Is it worth it

Will it be worth it or not highly depends on your advantages and shortages in learning. But compared to other resources WaniKani has some mechanics, that works better.

I learned Japanese in class, where we study speaking a lot, but reading text wasn’t a priority. And also I’m watching a lot of anime with subtitles. So, listening is not a problem for me, and speaking is OK. I have a lack of reading knowledge, and electronic resources are really good to make it better.

I have tried Anki, but, because there is no need to print answer be yourself, it is quite simple to abuse it, even unintentionally. As a result, kanjis can be forgotten fast. Think Anki is good for repeating, but not so good at learning.

Also tried some other services, where user should type the answer by himself, but that always was sooo, repetitive, and with so many unnecessary parts. I don’t think that I want to recognise words by listening (at least for now) and recall kanji by kana (it’s not make sense for me). Compared to these, WaniKani has just that parts, what I need, I can done lessons fast, and recalling kanjis at good rate.

WaniKani also has a few disadvantages for my taste, but they can be easily avoided.
I don’t like all these radicals, that not really a radicals. And that names often isn’t the same as wide-known, so I have added a synonyms.
Think, I would prefer to learn “a radical + few kanji + few words with these kanji, repeat”, rather than “radicals, kanjis, words, repeat”. But WaniKani’s way is OK too. May be it is better at something, but I don’t know it yet.


Remembering the Kanji is a fairly famous resource you could try out as an alternative, but it involves buying books which are fairly pricey themselves.

Personally I would pay for a month of WaniKani to see whether you find it effective before shelling out for a book, especially as in many ways WaniKani builds on the methods of Remembering the Kanji.

Memrise and iKnow are alternative flashcard sites which might have decks for learning kanji, but I don’t know for sure. iKnow is also a paid service anyway (and Memrise is… partially free??).


Sure. At first I tried using Anki decks, as others have mentioned. This was great at drilling common kanji that I had already been familiarised with, but as soon as it got even slightly advanced it became very hard for me to learn kanji on it’s own without context. By this I mean an Anki card would show me a single kanji and it’s readings, but very little examples of words and sentences of its usage.

To try to combat this I started writing kanji on grid paper, along with it’s readings and then a few common examples of words, prefferably paired with kanji that I already knew. This method was actually very effective but as you can probably see at this point, I ended up doing almost exactly what WaniKani already does, but just at a snails pace compared to the capability of WaniKani.

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As someone who just reached level four and chose to subscribe, I understand the decision you have to make. I think premium is worth it for me because WaniKani seems to be such an effective self-study tool for kanji. I don’t have the time or money to go back to school right now, so classes aren’t an option.

That being said, you need to decide if WaniKani has been worthwhile for you before subscribing.

Since you seem concerned about the cost of WaniKani, I imagine you’re looking for free resources. Unfortunately, most resources for learning Japanese (textbooks, etc.) aren’t going to be free. One exception is Tae Kim’s guide. You can buy a physical copy of his book to support him, but he’s generously put the contents of his guide online:

I’d start there, but investing in a textbook and/or workbook wouldn’t be a bad idea. You can also consult the Ultimate Additional Japanese Resources list that was already posted. :slight_smile:


Worth it. I started studying grammar systematically only a short time ago (with bunpro), but the upside is that I’m able to read the kanji and know a lot of the vocab already.


Ha! We are a completely biased group of course. I would say your commitment and trust in the system is much more important than our opinion.

To be completely transparent in case you have a tight budget, there a ton of users that drop out (see borrowed chart from the Ultimate Users Guide which is a good read, chart date unknown). There are many different reasons people leave but I would say the SRS time commitment is probably a big one. So like a gym membership, many sign up but don’t use it (but it’s not necessarily due to the quality of the product).


You’ve done three levels so far. How do you feel about it? Do you feel like you’re learning stuff? Is it keeping you motivated? Are there things that do not work well for you that might be reason for finding a different system?

The big benefit of WK for me is the fact that everything is put together in a package that makes the studying very straightforward and simple:

  • The material is ordered so it builds on itself: first you learn simple pieces (radicals), then you learn kanji that are made of those pieces, then you learn vocabulary that is made out of those kanji.
  • It only “unlocks” new items after you’ve learned all the pieces you need for them.
  • The mnemonics are amusing
  • I find the gamification aspect to be motivating.
  • I also find the interface really comfortable (I can’t stand Anki but love WK. Why? Who knows!)
  • Something about it just makes doing reviews really easy, I’ll do 5 minutes on the computer or a few rounds on my phone even on days when I’m too busy to do any other studying.

In theory you can find most of the individual pieces for free (SRS flashcard programs, mnemonics, dictionaries that list radicals). But it would be an incredible amount of work to put all that together on your own.

Basically WK is like paying for a gym membership so you can have structured classes and professional equipment versus saving your money and exercising at home by lifting heavy household objects or small children. (I do the latter BTW, so no insult to home-exercisers!) You have to decide which makes more sense for you.

(Full disclaimer: I’m not a lifetime member but I do have a monthly discount from back when Textfugu was still a thing.)


I would say WK has something most other methods I’ve tried (and still currently use) lacks, which is a stable and steady increase in content as you progress. It also teaches me the readings along with the meaning, which is also something I don’t do with other methods. It’s been worth it, for me, but I wouldn’t just do WK.


As someone who has tried so many different methods of learning kanji and vocabulary, I’d say WaniKani and Bunpro are probably the best investments you can make.

It seems WaniKani is very well designed to progress in a logical way that makes sense. What I mean by this is:

  1. The way they group kanji together and then introduce vocabulary using the kanji you’ve just learned.
  2. The mnemonics they use to help you remember readings (I thought this was so dumb in the beginning, but I see its maybe the only way to learn)
  3. The hardass SRS system which despite seeming slow at first just does an awesome job of making sure the stuff sticks in your head.
  4. Having access to where it literally predicts how long it will take you to reach your goal, so you can stop worrying about anything and just focus on studying daily.

I will likely buy a year subscription. Actually, I think I’ll go do that right now.


And there we go, done!


I believe that so much I had to “shout” it out. Lol.
I’ve never found another method that has helped the kanji to stick.


Obviously people who have stuck around on the site will be biased, but I think it’s the single best resource for learning to read kanji for native (or fluent) English-speakers. It’s very hands-off so long as you just clear out your queue every day, which clears mental space for other study, and I’ve found the way it introduces and drills kanji incredibly effective. I recommend all Japanese learners at least check it out.

However, if you don’t find it’s right for you with your current place in learning, or if its methods just don’t click with you personally, that’s totally fine. Everyone’s different. If you’ve liked the first three levels, though, it’s more of the same from there out.

For the past two years, I’ve used Wanikani in tandem with JLPT book series (N3-N1) as my main source of learning, and within the last year have also used iKnow for additional vocabulary pickup (think WK, but focused on vocab). Took the N1 this month and actually had a non-zero chance of passing. (I think I might have just missed it on listening.) So I can only offer that, personally, it’s been part of a productive learning routine for me. But if you prefer other methods (books or other courses), more power to you. Commitment is more important than the specific resources you choose.


Is there anything like Anki that makes you write out your answer? Anki simply just asks you how well you know it. I never know how well I know it! I am looking for something like wanikani but for JLPT.

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There is one thing especially good on WK vs other methods of learning kanji I’ve tried.

It keeps updating and doesn’t throw your progress away like anki decks do when you see that new shiny deck that has all the nice features but you are already 600 cards into your current one. Also, userscripts allow improvement of product outside development cycle and you can pick and choose what you like and even develop your own if you really want something done.

I think one year membership and studying every day will take you to level 30 or so, then you can think if you need another year or not.


Check out Torii SRS.

Bunpro Check out for grammar. Absolutely worth it (and a month free trial)

The JLPT is multiple-choice, but being able to choose out of four options isn’t the best at measuring fluency.


I’d say yes- I did traditional College Japanese classes, sone some self study and this, and this by far has been the most effective at 1) maintaining consistency of Japanese study and 2) gaining significant kanji knowledge and vocab. Its really allowed me to explore other avenues of Japanese learning and just get better at it.
I bought the lifetime because I’m not on any deadlines and am taking my time, but… I know about 500 kanji more than I did when I started. Which is significant success!



It is worth it.

My recommendations for the speaking/grammar bit are a bit unorthodox but it is how I learned Japanese.

First: Read through Tae Kim. Don’t care if you understand it, just read through it and do all the exercises as fast as possible. Say every Japanese sentence out loud multiple times, and take notes. If it doesn’t all stick then just keep going though it until you finish the whole thing.

Next: Find a nice chatroom that is pretty much 100% Japanese. Lurk. Lurk and read the conversation until you can keep up with it without too much trouble looking all the words up in a dictionary. Reread Tae Kim while you do this still saying the sentences out loud and such.

Next: When you can keep up with the conversation start taking pieces of it and saying them out loud. Read the conversations out loud for real. Take careful note of when people use what word for what thing. Proper word usage is the hardest bit of Japanese and all that really takes is practice and observation. At this point you can keep rereading Tae Kim’s Guide, or move on to IMABI or An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese Grammar or whatever. Keep doing all the exercises and saying the sentences out loud.

Next: Keep studying your grammar resources, but this is for when you can keep up comfortably and say Japanese words at a pretty normal pace. Join in the conversation. Do text only for awhile, and then start listening in on voice calls. Shadow people as they speak in voice calls.

Finally: Speak Japanese with the people. Try to get them to correct you as much as possible, play video games, watch movies, enjoy using it but USE IT. USE YOUR JAPANESE. Join the bookclubs.

Anyway, if you do that it could work for you. It worked okay for me. At least so far. Good luck!


Yes. I bought Lifetime the first day I found the website. I think any of the WK Account Subscription Plans are well worth the cost. Plenty of content to keep you busy for hours here at WK. Supplement your learning with textbooks / classes / travel / etc. as you likely already know, WK is not the definitive way to learn Japanese.

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