How do you guys learn vocab not on WaniKani?

I’ve looked into flash card systems on the computer, but it all comes down to myself discovering word lists, manually inserting them and using a program that isn’t as simple as WaniKani. I want to start learning grammar, but I feel like I have so many simple words and phrases that aren’t Kanji (like “No” or “Welcome Home”) that I’m overwhelmed at where to start. I really wish WaniKani was my one stop shop for learning vocabulary.


Someone mentioned Iknow! here last week and I really like it. There’s a thread here about Iknow which sorts the 6000 Iknow vocab into the order of the WK lessons.


You can use pre-made decks like the core 10k (10,000 most common words).

You can either use the Anki version or use pre-made decks on various sites like, where they make reviewing and vocab/deck finding as easy as possible for you. The disadvantage of these sites is that they’re proprietary, you can’t always export your data, and if the site goes down, your progress goes down. But if you’re just looking for ease of use and don’t need the advantages of Anki (open, free, offline friendly), that’s a good way to go.

Personally, I mostly prefer adding new words I encounter to my decks myself instead of using pre-made decks, so I don’t get errors from them, and I have a sentence from media I’ve consumed to associate with it. But yes, it’s a bit of work. Though it’s just a few seconds with things like Yomichan and AnkiConnect, once you’ve set that up.

That’s really not Wanikani’s goal by the way. The vocab on WK is there to reinforce the kanji, to make it easier to remember them. That’s why some of the WK vocab is uncommon, and of course you don’t have any hiragana vocab on WK. WK is mostly for kanji. Trust me, you will already get enough reviews to work through on WK as it is (on higher levels).


I’ve never seen a request to export data rejected, it’s just not a native feature for obvious reasons. And I’ve never seen a cataclysmic event of the servers going down and erasing data…actually quite opposite, users have erased their own data and progress by accident and have it recovered. At least you have a point of contact to help with a number conditions such as this which may matter to some, others not perhaps.

As for proprietary community decks, when I post them I’d say the community now ‘owns’ the deck at that point and everyone is responsible for the upkeep and correction through the realtime feedback loop. It’s a reason why I like posting them, it’s another quality check that benefits me. When I upload anki community decks, there is always stuff I have to fix but I can’t complain because it’s free but I just end up making my own, like yourself, so I’m getting exactly what I want. I couldn’t say if the anki 10k version is kept up like the kitsun version though, it’s had a lot of community corrections since it’s original posting.

Data export requests are nice, but I said you can’t always (easily) export the data, which is still true. (Granted, most users probably don’t need that.) I did say kitsun is a good way to go, I just offered some caveats. It’s nice that errors are corrected in the decks there! (again, this is why I just make my own decks)


I use a similar SRS application that is completely free and runs on your PC called Torii SRS
You can choose what level of vocab you want to learn and set it to exclude words taught on WaniKani.
I’ve been using it for the past year and have found it perfect for learning vocab next to WK.


I really like Torii and how you can e.g. learn the most common hiragana words and words not on WK, but in the end I dropped it for similar reasons: no export. I can’t check if a word I’m adding to Anki I’ve already learned with Torii, and the other way round. The more vocab SRS you stack, the more of these issues you encounter. And Anki will always be infinitely customizable.
But if you don’t want to build a big set of vocab yourself in Anki (or an open format in general), or you don’t want to use Anki anyways anyways, absolutely, kitsun and Torii are great.


Would trying a simple Japanese course targeting beginners help you? NHK has quite a few:

I think these are frankly simpler than what you’ll find in quite a number of beginners’ textbooks, so maybe you could use these fairly interactive videos to help you start? :slight_smile:

Beyond that… I’d strongly recommend finding something that provides you with sentences (or even short, coherent texts) to study with plenty of explanation and even translations so you can learn words in a meaningful context. You can then try using some of those sentences to remember those words, which is (in my opinion) easier than memorising disembodied words whose meaning isn’t necessarily made clear by a single translation. To get such sentences and explanations, there are a few textbooks you can try (one of which I really like and used myself), but I fully understand if you’re not comfortable with/able to spend money on books right now.


I read books and use SRS websites like or to review some of the unknown words.


I should clarify, if a deck is community posted, then it’s not exportable I believe, so you are correct in that it’s proprietary at that juncture. But it’s user choice on whether sharing or not. I have personal content that is not groomed for community while others is if I want the community loop, depends what it is. Not trying to say one is better than the other either, anki has a lot of great features too so depends what a user prefers.

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I think that learning vocab is easier when it’s learned inside of a sentence, and that’s why the Tango anki decks are pretty neat. Also, I use both iKnow and Clozemaster together. Separately, neither really seem that great, but using them back-to-back is immensely useful, at least for me (using the mobile app versions vs the desktop also seems to improve efficiency for me).

Removing the Japanese from Zero mention as OP wants to focus on vocab, which is JFZ’s weakest area

@OP there are a lot of vocab training apps that are free. On an app store, type in “N5 vocab NDC” or whatever JLPT level you are looking for. The NDC Lab apps are great for drilling vocab.


Mainly by reading whatever I randomly encounter. Here’s a useful program:

This is something I’ve been kind of struggling with as well. I know WK isn’t really a great vocabulary resource, but I have yet to find anything else to supplement it that works for me. I’ve had trouble with core Anki decks in the past since I run the risk of running into words with kanji I don’t know, and that makes it a lot harder for the written form of the word to stick in my head.

I’ve heard of Torii SRS for non-kanji vocabulary, but the fact that it has no iOS app or freely available web version (currently there’s a beta web version that you can sign up for and maybe you’ll get access to it) has been a problem for me. I’m out of the house like 9-10 hours out of the day, so I can’t be prompt in doing reviews like I can be with WK. I downloaded it and tried it out, but it only took a few days before I just fell out of the habit of checking in on it.

It just makes me wish that WK could be a one-stop shop for most generally common vocabulary to at least give you a good base, because I really like its “I’ll make sure you know a kanji before showing you any words that use it” system. Learning new words commonly written in kanji would be relatively easy, and I wouldn’t have to stack up additional SRS apps and risk overwhelming myself. But alas, that’s not how it is, and I’m not really sure what else to try.


Thanks for this thread, I actually kind of struggle with this myself and will check out the few resources you have linked!

What I do takes more time than most options, I guess, but it works for me because I’m not in a hurry to learn japanese.

Whenever I read, I write down sentences that interest me in a notebook (maybe it showcases specific grammar points or vocabulary, or it contains an expression I want to learn…). Then after a couple of days I revise the sentences, I manually add them to the SRS platform I use and I put the interesting part of the sentence in bold (to signal to the mingus5x of the future what was the point of saving that sentence). Sometimes I add mnemonics to the vocab word.

I add some extra steps, but basically SRS all the way. Otherwise, I think it’s so hard to systematically pick up random words in a language that is completely different from any language you know. But different people have different talents, who knows.

  1. Listening to music and translating/matching vocab
  2. Reading, and eventually encountering the word enough damn times that I remember it
  3. Watching anime w/ JP (and Eng) subs

Music: I make a google doc and paste the lyrics into it. Then I go through that, and write in furigana for any words I don’t know the readings for. Then I paste in the translation line by line, and color code things to match for words that I don’t know, or want to reinforce. Example: LiSa 紅蓮華(ぐれんげ) (Gurenge). Earlier on, I used to make a table w/ all the kanji/vocab & their meanings.

Reading: I particularly like Satori Reader, which has curated stories, with narration, excellent grammar and culture notes, and built-in SRS. For reading light novels or manga, I’ll just look stuff up w/ Yomichan. For LNs I usually use Google Keep to grab the image text, and then c/p that into a text editor or google doc, and then run stuff through I’ll usually run it through Mokuro as well, so I can have it up in the browser. A perhaps simpler approach would be using's decks for whatever you’re trying to read (they have built-in SRS).

Anime: I watch things via Animelon, which lets you watch with simultaneous JP & Eng subs, and easily click on text for definitions, or select it & c/p it elsewhere.


I’ve looked into flash card systems on the computer, but it all comes down to myself discovering word lists, manually inserting them and using a program that isn’t as simple as WaniKani.

if you set up Yomichan in your browser, there’s a way to select words & immediately create Anki cards out of them. A little tricky to setup, but once it’s there, it’s very straight forward.

Otherwise, I did get some vocab via LingoDeer app (though the main focus is on grammar). Honestly, I wouldn’t worry about those specific words so much. Eventually you’ll encounter them enough that you’ll just remember what they mean.


This is going to be a little off-topic, buuuuut:

You’re going to find that to be a recurring issue on Apple mobile devices. It’s not a problem that’s going to go away anytime soon. I work in IT and I have seen every other platform embrace and promote a combination of virtualization and mobilazation/appification strategies that enable them to stay relevant, but Apple staunchly sticks with its locked down ecosystem.

The price of convenience is starting to catch up with Apple users as that platform has failed to innovate or even continue treading water since the departure of the only forward-looking person in the company.

Since the writing is on the wall, you may want to switch over to an Android mobile device.

I’ve been kicking around the idea of migrating away from Apple and more towards Linux/more open source and developer-friendly stuff, so whenever it’s time to get a new phone I may consider that option.

Lots of pros to it. Incidentally, Jelly Defense looks and sounds amazing emulated on Windows on a 50" screen.