Effectively Including WaniKani in Japanese Language Studies

So, I’ve been wondering how to effectively use WK for my Japanese studies. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, and I do feel very proud of myself when I get those 100% on that longer review sesh, but it only does so much in the longer run.

I know that WaniKani is “only” for Kanji learning (and not shougi, how outrageous :wink: ), but it just made me think that other WK users must have a sort of routine or system for efficiently learning Japanese, and I am curious how they are including WaniKani in their studies. I am not looking for an exhaustive list of resource material like this one, but rather some of your own study tips, something like Leebo’s printout sheet for kanji study or similar stuff. You know, a bit like the ‘What I use to study Japanese’ page on tofugu.

Do you guys have a structured idea/plan on how to learn Japanese while using WaniKani? Like are you sticking to some text books series and just do one after another, or curiously jumping from one app to the next, trying a bit of everything? Do you do schedules which work with you work/hobbies/school stuff?

Please do tell me, I’d love to hear how you guys are including WK and handling you Japanese studies!


I basically do only really the grammar parts of textbooks. I typically skip the vocabulary sections of stuff like Kanzen Master and just put vocab into HouHou or memorize it in context. That’s because doing the vocab stuff would be overload, and just memorizing outside of WaniKani vocabulary in the content I read not only gives me a deeper understanding of the word, but makes me feel like I’m learning words relevant to what I want to read (though, I likely will have to learn those words at some point).

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I started with WK, began Genki early, at 3, kinda blitzed both volumes over two months, finishing a first pass of the second by 12 (I would not recommend rushing and regret losing focus in the last half of the second), began reading manga at 8, and picked up Tae Kim around 13.

Needless to say, I tried to do too much at the same time. A lot of it stuck, but it created a bunch of gaps and has left me unable to identify what I still don’t truly know.

I started replaying familiar, fully voiced games (Atelier Rorona) at 16, and just stuck to that, Yotsuba, and WK until 25, where I started to seriously include iKnow and a visual novel-based Anki deck, the V2K, into my morning routine, since they were no longer walls of unfamiliar kanji. (I delete items WK has already brought up, to avoid SRS competition)

From 30, I decided to get serious about fixing the holes in my grammar and have been adding things in Bunpro on a daily basis, typically 2-6 items. Satori Reader and unvoiced games are now entering the mix, too. It’s basically lessons and vocab in the morning, reviews and grammar throughout the day.

So… what I started with really wasn’t an effective strategy, and it might be unwise to just try to jump into all the things I mentioned as my current toolset, but I think what I can share is that you should just stick to WK until at least level 10, then try to get a solid grasp on N5 grammar while you keep doing reviews, using any grammar resources that work for you – you have lots of time to evaluate your options. Don’t worry too much about supplementing your vocab with other sources until around 20. And definitely don’t try to do everything in a hurry.

For reference, my average level duration is nine days. If your kanji studies are at a more relaxed pace, put the extra time into grammar; having a strong foundation early (but after 10, maybe even 15 or 20) will pay off.


I wish I’d started WK earlier. I also wish I hadn’t pushed to go as fast as I could when I first started WK. It is important to really use what you learn in WK in reading, speaking, and listening and not just memorize in the abstract. I let WK get out of control for a while to the point it was crowding out other study. Now I throttle it, not introducing new lessons if it will put the apprentice count over 80. I’m steadily learning but also spending more time learning in other ways and putting it to use.


Honestly, reading is my biggest tool outside of wanikani. It tells me words I don’t know (which I add to houhou), it tells me kanji I dont know (which I sometimessss add to houhou or just memorize it without srs), and it tells me what grammar I dont know (which I look up online or ask about on here). All these things while showing me how it is used in context. Furthermore when I can read something, that acts as a reinforcement and helps me better remember that item. Either way its helping.


I like to watch raw anime with Japanese subtitles. That way I can hear everything in context but also see how it’s written. Even in English I use subs because I’m very writing-oriented, but that might not be your cup of tea…
In a similar vein, Delvin is a tool I use a lot for listening practice.
Other than that, I spend a lot of time messaging native speakers as well as trying to write longer texts. I’m also trying to start speaking more, which is actually quite fun!

Overall I don’t do a lot of hardcore, repetitive practice – just WK, because it works. I’ve struggled with Anki, haven’t tried HouHou, but I find it works better for me to just absorb Japanese in the wild rather than try to memorize it using traditional methods. If I make a vocab or grammar connection while talking to someone in Japanese, either writing it myself or seeing them use it, it typically sticks in my head much better than if I just review it with an SRS. So I spend as much time as possible actually using Japanese, and my language skills are getting much better for it.

I write kanji a lot because I think it’s fun. If I didn’t enjoy it, I probably wouldn’t, but it’s something that keeps me going often when I’m having a tough time with my Japanese studies. I’m just starting to learn this, but I’m finding that if I only study Japanese in ways I find enjoyable, I can still learn things. Because it’s fun to be able to communicate with people, watch anime, listen to songs, etc.

Right now I’m trying to blaze through WK. I didn’t always, did about 9-12 day levels in the past, but that eventually led to burnout. I don’t know if that was due to my speed, but there’s something enjoyable about my current speed.
I’m currently looking for more “fun” Jap resources. Ba Ba Dum is cute. Delvin uses clips, Animelon combines raw anime with various useful tools, etc., etc.


I think it was an Tae Kim post which suggested having a (few) certain area of focus an any given time in your Japanese language study. That’s helpful to have in mind, I think…

My focus at the moment has been speaking, as I’ve recently been studying with Dogen’s Phonetics course (which I totally recommend by the way, at only $10 per month, it’s uniquely focused on accent/phonetics and great value!). This focus has me much more interested in the audio samples in my WK reviews, they’re great! Plus when learning new vocabulary, I have been looking them up in the Apple Japanese Dictionary to find the pitch accent pattern. And I’m listening to lots of Japanese a la AJATT. (Supposedly phonetics should be prioritised, as it’s difficult to unlearn wrong pronunciation, and harder to pick up with age)

My mid term goal is to do more reading, but want to pick up more kanji before focusing on this. I hope that through reading I will improve my grasp on grammar and so I’m hoping these practices will combine beautifully into correct grammar and pronunciation when speaking!


I didn’t really “include” WaniKani in my studies as much as I just did them, (Genki 1 / 2 → Brief Tobira Detour → Sou Matome → Shin Kanzen Master) and then just did WK, I didn’t really concern myself with fitting it in. I just did it. This is also just active study, I try and read at least one thing a day, whether it be NHK or an actual short story, and on top of that at this point I talk to Japanese people and use some Japanese virtually every day.

At the same time I also just took, and continue to take vocab from wherever I can get it from. You’re not going to run out of words to learn and for many years to come you will run into words you don’t know with depressing frequency. So, why try and hold back?


I take classes so can’t say anything very helpful, but just wanted to agree with Vanilla that reading is fab and I do as much as possible (I’m not very fast, so this doesn’t equate to much!).

I also struggle the most with spontaneous production, so I try to talk to myself out loud (trying to think of ways to remind myself to do this atm) and have started to write a diary in Japanese. This is literally a no-pressure, couple of lines a night thing which makes me just do something every day.

The reading and writing make sure I’m not just doing the same old thing all the time too.


I use miageru to learn new vocab, bunpro to do grammar lessons/reviews everyday, and take classes at college/university.


Have you seen this script? It’s really convenient.


I Go to a class once a week ! and we are working through ‘Japanese for Busy People’

I am also trying to work through Genki for reinforcement.

Plus i watch Japanese TV programmes (Midnight Diner and Terraced House at the mo :blush: ) just to get a feel for how the language sounds.

Honestly it is hard to be pried away from Wanikani - i am genuinely addicted i think. But i guess that a good thing.

I am very much at beginner level - so whether or not my strategy / mix works or not, remains to be seen.



Here my own “resource list”, with tools I use on a daily basis:

Resource Usage
WaniKani Obviously
KaniWani To strengthen vocab retention, and to improve my English-to-Japanese abilities.
Renshuu Complementary kanji/vocab studies by JLPT level, to cover for things WK left out.
Banzaï (in French) My grammar textbook
BunPro Complementary grammar studies by JLPT level, to cover for things Banzaï left out.

I do these every day, as soon as a have a few minutes to kill, execpt for my grammar textbook, which I study on weekends.


Oh this is great! Thank you!

I honestly feel like the best way to include Wanikani in your overall language studies is to just do Wanikani. Do your reviews; do your lessons. Listen to advice on here on managing both of those.

It manages its own SRS and steadily introduces and reinforces kanji and vocabulary, both of which are incredibly useful without interrupting other study. Worst-case scenario, you have to figure out how to manage the time of doing reviews, or it gives you something above your current level and you get to make the connections later.

I’m currently going through a bunch of N3 material in addition to encountering Japanese in the wild, and I just try to plug away at WK reviews at the same time; getting the kanji and vocab the site provides is solely a positive, and doesn’t require any extra study-planning on my end.

(My other study material at the moment is the Nihongo Sougou Matome N3 book series, including its kanji one, which I use for writing practice and additional vocabulary. It’s also structured around different real-world scenarios, which makes it a nice compliment to WK even when there’s repeated material. I also have access to an online course provided to JET particpants aimed at N3 learners, so between the the two of those and WK, I basically have a stream of material to plug away at daily. The former two I take notes on in a big ongoing Word document, while WK just remains its own thing since the SRS handles reinforcement on its own.

Outside of those formal materials, I read what I can, from manga to documents to online discussions, etc., listen around me and take notes when I hear useful phrases or something that clarifies grammar, and turn Japanese closed captions on when I watch TV–which also helps provide useful connections in terms of natural phrasing, vocabulary, and kanji. This might be a recipe for burnout in the long run, so I absolutely understand the advice to focus on particular areas. But since I live in Japan now and am targeting the JLPT tests, there’s also a reason to want to rush toward proficiency.)


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