Help with a Huge decision in my Japanese Journey: To drop WaniKani or not

Background, and to give some relevance:

I started Wanikani back in 2020, took a small 429-day break, came back and climbed a 2000+ review wall. After which, I made a huge decision to drop (most) everything in my life that was not Japanese. The main reason for this was because I had a way of talking myself into procrastinating. For example, I would do my 20 lessons in Winikani and then say that I should take a small break to let them “sink in”, so I would play Runescape for a while (IronMan BTW :wink:). Then, somewhere along the way, it would switch, and I would take a break from Runescape to study Japanese. Eventually, there was no Japanese, and I would just play Runescape. This happened over and over again with different games, shows, hobbies, you name it.

(review hell)

That was until I took the (crazy?) plunge and deleted all the apps on my phone that were used to waste time (ex: YouTube, Reddit, Spotify, Amazon) and restricted my browsers so that I can only visit 3 sites (WaniKani, BunPro, my favorite Japanese podcast site.) Once I did this wow, did my life change. I created a schedule for learning Japanese that includes how and when I would do my lessons for the day (20 WaniKani, 10 self-made Anki cards, 2 BunPro lesson.) I also started going to the gym every day, spent more time with family, got a routine sleep-wake cycle. It was just a positive upward spiral that I never saw coming. However, this leads me to my next point.

While putting more time into Japanese I realized that I knew NOTHING. Obviously, an exaggeration. But it felt that way when I started to watch anime with only Japanese subtitles and ESPECIALLY when I started to read. On one page I could come across 10 unknown kanji and 50 unknown words. If I was doing 10 Anki cards a day just this one page would take me 6 days to get though. Then I had to factor in when those words and kanji would come up in WaniKani. If it was in just a few levels, should I wait and do them then? What if the kanji is in WaniKani but the word is not? What if a word is made up of 2 kanji that I have never seen before? One that appears in just a few levels and on that shows up at level 50? It seemed like there was an infinite number of situations that would happen like this. And its not like BunPro where I can just add the lessons to my reviews and move on.

But what really made conclude that Japanese is insane was when I would know all words in a sentence but not have a single clue about what they were trying to say (edit: in the beginning, this is very rare now). This made me realize that I need to put most of my time into immersion (shocker). My main goal is to be able to read any book that I want without a dictionary and actually enjoy what I am reading. I know that if I stay on my path I’ll eventually get there (Insert something about this is a marathon not a race blah blah blah :man_running:). Moreover, WaniKani has been a big part of the reason that I was able to get this far in the first place. So, when the thought dropping it to focus on other areas came up, I got kinda #spooked. However, when WaniKani is over here teaching me words like 河豚(fugu, heard of it before? I never had.) while ようこそ実力至上主義の教室へ(classroom of the elite) is teach me words like 自業自得 (Reap what you sow. #CoolAF) It really gets me thinking.

So that’s why I’m here, to hear what you all have to say. What do you think the best route for me going forward is? Continue with my set up that I have right now? Drop WaniKani and learn stuff as I come along it? Or a mix of something else? I honestly Love WaniKani and know that I works for me, but I’m just unsure if its the best path. Thanks for any advice you can give.

(Edit) TLDR: learning a lot of kanji and Vocabulary that is either in later levels in WaniKani or not in WaniKani at all. Should I drop it and just learn stuff as I come across it or not.


I don’t think Wanikani should be the only thing you dedicate your time to, but you shouldn’t have to completely drop it either. If you do just 5 lessons a day or even skip lessons some days, you will (after a week or two) have fewer reviews and more time to dedicate to other aspects of the language.

I think before jumping straight into immersion it would be helpful to dedicate more time to grammar. If BunPro is your only grammar resource, I don’t think it’s entirely effective. I’d look for some other online resources that explain the grammar in more detail.


How much had you done in learning grammar? (How do you utilize Bunpro for learning?) That sounds like the next step, which should make immersion a lot easier.

Couple that with reading a current or prior entry in the Absolute Beginner Book Club, where you can get to know the grammar better in the weekly discussion threads, and you may be surprised at the progress you make in a few months.


I’m sure many people will be along with much better advice, but based on what you say, my thoughts are: 1- slow down on WK. Maybe 10 lessons/day instead of 20? You’ll still make progress, but free up some bandwidth for other things. And at level 26 you have a good foundation already. 2- pick some easier reading material. There’s plenty out there that should give you a higher success:frustration ratio. 3- you don’t have to put every unknown word into SRS. Just pick the words that seem most interesting, or most likely to recur. 4- Keep at it. I can definitely relate to the frustration of feeling like you still don’t know anything, but the only way to get past that is to keep at it. You probably know a lot more than you realize.


I guess I should have mentioned this, but WaniKani is definitely not the majority of my Japanese time anymore. If I were to guess about the current breakdown it would be something like this:
Wani- 30%
BunPro- 10%
Reading - 20%
Anime - 30% (love anime BTW)
I just finished N4 on BunPro But I have been adding a lot of n3-n1 points as a came across them. If I flip through my Genki one book I can do any problem without issues now. When I first started reading I would say that was definitely not the case.
The Time restraint of WaniKani Is kinda lame but is not the worst as you can see, the biggest issue is probably this: I question why am I learning this random kanji/words on WaniKani when the book I am trying to read is full of new words and grammer that are relevant to me. I don’t WANT to give up wanikani and I don’t have any issues going full speed, but I don’t know if that time is best spent elsewhere (like learning the words and kanji from the books.)
Hope that made sense.


For what its worth 河豚 is more frequent than 自業自得 in the Balanced Corpus of Contemporary Written Japanese


I totally agree!! I just joined the Beginner Book club for 夜カフェ and that has been a blast so far.
I learn 2 grammer points a day on BunPro. I also add a few more if I come across them in my book. On points that confuse me I watch some videos on them ( 日本語の森 is my fav) or read some explanations until it clicks(という seems like an endless grammar point though XD).


Seeing as you’re level 26, it may be a bit preemptive to drop wanikani on the basis of seeing unknown kanji and vocab choices.

I find WK stats to be pretty helpful in tracking Reading Stats as it can show you how much of various reading sources should be readable according to your WK level. There’s also a frequency chart that may be helpful. At level 26 you would only know about 43% of the most frequent 2000 kanji but in about 10 levels that would jump up to over 60%.

If reading is your priority, you may want to check out Natively I think it’s fairly new, but it can provide a reference in terms of appropriate reading material for your level so you don’t become frustrated.

In reference to the vocab choices of Wanikani, there are certainly a few interesting ones but I think the amount of useful vocab more than makes up for them. You might find 自業自得 to be cool to know, but I’m not sure how often you would be seeing it used meanwhile you’ll likely see 河豚 several times on menus if you ever visit Japan. If you find other vocab while reading, you can totally put them into an anki set or a spreadsheet as well to keep track like many of the bookclubs do!

I hope some of the references are useful, but either way I think keeping at it for a while or lowering your wk workload via lower lessons or the like might be a good idea instead of dropping it entirely.


LOL That makes me very upset :melting_face:
I guess I should have put a more casual example like 幹部 or something. (Also, 自業自得 is way cooler that 河豚.)

True, and I wouldn’t intend to stop learning kanji. Its just I would learn Kanji as I came across them in the the book or show that I am watching (I’d probably learn them at a much faster pace, but that is not the main focus). It just kills me waiting multiple levels to learn a word that appears so many times in the book. Or If I learn it on my own and add it to anki It kinda feels like why am I even using WaniKani for?


I would say level 26 is a little early to be dropping WaniKani and it’s worth getting to at least level 40 to cover most common kanji.

However, if you’re still unsure what works for you, you might want to try a more radical approach: pause WaniKani with vacation mode and focus on reading + learning new kanji through vocabulary found in books, light novels, articles, etc. That will give you a more natural exposure to the language and kanji frequency.

The thing with even the joyo kanji set is that some kanji are way more common than others and some appear in a limited number of words which are themselves not so common. So if your overall focus is being able to read, it’s probably reasonable to focus on reading, looking up grammar, etc.


If it took you this long to find a routine that works for you, I caution you about making any big changes now. Even if WK isn’t the most efficient option, if you end up dropping it and then it turns into another 429 day break from Japanese, you would have been better off sticking with the “inefficient” option, haha.

The thing about Japanese is that regardless of how you do it, you have to put a lot of hours up front into learning before you’ll be able to just pick up a book off the shelf and open it and be able to read it without needing to do constant look-ups. It’ll take learning a lot of kanji, a lot of grammar, and a lot of vocab. And if you just chip away at that little by little each day, it can be very hard to see your progress. You kind of just have to trust that it’s there. This will be true no matter which method you use.


Sounds like you’re going in a right direction for improved reading, then =D

I’m probably in a similar position in that I found much of the kanji I was (failing at) learning from WaniKani wasn’t showing up at all in the manga I read. I currently have 439 Apprentice items, of which 436 are leeches. I’ve pretty much stopped doing Apprentice reviews (and lessons), and for WaniKani I’m currently coasting on doing Guru and above reviews only.

I’m currently using Migaku’s “Kanji God” add-on for Anki to track kanji learning. I’m focusing on kanji that show up a lot in manga I read, starting with re-learning the ones that are lower level WaniKani kanji that I burned then forgot. My next steps will be learning the most common vocabulary and kanji in the material I read, even if it involves kanji I haven’t encountered in WaniKani.


Fo sho, I totally agree on this, that’s why I was thinking over just learning Kanji the way they appear instead of waiting for WaniKani to so graciously give them to me.

I have been throwing this around a bit and I don’t know how I feel about vacation mode, I was just considering only doing my reviews instead of throwing them all in Anki.

Also a personal question, why are you level 1? I see you in here all the time. Did you reset?
Lol sorry I had to ask.

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It’s okay, it’s a fair question :slight_smile: . I was level 42 and I reset to make sure I don’t randomly go back to leveling further for a couple of levels only to get frustrated again. At that level WaniKani outlived its useful for me. I was already learning kanji outside of the ones WaniKani teaches or covering more common ones from levels 50+. Also, the need to write answers + having to add user synonyms for everything didn’t feel very productive.

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Wow, thanks for the resource my dude.

You should get Satori Reader, link your WaniKani cards to it using the API tokens, and find a way to balance the two. That way you can read stuff using the Kanji you know and will gain exposure to more grammar and turns of phrases. It will be way more immersive than WaniKani alone.


Honestly WK is probably best until the mid 40s. By then you have covered the majority of N3 and a good chunk of N2 for kanji, which is the level your grammar would be at after finishing Tobira.

From the sounds of it, you are using an entirely app/website and native material driven education approach. I would actually strongly recommend adding in textbooks to what you are already doing. What textbooks give you that a lot of apps/websites and TL material don’t is: Rigid structure, repetition of what you have already learned for reinforcement, and very transparent progression. Also, you are being introduced to different concepts in different orders that are given different importance/priority when you use multiple sources, which is a more organic way to learn a language.

I cannot tell you the number of times I have cracked open a book and it explained a concept that I was struggling in in other resources in a way that made it click. Each author lends their own distinct teaching style to their works and it is really beneficial. I cracked open “Japanese: Step By Step” this week, a book I bought 14 years ago that I promptly shelved and quickly gathered dust because I stopped studying. A book written 30 years ago that teaches pitch accent and some other concepts that have only recently become popular, and was amazed at how good it actually was and how it walked me through some difficult points.

Almost any textbook you use is going to give you an AHA! experience like that, unless it’s a truly trash book, of which there are a few, but not many.

Anyway, keep at it and for now, probably continue keeping your turtles safe.


When I reached lvl 60 (2 years ago?), my grammar was chapter 9 of Genki 1 (textbook). I could not understand a single sentence in anything I wanted to read. I started studying grammar and loved to learn grammar already knowing lots and lots of vocabulary. When I read a new chapter in Tobira (textbook) there is one or zero words that I don’t know. When I read native material, there is lots of text I don’t know but knowing the kanji makes easy to guess their meaning. With respect to grammar, having learned lots of N3 and some N2 grammar has made a huge difference for reading. But if I could go back and do everything again, I’d take the same path. But again, do what works for you.


Yo fallynleaf, I totally lurk your study log from time to time. It is a huge inspiration and super enjoyable to read.

I get where your coming from but I don’t think I’m ever going to stop Japanese again, ever. It literally has become the biggest part of my day and is the only source of “entertainment” I have (because I literally blocked everything else).

Wow, you laid that out perfectly. I am definitely not trying to SpeedRun my way through this, I
honestly just love learning. I remeaber learning one “N1” grammar point that proceed to show up 5 times in the next show that I watched. Truly motivating.