Typical Wanikani level before diving into Tobira?

I tried google this question but there wasn’t an answer so I figured I’d ask here. What WK level would you guys recommend before delving into the Tobira textbook? For future googlers who might use this as a resource, my current level is 6.


I can’t find it in the new knowledge.wanikani.com but in the old guide Koichi wrote that after level 10 you’ll feel more comfortable reading basic kanji needed for many textbooks.


Thank you, I appreciate the info.

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I started out with Genki 1 + 2, then went into Tobira when I was about level 20~25, and it went pretty smoothly. As long as you know the basics of grammar from somewhere already (not necessarily Genki) it may be viable to go into Tobira even earlier than that.


My experience with grammar is pretty much exclusively Genki 1+2 and a few smatterings of casual phrases my Japanese friends taught me.

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My experience with Tobira is pretty much as @sigolino said - Genki 1 + 2, and in my case level ~30+ on WK. By then you certainly know enough kanji for Tobira lessons, as they use furigana on those that are less common. I think level 20 is a safe bet, or perhaps even earlier depending on your grammar and reading abilities. It was a decent step up from Genki to Tobira though, simply because there are far more grammar points per chapter, and far less in terms of explanations.


You’re only required to know about 300 kanji before you start with Tobira. They have a list on the official website. Here it is:


I’m not sure what that translates to in WaniKani levels, but if you know the kanji from Genki 1 & 2 plus the kanji in the red column, then you’ll be OK.

Here’s the page containing more information, including the list of kanji introduced in Tobira.


I started Tobira at level 30, hardly any kanji I didn’t know already.

You’re only required to know about 300 kanji before you start with Tobira. They have a list on the official website.

That’s true, but that’s because they expect you to use Tobira to learn new kanji. If you want to already know the kanji used in Tobira so you have one less thing to worry about, you need to know a lot more than 300.


I’m just about to start Tobira with my small class as we are finally finishing up the unloved Marugoto B1.

So I don’t think you can say that a certain level of WK corresponds with starting Tobira, mainly because WK is a very inorganic way of learning.

Aye, I did Nakama 1-2 and then Tobira, but those were long before I started WaniKanji, so I couldn’t suggest which level you’d need to be.

Tobira is not “many textbooks”. It’s an intermediate-to-lower-advanced textbook, written almost entirely in Japanese. :stuck_out_tongue:


Ah, yes now I remember having heard about it. I guess it’s for people who already live in Japan?

Is it? My university course used it for our third-year classes.

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Back when I tried studying for the first-time, I did genki 1 and 2 thru levels 8-20, I tried doing a bit of tobira between 21-23 before I fell off studying and it was incredibly difficult for me. I had to look up tons of words and just getting through a few pages took me a couple hours and even then understanding everything was harder still because I simply didn’t have the knowledge base to fully understand it.

It was incredibly disheartening for me, and a lot of people say to wait till 30, and I am going to agree with that, unless you want to be looking every few words up, lol.

Well you’re an Aussie and everything’s upside-down there so anything’s possible…


Just out of curiosity, why didn’t you like Marugoto? I used the very first A1 book in a class and I liked it. But I haven’t tried the more advanced books.

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I feel that Wanikani level isn’t really a good indicator of when to start using textbooks, as textbooks in general tend to be far more dependent on grammar and vocab knowledge than kanji.

I started using Tobira in university when I would have put my kanji skills at somewhere around 100 kanji known - a ridiculously small amount. But I was good at grammar and knew enough vocab to get by. Vice versa, I think if I had known 2,000 kanji but hadn’t studied much grammar and (non-kanji) vocab, I would have really struggled with the material.

So I think the answer is, if you feel confident in your basic Japanese skills and have finished other beginner textbooks, you’re probably ready. My university used it after Nakama 1 and 2 and I personally studied from Genki 1 and 2 on my own before using Tobira and I was well prepared for the material.

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Did… did we go to the same university? Because I’m yet to encounter anyone else here who studied from Nakama. :stuck_out_tongue:

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I took a class and thats the textbook we used. I’m using genki now though.

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It doesn’t seem to be a very popular textbook… and honestly, in my opinion, for good reason. I’m glad most places seem to use Genki. Things were formatted and explained much more logically in Genki.

First, I mis-remembered. We’re finishing the A2/B1 book, not B1. Previously we’d used A2.

It’s fine in some ways, there are some more or less natural conversations with audio. But let me get into what I don’t like about the Marugoto series:

  • I find the Can-Do statements ridiculous. As though we are learning a language to check off boxes like, “Now I know how to relay information I read in a museum exhibit! Now I know how to research washing machines online!”
  • The chapters are ordered by subject, some of which are a real drag, especially in a classroom setting. We had to spend something like four weeks each on 1) online appliance shopping, 2) volunteering at a festival 3) moving to a new house. Some subjects were better than others, but at times I wanted to pull my hair out.
  • In general, it just moves so slowly. If you use it in a classroom setting, maybe if it’s a daily class, you could make some progress, but in my 2 hours a week class, it would take you forever to get from beginner to N3 (JLPT) level.
  • While using it during class can be enjoyable, it’s laid out in such a way that it’s nearly impossible to use it as a reference if you want to review a certain sentence pattern later on. There’s no index, and grammar points, new vocabulary/kanji, and sentence patterns are just incorporated into the lessons, so finding them later is difficult unless you have the kind of mind that remembers that …だそうです is associated with museums for some reason.
  • This may be a personal gripe (I guess they all are), but it bothers me that they are so focussed on modern technology, like so much of the readings in the book are emails and blog posts as well as the odd Amazon-style review. It’s as though the authors believe that kids these days don’t have enough attention span to read a story that has nothing to do with the internet. (Is that maybe true though?)

Anyway, my classmates and teacher and I looked at our options and decided to give Tobira a try rather than continuing with Marugoto. Hope we like it!

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