Kana Vocab

//Accidentally deleted my last attempt to post this sorry this is my first time using the WK Community page

Before anyone says anything, I know. I get it. Everyone and their mother has posted their opinion on the addition of kana vocabulary. But as many have pointed out, it is important for the WaniKani company to receive constant feedback in these cases so that it does not get swept under the rug. So I wanted to share how I felt!

Once again, this is just my personal opinion on the subject. You are free to disagree. Just don’t be rude please.

I am currently a foreigner living in Japan. I use WaniKani as my main learning tool when I have free time from my full time job. It has completely redefined my way of learning kanji (I used to have to just memorize kanji without understanding radicals in college) and I appreciate the website tremendously.

I realize that I did not come to WaniKani as a true beginner, but the kana words are just plain… insulting. Anyone that turns open the first page of a Japanese beginner textbook should know what リンゴ いいえ うん etc etc are. But I am NOT AGAINST having kana implemented in WaniKani.

What I would like WaniKani to consider, is allowing us to immediately burn kana words that we already feel confident with. The kana words do not affect our progress through the levels, nor do they have any constructive qualities. You either know the word or you don’t. I realize they don’t take long to clear, but my annoyance increases with every week that they add more.

WaniKani is a personal journey in self-study. I honestly wish we had the autonomy to decide to burn even kanji words on our own accord! But I realize that is probably too much to ask.

I’m not quitting WaniKani over something this trivial, but I really wish they would listen to the community on this one and create more options with kana vocabulary, instead of shoving it down our throats each week. If you are someone that truly finds the kana vocabulary to be beneficial, good for you! But I am hoping others would agree with that the current kana vocab system is not a valuable addition, and moreso a distraction from our goals.


Your position on this is, I think, reasonable and well stated. I’m happy the kana vocabulary has been added. It makes WK a more enjoyable experience for me, but I hope they provide a disable option for those who don’t want to study them soon.


Yeah, except from リンゴ after some odd textbooks.

1 Like

I tried it as we were asked and still feel the same. Not needed.

WK should be thought more of a game, and the players are having the goalpost pushed back. Many players don’t like the parts of the game they are being forced to play. These parts weren’t necessary before.
Instead of specializing in Kanji, it seems WK wants to be an all in one stop, which is fine, I don’t blame them. Their competition will do that. But I recommend the following:

Base WK Levels
Kana Levels
Extra Kanji Levels(missing kanji, and/or extra words)
Grammar Levels
Listening Levels
Reading Levels

These don’t all have to go in, and I don’t need them, but add what you want. However the base game stays the same. For the most part, having level 60 in base WK means the same for all. Everyone else gets value added optional content and WK is loved for expanding the app.


I’ve got to be honest. I didn’t like the recent updates that rendered a lot of third-party apps dysfunctional, deleted the summary page and changed the API so that it became virtually impossible to track your daily streaks (I know that you can save your engagement locally, but I use different devices and always delete cookies in general).

* WaniKani - a (great) service that always said to be a resource for learning kanji always refused to add the missing N1 kanji, but now throws a plethora of trivial kana vocabulary into the SRS.*

I just don’t understand the underlying strategy for all of these changes, because they either don’t fit the narrative or hinder convenient features that would add to the overall learning experience. Maybe the WK team should have asked the user base, if they wanted the site to become somthing else than a lean kanji learning tool, before making all of these changes. Since a lot of the time a well designed one purpose gagdet is better than a bad all-in one package.

Hopefully, the WaniKani team has a hidden master plan to make the site better in the long run, because for me personally WK of last year was the better product. Time will tell.

EDIT: Don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to disregard the new productive energy or speak ill of the developers, since it’s the first time since years that something fundamentally was changed. I still think WK is a great resource for learning these weird sino-japanese symbol things. Keep up the work ethic, but also listen to the feedback of the community. :heart:


“Everyone and their mother”



I’ve personally really been enjoying the kana vocabulary. When it’s something I already know, I get that satisfying lightbulb moment of “aha! I know that one” which always feels nice as opposed to insulting.


I sort of get some of the frustration behind the new kana vocab, but at the same time I don’t fully understand many of the people who are treating this like some apocalyptic event that ruins their studying on the site. Yeah, if you’re farther along in Japanese you may already know several or many of the kana vocab, but in that case it should only take like two seconds per vocab to just get them out of the way and move on. Does it really clutter your reviews and waste your time that much? Don’t get me wrong, I think you should be able to opt out of the kana vocab if you really don’t want to, but treating it as some horrible implementation seems a tad excessive.

If anything, adding kana vocab is huge for beginners, who now don’t have to try and figure out/find a different system to learn kana words outside of WaniKani (at least in theory, once the kana vocab are expanded on the site). I find the philosophy of wanted WaniKani to be “kanji exclusive” a bit strange: learning kana vocab is still very important if you want to practically speak Japanese in the long-term, and adding it to the same system that teaches you kanji seems like an effective way to help teach it. At least for beginners, isn’t this a good thing?


It’s not insulting to me. It just takes extra time.

It’s true that these don’t take much time so far. WK has mentioned that they want to do 1000s of them. That will take a more measurable chunk.

It’s also harder now for me to gauge how many “real” reviews I have. It’s a bit important for me to monitor how much my piles are expanding. It’s also going to affect my accuracy and make it go artificially up. This is another metric I use to gauge how my studying is going.

It’s not that we think it’s the end times. It’s just a change that could have been done in a different way. Many people bought this app as a kanji app. Now it’s a Kanji and Vocab app. You’re going to do the new vocab whether you like it or not. The last part was totally avoidable with current technology. That is why people are upset.


I do agree it would have been easy for WaniKani to at least make it so those who wanted to could opt out of the kana vocab. Maybe it’s a bit of a moot point, but I just feel that it’s unusual that people wouldn’t want to learn kana vocab along with kanji side-by-side. If the end goal is to become fluent in Japanese, and if one’s method for learning kanji is effective, why not incorporate kana vocab into it as well?

Again, I do think people should be able to opt out of it, and you raise a good point about the accuracy meter being affected. That is definitely something the dev team needs to take into consideration?


More than anything I need to learn the kanji readings. More so even than the meanings.

I can easily learn kana words on my own, usually passively cause I can always with 100% accuracy read kana. I use WK to break the code that is kanji, and KanaWK doesn’t help me do that.

That being said, I’m sure there are some great words in their kana list and I’m all for it for people that want to learn words that way. Just give a choice.


That’s fair - maybe it’s just the way I study, where I make it a point to learn kanji meanings and readings all in one fell swoop so I know as much “practical” Japanese as possible. Being able to learn kana vocab in the same way is good for someone like me. Especially after going on a six-week trip to Japan just a little while ago, having learned lots of kanji (meaning + reading) was super helpful, but I wished I knew more basic kana vocab that would’ve been helpful. But I can see for what you’re trying to get out of it kana vocab isn’t as useful as it is for me.


The only insulting thing here is when people phrase things as if they are representing entire community and their voice is the voice of community.

The people who are annoyed at the change are always gonna be the loudest. That said, just because there is ten threads like these shouldn’t fool you into thinking there isn’t thousands of users that genuinely have no issue with this change and due to that have no reason to voice their opinions. Because to them it’s not a big deal, their first thought isn’t to hop on forums and make a thread about said new feature.

I’m one of these people, and so reading these posts left me seriously confused.

Its a few kana words. They don’t even have two sides, just meaning. If you know them so well, then you’re gonna burn them in 8 answers of less than 5 seconds each. It’s gonna take away 10-15 minutes of your 2~ years at wanikani.


i’m also in the camp of please put kana vocab in a separate track. (i might have expressed that more forcefully at a previous point).

my main reasons have all been said before:

  • i’m reading native texts every day, it’s insulting to require me to grind through such super trivial words.
  • i’m here to learn kanji, not to learn japanese. an SRS is not a suitable tool to learn a language.
  • if WK really drops thousands of kana words on us, it’ll add a pretty significant workload to what’s already a very significant workload, while diluting their core offering.

and i’ll add to that that about 2/3 of the present “kana-only” vocab actually has kanji. some of them are quite common kanji. and yes, those words are usually written with kana, but WK doesn’t shy away from teaching other words with kanji which are commonly written with kana. so like, dear WK, please be honest, or at least consistent.

however, i don’t really trust WK to do anything about this. the vast majority of WK users are in the first 10 levels, and always will be. those of us who continue into the mid levels or even to the end are a small minority. plus, many of us already have paid for lifetime membership, so WK won’t be getting any more money from us whatever they do. and WK is a business. so they’ll continue to cater to beginners. they’ll continue to clutter the workflow of more advanced learners. they’ll continue to ignore requests for actually useful features. because it’s from the beginners that they make their money.

perhaps i’m being overly cynical. i hope i’m being overly cynical. but i’m not very hopeful.

and i’ll continue to use WK. because for learning kanji, an SRS is still a suitable tool. because i’m locked in to WK, and re-starting with another app would cost me way too much time. because i can’t afford to drop another 300$ on another app. and i’ll trust in the wonderful people who write userscripts to keep my workflow functioning despite what WK does.


I don’t understand why WK is so slow to react to these things. It’s not a complicated website.

I started using the site late last year, since then I’ve had:

  • Userscript armageddon

  • Review API offline which I miss dearly

  • Kana update, Peppa Pig edition

For userscript armageddon they didn’t bother rolling back the change temporarily (or offering an opt-out) to avoid breaking existing user’s workflow while the scripts were getting fixed. A two week window is all it would have taken once the issues had been identified. Perplexing move IMO that created unnecessary stress for paying users and unpaid script writers alike, as everybody rushed to find hotfixes and workarounds.

For the last two issues, WK has vaguely mentioned that they would do something about it, eventually.

What’s taking so long? I’m a software developer and I know that sometimes things look simple from outside and trickier once you know the implementation details, but how hard can it be to implement a flag to filter out kana vocab? Am I really supposed to believe that it couldn’t be done in 3 weeks? Is WK’s codebase that unmaintainable?

WaniKani is not a cheap product, I don’t understand why I feel like I’m using some dev’s open source side project. There are Minecraft mods with better support than this.


I do somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 reviews daily, so these kana terms really aren’t even moving the needle in terms of extra time. I don’t get those takes at all, but I understand we all do this a little differently. I support an opt-in option for those folks that want it.


Yes, but one thing we can do is to advise other people to not start with Wanikani. At the moment, with all the bad decisions happening recently, I’m not trusting this company anymore. So if they don’t get their act together soon enough, I certainly will do said thing.
Kanji is a difficult key part of japanese with not many solid learning tool on the market. Beginner Kana words on the other hand are no hindrance for getting into japanese and there are thousands of free resources for it an the internet. I can’t get my head around how the Wanikani-Devs could be so oblivious on those matters. Add the still missing jouyo-kanji before adding anything else for gods sake.


As @Mrs_Diss (and I in another thread) pointed, one reason may be economic incentives. Low level users (not counting Leebo :wink: !) are the vast majority of WK and they PERCEIVE kana vocabulary as being a great feature. So it is a bit of smoke screen to lure more new users. Or to dilute the amount of Kanji and boost morale amongst the new users, “Hey! WK is not so hard, I can do this!”. But given the silence from WK, I think the answer maybe something different. My new theory is that:

There is no one piloting the ship anymore…

The last Koichi’s article on Tofugu was back in April of 2019… The decision to close the Tofugu store, etc… There are bread crumbs signs pointing to absenteeism.


I don’t mind it but my mom won’t stop complaining. But that’s not a issue with the kana addition, she’s just someone who complains a lot.


Another sign is that there seems to be little moderation on these forums.

I get that they maybe don’t just want to close all the negative feeback threads because that could paint a bad light, but how many threads about this topic have we had now? Strong moderation would have closed most of these and consolidated the complaints into a single place.