Wait I need to know Hiragana to learn japanese here?

So basically I started using this site to learn japanese. The radical stuff went well and I memorized everything easily, now that I’ve unlocked the first kanji’ lesson I was completely lost at what even they want me to do, it showed the Kanji for 8 and I put in “Eight” and it didnt work.(it also tried to convert my “Eight” into kanji or something) I went completely blind into WaniKani with 0 prior japanese knowledge, and also no katakana or hiragana knowledge.

So from what I’ve seen I need to learn Hiragana first before I have any use for this site? I wish that would’ve been made clear from the start…I mostly care about learning to understand spoken japanese. sad because I really liked this website from the few days that I’ve used it


Hiragana literally takes a week or less (if you have the time) to learn it. Trust me, it’s worth it.


This site is focused on teaching written Japanese. And it only teaches how to read kanji, nothing else you need to understand Japanese, like grammar or non-kanji vocab. If your focus is spoken Japanese there are better resources.


This site will basically teach you to read kanji very well, but for the other aspects you will need to find different resources:

The Ultimate Additional Japanese Resources List!


Hiragana is easy to grasp and it doesn’t take very long. pretty much the same amount of time for one level of wanikani. take your time with it and come here. you will not regret it!


If you put your mind to it, you can be done with it in two days. Once you have a decent grasp, using WK will help with the reinforcement.


Hi Kitteh,

As someone learning Japanese as part of a two-term accelerated course at a university level and is using WankiKani to memorize kanji, hiragana and katakana are prerequisites to learning kanji and spoken Japanese. Full stop. All the pre-course work I had to do was “know how to read, write, and say hiragana and katakana,” and all the sounds and readings of kanji are based on hiragana.

Even if you choose to never try memorizing kanji after today, you should at least learn hiragana and katakana if you want to learn to speak Japanese. Romaji – the Roman versions of the words – doesn’t quite convey the sounds your mouth is supposed to be making. (Quite literally, I had a friend ask me a few minutes ago why certain vowel sounds were “silent” and I replied, “Because you’re reading the romaji incorrectly, just as I used to.”) As well, you may never quite understand how grammar conjugation works without at least hiragana. Katakana is for borrowed words, and they will always be written in katakana, so that’s often useful for learning, in my opinion.

With that said, after 6 months of learning, kanji is becoming increasingly more important to my understanding of grammar. Since a lot of words can be written with the same hiragana, I’m running into similar situations an English language student might encounter, where I’m looking at a bunch of hiragana and wondering, “There’s at least five different words I can form using this collection of characters… which one is it?” and I find myself thinking that just having the kanji would be easier to read, even if I have to go look it up. I’m not chasing the Level 60 cake. I just want to communicate better.

Hope this helps, and best of luck.


Use this to learn Hiragana/Katakana very easily. As others have said it is very easy to learn them quickly but to understand a new language, you need to start with the syllabary. It’d be like trying to read Gone With the Wind without knowing the ABC’s.


Learn hiragana and katakana first. Many times kanji and hiragana is put together to make verbs and other words.
You can do it!!!
Welcome to wanikani :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


Do you have an example?

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を is rarely pronounced “wo”
へ sounds more like “e” than “he”
し is more of a “sh” than “shi”
つ reminds me more of the German “z” sound than whatever “tsu” is supposed to sound like.

My lecturer, who was born and raised and lived in Yokohama through her undergrad years, had to keep reminding me and other students to ignore what we thought the sounds the hiragana would make based on the romaji and to listen to the sounds that came out of a native speaker’s mouth.


Thanks for the replies guys. I realize it was my own fault for having the wrong expectations regarding this site. I will definitely come back here once I’m ready to learn kanji. Just learning the radicals alone showed me that this site does a really good job in teaching things!

I was a bit frustrated when I created this topic because I was just so motivated and happy to finally start learning japanese and really liked how things work here. So when I realized that’s not exactly what this site is for It really made me feel down. Anyway, cheers. I’ll definitely be back.


Well, yeah, pronunciation shouldn’t be based on romaji, that I agree with. But the romaji can represent the same pronunciation as kana once you know it.

It’s worth noting that there are different romaji schemes as well. を is sometimes presented as o in romaji, depending on the system.

With へ, that depends on the context. ヘトヘト (exhausted) does sound like hetoheto, and not etoeto. But あなたへ would be written “anata e” in romaji, not “anata he” to represent that it’s the particle へ with the different pronunciation.

With regard to し, it can get devoiced, but it also can be voiced normally… so, I would say it depends on context.

I have no idea what the German z sounds like, but tsu seems like a reasonable representation of つ to my ears.

But yeah… I agree that people should not base their pronunciation on romaji as if the rules came from English pronunciation of those letters.


I signed up for wanikani years ago so idk how different the “pitch” screen is these days but, I’m preeetty sure the site makes it clear before you sign up that you’ll need to learn hiragana at least by the time you start doing kanji lessons. Does WaniKani have any prerequisites? | WaniKani Knowledge

And yeah if you want to learn Japanese at all, you’re going to need to learn hiragana anyway so you may as well get started now. Learning kanji won’t do you much good if you can’t read hiragana, and by comparison hirgana and katakana are much easier/faster to learn and will also help you learn about pronunciation. (There’s a lot of details about pronunciation to study but at least getting a sense of which sounds are or aren’t in the language is a good first step.)

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When I started it caught me off guard too. I was like “huh, I think the website is broken?”. It didn’t take long to learn the hiragana and then once I came back and started to get things right, everything felt very satisfying.

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Yeah, I suggest learning hiragana and katana first, which are the two of three writing systems for japanese, as some things on wanikani you will need to answer in katakana (that can be activated by pressing the caps lock, and pressing that button again will return it to hiragana).
I learned it in a classroom, so I’ll just tell you how I did it that way, and give you resources below that will probably help you out a bit more. I suggest pulling up a chart and writing the hiragana down, pronouncing it while doing so. Also learn a few animals and write them down in hiragana. The more you can use the hiragana, the better ingrained into your memory it will be, then you will also know a few animals. Look up a basic greeting and just keep writing down. Also maybe look up someone pronouncing each hiragana character, and try and follow along with their voice. That can help with sounding slightly less foreign. But of course try the links below, as my method may work a lot better in a classroom where I am forced (well I’m willingly doing it, so I guess not forced) to write sentences, and see hiragana and katakana a lot more often.

Here are some resources you could use to learn hiragana
(Tofugu is the company that runs wanikani, they have a whole bunch of articles you can read through, and they even have a podcast)

Japanese Ammo (A youtube channel, but this is one video specifically, also for this, it’s long, but you can come back to it at any time)

Also quizlets are nice. I would recommend memrise as well (like quizlet, but has an spaced repitition system like wanikani does, which is really good)

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Wouldn’t that be somewhat like asking if I need to learn the alphabet to learn English? Not an exact analogy, but…

Do not despair my friend, as others have already said, it really does not take long to learn hiragana. Not that dissimilar to learning the ABC…Z of the alphabet. You might even find that once you have started to learn hiragana, that provided that you are OK with thinks being a bit slow at first, your actively being required to use hiragana here would actually accelerate your proficiency in that respect.

Also, since written Japanese is always a combinatgion of Kanji and Hiragana (and Katakana) even if I knew every Kanji perfectly, I would not be able to read Japanese.

It woud XX XXXX trying XX read English XXXX half the words XX the XXXXXX blacked out. (It woud be like trying to read English with half the words in the setence blacked out).


Going through the Tofugu Hiragana guide is super fast, and the first few WK levels are a great way to practice because they give you “sound alike” english words in the mnemonic. Honestly, you can go through the Tofugu exercises today and be learning kanji on WaniKani tomorrow!

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I’d just like to say that I appreciate seeing one of these topics ending with an “oh I see” rather than the spirals of fury they usually end up becoming!

I hope you come back when you’ve learned the kana. You don’t have to learn it well, just well enough to get by. You’ll reinforce them in pretty much all the rest of your studies! :slight_smile:

:muscle: Ganbatte kudasai! / がんばってください / 頑張ってください! :muscle:


You’ve probably gone now. But I think you’d like Risa. She has visual mnemonics for all the hiragana and katakana (90% worked for me). It took me more than an hour!! More like 10 days for each, doing a batch every day. Learn ALL Hiragana in 1 Hour - How to Write and Read Japanese - YouTube