Is WK a viable main study resource

This type of question was probably asked before but I couldn’t find a similar topic so please bear with me :upside_down_face:

My main Japanese learning resource atm is WK. I do my reviews every day at least twice a day and level up in +/- 8 days. I sometimes read a bit of NHK easy news, every once in a while try to get ahead in Genki (10th lesson in the 1st book atm) and have (pretty lightweight) japanese class once a week, but I don’t have time for much else. So a question for people who have been doing this for a longer time and have been in a similar situation (although I appreciate everyone else’s views too) would be, do you think it is worth putting most of my study time in WK? I see already that I often hear words in my japanese class that I know I learned on WK, but without the kanji I just dont know which meaning does the ちょう or ほう or whatever belong to. I also

I admit I’m using WK as my main resource because it’s easy and convinient, I just open the app on my phone and type in stuff. I’ve learned so many kanji and new words but I’m concerned that at this rate I’ll only be able to recognize written words.

So, do you think that it is beneficial to learn many many words and kanji and only later focus on grammar, listening comprehension and the scariest: speaking? I don’t have any specific time goals as I’m learning just for fun.


Hmmm~ I’m going to be completely useless and say: it depends?

Given how you take classes and work through genki books, there is no point in mentioning how many things WK doesn’t teach you. There is always a huge case to be made to do WK in conjunction with grammar, reading native materials, and finding tutors or speaking partners. That way you wouldn’t end up with scary holes in parts of your proficiency.

But life is life, right? There isn’t always physical time or mental energy to do it all.

If you’re unable to keep a perfectly balanced study pattern like that, I’d say it’s eminently fair to be focussing more on WK first. Better to have one-side learning than burning out on the “perfect” blend, ね? ^^

I think the biggest risk this way is: forgetting things again.

Try to incorporate a way to be using WK knowledge as much as you can. Long term memory or not, your brain won’t be able to retain a word that it never gets to use. So try to at least incorporate native reading and listening when possible. You can’t forget Japanese you never learned, but it would be a shame to put so much time and effort into WK only to blank on 川 when you run into it at level 60.

Good luck!


Not at all.

Which isn’t to say it’s a bad resource–it’s an amazing one. But it’s just for reading kanji (and vocab as a bonus, though I’d caution against it being a main source for that too, due to being structured around the difficulty of its kanji rather than usage frequency for the order it introduces words in, and introducing a lot of fancy jukugo words due to … being a kanji site … without doing a full breakdown of their nuances for daily use – which is fine because, again, kanji site).

Try to balance your time between grammar, vocab and kanji, and consider them all equally important and different aspects of getting a Japanese foundation. Of those three, at the early levels, I might even say kanji is the least important–though it’ll get you reading faster, which is essential to get over the hurdle of intermediate Japanese.

–(N2-certified, for reference; minored in Japanese but then didn’t touch it for six years, and went from <N3 to N2 in a year through self study living in Japan)

Like, be reasonable with what you can do, obviously, but tl;dr for the topic, no, I would not call WK a viable main resource.


I sort of used WaniKani as my main resource until lvl 30.

You become really good at recognizing kanji of course but I still couldn’t properly read Japanese since I didn’t focus on kana only vocab, grammar etc.
My listening skills where nonexisent as well.

The good news is that going into grammar and vocab study was incredibly easy and smooth due to the removal of kanji struggle.

Listening is a whole other story and kanji did not help me in any way in that area.


Yeah I am afraid of forgetting too much before actually putting it to good use. And the lack of grammar is already a pain in the ass as I often come across sentences where I know all words (and kanji) but can’t really make out the meaning.

God knows when I’d learn a word like 金玉 if I didn’t come across Wanikani :smiley: Thanks for being real. I do know deep down that I should be focusing on other stuff.

1 Like

I do want to clarify that Wanikani’s vocab is all useful in the end. There’s never a bad word to learn. And since a lot of basic vocabulary also has basic kanji, there is a reeeelative progress from foundational words to more abstract or niche ones. The vocab included in the site is also based on usage statistics, so there aren’t too many items on it you’ll never ever see (though sometimes there are extremely niche ones to show off certain readings).

But it’s not primarily based around vocab, and that definitely starts to show; you’ll miss out on more natural synonyms, you might miss out on some fundamental vocabulary, the order is really beholden to the kanji difficulty, you won’t get a full sense of nuances, etc.

It’s not a bad source for vocab–I’ve definitely picked up and used plenty of words through it. I just don’t think it should be your only one.


Main resource, not at all.

And actually after some 20 levels the exponential improvement seems less so (you will have covered most if kanji taught to kids from 1-4th grade).

while many stress grammar as something that can really hold you back, I didn’t consider to be the case as much a vocab is. Chapter 10 in Genki seems a good pointvto be from a grammar point of view, enough to put youserlf where you can pick some basic reading that is.

when reading you’ll face your needs progressively, first you will encounter grammar to be an obstacle, then less so, vocab you’ll fight every time… And kanji, most likely youll be ahead the level of your readings for a long time.


I used WK and a bit of Genki until lvl 20 and then I stopped. I would suggest doing a bit more grammar than I did at that time (I only finished Genki 1 at that point) and start reading something that interests you! Maybe join our bookclubs:3

I read a bit of nhk easy at that time, but news never interested me that much, so I would suggest picking up manga, a novel or a game just to do it in your free time and start using all you’ve learned (believe me, you have enough to do some easy stuff at this moment!:DD Don’t be like me and stick only to learning and not using)


No. It’s the best resource in my opinion for learning kanji, but you still need to study grammar if you want to really understand what you’re reading. And it doesn’t help at all in listening/speaking in my experience.


Indeed that’s a problem related to learning vocab lists in a vacuum. Specially in a language like japanese (where small nuances and keigo account for different words altogether) and with SRS apps which treat every item as equally relevant.

Listening and reading often helps a lot to avoid getting too creative when speaking (and sounding like an alien just landing on earth):alien::alien::yum:


If you’re set to only read vocab and kanji, then yes, if you want to read Japanese texts such as manga or simple books, WK is a fine single resource. If only want to learn Kanji.

However, if your goal is to be fluent, watch Japanese tv, read more complicated pieces of text, pass the JLPT, etc, WK will be more of a side resource that will just give you pieces to use in Japanese. Grammar is very important, otherwise if you’re speaking your just saying words.

WK also doesn’t teach you the different politeness levels and honorific ways of speech, nor does it focus on differences between intransitive and transitive verbs or noun and verb modifiers.
In that sense, WK is a good side resource for a textbook such as Genki. WK teaches you the vocab so when you read a textbook, you only have to focus on how the vocab is used.


Well, the thing about learning a language like Japanese is that you can only focus on so many things at once. While you might beat yourself up over not improving at grammar, or not increasing your speaking ability, the simple fact of the matter is that if you were to try to improve everything at once, it would be impossible. So you have to ask yourself a question: is this what you want to be focusing on right now? Learning kanji is one of the longest and most difficult parts of learning Japanese, and if you want to someday become fluent in both spoken and written mediums, then it is something you will have to work on consistently for a long time. And as a follow-up question: if you were to stop using Wanikani as your primary study resource, what would you replace it with? It would be reasonable to work through Genki, or Tae-kim’s Guide. These would give you a knowledge base of grammar. Or you could find a language partner to practice speaking with. It just all depends on what you want to focus on right now. The important thing is just to be consistently studying something, and to stick with it.

That being said, I think that Wanikani is an excellent resource to use as your primary study tool, if you think that kanji is what you want to focus on at the moment. I would recommend sticking with it, unless you feel a need to focus on a different knowledge domain or skill.


In your situation I would say yes because while WK is your main resource its not your ONLY resource which is the most important part. As long as youre coming in contact with other aspects of Japanese its worthwhile to build up a good base of Kanji/vocabulary that you recognize. Assuming you mean that youre taking about 8 days a level, this means that in about 4 months you will be level 30.

From WKStats
Lvl 30: G3 96.00%, G4 88.50%, G5 78.38%, G6 49.17%, Total Joyo 46.91%

With this amount of Kanji (about 1000), you will recognize almost everything in any Intermediate textbook if you choose to use them after genki. Your choice of reading material will also be more wide open. Grammer is way more repetitive than vocab in the wild.

The thing is if you havent learnt it on WK, you wont know the meaning either. Learning it on WK just made you more aware of the possible meanings.

Thats the strength of WK, as long as you do it youre learning something and making progress everyday and as long as you feel its easy and convenient you wont burn out. Being able to read is no small thing, many bilingual people arent literate in their secondary language even though theyre more or less fluent especially for a language like Japanese. (Often times because they dont know the Kanji)

This is the main reason why my advice would be to stick to a similar schedule for a few more months. Of course if you have more time than usual then allocate it towards other areas like grammar and listening but for now theres no need to purposely reduce WK to make time.

Focusing on other aspects of Japanese will be way more fruitful and fun at that point.


Nurarihyon goes to visit the big boss of another region’s youkai due to the current conflict. Said boss is a tanuki. They’re kind of known for it. Poor Nattou kozou doesn’t know.
Source: ぬらりひょんの孫


I just wanted to say the Wanikani Community is a valid main study resource. Where else can we find a world of people who share a common goal, and who are constantly looking for new resources and study partners. Who are constantly developing and sharing new tools. Who are actively helping each other.
The community here is the hub of my studies. :slight_smile:


I guess pretty much everyone using WK right now uses it as a main resource, BUT not the only one. That should be the focus, because kanji is probably the most important part of the language, however one wouldn’t get far without having other ways to put that knowledge to the test. You should have a nice balance with grammar as well, whether it’s through books or the more convenient way, BunPro.

I can recommend you an app that I’ve been using for a while and I think it’s a great way to use your kanji recognition skills: ClozeMaster - This app has a few different ways to present you with a ton of sentences where one word is missing and you have to choose which one is the correct one. If you don’t like multiple choice you can use the option for input and write the answer. There’s also an option for listening skills where you’ll hear the sentence first and then choose which word is missing.

The app is mostly free, and you can do small chunks at a time. Each round is about 5 minutes or less, but you can do multiple vocab rounds (you can only do one listening round each day). Your played sentences will come back as reviews as well, which is great. A warning, though, the app is quite addictive, because of the way it gives you points and levels you up.

Happy Studies :wink:


I’m about 2 years into studying Japanese come April/May. I think Wanikani is about 5% of my total Japanese study… So I definitely don’t think of it as my main resource. Because Wanikani is one part (kanji) of one area (reading) of Japanese. I think my main resources from most used to least are as follows:

Reading (Through this I am learning kanji, too)
Anki: both making and reviewing

I would suggest listening and reading as much as you can with Wanikani as a supporting factor.


I’m somewhat surprised to read this. I think as an adult learning a language kanji learning it’s a great way to gain the ability to jump into age according material promptly (which will have progressively more kanji).
Bit I think the focus always should be immersing (listening and reading). Otherwise it’s easy to burn yourself trying to “master” anything before putting into use, and then it’s way easier to know what’s important and not, and direct your studies along the way.

It’s easy to fall into setting that you have to “master” kanji and grammar before getting in contact with any kind of native media. A couple of searches related to language aquisition should prove more enlighting than anything I could put in a post though :sweat_smile:

WK currently it’s way below lots of activities in my case: reading books and watching shows been the number 1 activities, vocab learning 2nd, dedicated listening training then… and then WK :yum:. (though at the beginning probably was higher in my activities, but never before vocab / immersion).


I scrolled through here and I saw a lot of convoluted answers so here is my personal noob methodology I have put together to tackle the exact concerns you are bringing up:

Kanji: WaniKani (with self study script and additional filters script which gives access to audio only drills and leech training) + Kaniwani

Kana: Anki Katakana Core 10k deck shared

Grammar: Bunpro, LingoDeer (offers listening drills), Genki, YouTube.

Chrome extensions: (makes it incredibly easy to practice reading with a great UI), Yomichan (anki connect which allows super fast vocab import to your deck with audio samples and more!)

Custom Content: Personal Anki Deck for verb conjugations, grammar, additional core vocab, and pronunciation training. Screenshot Note: yes there is a crappy attempt at a mnemonic.

WaniKani Scripts: Picture of my WaniKani Home Page + the scripts I am running to improve my experience. Jitai changes the fonts and is really useful recognition.

Final thought: I’m only a month into learning so I plan on working for a few months like this until I feel ready to pay for lessons via iTalki. I have tried plenty of additional resources not listed here but a lot of them I find strenuous to comprehend and nowhere near the polished level of WaniKani. Cough Cough Tae Kim. I know people get a lot out of other well shared resources but you have to find what suits you through experimentation. Japanese is hard :exploding_head: Good luck fellow learner!


Thank you 皆さん!You made some really good and useful points.

  1. Studying with WK > not studying at all, so I’m sticking with it when I’m on the run… I’ll try to incorporate more of the other things into my routine when I’m at home and have more time. But I won’t be too preoccupied with that until I start approaching level 30:

It seems pointless to study kanji beyond that without a lot of context to reinforce it, but until then a solid foundation can’t hurt.

  1. I’ve been contemplating joining the beginner’s book club for しろくまカフェ and now you convinced me to join! I’ll be ordering a physical copy this time (I bought the previous book they were reading in e-book format and didn’t like it (the format) too much, as the pages in physical and e-book version didn’t match :confused:… Which led me to give up pretty early on). I watched a few episodes of the anime with just japanese subtitles and it was a bit too hard, but with the support of the bookclub and the slower pace you have while reading I hope I’ll be able to follow.

  2. I guess I’ll have to invest some time into building a routine for other fields of study… I really like kanji but the other reason I mostly use WK is the convenience/routine I already have.

This is a really good point! I learned quite many synonims but didn’t give much thought to what situation would each one be appropriate in.

Heh, I’m a shy person and this post is a part of my sneaky little plan to get myself to interacting with the community (after just lurking around for a while :sweat_smile:)… I think you guys are really nice and friendly and of course we all share the same interest in Japan :slight_smile: