Success stories with WaniKani

Hello all,

I have read through an app called “Human Japanese” and used Anki to memorize it’s vocabulary. Then I found WaniKani and I am on level 3 now. I need to decide to subscribe or not.

When I did practice the past levels, I felt the app itself is awesome. I can “identify” more than before, but on the other hand i don’t feel confident. I usually have to think a lot when I see a kanji. Also, I tend to forget a lot of things after a while. In example the “Power” radical. I memorized it quickly, but a few days later it’s like: oh, I have seen this before - but what it was exactly, is gone.

I wonder if this is the normal process. You forget and your repeat, over and over again and at some time it sticks.

To be more clear: I would love to hear if anybody had actual success with this all. I am a westerner, not very talented with languages at all, is it really possible to succeed with 2000 Kanji, their different spellings, meanings etc? At the moment it feels a bit like wasted time (and money). On the other hand, I have made it to level 3 :-), which I didn’t believe was possible. But is it maybe just because I learned some of the terms in the other app before?

If you have any success stories to share, please let me know. I am also interested in how long it did take you, because if it’s longer than the promised 2 years, it might be worth taking the lifetime subscription… Or, if you are sceptic about this, I would love to hear that too.



That’s called SRS :wink: - you probably had a similar experience with Anki.

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There is a lifetime subscription, but in all honesty you don’t need to consider the decision so much. It’s not like you’re selling your soul to the crabigator or anything. Just go for a monthly subscription like me and see how it goes as you go :smiley:

Two things are limitless: Our ability to learn, and our potential to underestimate our ability to learn. I think if you’ve read through and learned everything in Human Japanese, you’re probably interested enough in Japanese to go far here in WaniKani. It took a level of commitment and routine that’s well suited to WK’s learning style. And sure, you’ll forget things, but SRS reinforces the things you forget the most, while focusing less on the stuff you know well. It has you covered.

Summarily, don’t be afraid to take another few levels to decide. Subscribe for a couple of months and see for yourself if you’re pleased with your progress at all. Personally, I think you’ll be fine!

As a final footnote, I loved Human Japanese too. You should check out their Human Japanese: Intermediate app. Following on from that, they’ve also created a website called Satori Reader.


I found WK to be extremely helpful in learning the kanji, to the extent that even now I’m using a very similar method when adding new kanji and words to study via anki! (I make my own mnemonics, and learn the new kanji before I learn words that contain it)

Learning 2000+ kanji has most certainly been possible. Even if it doesn’t include all the possible meanings or readings.

Also, I feel that learning to read kanji opens up a lot of doors for learning the language in general (most obviously reading books).


I think WK works, but you can expect to actually put some work into it. It’s more like a process where you can say “I feel like I didn’t improve at all, but actually I can read much more stuff now! I didn’t realize …” after a few months.

You won’t find an app where you lazily click around for some time and suddenly have perfect recall after a few weeks.


Absolutely. I made it to level 60, as you can see, and am more than happy with the results. Its pretty uncommon that I see a kanji I dont know (despite being in japan atm) and have had a pretty easy time guessing the readings of words I dont know. As for the words I do know, remembering the kanji readings in those isnt too bad either. Its hard to describe, but it doesnt really feel like I have them all memorized. I just read 珍しい as めずらしい without thinking about it, and thats sorta the point. You may have to think a lot now whenever you see kanji, but sooner or later reading them becomes completely natural.

Hang in there, my friend. It all seems overwhelming at first, and it will probably get worse for a short while, but after that you will finally begin to feel like everything makes more and more sense.


I guess I can give a slightly different point of view, since I learned all joyo kanji (so a bit more than 2000) three times before getting here.
In practice, the other methods I used (pen and paper, kanjibox and anki) would work to some extend, but eventually I would forget. In the case of anki, I would also convince myself that yeah, sure, じゅ じゅう, same thing, I totally knew that. But I didn’t.
I really like wanikani in that it forces me to type the answer, and will be merciless if I make a mistake (which does get frustrating at times, but it’s for the greater good :stuck_out_tongue:)

Aaaaand that’s pretty much why I’m here now.

NB: I guess most people on those forums are satisfied customers, so you can take everything we say with a grain of salt. The fact that the method worked/works for us does not mean it would work for you. Still, if you made it to level 3, I feel like it would be a safe bet…


Yep, exactly. As koichi has said, there has yet to be a single person who got to level 60 who expressed any regret…but thats just because it doesnt take 60 levels to figure out this site isnt for you. The people who didnt like it dropped out way earlier.

So, firstly, the forgetting thing is exactly what SRS is there for. You will get it eventually and it will make sure of that.

As for the speed of recognition, that has also increased with level ime (as I said in my post), but its worth noting that theres another approach to help with this. I believe it was @rfindley who tried just drilling as much as possible during the lessons so recognition was near instant and reviews flew by. You can always try that and see how it goes.


A year and a half ago, I couldn’t read manga.
Now I read manga in Japanese all the time at a comfortable level of comprehension, and I’m not even done WK.

While you need some basis in grammar too (which is not what WK is for), I can very easily say that I’m reading raw manga now because of WK. It has achieved and continues to achieve exactly what I wanted out of it. It’s not easy, and you have to put in a lot of hours to progress at a swift pace, but if you want it enough it’s worth it.

(I still have to look things up sometimes, as should go without saying. And progress will certainly come slower for things other than manga. Manga is both dialogue-based and offers visual context clues, both of which make reading significantly easier. But I can still read other text a whole lot better now than I could six months ago, and six months before that, and so on.)


i’m not so far from level 60, but man… wanikani just works. The SRS system works. I got the lifetime subscription because i felt that wanikani team deserve it. But stick to a monthly subscription for a while, at certain point you will see the results. =)


It sounds to me like you are learning kanji but are not sure if you want to learn Japanese, which is a bit odd, because usually it’s the other way around: you decide to learn Japanese, then for that purpose you learn kanji.


There will be kanji and words that you read once and remember long term. But just as often you’ll remember something for a couple days or a couple weeks and then forget. That’s natural and it’s what WaniKani’s SRS (and SRS in general) is designed to help with.


Like @Naphthalene says, we’re all pretty biased on these forums—we probably wouldn’t be here if we didn’t feel like it’s working. If you dig through the forums a bit, you’ll find the occasional topic made by various people who weren’t satisfied by what they were learning here, but overall, a lot of people agree this is a method that works.

Me, I came here 11 months ago as a complete beginner. I knew basically nothing about Japanese and less about these mysterious symbols called “kanji” and gosh, why was the 中 kanji pronounced like naka sometimes and chuu other times?? I was so lost.
Now, here I am, nearly a year later and 2/3 done, and I can read so much! It’s a slog sometimes, I won’t lie. I’m putting off 100 reviews right now because I woke up, saw that number, groaned, and opened the forums instead. But if you put in the work every day, you’ll see the results.


Well, I am same as you. I’m thinking about subscribing. And dolar is 5 liras at our country so… But I want to try it by month and month. I’ve never thought to learn kanji seriously but now I think WK is helping me a lot and I want to go to the end. I don’t know if I can count this as a success but I be so happy when I can read simple Japanese comments on youtube.


You can find people who don’t like WaniKani on Reddit r/learnjapanese. People who don’t like it have basically two reasons.

  1. It’s too slow.

  2. It’s too expensive.

It’s definitely not too slow, though it can seem that way in the beginning. It is comparatively expensive, since Anki is free, but it’s not going to break the bank either.

I don’t remember ever seeing someone complain that it didn’t work, though. Just follow through and you will learn, the SRS will make sure of that.


You got me wrong. I want to learn japanese as I want to read some original text about a japanese instrument and Zen. Also, I want to lower the language barrier between my japanese Zen teacher and myself. After practicing a long time Human Japanese and now starting with Kanji, I was overwhelmed but the sheer amount of things which I still have to learn. So I wanted to reach out if some people actually managed. My goal is to speak and read japanese as fluent as possible.


Thank you all for you replies so far.

Actually @rodrigowaick I agree: I don’t think it’s slow. Maybe the first two days are, but already today I sometimes think it might be to fast for me already. Also I am willing to pay for the right tool to get my goal done.

Your all stories so far are very motivating, thanks for sharing them!


oh man, we’re in the same boat (also probably in the same country lol).

I’ve also been thinking about month to month subscription because… that’s the only one I can afford.

Let’s level up and learn a lot of kanji together haha


Thanks @Krispy

I actually have a Satori Reader subscription and love the fact, you can integrate your WaniKani learnings there. I also do own the HJ Intermediate app, but haven’t touched it yet. To be precise, I need to memorize the final two chapters in HJ Beginners first, I am not really done done, just almost done :wink:

Great to see another fan of the HJ app, I think it is one of the most beautiful apps for language learning today.

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I have studied 1800 kanji so far and will be lvl 60 in 20 days if I stick to my current schedule so I will also be the one to tell you that WaniKani absolutely works.

At level 40 I made it to the point where I can complain about how “I only understand spoken Japanese when I turn on Japanese subtitles.” which made me think about how far I’ve come. I also read some raw manga and play Japanese video games. Kanji is no longer the “annoying part” of the Japanese language for me and as you learn more and more of them you develop this “kanji learning ability”. The beginning curve is very steep and hard to push through but the further you go the easier it gets.

I believe that most of the people who stick to using WaniKani and later drop out usually get to lvl 10 - 20 so I wouldn’t rush with the lifetime subscription until you’ve realized which pace you are moving at and if this is how you want to spend your time studying kanji.
If I “finish” in 20 days it will have taken me 1 year and 1 month so for me, the monthly subscription was the way to go.