Heyo WK! I’m in the boat, on the edge, and straddling the line

I hate to be the bearer of bad news again, for the second time in 12 seconds, but there is no catch all, no one-stop-shop, no “all things included” bundle for learning Japanese. WK teaches kanji, which is a huge portion of it, but it’s just that, a portion of it. Speaking, listening, grammar, how to flirt with @halfriver via SMS, will all need to be learned separately. But I promise you that having the kanji-knowledge foundation that you get from WK will be a huge help along the way to learning all of those aspects.


I understand; I wanted to know what I’m looking at ahead of time is all. Thank you! Where does one find how to flirt with @halfriver via SMS btw?


It’s an extended course in which I offer personal sessions of training. And for the low low price of $14,000/hr! (Minimum 37 hours required)

Contact me for more details.


Are you a dead beginner in Japanese? If so, give wanikani a pass until you get your vocab and grammar foundation down first. If you jump into wanikani without that, you stand a high chance of getting overwhelmed, or if not, just learning a ton of kanji without having any idea how to actually use them in sentences.

1 Like

Basically. Suggestions on where to start before diving in here? I’m going to Japan in September, so starting with basics for that would be good.

1 Like

I’m going to strongly disagree with this. To me, trying to jump into a grammar book was more overwhelming than just coming here every day and learning new kanji. I just recently started grammar and I’m able to focus on the actual grammar instead of trying to figure out what those strange little hieroglyphs mean.
Everyone has their own way of learning and sometimes it’s trial and error to figure out what works for you.


ahem ahem

@jatedesigns, here’s a very quick way of understanding what the hell is learning Japanese:

You need to study (think of this as theory classes):

  • Hiragana, katakana, kanji.
  • Vocabulary (on WK and outside WK).
  • Grammar.

You need to practice (think of this as practice classes):

  • Reading.
  • Writing.
  • Listening.
  • Speaking.

WK teaches you:

  • Kanji (2017 kanji)
  • Vocabulary (Around 6000).

The main focus of WK is on kanji however. Each kanji has several ways of being read, which will be present in vocabulary. By learning kanji and then learning vocabulary that uses those same kanji (readings), you’ll be reinforcing the kanji.

Now, this seems like a big project… and it is. But it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to manage. Good news: you control your pace. Do you have 20 mins/day to give to Japanese? Great! Start there.

For the typical beginner it is recommended to:

  • Learn hiragana first and foremost.
  • Then start with Wanikani (for kanji - knowing kanji will allow you to be able to read words).
  • Figure out a textbook that works for you.

First, you need to give a little focus on learning the theory. Only then, you can start putting it into practice. It’s like building a house. You need to figure out some stuff first, but then practice makes it perfect :ok_hand:

Here’s some resources:

  • Hiragana: Tofugu’s Guide for Hiragana
  • Katakana: Tofugu’s Guide for Katakana.
  • Kanji: this is it - Wanikani.
  • Vocabulary: Wanikani and for vocab outside of Wanikani, I recommend Kitsun.
  • Grammar: Japanese Ammo with Misa (youtube channel), then Tae Kim’s Guide (free online textbook). For physical books, there’s Genki, Japanese from Zero series, etc. People will surely give you some perspectives on which to choose here.
  • To find language partners: Hellotalk (app).
  • To find online tutors (also works for language partners, but main focus is teaching): iTalki (website).

There are more resources worth mentioning, but I don’t wanna put you on another roller coaster again :joy: For now, giving a look at those will give you enough to entertain yourself for a while :v:


If you take anything anyway from JP’s post, take this. You need to learn hiragana/katakana first. It’s like when learning how to make love, you need to learn how to hold hands first. It’s exactly like that.


Yes and no… I do agree if you’re a dead beginner this will be overwhelming… However… If you are willing to go slow it might not be so bad to slowly introduce WK now and I mean slow! Don’t be crazy and in a hurry to level. Also tell yourself this is a many year journey… Be realistic and honest with your goals. Realize that Japanese is not an easy language to learn (like English… Haha jk) it will make this mountain less overwhelming. Remember that while those fast learners are awesome… They are not necessarily the average WK learner :wink:

If you don’t know hiragana learn that first and then start by doing maybe 5 lessons a day while you’re still learning the basics. Hiragana is easy enough to learn and you’ll learn quickly by typing in WK! When you start getting some simple thoughts together you’ll have some Kanji skills to go with. But seriously you really need to be willing to go slow and use WK on the side. I agree with bnheise that getting some basics going and then dive into WK is important.

Personality I started WK after I was studying on my own for a few months. If I had to do it over again, I would have started WK earlier, but I mean it when I say go slow! If you know you can’t go slow don’t start WK yet…

You’ll have no time for any other learning and will be behind the 8 ball. Also when you have some existing knowledge, the characters won’t look so scary… And you’ll already know some of them!

Also the WK staff are really amazing folks and more than helpful! Better than Honda dealers :blush: they truly want you to learn and aren’t just out for cash!

Best of luck in your Japanese education!

1 Like

I started WK as more or less a “dead beginner.” I’d learned Hiragana and Katakana, and I was trying to dive into some grammar resources, but I kept getting hung up on furigana-less Kanji in the resources I was using. I felt like trying to learn the sentences and vocab and grammar while simultaneously recalling all these diverse and unrelated kanji without a foundation was too much.

So I started looking around the web, and found a opinion piece by a guy who suggested: If you want to learn Japanese, learn all 2,136 Jōyō Kanji before you even attempt grammar and vocab.

I thought to myself, you know what? Sure. I’m really struggling parsing these example sentences and grammar points because of the Kanji, so why not just nip that in the bud and come back to grammar when I’m done? I think this guy has a point.

I stumbled across WK trying to find a good Kanji-learning resource and instantly fell in love. It’s SRS (which I knew from research was a really strong method) but spoonfed to you to make it even easier. I bought a year pass almost as soon as I hit level 3.

Now, having studied WK for the better part of half a year, I don’t think I’m going to fully commit to learning all the Kanji “before I even attempt” grammar. After I hit level 6 on WK, I started watching Japanese Ammo with Misa and Japanese From Zero on YouTube. Also, I’m doing KaniWani and the kana-only vocab SRS on Torii (which is fantastic). I’m also picking up Genki this month, and slowly but surely easing my way into shadowing and speaking practice.

TL;DR: Starting with just WK is fine as long as you can comfortably read Hiragana. You can get into grammar and speaking/listening practice at your own pace.


I was scared too! But to be honest I am surprised at how quickly I’m progressing with not that much time a day. The SRS system has a different purpose, but for me it keeps me from feeling guilty that I’m not studying all day which would overwhelm me. I think this will keep me from burning out! So far, so good :slight_smile:

Definitely give the first 3 levels a try before committing, but I bet you’ll dig it! Great community too to help you through any hurdles or just keep ya company.

Good luck my friend!

1 Like

Well said!

Thank you!

I’ve gone through all of the Hiragana through Duolingo twice now, but I still have trouble reading it at a quick pace, or confuse one for another, so I’ll make sure I have that secured first! I’ll go through the Tofugu’s guide now that I know most of them to help see pictures of the ones I don’t naturally know. I’ll do the first 3 levels here to get a taste for it and have names for the radicals in my mind. I’ll try to make the most of Kitsun.io while it’s in beta and free to use. I have a few Kani card sets of Tae Kim’s guides, so I’ll try to use those. I’m not sure if Japanese Ammo with Misa would be helpful for me yet if I don’t know many words, but I’ll watch one to see. I’ll look up Genki and Japanese from Zero too, but I definitely prefer online to physical books since I work in bursts and sometimes have a chance while I’m out to learn for 30 minutes or so, and would like to capitalize on that if I can (in addition to a set time every day).

All good suggestions, will take any I can to get going in the right direction! Thank you all! (take ALL my hearts!)


I pretty much started out on wanikani as a beginner. All i had done was the first 10 lessons of Pimsleurs audio course. Then I learned hiragana and katakana and that led me here. I tried the first three levels then i got the yearend discount when it came back around. You might look into lingodeer, i use it as well as a lot of the other resources mentioned in this thread.
You mentioned that your going in september and you may be surprised by how many folks in Japan speak english but it is so cool to converse and meet people in the japanese language and it makes the trip so much better!
Have fun learning!

1 Like

I am also going to Japan for the first time in September. I do not feel anyway ready to speak Japanese. If you are just starting out and have access to a public library look for materials to help with speaking/listening such as Pimsluer CDs and a program called Mango languages for example. These will get you up to a speed on survival phrases. People seem to like Japanesepod but there was too much English for me.
While you are online, look for a textbook called Genki to learn grammar points. You should be able to get through it (not master it) by September.
Definitely stay in the WK boat as it appears to be the best way I have found to learn kanji and some vocabulary.
Also check out this thread. It looks overwhelming but just organizes a lot of the resources that you can use.

Well shoot…


The problem you had just jumping into a grammar book is because you didn’t have a vocab base to use with the grammar. Wanikani might have felt more manageable, but it was probably also not helpful for communication. You don’t get any benefit from learning kanji if you can’t use them.

Update, I learned Hiragana and Katakana and was able to pass my first Kanji lesson now that I understand the squiggles that sound out the other squiggles! I’ve got a decently high accuracy even with combined kana too thanks to making Anki cards of the Tofugu mnemonics for both.

I also bought げんき 1 based on recommendations and I’m using that to help with grammar and some vocabulary. It’s okay, but I think I want another resource that’s specifically listening based to go with it so I can put headphones in and do it while I’m getting groceries or whatever. I know there were some suggestions on this, so I’ll go back through now that I’ve gotten there.

Thanks all! I’m looking at it like a marathon, but I know how to walk at least now!


Japanese in a nutshell


This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.