Questions I Have

I have a few questions about learning the Japanese language, because I’m not all that knowledgable about it yet. In other words, I’m an idiot when it comes to Japanese :man_shrugging:

  • What is stroke order, and is it important for me to learn?
  • At what level should I begin to study grammar?
  • At what level should I start trying to apply Japanese to my daily life, and how would you recommend I do so?
  • Is subscribing to Wanikani worth it? (I fear that I might get frustrated when lessons/reviews start to pile up and just end up quitting)
  • Is there anything that the Tofugu websites and Wanikani don’t teach? How would you recommend I learn these later on?

Any & all help is appreciated, thank you!


Every character has a “proper” way of writing it, though in general it’s best to learn rules of thumb rather than to try to memorize each character individually. Tofugu has a good article about stroke order. It’s largely unimportant unless writing kanji is something you are really serious about. Understanding it can also help you decipher hand-written kanji you come across.

One other thing to note is that it’s not always consistent between languages. The same character might be written one way in Japanese and another way in Chinese. They end up looking the same, but the order can differ.

The creator of the website recommends starting after you reach level 10. I personally would say there’s no harm in starting now, but it’s really up to you.

There’s no reason to wait, really, even if all you are doing is making little sticky notes and putting them on things in your bedroom. Any little bit of exposure will help.

Well, nearly everyone here is subscribed, so it’s a biased crowd, but again it’ll depend on your situation. It’s possible to learn everything you need to know about kanji for free, on your own, but the value is in having WK put it all together for you. If you are afraid of burn out, you can just take it slow.

Lots. There’s a thread with a list of other resources somewhere.


じゃー \o/


Stroke order is the order and direction in which the different lines and that make up a kanji need to be drawn. Sites like have guides showing you how to draw a kanji in the correct stroke order. For example, for the kanji 日


Stroke order is particularly critical if you are interested in writing kanji by hand. Nowadays however, most writing is done by typing in computers and the like, so it is not really necessary. Knowing stroke order, however, has a couple interesting advantages:

  • It can help you find the meaning of a kanji you don’t know yet, and that you found in printed paper and thus cannot easily copy paste. Many sites (like or sljfaq ) allow you to draw a kanji and then the site attempts to recognize it. They are way more accurate if you use the proper stroke order.
  • It makes it somewhat easier to recognize a kanji when it is presented to you in a different font.

I personally find this advantages are marginal, so my suggestion is to follow Leebo’s advice and check Tofugu’s guide and use their rules of thumb, and not worry too much about stroke order.

Leebo already mentioned that there’s no issue with starting right away, and the WaniKani team suggests starting after level 10. My advice is not to start later than level 10 . The sooner you understand grammar, the sooner you can start attempting to actually read native material; and I feel this is very important to actually make the kanji you learn in WK stick to your memory. WK’s SRS-based methodology is great, but no exposure to the kanji in the wild will make it a lot harder to retain properly.

There’s been cases of people working hard on going through WK very fast but neglecting their grammar, and eventually find that even though they recognize a lot of kanji in a japanese text, they can’t really understand it (I am one of those >.<)

I think the first three free levels will give you a clear idea of WK’s methodology and help you decide whether you think it is properly working for you or not. WK is definitely not for everyone; it is more of a one-size-fits-most than a one-size-fits-all thing.

Reviews and lessons piling up can definitely be problematic and many people burn out after a while because WK can be very unforgiving in that regard; you can’t easily take breaks (WK does offer an option for “vacation mode”, but that has a few problems on its own, mainly that you won’t get any reviews but your brain will start forgetting stuff, specially the items you learned recently)

For this reason pacing is very important. Proper pacing is not really that difficulty: it boils down to how many lessons you decide you want to take per day. People trying to go very fast will take 20-25 lessons per day (or plain crazy ones will just take all lessons as soon as they are available; this tends to create huge review piles that can be discouraging though), while people taking it very calmly will do 3-5 lessons per day. The key here is to do as many as you feel comfortable, which will take a bit of experimenting. If you feel you have too many reviews per day, then reduce the number of lessons you take, and reviews will start being less overwhelming.

Aside from the list of resources in the previous post, I’d like to mention that WaniKani’s main focus is kanji. While WK will teach you vocabulary, this vocabulary is more like an added bonus - a way to re-inforce the kanji you are learning. WK will teach you a lot of useful vocabulary, but it won’t cover a huge amount of common words.

This means that you will need other resources to fill the vocabulary gaps you will find when attempting to actually read japanese material.


I had one student, and older lady, who when I wrote the number 5 on the whiteboard asked me what it was. I said “five”. She told me “No. That’s not a five.” She grabbed a pen and wrote a five on the board. I said “Yea. Five.” She said “Un. Five.” then pointed to mine, shrugged her shoulders and said “What’s that?” She had learned 5 in a specific stroke order. I didn’t write it using that stroke order so to her it was something completely different. :man_shrugging:


Now you have ruined 5 for me. :weary:
I imagine it was something like:
how we write 5 vs how we would write 5 with stroke order

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I either start with downstroke and curve first, or write it like the left one. I never start with the top stroke.

Yes. :sweat_smile: That’s what I meant. :open_mouth:
The left one is how we (I thought everyone, but you can never know) write 5.


The second one is the correct form. The left one is just wrong, and yes, not a 5, but an S.


Oh, no. Now I’m being 5splained. :cold_sweat:


I actually write 5s like the left one but starting from the bottom :eyes:

What have I done? :joy:
But, yeah. Writing numbers from the bottom seems to be somewhat popular as well. :stuck_out_tongue:


What the hell? It’s start from the top left, down, hook it, then the top line left to right.


Apparently, that’s also common, but I don’t understand why you would go down then up. :thinking:

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I did the left version (top to bottom) as a kid until I was corrected by a teacher and now I do the right one (hook top down, then dash)

I see now that proper stroke order is also a problem with the Latin alphabet. :smiley:


4 must blow her mind, then. Nevermind stroke order - sometimes the vertical meets the diagonal, sometimes it doesn’t; some people make the diagonal, vertical! Also, 7 with a horizontal line through it.


I also do Z (and z) and q with horizontal lines

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I sometimes do this.

9 is either either written like an upside down six, or like lower case g, if you get what I mean

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone write a 5 like that…

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