Is Wanikani a must do?


It might sounds like a weird title, but, in the beginning of my wanikani adventure, I was just after some feedback from people that speaks japanese slightly, confirming that this adventure was entirely worth the effort.

I’m just checking, better be safe than sorry.


EDIT : Thanks for all the answers, How active this community is is also a reason I’ll stick to wanikani. As for myself I think have wanikani “Driving” my path to japanese is good for me as it implies steady small progress that really encourages me. One step at the time …


Hello there!

I’ve been living in Japan for a few years before starting WaniKani. So far it has absolutely been worth it. Almost every day I notice a word that I am suddenly able to understand because of WaniKani.

And it’s not that I hadn’t learned Japanese before, either. I attended formal classes for three years, which helped a lot with grammar and conversation, but WaniKani has been giving my vocab (both oral and written) a HUGE boost.

Loving it.


I don’t live in Japan, and the Wanikani system is the best thing I’ve found for really learning to read Japanese!

Of course you can instead learn kanji from kanji-learning books, pre-made Anki decks, or just through general exposure – but I found those took a lot more effort on my part, and I was also learning much slower (I’m not in Japan so only got exposure through classes and Netflix subtitles).

Wanikani teaches how to recognize and sound out kanji in different words - so you learn multiple readings for each kanji, in a way that’s immediately useful! :slight_smile: And it’s gamified, which makes it fun to progress.


As much as I don’t want to say you must do WaniKani, I’d strongly recommend it if your goals involve being able to read Japanese. If you really want to focus on listening and speaking this might not be the resource for you, but for anyone who generally wants to learn the language, this program gives you a major boost up on learning Japanese. It makes so many other pieces of the language puzzle snap into place a lot more easily.


If you want to remember kanji with long-term memory so that reading Japanese will become as natural and effortless as reading your mother tongue, then yes, either WaniKani or creating your own pneumonics of some sort is necessary. And WaniKani saves SO much time and effort over creating your original memory tricks for 2000 kanji. Without the deep learning that using pneumonics and SRS enables, it’s very easy to forget how to read kanji and/or all your vocabulary words. It’s also easy to confuse similar kanji or slack on learning irregular readings.

Is WK necessary? No. Is it the fastest, most effective, and most fun way I’ve found to learn 2000 kanji? Absolutely (and that’s in 4 years of high school Japanese classes, 3 years of college classes, and 1 year of self study).


Nice to meet you! I really hope you’d like it here and would stay with us!

Is WK worth it or not? Well, that depends on the person. Different methods of study work for different people. I’ve actually seen a person who prefers to learn words by searching each and every word in the dictionary…
Most people, however (at least, most people I know, including myself), find having to search every single word in the dictionary to be extremely inconvenient. It’s so much easier to read Japanese texts when you know at least half of the words and kanji! And WK is a very convenient tool for that!

Also, another great thing about WK is that it helps form a study routine. It’s very important to study every day. I’ve read that even studying for half an hour every day is better than studying for 8 hours once a week. While the former provides less studying hours (half an hour * 7 days is 3.5 hours per week), it helps our brains concentrate on studying. And WK encourages you to do reviews every day!

So, I’d say that unless you are one of those very few people for whom SRS in general doesn’t work, you’d find WK very useful.

Anyway, you’ve already subscribed, so I’d recommend to keep studying at least until your subscription ends. By that time you should have a good idea yourself about how effective or not the WK method is for you and whether it would be worth to continue subscription.
In any case, best of luck with your studies!


Excuse me while I grab my tissues.


what a lovely typo. this is exactly how i sometimes feel while doing my lessons! thanks for a great start of my day!

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yay we’re the same level! by any chance are you also learning french? or did i read too much into the “merci”

I am not in japan or been there before. I think the reading part of japanese is more difficult (aka more time consuming) because of kanji of course. And since this has been real fun journey so far myself and for many others. I surely don’t regret it. So to answer the question. I don’t think it has to be a must do for everybody. But for me if i hadn’t started it i am sure that i would have given up on japanese again.

Personally, I don’t imagine how non-Japanese people are studying kanji without Wanikani! I might’ve given up altogther without a system to structure my studies and automated quizes.

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If it works for how you learn and think. For me it’s been very useful for reading, understanding, and improving vocabulary. By itself it won’t be very useful but is excellent (worth the effort) when combined with multiple learning methods.

I don’t want to be THAT guy but someone has to:
As much as I personally love WK and would absolutely recommend it, after all I bought the lifetime subscription, if you really want multiple varying opinions on this topic you shouldn’t just rely on the WK forum for obvious reasons.

Otherwise - a MUST do? Certainly not.
Absolutely recommended, fun and efficient? In my opinion yes.


hehe i made the same mistake several weeks ago

DEFINITELY worth it. I’ve been studying Japanese for years (I kinda stopped using Wanikani when I reached level 60 about a year ago - but I came back this year just for the sake of getting everything burned ^^) and I’m currently in my final uni year to become a professional translater.

I could not imagine my Japanese learning journey without Wanikani. Everyone is always impressed at my knowledge of Kanji (I even corrected my Japanese boyfriend one or two times!). Wanikani enabled me to keep up with the rhythm when I was in a Japanese school surrounded by Chinese people, and today (in France) I can tell I know my kanji readings a lot better than my translation teacher…

Anyway, it looks like I’m bragging a bit… But maybe I’m allowed to after all the work I’ve done to reach this point ? ^^ (because yes - keeping at Wanikani until level 60 requires a huge amount of dedication, probably for years)

So yes, Wanikani is definitely a must for me! If one is serious about learning Japanese, one can not get away from Kanjis… And I believe Wanikani just gives a great framework to tackle them.
Actually, I always recommend it to beginner friends, and I feel so frustrated when they get blocked by the pricing or whatever other reason - because I know they just don’t realize how awesome it is yet… I really think it’s the one tool one should really invest in for their Japanese!

But then of course, as I said it requires some crazy level of dedication to follow through, and it’s not for everyone… But it’s been amazing for me for sure :slight_smile:

(sorry for the long post - got passionate there :stuck_out_tongue: )


Wanikani is a bit like having a personal trainer at the gym. It costs money, and technically they don’t do anything for you that you couldn’t do yourself with enough knowhow and equipment. But they also provide structure, encouragement, and feedback, so that all you really have to do is show up on schedule and work.

A personal trainer is a bit more useful than Wanikani, now that I think about it. WK is a pretty “dumb” system that presents itself to everyone in the same way. But the analogy still works.

I’m in my 40s. I’m by no means rich, it’s debatable whether I’m even in the middle class (my basic metric for that is either home ownership or an adequate pension, and I have neither). But if it costs me less than $1000 to learn a language to at least a “goofy racial stereotype” level and have a solid foundation to improve on my own, that’s something I can afford. You might not feel the same way, I don’t know.

As far as whether kanji is worth learning… if you’re going to learn Japanese, I think you ought to. Aiming for illiteracy might be easier, but it’s utterly nonsensical. My main exposure to written Japanese right now is Youtube comments (weird, I know) and although I still can’t read a lot of them, kanji has gone from something that’s completely impenetrable (unless I want to pore over a dictionary for every one) to something that I can sometimes understand. Considering I’m 1/7th of the way through this course, I find that encouraging.

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Lot of good advice here in the comments, and I agree with it all and I particularly agree with @xplo and the personal trainer analogy …I started WK after six years living in Japan and its been fun so far, I think its one of the best ways out there to learn kanji…(and I’ve tried many methods). A close friend of mine who currently lives in Japan once started his kanji journey with so much vigour, however, he barely studies anymore. Perhaps like myself, he got bored or disheartened by other self-study methods. Anyway, fast-forward to now, and I asked him to give WK a shot if he really wants to learn kanji. He replied with “No way am I going to spend that much money on a stupid SRS programme that I wont use”. For my friend, he couldn’t see the value of having a programme lay-out your kanji study plan. For him, its not worth the money. So it all depends on how much you value WK to be. I see the fee as a sunk cost to your studies, textbooks aren’t free, and good learning resources like WK should be considered part of your learning costs. Maybe in a year and a half my friend will laugh at me, or maybe I will be laughing at him when I get my reading fluency significantly higher. Its all your choice, but I highly recommend this programme if you can dedicate your life, for at least a year, of everyday, committed study.

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i totally agree with that! it makes learning easier, i recommend everybody to start learning kanji from day 1, and WK is the way to keep it fun and structured.

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I live in Japan and Wanikani has helped me a lot. I can read many words on signs that I wouldn’t have known otherwise.

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I’m actually french ^^

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