Studying Kanji outside of WaniKani?

So I’m a super beginner. Got kirogana down completely (and working on pronunciation of some combination stuff like long vowel etc), Katakana about half way there (though it feels pointless despite seeing it everywhere in Japanese media), and finally there’s kanji. I’m of course using WaniKani but it’s very heavy to me. I review it every morning and night and sometimes once during the day, but it’s hard to have a spare minute and just quickly open it up. This feeling of slowness is also compounded by me knowing a bit of (simplified) Chinese, enough to know the meanings of more than a couple characters I’ve encountered on WaniKani so far. Although pronunciation based on that gets confusing at times. The only character I’ve seen pronounced the same is 三

So I’m wondering if there is something better and how to start? I think the radical learning process in WaniKani is interesting, but is there real use to it? Many times the radical seems almost completely unrelated to the character’s meaning and reading. I’ve heard about Anki flash cards but unsure how to begin using it or planning my own vocabulary to learn. I assume I should introduce a few characters at a time also? At what rate? I like WaniKani but it’s forced waiting for more reviews is really a pain for my method of learning. Ideally I’d be able to review a few kanji when I have a few minutes of waiting around to do, anytime (not just 1-4 hours since last review)

It will all make sense later on. It is a bit harder if you know a bit of Chinese because some things are the same, but some are different enough they they may throw you off.

Stick with it until Level 3 and see how it goes.


I am at the same stage of learning as you, and I agree with @alo, I think you should stick with it until Level 3.

If you want to instead spend time working on basic Grammar with that time, I suggest LingoDeer, a mobile app that teaches just about as much as Genki 1 and 2, minus vocab. That way you can access it anywhere and easily during your free time. Plus you can learn something different, or in a different way to keep things fresh!


You can try to learn characters by rote if you want. For any given kanji character, it’s probably trivially easy. The problem is when you have 8 characters that look similar to each other, and 10 other characters that look similar to each other, etc. Keeping those apart is where breaking down the kanji into their elements makes a difference.

You don’t need to know the history of the characters to know when you should use 複 or 復, but you need some method for remembering which is which.


Like Chinese, Japanese makes more sense with time once you learn more amd establish patterns. Kanji definitely fits that mold. There are also plenty of carry overs from Chinese phonetically as well as characters.

Phone is dianhua in Chinese, denwa in Japanese. 電話
Body is shenti in Chinese, shintai in Japanese.
New year is xinnian in Chinese, shinnen in Japanese.

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I really wish WaniKani had a “review but this won’t count toward learning” mode. I understand the concept of SRS and it’s usefulness, but it’s painful to only get a single review of 16 kana and then for my progress to be artificially slow because I can’t spend a bit more time on it. I like the great way I learned hirogana. Memomics from Togofu and then review a set of 5 or 10 characters. Review it until I know it (short term memory based) and then move on to the next set or stop for a few hours/whatever. When I come back, yea, I struggle but it’s stuck in my head much more than when I work with such a larger set of (more complex) kana 1 time per session. It might be cool if I knew I could dedicate 5-10 minutes out of every hour for reviews, but I can’t, so I like to cram learning in how as long as I have time. I realize that’s against the SRS method, but even with Wanikani reviews the word sometimes doesn’t even get into my short term memory and I fail a word multiple times in a single review. I’m always really iffy on the “right” entry but it doesn’t come up again until I have time for more Wanikani, which I’m almost 100% bound to fail the word when I review it again in a few hours.

Basically I wish WaniKani was more intense and allowed for some sort of infinite time mode for when I have extra time. Easy to break off 30 minutes 3 times a day for learning compared to 15 minutes 6 times a day.

I know it may seem like a lot of extra work, but you can always review your critical condition items by clicking into the problem Kanji or Vocab and it will show you the pronunciation and all information from when it was first taught to you.

From there if you know you have some problem Kanji you can practice yourself in a notebook or on flashcards and add as you go on, crossing them out or removing them from what you review outside of WK as you become more consistent.

I definitely know the feeling of failing a word multiple times during a review, but it feels so much better when you review it later and get it on your first try because of all the mistakes.


@earlz I can understand some of the frustration you are having. Seems like most of it is really with the SRS style of studying in itself. I will say, however that the first 3 levels of WaniKani are on the slow side. Once level 4 opens up the lessons increase in amount. Some levels are longer than others but the repetition will help down the line.

There are some scripts that you can add to your browser(?) I suck at explaining tech stuff that will allow you to do some self studying. There is a big list of those scripts and apps here The New Improved List of API and Third Party Apps. I hope that’s a little helpful. Wanikani is really helpful is given the chance so I hope you can make it work for you.


Yes yes yes couldn’t agree more. Except somehow my WK system on level 5 has me on no reviews at all available until 5am then late at night – I’ll have maybe one to 5 to do during the day. Takes 3 minutes, usually get them wrong as I haven’t seen them in days, and then I have to wait 6 more hours before I can do a proper review session. Doing WK at times that it sets rather than times I can set is very weird. It would be nice to be able to say “I’m ready today now, this is my window today” and it gives me my reviews,

Can’t you just wait for the reviews to collect and do them later?

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I recommend reading the “4. Building your own schedule” section of this post: My Journey of 368 days (+ The Ultimate Guide for WK 📖 ) - #2 by jprspereira

Basically, find two times during the day (or ideally three) to do your reviews, eg/ morning, lunchtime, evening. If you do that, all the reviews will naturally slot into that timing after a while.


It will soon get so intense you‘ll wish you cherished the start more than you did now. Enjoy the moment of peace while it still lasts.

The tsunami will come.


I make kanji cards still and carry them around with me to review. It’s in addition to Wanikani. Why not just do both and let them compliment each other?


I’m going to try it out (and maybe a few cards or whatever on the side) until level 3 or 4, especially since I still have things to learn in parallel. I’m hoping the pace picks up a bit. At least I’m on kanji now though rather than just radicals like the first 3 days

One thing I really wish WK had was the ability to review example sentences using kanji OUTSIDE of the lesson. In the initial lesson they let you see that, but then in review (by checking the kanji itself on the dashboard or in the review process) the tab showing example sentences is for whatever reason missing. I like the extra reading practice of (some) of the examples where I’m learning the kanji and the rest is hirogana

edit: Nevermind. Just found I had to click through a bit to get example vocab sentences

I think the “build your own schedule” explains how to do that. When I’m awake and cogent I just always wanted to do the reviews that I could and it was only a couple. I think I have the advice needed now to improve the experience. Thanks!

Dude I was right there with you. It was confusing at the start and mad frusturating. I JUST got to level 5 and had 172 reviews waiting for me… You’ll start wishing it was slowing down instead of speeding up.

Are you, by any chance, doing those reviews at those odd hours? Because that’s the only reason the SRS would keep perpetuating that cycle.

If you skip them for half a day and do them at the hour you want, the next interval will be based on that hour.

Well yes because I’m already several days behind my husband. But you are right, I have to do what you suggest because I’m falling further and further behind him since I am exhausted when doing reviews… :slight_smile:

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That’s why I recommended to push through a few more levels. Level 4 is about the time when you actually feel like you want to slow down a bit. :wink:

Check out

I found it to be a good way to reinforce the learning and have something else to review when your WK items are done. Just don’t make the same mistake I did and start KaniWani at Level 5 with hundreds of Lessons and Reviews to slog through. :wink:

I also use to review grammar.

All three of those can take up quite a lot of time and should keep you quite busy.

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