Helpful Tools


I’ve seen some comments about how obscure some of the vocabulary WaniKani uses can be, and I found a couple of things that have helped me. I know WaniKani’s main objective is to teach and reinforce the reading of the kanji instead of teaching vocabulary, but since my learning style is reading, it has actually helped me remember vocabulary better as well. I have, however, run into situations with Japanese friends that laugh when I use some of the vocabulary I pick up. So I’ve found a couple cross-reference tools really helpful!

The first is my Japanese-English dictionary app. I use an app called “Japanese,” but it’s similar to “Imiwa.” The app will tell me what JLPT level that word is, if it’s on JLPT at all. If it is, I pay a little more attention to remembering it. Other words I’ll try and listen for in everyday conversation. Sometimes I’ve found that a word may not be on JLPT, but it does come up in everyday conversation.

The second tool I’ve found really helpful is a 国語辞書 (kokugo jisho). A friend from my church lent me the one her daughters used in elementary school. It’s targeted towards elementary school students, so it’s just right for me! And like our English dictionaries, it lists part of speech, simple to understand definitions, SYNONYMS, and example sentences. If the dictionary entry is really sparse, then I take that to mean it’s not a common word. Then I just focus on the reading in WaniKani instead of trying to remember the vocabulary word. This is really helping me study vocabulary at a deeper level with WaniKani.

I’m a word nerd, and this has really helped my style of learning!


I can recommend ウィズダム英和・和英辞典 2 (Wisdom) for iOS (don’t know about Android). It is a English learner’s dictionary for Japanese people, so the explanations are in Japanese. But there are tons of example sentences of how a word can be translated into English, and you can navigate/read it well enough even if you use the tool itself to look up the words used in the explanations.

I think the main problem is not that the words are obscure, but rather that you don’t know how to use them based on a few rough translations into English.


The JLPT level anyone claims for vocabulary is just an approximation and guesswork. There are no official lists of the current JLPT.


Agree. Most of the time our level of Japanese isn’t enough to end up having the need to use them (yet).