Thinking of making my own Anki vocabulary deck

With the knowledge that Wanikani doesn’t teach every common vocabulary word that uses kanji (it’s my understanding that the vocabulary is mainly for reinforcing readings,) I’ve been pondering the idea of gradually building my own Anki deck to supplement WK’s vocabulary list.

The general idea is that once I’ve Guru’d a kanji, I would consult a dictionary like Jisho and find vocabulary words with that kanji that fit some criteria:

  1. Are not usually written in only kana (I don’t see much point in learning the kanji writing if you’re rarely ever going to see it in the wild)
  2. Are considered to be “common” words (Jisho has this tag)
  3. All the kanji in the word are ones I already know (e.g. I wouldn’t add 大学 if I knew 大 but didn’t know 学 yet.)
  4. Aren’t taught by WK or are for some reason held off until many levels after the point where you would know all the component kanji. I’d like to avoid redundancy, but at the same time it feels weird to wait to study a useful word that you know the kanji for.

I know that there are a lot of vocabulary words out there, so I could see a deck like this growing to be quite large. I know core vocabulary Anki decks exist, but to my knowledge there’s no way to temporarily filter out cards with kanji you don’t know, and I’m feeling stubborn about not wanting to study a word until I’ve already learned all its included kanji. The reason core decks haven’t worked that well for me is because I would keep running into words with kanji I didn’t know yet and that made remembering them much harder.

Thoughts? I’d love to know if there’s anything I didn’t think about that would make this a bad idea, or if there’s perhaps a better way to accomplish what I’m trying to do.


The ‘no kana-only words’ restriction seems odd to me. They are just as much common words as any other, for which you need to learn the meaning, and if you leave them out of your vocab deck that seems a weird blind spot… (I agree you don’t want to bother with the kanjified versions of those words.)


Maybe a compromise could be to include them in the deck, but just written in kana instead of kanji. I was mainly thinking of just focusing on vocabulary where the kanji is used in writing, but after some thought that does seem like a wasted opportunity. Might as well throw in any other common words, even if they don’t use kanji. Maybe I could include the kanji writing somewhere on the card just as a little bit of extra info, if at all.

1 Like

I would grab one of the core Nk decks instead. Would be faster.

I used to do something similar in the past, but it’s super inefficient. Better with an author or a series one likes a lot and start building a deck around that.


Any tips on dealing with vocabulary words with kanji you don’t know yet? Just brute force it until the word eventually sticks? Unfamiliar kanji are a roadblock I’ve had with core decks, otherwise yeah I would gladly just use one of those.

Conceptually I think what you want is something like “take core2k or whatever, and then suspend all the cards that use kanji above the level I’m on” (and then when you move up a level, unsuspend the ones that are now in-scope). I dunno if there’s a tool or script out there that does that kind of filtering, but it seems like an obvious enough desire that there might be…


I’ll look into that. If there’s no tool to help speed up the process of suspending the cards I’m not ready for yet, I’m still willing to put in the time to do it manually.

If you find a premade deck that includes WK level as a card field, you should be able to sort by that in the anki deck editor and then shift-select all the above-level-N cards and bulk suspend them.


I found a nice looking 2k core deck that I had in my back pocket, but it doesn’t include WK level (which wouldn’t be applicable to kana-only vocab anyway.) In fact I glanced over several different 2k decks on Anki Web and none of them had WK level for the vocab. So it looks like I’m left to suspend things myself. Perhaps I could take the time to manually add the WK level to applicable vocabulary words myself, since that’ll make unsuspending new cards in bulk later easier.

Edit: Hold on, searching “Wanikani” on Anki Web might yield some promising results.

Edit 2: Nevermind, didn’t find anything there either. The closest I could find was a deck with the core 2k sentences sorted by WK level, any others were just decks with only WK vocabulary. :confused: I found one deck (Anki Core 2000 deck tagged by Wanikani level - AnkiWeb) that apparently attempted to do 2k sorted by WK level but they screwed up and only uploaded cards that were also WK vocabulary, leaving off almost 700 core words.

Honestly making an anki deck is great for solidifying information by itself. To me making a deck is an important part of studying using anki.


If this is anything to go by, does this mean that WK already covers like 1300 of the core 2k vocabulary? Wouldn’t that make doing a 2k deck in Anki mostly redundant if you’re “unlocking” cards to match your WK progress? Though I guess you could always take a 2k deck and just cull out any vocab that are included in WK and use it to study the remaining 700 words.

I think making your own anki deck is a good idea but I’m not sure if going on Jisho and looking for common words is the best way to go about it. If you’re reading any native material, that would be a good time to mine unknown vocabulary and make a deck based off of that. Having context for all of the words helps a lot. If you read online, you can use yomichan as well to basically generate your flashcards with audio by clicking one button.

For pre-made decks, the Tango N5 and N4 ones are decent for starting out. They are sentence cards instead of vocab cards though and probably at least half of the words you will learn on WK too if you’re trying to avoid that. Most of the core 2k decks will have a lot of crossover with WK too, I’m not sure of any pre-made deck out there was made to avoid WK words.


The only native material that really has my interest at the moment is fan comics I found on Pixiv, which I guess could still provide some examples of vocab used in native material, but I don’t really have anything in mind in the way of “actual” books or other things to guide me in making a deck. Not really sure what to try. Been considering trying an Absolute Beginner Book Club again.

As for Yomichan, I don’t think it’s supported on Safari. I would have to start using another browser just for reading Japanese online.

Honestly, I think using another browser just for Japanese would be worth it if it allows you to use Yomichan. I cannot express just how essential of a tool Yomichan is for mining words and creating flashcards. I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am without it. It’s obviously possible to become fluent without it, but it just makes things so much easier. It’ll allow you to access stuff above your level way sooner, and it makes the most tedious part of studying, which is creating your own flash cards, almost entirely painless.


So like, building an Anki deck from native material (whether using Yomichan or not) is a simple a thought process as “oh I’ve never seen this word before, let me add it to the pile”?

Other than brute force would be mnemonics. Also for me, context, and searching the web helps. Full sentence audio can be searched with ImmersionKit and Youglish. I also took note in Anki, of what I have found, and what I was thinking about.

About having the unknown Kanji, I would focus on remembering the reading (and audio), and don’t mind if I misremember the Kanji (for another Kanji, or not using a Kanji at all).

It’s not always a simple process, because some people only like to add especially common words (or in my case, I only add words if I know all the kanji in them), so there’s a decision process you still have to go through when adding cards, but it does make it very, very easy to add new words on a whim, which you can delete later if you don’t end up needing them in the deck, and the whole process is very quick and painless.

I’m sticking to only mining words in one particular genre/subject area right now (pro wrestling), which is the main reason I’m learning the language. So I don’t add new cards from manga that I’m reading or from other sources, because I don’t want to overwhelm myself. But even without adding the words to Anki, Yomichan is an excellent tool for browsing twitter or reading Japanese news pages or navigating Japanese web pages in general. I use it quite literally every single day.

It’s also excellent because you can customize the dictionaries you have installed. I have one J-J dictionary installed, for example. That offers a lot more clarity than the English definitions do a lot of the time, and I can get all of those definitions in one step with quite literally the click of a button. Eventually, when I’m more advanced, I’m hoping to move to entirely monolingual dictionaries. When that day comes, I can easily customize Yomichan so that it shows me only J-J dictionaries without having to change anything else about my process or introduce new tools, and that’s very appealing to me.

I’d recommend at least trying it out. See how you feel about it.

And how would you know that a word you stumble across is an especially common word? Would you just check a dictionary like Jisho, or do you mean “common” as in “I’ve stumbled across this word like a dozen times already in the kind of material I’m reading, maybe it’s worth adding” even if said word isn’t “common” in general?

I think I’m sold on at least trying it out. Any particular recommendation for a browser, or does Yomichan work just as well between Chrome and Firefox?

Yomichan has a dictionary called Innocent Corpus, which gives a number for each word. This number represents how many times that word occurred in a large collection of novels. Obviously it’s biased towards words that are common in novels (so a lot of pro wrestling vocab, for instance, has very low Innocent Corpus numbers despite being very common words in the setting of pro wrestling), but generally that gives at least a small idea of how common a word is. You can check with other sources, too, if you’re on the fence about it, or just use your intuition. Personally I don’t mind adding rare or uncommon words, so I’ll just add stuff that I think is interesting.

When in doubt, always pick Firefox, personally. Mozilla is a non-profit dedicated to internet health and privacy, and I like supporting them over companies like Google.


Some people like to add everything while some people only like to add in common words etc. Good advice that I’ve seen before is to add words that you’ve seen more than once and make sure the context you see the word in is good ( i.e. do I have a sentence surrounding the word I can easily understand, once the word has been defined?)

There are some frequency stuff you can download along with yomichan so when you look up a word it shows how frequently it appears in text. I use one that shows it for both novels & visual novels (smaller numbers = more frequently used). For example: