How important is learning vocab outside of wanikani?

Obviously when I see new vocab I will go and learn it but does wanikani teach enough where using a program (such as tori srs) for vocab isn’t really necessary? I am mainly learning Japanese for my interest in literature so It isn’t too hard to look up new vocab.

You will have to learn vocab outside WK one way or another.
WK only covers vocab in order to reinforce readings of kanji, not to actually teach you vocab.
That said a bunch of it will still prove useful.

Personally i dont supplement with any particular ressource, i just keep a dictionary handy when reading. I find that covers it well enough all things considered.


Thanks for the reply!

In my experience despite Wanikani having a lot of vocab in their system they teach, many of them aren’t super useful or even taught very well. You’ll definitely need to supplement vocab studying outside of WaniKani for sure.


Yes you’ll definitely need to learn vocabulary outside of Wanikani. For starters there are lots of words that don’t have any kanji, including lots of common onomatopoeia words. I’ve enjoyed using the Pass JLPT decks on Anki, starting with the N5 deck. If it’s a word I’ve already learned on Wanikani I’ll either suspend it, or let it reinforce the Wanikani learning if it’s a word I’m less confident with.


I highly recommend doing some immersion learning on the side, of any type of media that you happen to like. It will both complement you with vocab for everything WK does not cover, but also help you better remember the stuff that WK do teach. So it’s a win-win to do some reading, anime watching, or podcast listening on your own! :slight_smile:

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As others have said, you will want to do some kind of vocab study outside of wanikani, especially since some words are only written with hiragana or katakana, never kanji, and you won’t know those (pretty basic) words if you only stick to WK. I sometimes struggle to read in hiragana only, even words I learned on WK, because my brain is so used to the Kanji version…

Part of this could just be reading, and looking up words you encounter that you don’t know. Or going through a textbook or other app that aims to teach you other Japanese skills rather than kanji only, like WK.

My best advice would be to only actively study grammar outside of Wanikani and learn vocab through books and other media. Vocabulary is best when learned in context such as children’s books, graded readers (these are fantastic), or children’s shows. I would really recommend not using another SRS to learn vocab if you can avoid it.

Stories are meaningful and provide excellent context that will help you to internalize vocabulary that otherwise would not stick. You will likely have a much easier time remembering these words when you can recall the story that you learned them from


Yes. For the reasons above also so you can learn recall for the vocabulary(recall it from memory) as they are different skills than being able to recognize a word or a kanji

I second this opinion. I tried to get into Torii, I tried putting vocabulary I encountered in Anki. It’s not working out for me at the moment, Wanikani takes up enough SRS time as is, and even then I’m really slowing down.

I just look up, what I want to know and learn on the side by brute force. If the word doesn’t come up again and again and again, it probably wasn’t that important for the moment.

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OP, everyone here keeps saying “you should learn vocab outside of wanikani” and while that’s true, don’t take that to mean you should go find more apps and study books pre-made vocab lists to rep. The best way to build your vocabulary from his point on is through context-rich, native input.

Watch an anime with Japanese subtitles on a site like where you can lookup the words you don’t know with just a click. Read some simple manga and use a dictionary app to look up the new words. Don’t just learn isolated words out of context. Listen and read lots (aim for a goal like one anime episode a day, or one manga a week), and learn the new words that come up as you do that. When I first started reading raw manga, I could easily come across over 100 new vocabulary words (including words written in kanji) in one 漫画本。The more you listen, read and look up, the lower that number will become.


I think like 4 people in this thread at least mentioned reading or “immersion” in some sense as the source of words, contrary to what this seems to suggest.

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