Noob in need!

I just started using wanikani today and its already really helpful. I don’t have any of the subscriptions yet however and just finished my first lesson for radicals. Is that the only lesson I get with the trial?


The first 3 levels are free. But new items only unlock after you have reached “guru” status with their constituent parts. So to get kanji for level 1 unlocked, you need to get the radicals that make up those kanji correct 4 times (simplifying a bit here). Once the kanji are unlocked, getting those to guru will unlock the vocab that use them. Getting 90% of a level’s kanji to guru levels you up to level 2, and so on. Then you get new radicals and the process starts all over.

In total the first 3 free levels cover about 100 kanji and several hundred associated vocab.

  1. do a lesson
  2. wait for reviews to appear
  3. do the reviews until the items reach guru
  4. do more lessons



Levels 1 - 2 and 3 are free as Leebo-san mentioned.
It is like one month maybe up to your pace.
Just wander around here and there.
Waiting is the part of the process.

The waiting is… pretty arbitrary and stupid, to be honest. I like learning at my own pace and being gated behind the pace of a snail is… not a good impression as first ones go, especially when you’re not given an option to skip ahead if you so wish.

For the record, i have completed all the radicals and they have been reviewed 4 times now, each. The arbitrary wait makes this feel like an old 90’s browser game. While on Duolingo for instance i can easily put hours in if i so wish, and actually learn grammar and sentence structure while at it.

It does pick up very fast. To put up with it you need to understand the reasoning behind the method (spaced repetition SRS - do read the guides) and in the first couple of levels do other things besides just WK. I had to slow down already and not take on too many lessons and i’m only at level 5 (i also found level 1 boring and too slow), so things definitely pick up pace. I’ve unlocked 624 items so far and have been going a little over a month.

I know WK have sped up the first couple of levels to help with this problem, but i do agree that they should do more, i came to WK as pretty much a complete newbie fresh out of learning Hiragana and it was way to slow even for me.

I come to appreciate the drip-feeding now and see that i’m actually learning more than if i just crammed hundreds of Kanji into my head quickly over a few days. I am shocked that i got this many items already and even feel fairly confident with most of them.


The wait may seem arbitrary but it has a function. You can use Duolingo for hours but the the real remembering starts after you haven’t used it for a while and then recall it. That is why there is a SRS system connected to WK.

I would advise you to stick with the plan. The workload will get higher. Especially if you cross the 100 apprentice items treshhold. You are not the first to think like this, it could also be that this system isn’t for you.


I don’t know about that. In about 1½ months i have surpassed people who have learned for 6-8 months using Tae Kim and Duolingo in quite unconventional amounts.

The problem with “pedagogic spacing” is that it really doesn’t work for everyone, it only works for the non-existent “average person”, it’s too slow for someone who wants to achieve something, and it’s too fast for people who need alternative methods to repetition and spacing to learn.

Sounds like WK probably isn’t for you as it’s all about the spacing, that’s the whole point and if you don’t trust that system or feel it won’t work out best then there’s no point. I’d look elsewhere for kanji training if i was in your position and wanted to cram as much in as fast as humanly possible. Maybe run WK alongside your other stuff too, at least the first 3 free levels - i’m curious as to whether in a month or two months you’ll be able to remember WK items better than those learnt through another method. and like you say it takes next to no time.

My feeling is if you want what you are learning to actually stick you’ll have to come back to the ‘repeat’ aspect at some point otherwise you’ll find yourself re-cramming almost from scratch in a few months time. Hopefully you have some other ways you can build in this element, i think it’s pretty hard.


少年-manga among other similar age-group things have ruby readings (aka furigana) on pretty much all Kanji except the absolute basics. Of course the downside to a pure beginner is either breaking down and buying the books in 2 languages and crossreading past interpretation artifacts or already having a decent grasp of the language.

I’m taking Wanikani as a supplementary thing. Maybe it gets better, who knows, but my problem is that it has been 24 hours of… nothing, in all honesty. It has taught me a handful of radicals (some of which are used as bona fide kanji, admittedly) and a few of them it… arbitrarily made up a bizarre name for, for seemingly no reason.

⼂is a dot, not a drop, ⼅is a hook, not a barb, ⼊ is to enter, not “enter”, what it calls “fins” is eight, derivative of ⼋(the font doesn’t support the radical, can’t type it out), ⼘ is an oracle, not a toe. 工 is work, not construction, as for “gun”, well… it doesn’t exist, at least in japanese.

It’s fine making names for things that don’t have one, like 一, but it will only confuse you in the long run if they arbitrarily rename existing concepts.

yeah but without the fins you wouldn’t get to remember the Kanji with the story of people walking around wearing a hat with fins on top of it (Kanji for valley)

Now i’m just a beginner and i know next to nothing but isn’t ‘to enter’ = 入る ?

edited: wrote the wrong kanji, changed it to ‘valley’

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Well, in terms of the radicals being arbitrary: you’re correct, they are. In this case, they aren’t very useful outside of WaniKani, and that’s okay. What they’re for is to remember stories in order to remember what a kanji means. At first it bothered me too, but I’ve really come to see the use. I started WaniKani stuck around 300 kanji and having trouble retaining many more. Now I’m comfortably at about 800 and still going strong.

WaniKani is more of a ‘study smarter, not harder’ approach. Study hard, yes, but if you study smart (e.g. SRS), you can put in less work and still learn a lot. It takes Japanese school kids 12+ years of school to learn as many kanji as you can learn on WK in a little over a year (admittedly, if you go at top speed). Just ask any level 60, the system DOES work for plenty of people. It may not work for you, and that’s okay too.


Oh, and that is definitely a toe. 上 this is a toe sticking out of the ground that i tripped over, none other than Jo’s toe!

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会? That uh… doesn’t have “fins”. It’s made of 二, 个 and 厶. That being said, kanji mnemonics are somewhat arbitrary 桜(sakura) for instance can easier be remembered as “Woman amazed by tree”, even if it doesn’t really have a tree or amazement in it.

Yes, to enter is indeed 入る/入りる (depending on how you want to write it), but the kanji/radical itself is the act itself, and it’s not really translatable to simply “enter”

EDIT: I memorized 上 as bird roost stick thing(which i forgot the name of), because birds are above me, therefore up.
Here are its readings: Kun: うえ、 -うえ、 うわ-、 かみ、 あ.げる、 -あ.げる、 あ.がる、 -あ.がる、 あ.がり、 -あ.がり、 のぼ.る、 のぼ.り、 のぼ.せる、 のぼ.す、 たてまつ.る
On: ジョウ、 ショウ、 シャン

sorry it was valley… 谷 my error :slight_smile:

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Oh boy, another “real radicals” rant.


How about waiting at least for reaching level 3 to clear up a few of your misconceptions and wrong impressions?


The concept and names of the radicals are important as they are often used consecutively as their meanings in their respective kanji readings. Making up radicals on the spot isn’t exactly helpful either.

Is someone going to tell me that a Narwhal isn’t a real radical?


It’s plenty helpful to a lot of people though. It’s sure been helpful for me…