Should I do Kaniwani or wait until grammar?

Heya guys!!

Hope you all are well as always, on level 6 now and wow some of these kanji are looking complicated!!

anyway, I have lately been finding it hard to talk or think in japanese unless I see the visual prompts i’m used to in WaniKani (like seeing the kanji and its kana)

A friend told me to use KaniWani to improve my japanese without needing to read anything.

My question is, does KaniWani work? or should i focus on learning grammar to help with speaking or remembering words? or any other tips!! I find it hard to get time to do all my WaniKani reviews, only to look at 400 reviews and 100 lessons on KaniWani too :frowning:

thanks for all your help friends!!

see ya!


I would advise just using another vocab srs app like kitsune or torii.
wanikani teaches you only 4300 most common vocab words and around 2000 that are used only in novels. And they are spread all over different levels. Lots of most common words you will learn only at lvls 30+.

  • you can always toggle wanikani mode off in torii. that way you will get srs exposure from eng to jpn+ but in addition to that, you will learn tons of extra common words in only kana.

Just practicing tons of not that common vocab from eng to jp in kaniwani is not that good time investment imho.


I would create my own anki deck if I were you.

I would start with every day objects and simple sentences then I would go to google translate to find what this object called in Japanese. Then put that vocab into an anki deck. After gradually increasing the amount of vocab like this you would be able to start thinking in Japanese in your daily routine.

TBH, I’m not sure what is Kaniwani. I guess it’s a SRS platform parallel to Wanikani but emphasize on vocabs not kanji. If so I think you could just start using it. If you have limited studying time you might want to less focusing on Wanikani and putting more time on vocab and grammar. Wanikani is just here to teach you only kanji and nothing else.


Disclaimer: I don’t have speaking as a goal.

Speaking before getting to know grammar sounds like it would be an uphill struggle to me.

My recommendation would be to start learning grammar, then begin immersion, such as joining in with the Absolute Beginner Book Club here on the forums.

The more exposure you get to the words in different contexts, the easier it will become to recall those words. You’ll also get used to common sentence patterns and what words and phrases typically are used together.

From there you’ll still need to practice writing and speaking to get better at it. But I imagine it’ll become significantly easier over time as you read, listen to, and watch things in Japanese.


Well KaniWani CAN help with a certain thing, that is, when you know what word you want to say but can’t remember it. Recognition when you see it is not the same thing as being able to produce it - you only have to try KaniWani for a few minutes for that to become abundantly clear.

I do KaniWani as a writing exercise, I don’t pass the question unless I’ve said the reading AND written the kanji. That has a side effect of making me recognize the kanji better on WaniKani too, I went from around 85% average on the reviews to high 90s and more often than not 100. The mechanical action of writing helps a lot.

But I would say your friend is partially wrong - if you don’t know any grammar, being able to produce a bunch of words in cave-man speak is not going to improve your Japanese much. They all go hand-in-hand, grammar, vocabulary, and kanji and you kind of have to level them up together. The best way to learn all 3 by example is by reading more. I don’t take my own advice on that as much as I should, but when I do it makes a big difference.

I would rather be comfortable in grammar with the (relatively) few words in my vocabulary than know a lot of words but still not be able to say anything more complicated than “me happy” (I’m exaggerating for rhetorical effect). I would recommend bunpro or something like that before or also with KaniWani.


I’ve been doing both and am considering putting kaniwani in vacation mode and coming back to it once i’m done wanikani. I find the time required for both is a bit overwhelming and kaniwani IS significantly harder without that visual cue. For me, I think the time will be put to better use on staying well rounded, ie studying grammar, listening to podcasts for auditory processing, writing practice, native material reading etc. Just my experience so far with doing both…I think it will be a valuable tool…just not right now with so many other things I need improvement on…


Disclaimer: I’m not prioritising speaking, I’ve been focusing on reading.

TL;DR grammar and wider vocab. Kaniwani will help produce Wanikani words, but that won’t be enough alone to help you with producing Japanese sentences.

Wanikani is great but it’s primary goal is teaching you kanji and their reading, so many of the words are included just to teach those readings, in top of that there’s lots of super important words which are kana only, and other important words you won’t see until quite late into Wanikani.

Kaniwani is a great tool if you want to practice producing the words from English prompts, but that’s still only the vocab you’ve learned in Wanikani which is a subset of the vocab you’ll want to learn.

So based on what you’ve said I’m not sure if kaniwani is the best fit for you right now, given that you want to learn to speak and form sentences as neither kaniwani nor Wanikani will cover things like particle usage, and Wanikani doesn’t teach all the common verbs at the start.

I think you’ll want to try learn some more common vocab including verbs and grammar including particle.

If textbooks work for you then you may want to consider picking one up, they didn’t work for me as I find them a bit tedious but others swear by them and make good progress.

There are also free online resources for grammar like Cure Dolly (YouTube), Japanese Ammo with Miss (YouTube), and Tae Kim (popular online grammar guide).

I’ve been focusing on reading, +1 to mention of the ABBC once you’ve got some more grammar under your belt.
I’ve had a lot of benefit from making my own Anki decks, and in those I included a bunch of the JLPT-N5 vocab and vocab from Genki (common textbook). I’d previously read most of the way through the first Genki book before deciding it wasn’t working for me personally.

I’ll try edit this post later on to add links, just on mobile now.


I think KW is very beneficial, personally, because I like to be able to produce the words that I’m learning. But both KW and WK should not be the bulk of your study time if you actually want to learn how to speak or understand Japanese. I’d recommend slowing your WK pace a bit if the reviews are already starting to become overwhelming, and focus a little more on grammar and other study.

I’ve balanced my study so that I can do WK and KW every day in addition to grammar and immersion, and it doesn’t take too much time or energy. This means I level up once every two weeks instead of once every week, but I’m making steady progress on multiple fronts at once (kanji, vocab, grammar, writing, reading, listening), and I think it’s important to have balance so that I can actually start to use what I’m learning.


I would have wanikani always going in the background. It takes SO long. so even like 5 or 10 items a day will add up eventually.

I would start grammar now and keep wanikani going slowly on the back burner, but don’t take it complete off the stove.

I would choose grammar, and speaking on italki over kaniwani. personally.

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I’m currently doing both, though it’s a fair bit of work, you really have to find time to spare in your day and really enjoy doing reviews. Kaniwani helps improve my Wanikani accuracy as well as helps me recall words in Japanese so it’s not a wasted effort in that sense.

But if I had my time all over again and was level 5 right now what I’d do is skip Kaniwani and spend more time doing the 10k deck on - It’s a thing of beauty, and yes it’s another srs system, but one that you can use to hone your listening and basic grammar skills as well as important common or kana-only vocabulary that Wanikani skips.

You do have to pay for kitsun though, so if that’s an issue, do what others have suggested including anki, grammar and reading, that’s all great advice too.

To dovetail off what others have said, frankly, I’d forget about speaking/writing entirely for now. Use that energy on WaniKani, immersion practice, and Bunpro if you think it would be a good fit for you. I’m still not great at production myself, but listening to lots of native content has made me better at hearing what sounds right to a Japanese speaker.


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