless”, this is going to be different for each and every user. It would be impossible for WK to create a custom vocab list for each user based on exactly what their expectation/needs are. Having said that, the primary factor in terms of what vocab are used is to address the point above. Reinforce the recognition and the readings for the kanji that were taught.

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Classic example of depends on the user :slight_smile: I buy my bread at one of the several small (and awesome) bakeries near where I live and see/use/hear it frequently.


Mmm; when I was in Japan I only ever bought bread at supermarkets, where nobody is counting loaves…

I usually buy mine at small local bakeries where I have to tell them at the counter what kind of bread I want and how many loaves as all the breads are on shelves behind the counter or out back. On the topic of bread, how did find it compared to bread from your home country/region?


Supermarket sliced bread was not too much different from UK bread, except for the habit of packing it into 6 slice bags rather than selling whole loaves. There was more variety of things the Japanese call bread that I wouldn’t (various savoury flavoured things, etc, especially in speciality bakeries) and conversely less variety of bread-bread than a UK supermarket would have.


(not a noob here, used to be in the 20+ levels 4 years ago)

I believe there’s a slight misconception here regarding kanji. The idea of kanji as a stand alone concept is true for the original Chinese character perhaps, but not for japanese. You don’t use the kanji alone, it’s the vocabulary that you use to write and read. So while it seems like the goal of wanikani is to teach kanji, knowing kanji as individual pictorial representation of an idea won’t get you very far.
Technically, you can reach level 60 without learning a single vocabulary word, but what’s the point?
You will always (expect for really rare occasions) see kanji as part of a word, sentence etc.

As for the - this words are useless to me. You’ll have to be a seer of sorts in order to know what content you’re going to encounter. Most self learner don’t really know what they really need to learn, especially not in the beginning.

From my experience some of this reaction stems from simply being overwhelmed by the amount of new material. Learning a new language can sometimes feel like being thrown into a relentless hostile environment. So the brain rebels against it with all kind of excuses to justify the need to get away from this environment and if it can’t at least attempt to minimize the load. You’re not the first or the last to react this way. It’s ok, it gets better the more you learn.

I can attest to the major change in the way I react now coming back to japanese after 4 years hiatus. It’s so much easier. It’s not new anymore, so I don’t feel bombarded by tons of content with every single term/word/kanji/grammar point I need to learn. There’s more familiarity,
It’s not the first foreign language I had to learn, and each time the basic stuff felt super annoying, irrelevant etc. It’s not fun being a Noob, for sure. You can’t choose and you have zero control on the fact that you simply don’t know. The brain likes knowing stuff, it likes certainty, it likes familiarity. It constantly spews nonsense to justify it. So a little bit of mindfulness and acceptance can go a long way here.

And again - it does get better the more you learn.
Good luck!


The irony is that this goes for most wk users too…


It’s funny to me that people are offended by the idea of learning the occasional less than useful word to reinforce their kanji, but are fine with the idea of memorizing long mnemonic sentences to reinforce their kanji. At least the words might be useful someday — the mnemonics will ultimately be forgotten.


I don’t see that much irony in it, or wouldn’t call it that. It’s natural, people here are learners for the most part, of course at every step there will be things that can’t be properly evaluated.
The downside of just brushing away things you don’t want to know from the start on here is that it might bite you back because you might not cement certain aspects of a kanji that wk tries to teach (not that it will teach all of the needed context anyway, but that’s a different problem). If it is truly useless vocab, then it will be forgotten in time anyway, but it might serve for reinforcing the kanji for the time being.

Trying to streamline the whole learning process to be always 100% efficient with your time is foolish and in my opinion not really achievable. There will always be things you find out later that were not needed or learned “wrong”, but that usually only happens way after you made the experience. And there might be quite some gain in it after all anyway.


I try and stick with the recommended learning path as learning new words drills the Kanji readings in your head. However, sometimes if I’m thirsting for new Kanji, I’ll use the lesson picker to grab a couple new radical’s or kanji!

Try to enjoy the journey, its not a sprint, and even if you’re considerably slower than the average user, you’ll ultimately get to the same place. I am definitely on the slower side, often taking 20 days+ to level up, but who cares!

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About the “useless vocab” point, a quick anecdote:

A month or two ago, I unlocked 流石 (さすが) and got pretty annoyed at it. I specifically mentioned to a friend that it felt silly because “everyone always writes it in hiragana! The reading isn’t even being reinforced since it’s an exception! Why are we learning this?!”

I was grumpy about it for like two days, and then as if just to prove me wrong, I stumbled across it three times in 24 hours, just scrolling through social media.

There is a lot of vocab in WK, but you never know which ones are going to be useful. Eventually, if you want to be genuinely fluent in the language, you kind of have to know the vast majority of the words in WK, and then some. Does it suck? Sometimes, kinda! But it’s worth taking the time to do it right, rather than bypassing the vocab and not learning the kanji as well.