How can I utilize/manage my JP Learning resources effectively?

Hi everyone! (/・ω・)/

This is my first post here, so please pardon me if I accidentally breach any community etiquette! Also please pardon my really long post, I got a little passionate while writing this ;3;

I’ve been doing an obsessive amount of research for the last five days on various methods/techniques/resources for learning Japanese, and learned about many wonderful resources such as RTK, KKLC, KaniDamage, Tae Kim’s Guide, Renshuu, AJATT, Anki, Memrise, WaniKani, KaniWani, BunPro, and more!

Through my research I’ve learned that there doesn’t seem to be much consensus on a ‘best’ way to learn Japanese, but rather it seems to be more of a ‘best way for a given individual’, with different people having more or less success with various techniques and resources.

It’s with this in mind that I’ve gathered a pool of resources, that based on my research and knowing myself, I think may be good leads for my foray into learning Japanese!

I was hoping that perhaps some kind educated/experienced individuals might be able to help give me advice on how I can use my resources, or whether any of them may be redundant, or may know of any advice for how to use them effectively or in tandem!

Without further ado these are the resources I currently have:

  • Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji (RTK): I got this book, but upon further research I think I’m going to exchange it for KKLC.

  • Conning’s Kodansha Kanji Learner’s Course (KKLC): After some research I feel that this book is better suited to my needs/learning style than Heisig’s RTK, since I like the additional information and the fact that Mnemonics are provided for all of the Kanji rather than only the first 500. I worry that KKLC may ‘clash’ with WaniKani however.

  • Genki I & II: I have both Genki I & II, as well as their accompany’s work books. I know that master Koichi has recommended waiting until level 10 to start an introductory text, finish by level 20, and then between 20-30 complete a intermediate text. I’m not sure if Genki I & II are both considered ‘introductory’, or if Genki II would be better for consideration as the ‘intermediate’ text for levels 20-30, since about 3 months per 10 level seems reasonable for a dedicated student that studies multiple times a day; which would give you 12 weeks for 12 genki chapters, or 1/week if you split Genki I to levels 10-20, and Genki II to levels 20-30.

  • WaniKani (WK) & WK-Supporting Material: I really like WaniKani. I’m new to it, but I’m a strong visual learner with access to a PC, a lot of free time, and am constantly digitally connected. The additions of things like KaniWani, and various 3rd party support make this extremely attractive to me, especially since I’m a digital person; I spend a lot of time on the computer or otherwise digitally connected, using it for school, work, and recreation. Unless something happens between now and hitting level 3 on WK to make me suddenly despise the system for some reason, I currently plan for this to be my main ‘foundation’ for Kanji & Vocab until I get to the point where I can begin consuming native material (at which point I’ll supplement it).

  • Anki: I know there are… staggering amounts of incredibly useful decks. I currently have an Anki Deck for Genki I & II, and BreadStickNinja’s WK Expansion (which I plan to start when I hit level 2 since I don’t have enough context to begin it yet). I also know about (but don’t have) a few different WK decks, a couple KKLC decks, Kanji Odyssey, and Core 10k, though I don’t understand enough about what makes a quality deck, or how I should choose decks yet to make any decisions on many Anki decks yet. I’m still at the stage where the sheer amount of content for Anki overwhelms me and I’m still trying to figure out how to pick useful decks.

  • Memrise: I know about BreadstickNinja’s HelloWaniKani (but again don’t know enough about its purpose yet to know if I need it). I also know about the KKLC Memrise course as well. I have a little experience with Anki, but I have zero experience with Memrise.

  • BunPro: I know that the premise of this site is to use SRS for Grammar, and it sounds extremely promising. I know it has links to various things like Tae Kim’s guide, and references to book numbers in Genki. I would really like to use this, especially since it seems like a natural pair for WaniKani in that they share similar formats, though I have absolutely no idea how pace myself on this (so I guess I need to do more research on it). Paying for it’s premium service isn’t a problem, so I’m OK with that.

  • Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese: I know about this website. I’ve heard that it’s best served as a supplementary grammar learning resource, and I’m totally okay with that. I would like Genki & BunPro (which has links to Tae Kim) to be my foundation.

  • EtoEto: if this ever comes out during my foray into learning Japanese, I think I’ll definitely be interested in trying it. :stuck_out_tongue:

A little about myself:

  • I am a university student
  • I don’t mind paid services
  • I have a lot of exposure to Japanese media on a regular basis
  • I have access to native speakers
  • I have studied Japanese a little in the past but have no problem starting over as a primarily self-learner
  • I plan to take some supplementary Japanese courses at my University (Utilizing Genki)
  • I have a strong visual memory, and am a strong visual learner
  • I have poor aural learning skills
  • Convenient digital services are a major plus for me (why I really like the idea of WaniKani & BunPro)

The Plan:
Currently my plan is to focus on WaniKani until level 10, at which point I’d begin learning Grammar with Genki I. Depending on how things work out with school, I might start a Japanese class in Genki I around WK level 5 (I unfortunately can’t control the timing of my university courses :frowning: ) which is a little earlier than I’d like.

Once I hit level 20, I’d like to start on Genk II and work on that during the 3 month period to level 30, at which point I plan to take Koichi’s advice of consuming unquenchable amounts of native media to supplement my progress in WK. I believe that once I get to the point of being able to begin consuming native media that my learning will begin to sustain itself as I’m an avid reader and voraciously consume media on a daily basis.

The Problem:
I’m not sure where to put in supplementary services like BunPro, KKLC, Tae Kim’s, Anki/Memrise (or anything else I may not know about) should go into my plan. Should KKLC & WaniKani be mutually exclusive? I’ve heard conflicting statements across various forums (WK forums, Koohi forums, Reddit, independent reviews, etc), with some people saying that since RTK/KKLC/WK all attempt to ‘do the same thing’ (of teaching you the Kanji), that they should be mutually exclusive. But I’ve also seen other people saying that it’s okay to mix them in certain ways. What’s worse is that almost all of the threads are old (in some cases years).

If anyone has any insight, commentary, feedback, experience, or wisdom to share concerning my pool of resources, the plan, the problem, or how to weave these resources together and use them effectively, I would absolutely love to hear what you have to say.

Thanks for your time and energy sticking through this post for the long haul, sorry it’s so massive. (´;ω;`)




Now jokes aside (sorry… it was a fairly large wall of text :sweat_smile:). why are you learning japanese? Is it you want to take your passion of reading to different horizons, manga, anime fan? etc… Basically if you’re interested in consuming media, then probably strive at reading and exposure to native content ASAP. Writting and speaking are different animals, and if not your main interest, or needed, can be dealt when your understanding it’s much more developed.

Take my advice considering I’m aiming at consuming media, reading, movies, etc… If you want to speak to your japanese friends, significant other or writting essays because you’ll be persuing a career in a japanese university… I can’t really add much there, as my 14 months with learning japanese language are not very developed in those aspects.

As for reading and watching media. First of all. Cut the extra material ASAP. Choose one method with Kanji, make a routine of it, stick to it at least for a while. The materials you’ve mentiones work in a similar fashion and mixing the basic structures (radicals or components memorization for then proceeding to mnemonics that help you visualize and learn the kanjis) of those methods they will most likely interfeer. I did 13 chapters of RTK… and then went with WK. RTK was great for learning the kanjis, but the next step on how to actually read them wasn’t that clear… and not very practical, if you want to start reading ASAP (I did).

It’s not a no no to start with grammar. Tofugu recommendation it’s more related to how easier can be if you have the most basic kanjis under your belt by then.

I’m not too keen on that advice actually as the main source of my vocab in the beginning, before I could even read anything, was my grammar resources (Genki and Jpod101). And after a short period of time (3 months) that lead to picking up my very first graded reader, which was in my case the point where studying finally became something enjoyable and I got some place to actually measure whatever I was learning.

In any case don’t delay grammar too much, and don’t waste too much time reviewing exhaustively any basic textbook. Those will perform the task of making you aware of grammar concepts that you’ll be encountering so many times, and your undertanding of those concepts will improve with exposure; some you’ll catch them right away, some will require an extra explanation in some other place… that’s all ok. So no need too do endless drillings (again, if no essays in your horizon).

Most important advice probaly would be make a routine of it. Stick to it… :+1::+1:

(you mentioned you’re keen on digital services. Don’t overdo them… as SRS based apps tend to be great in the beginning, while gradually becoming overwhelming with the workload they accumulate after some time :sweat_smile: . I’m not a fan of SRSing grmmar, but maybe using something like bunpro while you are not able to read yet could work ok. after that reading can become pretty much like SRS put on steroids :wink:)


Seems like you put a lot of thought into this! Here’s just a few points:

  1. There’s really no need to wait on grammar. I’d recommend starting right away, but if you really prefer to get some kanji under your belt first, the three free levels of WaniKani should be enough.

  2. I haven’t used Genki but many people recommend it. I would just say, don’t overwhelm yourself with too many grammar sources at first! It is really beneficial to learn from many sources as you go, but in the beginning it’s probably better to learn from a single source (except when you find something particularly confusing and want to find supporting information). If you do want to use Bunpro, I’d recommend adding the grammar points you learn in Genki as you encounter them so you can use Bunpro to reinforce them. Tae Kim is good too, and I definitely recommend you go through it eventually (probably after finishing at least all of Genki I)

  3. I’m not sure how much benefit you’d get from using a second kanji learning source like KKLC at the same time as WaniKani. They’d use (at least some) different building blocks (what WaniKani calls “radicals”) to build the mnemonics, so it could actually get confusing. Plus since the content of the book would be in a different order from WaniKani (and you can’t jump around in WaniKani), it could be difficult to use them effectively together.

  4. Last general thought: Don’t overwhelm yourself. For the most part, you don’t need to worry about Anki and Memrise as you’re just getting started (except possibly the ones with Genki vocab if you want to reinforce that).

Good luck!


I found that using different methods for remembering the kanji is an aspect where variety does NOT help. In started out using RTK befor Wanikani and I still sometimes get confused.


My advice: stop wasting your time finding the “optimal” thing and just do something :upside_down_face:



I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I know it’s a lot! (´;ω;`)

I just get really excited and passionate and I end up typing a lot sometimes! ヾ(。>﹏<。)ノ゙

Thanks a lot everyone for your advice, I really appreciate it!

@Ncastaneda I am in your same boat a bit I think; the main thing I want to do is consume native materials; anime, manga, light novels, video games, music, etc.

I’d also really like to be able to play Japanese online games (like FFXIV on a JP DataCenter) and socialize with people in Japanese. So consuming Japanese material and socializing in Japanese online are my two main desires.

After that I’d like to learn to speak and write as well, though for myself, I definitely think that learning to hand write is the least important, since if I were to ever live in Japan, it’s still several years away.

@seanblue Thanks a lot for your feedback, based on your points and everyone’s feedback I think I’m probably not going to order the KKLC book (and just return the RTK book), and just focus on using WaniKani for my Kanji source for now. I might pick up KKLC one day down the road when I’m ready to start learning writing or something, but I think for now I’ll just focus on WK as my main Kanji resource.

One question I do have however is that you said in point #4 to not worry too much about Memrise/Anki yet; how can I recognize when it might eventually be time to start looking into them?

I guess based on the feedback so far these are the revisions to my plan:

  • Drop KKLC/RTK and focus on WaniKani for now (I would consider picking up KKLC again eventually when I was comfortable with my current work load and had more experience to make a wise decision on if it would be helpful)
  • Start Genki I soon, but take it at a comfortable pace (maybe like a chapter a week or something), and reinforce it with the Workbook, Anki deck for specific Vocab, as well as BunPro (which also includes links to Tae Kim’s Guide) to reinforce its grammar points
  • worry about Anki (outside of the Genki reinforcement) & Memrise sometime later

I’ve seen many people who’ve been stuck around the same level on Wanikani for like months at a time. So my incredibly boring answer is always: pick one primary resource to work on every single day, then pick a second resource to work on when you have energy.

There’s a ton of stuff in Japanese, and you can’t make meaningful progress on all of it at once. Just pick a single thing (kanji, grammar, reading, speaking, etc.) and make sure you chip away at it every day. Trying to do a divide and conquer thing is a waste of time, and it’s rare to see anyone succeed. Anyway gl buddy


Thank you very much!

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What exactly do you mean by this? Can you do the grammar points in BP out of order? Or do you just mean something like adding extra sentences from Genki to the SRS?

This is basically what I recommend as well :slight_smile:

What I wanted to add: there is a real danger of getting lost in too many resources. Say you start with WK, and there is a constant nagging feeling that RTK would be so much better. Even some guy on the internet said it was better. Then you hit a rough patch in WK, in the worst case switch, just to discover that other methods are not 100% fun either.

Another issue is to tweak stuff prematurely, like messing with the settings in Anki for example. You will spend more time tweaking and evaluating than learning.


I’m going to actually write in support of using KKLC in conjunction with WK. KKLC has been incredibly useful to me even while primarily using WK, mostly because it provides far superior kanji mnemonics to WK. I almost never do WK kanji lessons without KKLC open beside me. After ‘finishing’ WK, I intend to go back through KKLC in a bit more depth because I think there’s a lot to be gleaned from it as a resource.


My motto is “the best learning resource is the one you can consistently stick to”. Do something and do something with regularity. Do a couple things with regularity. I use wanikani, speak Japanese almost daily (I live in Japan), write in and read in Japanese daily, and listen to Japanese daily even when I don’t leave the house. Occasionally, I study grammar using JLPT sensei since I’m aiming for the N2. I also take Japanese class once a week.


@acm2010 I definitely agree with your point about getting lost in too many resources. I really really don’t want to do that. I’d like spend my time productively, and not be swamped by 9 million things. I also have the problem that I’m currently on summer break and have nothing to do for the next 1.5 months until school starts again, so I’m really eager to put this time to use xD I’ll take your words to heart; WK fits my learning and information consumption style really well, so I’ll be careful to make sure I commit. Thanks for the feedback!

@reichter You are… I think the second or maybe third person that I’ve seen recommending balancing the two (the other two I found during my research). I definitely think that I’ll keep my eye on KKLC though. What do you think of it as a ‘learning to write’, resource? Also have you tried the associated graded readers?

@smarcks Thank you very much! I’ll do my best to be consistent! Thank you for the advice and telling me about your own experiences! (≧∇≦)/

KKLC recommends handwriting the kanji as a part of the learning process, and it provides stroke orders. I’m not sure that you need much else aside from pen and grid paper to start practicing your writing. I looked at the graded readers. They certainly can’t hurt to have, but they’re a bit pricey for me, and you can learn effectively from other resources.


@reichter Alright, that’s good to know. Thanks a lot, I’ll definitely keep it in mind while moving forward. n.n

Oh, something (unrelated to KKLC) that I forgot to add: You’ll learn a lot from the college course if you wind up taking that. It and WK together will probably be sufficient to get your legs under you. After that you can start reading native material (you only need some kanji, basic grammar, and a bit of patience) and figure out what areas of the language you’d like to focus in on and do targeted studying from there.


Awesome, thanks a lot! I’m really looking forward to it. :3

I love how passionate you are with learning the language! I can relate… :smiley:
Okay, but starting out do NOT overwhelm yourself with all those resources. Let the resources you use build up with the momentum you create learning from your first couple resources. I suggest keeping a list of the resources you would like to eventually get in to, but only choose 2 in the beginning. I’m not kidding.
There is a philosophy out there held by those uber effective (and naturally successful) people that success comes from focusing on One Thing at time. You ask yourself this question: What is the ONE thing I can do now that will improve [insert: my Japanese] the most? And then you do that and focus your energy 100% on that and you will improve leaps and bounds in the area that is apparently most influential on your jonurney to fluency. Please check this book out: The One Thing.
Also, I don’t think you should be using 2 kanji resources at a time. Why would you? They both teach you kanji choose one (WaniKani) and let that be it. The key is to make the process of learning Japanese as simple as possible so you can do it without thinking everyday. I suggest choose WaniKani because the One Thing you have to do is login everyday (get the app if you ahven’t already (WK) and complete your readings throughout the day. When you get your lessons, I heard from a lvl 60-er that you should do them ALL AT ONCE. You’ll be studying kanji everyday as a side-affect and you don’t even have to try.
As far as the grammar resources go… TaeKim is the best in my opinion (do the Grammar guide). If you’re gonna be doing Genki at uni, study that textbook as part of your classes you don’t need to study it twice, you know. I say that out of all the grammar resources TaeKim is the best beause it’s intuitive! It teaches you how Japanese use Japanese. All other textbooks and even language school teaches stuff like 〜ます、です、じゃありません first and then you go outside and listen to Japanese talking day to day and you have no idea what they’re saying because they are speaking casually (タメ語). TaeKim puts an emphasis on this casual from of Japanese from the beginning which makes for sense because Japanese, as children, don’t learn formal Japanese first, they pick it up. but TaeKim also covers formal Japanese when it makes sense. It’s just, with TaeKim, he goes through grammar points rather quickly, you’re going to have to find ways of practicing them on your own.
And don’t forget your app resources!!! Get Tandem, it’s a video calling app that connects you to a native speaker of the language you choose, you can chat in a messenger, and organise a call time. It’s perfect for speaking practice.
As for the decks or flashcards. PLEASE check out the FluentForever method first ( Those decks you can download are all will and good but you don’t actually learn a language by using english definitions or picture definitions chosen by other people. You have to make your own deck with Anki. PLEASE CHECK THAT WEBSITE OUT. The dude who created it is also making an app that will serve as it’s own anki deck, voice record search, and image search. Japanese will be added to it by the end of the year. I just use Anki for now.
And I’m using BunPro at the moment, I wouldn’t say you’ll learn anything from it persay, but it’s a good checker to see where you are in the JLPT levels which is great.

All in all, only use WaniKani, TaeKim’s grammar guide, Tandem, and an Anki deck using FluentForever’s method. As you said, you’ll use the Genki’s at uni. Use all those resources WITH the deck so you make sure you put the grammar you learn in the SRS.
Step 1: Check out FluentForever



I am also using the KKLC, but it’s not really necessary. It’s great for finding better mnemonics or get a better view of a kanji by looking from different angles. But if you end up doing everything twice it’s a waste of your time. (I only use it occasionally now, there is a huge difference in motivation for WK vs a book, not only the content matters! Also, as you noticed there are lots of nice userscripts for WK as well.)

You already have a nice goal, just do a step or two everyday and surprise yourself how far you have come. Looking ahead will just freak you out by seeing how much you don’t know yet.


Yeah! For now I’m going to focus on WK, though since (at least currently) I have an over abundance of free time, and WK only takes up a few minutes of my day each day, I’m going to try and find something else to begin filling my time with. I just need to figure out if that’s gonna be Genki, Tae Kim’s, or BunPro, or some mixture of them.

Though I have so much free time (literally 18 hours a day until school starts again, I have effectively 0 obligations), I want to use it, but I don’t want to get in over my head or dig myself into a hole. So I guess now I’ll start poking around at Genki/Tae/Bun to see if one seems like a most natural fit for me for now for grammar ^.^

I’ll also have to start looking into WaniKani scripts to see if anything sticks out (though if anyone knows of any that are particularly useful I’d love to learn about them!).

Thanks so much!