MIA or WaniKani

Here’s my two cents.
I started by basically following AJATT. I went through RTK, did lots of immersion, raw anime, stuff like that. Firs time I got any kind of textbook apart from RTK was when I was preparing for N3 with a teacher in italki (i skipped N5+N4).
Did N3 summer last year, and signed up for N2 last winter. I continued preparing for that somewhat with Sou-matome and stuff like that.
I went into N2 expecting to fail because I felt that my kanji knowledge was severly lacking. To my great surprise I still passed. The whole reason I’m on WK right now is because I felt that RTK+AJATT (or at least my version of it) was insufficient for me from a kanji perspective, and I wanted to solidify my kanji before even thinking about N1.

AJATT did do wonders for my grammar though, most of the grammar points in the JLPT books I recognized, even if I had never formally studied them.


Wanikani is good at what Wanikani does, which is help us learn to recognize kanji when we see it and to be able to read the kanji in the context in which it shows up. It’s not good for much else, but the reason why we’re here is because that’s precisely what we want help with. Of course Wanikani doesn’t meet all of our needs, but it’s that one need that Wanikani does meet that’s the reason why we all come here. Most of us don’t rely on Wanikani as our only resource.


I did not know about wanikani, before I watched MIA’s video))
I am new there. For me(at least now) there are 2.5 problems with WK.

  1. Weird radikal meaning and some of them was created by WK.
  2. Reading of kanji is the most popular reading for that kanji, I guess. The problem is, when I see kanji mountain, I want to say it’s Yama. That the meaning of the Word of this singular kanji. But we learn, that it is San.
    For me it’s a little weird.
    2.5. Sentences are little hard for me, and there is no voice for them.

This helps a lot. Thank you!

One tip I’d definitely give you is to get the RTK book and read along while doing RRTK, and write the kanji at least once.
That’s the standard procedure but since I had already been doing WK for a few weeks I skipped that (even though I literally had the Heisig RTK book in my room… lol), and ended up with a bunch of leeches so I had to cut back to just 5 cards a day while I go through the book and caught up.

The thing with RRTK (Recognition RTK) is that it skips 50% of the Kanji in the book. And it pulls mnemonics from kanji koohi and doesn’t use the mnemonics in RTK (probably due to copyright).

So what ends up happening if you just grind the deck is that some radicals (or primitives or whatever… the parts that make up the Kanji) makes no sense because RRTK skipped the kanji that introduced the primitive and the mnemonic. Hence the mnemonic will make no sense either.

Also if you do WK at the same time you can just add a synonym to the kanji on Wanikani so that it’s in-line with the Heisig keyword. Remember that Heisig uses a unique keyword but Wanikani uses the same keyword for multiple kanji.

Ofc use the anki mods lowkey anki and the leech mod, but I assume you have already read through the tutorial on how to use RRTK…


I think both WaniKani and MIA will get you about the same result in about the same amount of time (that amount being years). They just take different paths.

The WaniKani path is:

  1. Learn to identify radicals, kanji, and kanji readings. Gain an intuition for identifying and reading kanji out of context.
  2. Learn words that use the kanji. Gain an intuition for reading kanji in the context of words, and words out of context.
  3. At some point in the program, learn grammar and start reading native material. Gain an intuition for reading words in context.

The MIA path is:

  1. Use RTK to learn how to identify kanji based on radicals. This is basically to make (2) more tractable.
  2. Learn grammar. Start reading. Memorize whole words that you find in your reading. This will be very slow and painful at first (the video acknowledges the steep learning curve), but you’ll gain an intuition for reading kanji and words in context.
  3. Keep at it until you can read kanji and/or words through intuition.

Note that contrary to assertions in the video, WK absolutely does develop your intuition, and gets you set up to read native material to contextualize what you’re learning. I think WK seems a bit easier because it does a lot of the work for you (just log in and do the work, and you learn), and you never deal with the pain of rote-memorizing whole words. But either approach ultimately ends with reading lots of native content – that’s the end game here. As long as you get there, how you do it doesn’t really matter.


I don’t really understand. I can correctly guess the readings of unknown kanji or unfamiliar compounds without any issues. That just comes from having a lot of practice because after a while you can pick up on common trends (ie. kanji with similar radicals sounding the same). That’s a skill you get regardless of how you choose to study as long as you get enough practice so I don’t see how they can claim people who use other methods won’t develop it?? Am I missing something?

Why does it seem like these topics about MIA keep coming up anyways?

I’m really curious about where you got this idea from, that there’s some divide between “intuitive” and “informational” knowledge because I haven’t really heard of that being a thing. There’s different types of memory for facts vs. personal events but that doesn’t correlate to what you’re talking about. Regardless of how you learn, you will intuit things over time. Our brains are wonderful at recognizing patterns and figuring out how to fill in the gaps. You make it sound as if WK will negatively affect you in the long-term which isn’t true. If you want to try other methods, all power to you, but you don’t need to be concerned over taking in a lot of “informational knowledge”. You need a decent knowledge base in order to intuit things.


I didn’t read all answers above mine for lack of time, sorry if I duplicate anything.

I started WK quite some time ago but got stuck early on an left it resting out there (despite having bought lifetime access - good thing is I knew I could always come back). Which I’ve done recently, after more than a year, and after having studied Japanese in classroom (which I was doing before already) - albeit only with limited time - it suddenly went much smoother and made more sense to me. On a recent trip to Japan I noticed that even my very limited Kanji knowledge was useful - I wouldn’t necessarily recognise readings, but I understood some Kanji and was able to sometimes figure out what something written in front of me was about. my conclusion thus: WK is a great aid, and the combo of learning Kanji and Vocab is very useful. Still, I would not rely on WK alone to get further with my Japanese, but I think it provides very useful context to improve my overall understanding.

In the end I guess it comes down to what your main goal is - if it’s burning through Kanji then maybe WK is all you need, but if it’s being able to speak fluently maybe not. Don’t feel bad if another method suits you better, and don’t feel like you’re cheating if you combine methods. Just keep being motivated :slight_smile:


japanese kids don’t just learn readings for kanji in words they already know.
kids start their kanji voyage in elementary school, with a very basic vocabulary and partially cute (because wrong) grammar.
when they learn kanji, they get taught new words, too. they’d say 血が出てる instead of 出血してる, because that’s how kids talk - school teaches these new words along with the kanji, just like wk - only less of them, and no(t so many) mnemonics.

there’s nothing intuitive about kanji readings either, and you’ll forget the ones wk teaches you after a while anyway, same as their meanings. what will stick around in “ah that’s 計, as in 会計、時計、計る”. wk is a crutch, like rtk, only with more features.

it doesn’t matter what you use to learn to read anyway, in the end, all that counts is the result. use what works for you. try it all out. wk won’t go anywhere, so you can return anytime.


This topic comes every now and then, you can check some of the other iterations for more answers too.

To be honest it is my current belief that there’s no “magic” in any method. Immersion is super important into progressing with the language both in terms of making use of whatever you learn and really fixating to your memory and then for allowing you to reach interesting content that will help you keep interested in this LONG race that is acquiring / learning japanese.

The rest is adding the hours and dedication to it. There has been so much contradictions in what Matt from MattvsJapan has said about his new AJATT, to mention some: doing all of RTK in 3 months first, then cut it to half due to how dry and prone to quitting it was among MIA “followers”, then recommending this alternate “perfectionist” approach, oriented at heavily immersing on audio content alone, without reading for the longest time, in order to get this perfect accent. Again super dry and really prone to desertion. There’re the Tango books as a clear example on learning vocab from premade sentences…. Which if you watch the anti-WK video was the method of the devil. :dizzy_face:

Now he offers some really good advice too. Specially on how to mix immersion with SRS, and in the channels there’re people sharing lots of advices for sentence mining and cool ways to pick up new material. I think that’s the real core of the methods: “How with today’s tools can we make use of media in a way that it favors our memory and keeps us motivated”.

Then RTK vs WK…. In the way is been promoted in MIA, it makes no sense at all this comparision. 3 months of a quick review in RTK you can see how it doesn’t account to much but a thin layer of information which only makes sense if you are seen this Kanji often.
You can do this with WK too honestly. Make it to level 30, which is the equivalent to current MIA recommendation, and still you’ll have some vocab (most of it common) and even better you can use some of the script made by users in the way, like the Keisei phonetic compounds so you add another practical way to intuitively know the readings on many words too.:slightly_smiling_face:

Immersion imo should be at the core of any routine. The rest it’s just adjusting to everyone’s way of living and time availability. Not all of us can spend 10-15 hours a day watching japanese content and using SRS apps, which sadly a lot of the time seems to be for whom Matt’s advice is oriented. Whenever he reflexes on this and adjust his advice then MIA looks like so many other “methods” out there. :man_shrugging: .

PS: now If I have to be totally honest I would say that a large amount of people goes into MIA discord channel for those incendiary Youtube videos… and stay for the huge amount of pirate content. Which in terms was for me the ultimate contradiction given he’s selling access to it.:lying_face:


If you’re interested in what I think is TheWayToGo™, waste 5 minutes of your life reading this (because I cba to type it all again, hehe). The whole thread is interesting btw.

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MIA and AJATT both seem very cultish to me. Yes, even more so than WK


The comment section on that video :sweat_smile:


Did you even try to use the search? I feel like this topic has been beaten to death many times.

See: Is WaniKani sub-optimal?

And here is a response to that clickbaity video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISip9JRbYNs

Personally I would say I’m using WK in a more intuition based way than actually thinking about readings and radicals, at least that’s the end goal. Most of my burned vocab just “clicks” in my head without really thinking. How is memorizing individual kanji with RtK “in context”? Those kanji are completely useless if you don’t know any words. Also here is a good read by Tae Kim: http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/you-cant-learn-kanji/


:raising_hand_man: Please define MIA before I decide if it worths reading the previous 54 comments :thinking::man_shrugging:


I read through some of your posts after someone linked your profile in here. Very informative.
So did you do a initial run of RTK and then switch to WK or do both at the same time. I guess RRTK did not exist back then.

oh noes I missed all the debate

sad life


I had the same dilemma as you @_josh, but I ultimately chose WaniKani for the above. I think a lot of the really hardcore MIA people are younger than me, or spartan disciplinarians with Zen like powers of concentration and focus. They spend lots of time optimising their learning approach, messing about with optimising Anki, often while simultaneously documenting their progress and writing manifestos about how to do things the right way.

I have a full time job, friends and a great relationship. I also have other hobbies. So while I used RTK and WK together for some time, I ultimately loved that with WK somebody had done the grunt work for me. It gives me an accessible, carefully planned route of progress through kanji and a chunk of vocabulary that syncs up perfectly across all my devices.

I also saw that video by Matt and got spooked, especially since a lot of what he said makes sense. I have realised however that some of what he perceives as downsides of WK are not deal breakers for me. One example of this is the dreaded :japanese_ogre: MEMORY INTERFERENCE :japanese_ogre:. I think for me personally, I realised that to some extent, this is just part of the Japanese language. There are tons of homonyms, similar looking radicals and kanji. WaniKani so far as been pretty gentle with this, but when ‘interference’ does arise, I feel like I am tackling it right away rather than being afraid of encountering it in the wild somewhere down the road. I am also tackling readings right away and can very quickly link up what I am learning with vocabulary I picked up in my listening and immersion efforts. That means that WaniKani doesn’t operate in a vacuum for me; it does exactly what Matt advocates and clicks onto existing bricks of knowledge I came across elsewhere, just like little lego blocks.

This next part might not sound like it’s related to WaniKani but hear me out: I’m a Linux user. I feel like though they are two very different domains, there’s MIA/AJATT types in the Linux world too. It’s a world full of endless customisation, tinkering, optimising, obsessing over tiny details and there is really NO limit to the amount of time you can pour into Linux as a hobby (looking at you, Arch Linux, Gentoo, Linux from Scratch). I certainly take full advantage of that and customise all my systems exactly like I like…but then I just get to work and use my hardware for whatever I bought it for.

If default settings work for me, I don’t change them. WK feels something like that to me - a system with good defaults. If I don’t like some aspect of it, I can easily change things up with great plugins that users on the WK forums painstakingly and generously developed. And if that’s not enough, there’s a lot of good third party tools being made that integrate into WK (though to be honest I can’t afford to use them all…those monthly fees add up).

If I have trouble or need extra help with some other aspect of Japanese learning, I can get involved in WK’s weird friendly and engaged community. That includes @mamimumason taking time to prompt and respond to my horrendously improvised beginner sentences (with the patience of saint) and when I am comfortable enough I can also dip into book clubs aimed at various levels. In the grand scheme of things, WK and its forums are a platform that is open and accessible to all. Sure there’s some serious power users and tinkerers here too but I don’t feel like I’ve accidentally barged into some ivory tower or retreat for extremely opinionated hermits that will spit on me if I’m not into the same ascetic and elitist approach to education. It’s ok to have fun here.

Building on the above, to me the MIA world seems like it’s the the GIT GOOD school of Japanese language learning. If you’re very competitive, youthful and boisterous I suppose that might work for you. But I am a more collaborative and congenial type of learner. The only person I have anything to prove to is myself…and really I just want to enjoy the process of learning rather than beat myself up over it.


My god, I wish I could spend hours upon hours making and customizing flashcard decks.
But I can’t. I’m an adult now, and that means I’m a slave to the clock :frowning:


I guess R(reduced?)RTK is what it was known as “lazy kanji”, if so, It did existed and was frowned upon with people doing it getting the usual comments in the tone of: “why would you go for a half assed way of learning japanese when Matt is saying to go the other way… duh!!” :poop:

I had already attempted RTK before WK. Managed to get to chapter 15 before giving up on that. At some point I was doing both but felt It wasn’t helping much and decided to spend time doing something else, albeit reading, which in my case were Graded Readers for Japanese learners, that turned to be easy enough to follow something like 3 months from starting with WK. This way with a tool that allowed me to learn kanji/vocab and a way to put it into practice I didn’t care much about those “right vs. wrong way of learning videos”.

I did a lot of the active / passive listening meanwhile, as I found ways to watch content without understanding a large portion and still feel engaged with it. But then I just couldn’t find a suitable way to read native content until I reached at least a critical mass of kanji / vocab.

Whatever goal you have with the language, be it reading books, watching shows, engage into significant dialogues with someone from the other culture or just passing an exam like the JLPT (which I’ve learned can be a goal in itself), whatever method you use, if you see yourself progressively closer to reaching it each day, then it’s a valid method I feel these days.

Now if you don’t have any specific goals it’s way too easy to get lost in pointless discussions, but tbh I think that’s beyond learning languages and more related to how you achieve anything in life, which often includes time and dedication. :wink: