N1 and N2 Kanji in low WK levels

Hi all, I’ve really just starting to learn Japanese properly after about a decade of having a bank of useful phrases and vocab but little ability to have conversations and no ability to read.

I am just about to finish WK level 3 and subscribe. At the same time I’m also self studying Genki 1 and using Bunpro.

My goal at the moment is just to be at N5 level by the end of the year and hopefully take the test. I also enjoy understanding food and other packaging which I’m already finding WK useful for. I’m not trying to be fluent in a short time period, I know it’s unachievable for me.

I’m feeling a bit frustrated that I’m only in the early levels of WK and yet I’m being served Kanji that are N1, N2 etc… Kanji like 毛, 刀, 玉, 矢 and so on, it doesn’t feel like a good use of my time.

It’s also frustrating me that these are on WK but there are 33 of the N5 kanji not included on WK. Simple things like rain and east, but I’m expected to have fur and sword memorised?

Anyway, I trust there is some logic behind showing these so early but I’m finding myself annoyed by it and I wonder could anyone shed some light on why they might be included so early on to help me continue to feel motivated?

1 Like

I’m sure someone will go into a much more detailed explanation, but basically WK focuses on the simplicity of the Kanji. It’s not designed to focus on JLPT or any standardized test, it’s exclusively to help you learn kanji. Kanji with fewer strokes/parts are much easier to learn in the beginning.
N1’s 2 stroke 刀 is much easier to recognize than N5’s 14 stroke 読 for example. It’s also important to learn kanji such as 刀 because you often see them in other kanji (As Koichi says, “learn your radicals, yo”)

(edited to add extra info)

32 Likes

As @Silversong noted, the WK order is based on their own method for learning the Kanji and it’s not going to match the JLPT order.

One thing yo keep in mind is that JLPT decided to stop releasing Kanji lists in 2010 and pretty much the majority of lists are from that time.

If your aim is N5, then WK will get you most of the way there in a few months, which seems like a pretty good deal to me.

14 Likes

Wanikani try to balance simplicity of shape and frequency of use, it doesn’t follow strictly the JLPT list. Some of the earlier kanji are taught to be used as building block for learning more complex kanji later. But If you want to know the jlpt list coverage, wkstats have them. 90% of N5 kanji are covered by level 6 and 90% of N4 by level 12 so it’s not that different either.

Also it’s not like 毛, 刀, 玉, 矢 are uncommon at all! If you look at the order in which Japanese kids learn kanji, the kyoiku list, 玉 is a first grade kanji and 毛, 刀, 矢 are second grade kanji.

22 Likes

???

雨 (rain) is a level 5 kanji on WaniKani. 東 (east) is level 6. In fact, you learn all of the N5 kanji by level 16. All of them except one (書) by level 10.

24 Likes

Yes I am also confused by this. WK has 100% of the N5-N2 kanji and covers about 80% of the N1 kanji, at least according to whatever lists wkstats is using

6 Likes

Wk is only missing N1 kanji.

You should be getting all N5 kanji by level 16 + quite a few of the N4 (the only reason that N5 needs level 16 is that while everything else wraps up around level 12-14, the kanji 書 is stuck at level 16), you’ll see some high leveled kanji but most of it is early levels

These are my kanji at level 15

1 Like

In addition to what everyone else has said, I reached level 11 in 12 weeks + 1 day with only 6 days off. This means that in just over 11 weeks you can learn 98.73% of N5 kanji. Seems really good to me!

1 Like

Did you happen to get this number by looking at wkstats with an account without a subscription? If so it only shows statistics up to level 3 (the last level you get free access to). All N5 kanji are on wanikani, this is what wkstats shows you if view it with a subscription:

By level 16 you’ll have learned all N5 kanji, and by level 7 you’ll know over 90% of them already.

14 Likes

Weren’t the lists unofficial anyway? It’s a rough benchmark of progress to pat yourself on the back on, but focusing on that is like passing a test for the sake of passing the test instead of an indication of your growth.

N5 by the end of the year also seems a bit… shallow? A chapter a week of Genki would finish the series in half a year and leave the entire second half to round off knowledge in prep for the N4 exam. Even at a leisurely pace it would be less of a test and more of a demonstration on how to ruin the curve I think.


Edit: It’s my fault for poor writing, but somehow this post has been interpreted as me claiming this is too slow or shallow depth of learning which was not the intention at all.

7 Likes

There was an official jlpt list until 2010 when they changed the exam format. Nowadays there is just a vague description of what linguistic competences are required for each level. So I wouldn’t be surprised if a kanji like 玉 pop up in the N5 or N4.

4 Likes

Supposedly you can do quite well with the JLPT N5 test with just the Genki textbook is what I’ve heard. So having that in addition to using WaniKani will only build your kanji and vocabulary. I fail to see how being exposed to more and different kanji is not a good use of your time tbh

1 Like

Yes, that’s right, I’m not subscribed yet and looking at wkstats, this is what I see:

Screenshot 2022-01-24 at 13.34.00

So that’s not correct?

1 Like

All of those are definitely on Wanikani

7 Likes

Nope. You can see all of these items if you check the level 1-10 area, but just as a quick screenshot

You get the kanji for east at level 6

3 Likes

thanks for the feedback. I know the lists are unofficial and I am using them as a guide that I need to know at least those, not a limit to what I am studying.

Shallow? That’s a bit harsh and unnecessary. I’m working through Genki at my own pace, I have other things going on in my life and I’m not able to go through a chapter a week and still retain everything. Not everyone can learn at the same pace.

N5 by then end of the year is just a soft goal, the very least I want to achieve. I hope to be there a lot sooner in which case after I’ve finished Genki 1 I plan to move on to Genki 2. I’m trying to achieve my goals and not burn out and give up before I get there.

21 Likes

Yeah, wkstats has an issue in that if view it while you’re not subscribed, it pretends that the kanji from level 4 and up don’t exist. You are able to view all of the kanji on WaniKani yourself, though.

8 Likes

As mentioned, you can search WaniKani for any of its kanji/vocab and you’ll still get results even while you’re not subscribed. It’s obviously more manual than checking wkstats, but it’s the only way to know with 100% certainty what is on WaniKani.


Absolutely! The best pace is the one that works for you. It’s always better to learn slower than to burn out and stop learning altogether.

5 Likes

thanks so much. Didn’t think of searching for those kanji since it seemed like they were not on WK. Glad to know that wkstats bug now. Cheers.

4 Likes

Sorry, I didn’t mean for it to come off that way. I was using the chapter a week thing as an example since it’s a fairly common target and it still leaves a lot of wiggle room. A lot of users hesitate a bit later in the year since they don’t want to risk failing, but this is early enough I think it’s more of a just go for it no worries kind of deal.

I’m not sure what the right benchmark would be for Genki, but for Bunpro a point a day would finish the N5 content in about four months and clear all the way through the N4 content a bit before the exam. Similarly it would only be about 5 items a day to clear N5 and most of the N4 kanji on WK by the end of the year.

At this point I don’t even see it as a fast vs slow thing, as long as a bit of effort is put in each day it should be doable. Rather, the average pace required for just the N5 exam at a year out is low enough I’d be more concerned about a lack of reinforcement from doing too little. I do think anyone who is studying diligently regardless of the pace will pass with flying colors, so the goal seemed a little unusual to me.


Also, the thing with WK stats no showing the stuff is intentional. The API is capable of letting devs show that data, but I think the TOS specifically requests avoiding behavior that could be seen as circumventing subscriptions. I see it as more of a just being polite thing.

I’ve seen a few other people run into this issue before, so maybe it’d be good to ping @rfindley and ask if he might consider adding some kind of disclaimer about this somewhere. Sorry man, I know you’ve been busy lately.

3 Likes