Does the vocabulary really suck?

I hear that a lot, mainly because common words aren’t taught early on, and more obscure ones are taught instead. I get why that is, and I don’t mind it.

I’m mainly curious about how good my vocabulary will be at the end of Wanikani. It’s a safe guess I won’t learn hiragana/katakana-only words here, but when it comes to words with kanji, does Wanikani do a good job at providing you with a good amount of vocabulary? Or is it more of a case of “you know the kanji now, go learn the vocabulary yourself”?

I’ve read it’s a good idea to supplement Wanikani with other tools. I’ve already been using Duolingo, though I question its efficiency in teaching Japanese well, though I like it as a practice tool. When it comes to vocabulary, are there any recommendations?

I’ve come across an app using the SRS as well, which I really like, though I’d like something with mnemonics even more.


You might sound odd if you use WK vocabulary in real life.

The idea of the vocabulary isn’t to teach you vocabulary but to teach you kanji readings and meanings.

My recommendation is for you to use an Anki vocabulary deck or use ToriiSRS.


Thanks for the recommendations.
I’ve started using ToriiSRS some days ago. I like how it’s similar to Wanikani in structure.

I find it difficult to learn words on there, mainly due to the lack of mnemonics, and because I’m unfamiliar with most kanji there for now. What I try to do to remember the reading is to look up whether Wanikani has that kanji and go from there; though that’s likely not a great approach to learning the vocabulary on Torii.

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I’d say its maybe a little of both. If you know the kanji you can figure out a lot of vocab words, but I’d recommend some study of real text outside of wanikani. Or read the context sentences if you want an example of how words are really used.


WaniKani’s only purpose is to teach how to read Kanji. It’s still important to learn all of the words they teach because they’re real Japanese words that any native speaker would know, but it’s not a good source for learning the most natural word for any given situation. For that, I’d recommend absorbing from native Japanese material (watching Japanese shows/movies, reading Japanese manga/books, etc). Keep in mind that memorizing sentences is more effective than individual words (you can sentence-farm and put them into an SRS like Anki). Having a Japanese friend to whom you can ask questions and correct you also really helps a lot! If you don’t have any Japanese friends, give HelloTalk or Tandem a try to talk with native speakers.


Your vocabulary level is more than being able to pronounce the word and recall an English gloss.

That’s fine for some things, like cat or car, but when you finish WaniKani you will still have more to learn about many of the words you encountered here, never mind the ones you haven’t.

WaniKani doesn’t explain register, nuance, etc. When you get to the and of WaniKani, you’d do well on any JLPT kanji section, but you might struggle to get a multiple choice correct between 説明, 解釈, 言い訳, and 叙説 (all mean “explanation” of some kind).


You definitly need another program to learn vocab. I have spent weeks trying to find the SRS program I was most able to use. I like Torii, but I think I’ve finally decided on for the best possible experience. I really don’t like the way Anki is difficult to learn and easy to cheat yourself with but its by far the most popular option. Torii is very simple, but about as restrictive as Wanikani without scripts unless you go deep into flipping the settings back and forth to pick your next vocab. Also you may want to look into KameSame for integrating what you already know with Wanikani along with more vocab.

As for general supplemental instruction, Duolingo seemed like crap when I tried it, but some people also say its not the worst thing ever, but there are better alternatives. Try LingoDeer if you really want the “in-app learning” experience, or just pick up a copy of the Genki Textbooks like I did. Theres also the method of just reading websites like Tae Kim and Imabi if you want free textbook-like options.

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Yeah, as stated before, Wanikani does teach you some vocab, but it’s mainly to cement the readings and uses of the kanji in different formats. While some of it is common, alot isn’t, and you 100% do need a different source to help increase your vocabulary off wanikani. Wanikani is more of a starting point, a toe in the water of an entire language, similar to how you weren’t taught how to say every word youve ever come across as a sight word in kindergarten, you were taught how to read, sound things out and look them up if you were unsure. then you were sent to go and find books etc. to widen your vocabulary.
Also, since it’s your first post:
\textcolor{MediumPurple}{\huge \textsf{Hi}} {\huge \textsf{@DjCoco}} \textcolor{MediumPurple}{\huge \textsf{!}}


It’s great to have you here!

If you haven’t already check out the Forum Guidelines and the Wanikani User Guide .
There’s also tonnes of things on the forums to help you on your way such as The guide, The Ultimate resource list, and API and Third Party Apps.

If you have any questions, check out this thread; but if this doesn’t answer your questions, feel free to create a thread like you’re done here, or email The Wanikani staff.

Good luck, and I look forward to seeing you around!