What are pros and cons of Wanikani?

I’ve been using Wanikani daily alongside a self-made mined vocabulary Anki deck since early january. I started learning Japanese again last November during/after a trip to Japan. This was after a long hiatus since 2020 when I learned some basic japanese grammar + vocab but didn’t get very far. I learned basic grammar through a mix of Tae Kim’s guide + cure dolly’s playlist, and now I’ll try to pick up additional grammar through immersion or channels like Game Gengo.

The pros and cons will vary, but in summary for me Wanikani has been a useful supplement so far, helping me fully internalise the readings and meanings of Kanji and filling in gaps that my Anki deck doesn’t cover, but it can also be way more frustrating than Anki and I’d definitely never prioritise it over actual immersion.


  • I love the UI design of wanikani. It’s very easy to look at, and the colour distinction between radical, kanji and vocab cards is a great detail.

  • The focus on vocab cards is nice. Wanikani is mostly vocabulary cards, and although I think there are too many vocab cards especially in early levels, it is an effective way of drilling in Kanji meanings and readings, in a way that will also get you to learn actual words.

  • The lesson cards are generally good. The sample phrases and sentences usually come across as more “realistic” than what I’ve seen in other supplementary apps and textbooks.

  • User synonyms and notes are a lifesaver. Wanikani would legitimately be useless without them.

  • User scripts are plentiful, easy to set up and alleviate many of the issues with the website. I’m currently using the font randomiser and double check scripts.


  • This may sound weird since I acknowledge it’s a key appeal of Wanikani for most people, but english language mnemonics just don’t do it for me, and I’d almost be inclined to argue that they’re an inefficient way of learning other languages. I’ve recently come to realise that it’s best to learn Japanese In Japanese whereever possible, and english mnemonics completely spit in the face of that. Even for those who like mnemonics, I think wanikani’s mnemonics can be way too long and confusing. I mostly just skim read or even ignore the mnemonics entirely if I already have familiarity with the kanji or word.

I did recently encounter the vocab card for 身 and the kunyomi reading is taught by saying "it’s the み in さしみ. This is a way better style of mnemonic - a simple one-liner, easy to remember and by remembering it you also remember an actual Japanese word instead of some random story about knives or mowing lawns for the emperor of fish or whatever. More of this please.

  • The SRS pacing is worse than Anki. I feel like in early stages of progress with a card you get reviews too frequently, and then by the Master/Enlightened levels reviews are too rare. The binary pass/fail system is also rigid.

  • Speaking of rigidity, even with copious use of user synonyms, the review system is wayyy too rigid and inefficient. Although I like the manual typing out of answers (and I’ve tried to incorporate a similar thing in my Anki reviews by typing in a separate notepad document), it can also take a long time to type out meanings/readings that you’re already super familar with. There’s little acknowledgement of “close enough” or typos. In the real world, translation is a very flexible thing and so associating words only with the very few definitions they tend to give you on Wanikani is not a good idea a lot of the time. I recently installed the double check script to mitigate this, and if there was no way of undoing typos at all I probably would have quit Wanikani aready tbh.

  • Lack of leech management is annoying, like others have said. At the same time though, if you’re going at a sustainable pace and are doing enough immersion, you shouldn’t have many leeches.

All in all, I think Wanikani is alright but could definitely be a lot better. I don’t regret buying my year subscriptions but I also doubt I’m going to buy a second year.



Updating previous statement:

my only con now:

it’s only 60 levels! :sweat_smile:

In the begining it looks like an eternity to hit the goal line, but here after finishing it after 3 years (last December) of daily dedication, I miss it everyday.


feels like it’s gonna be me… wanikani’s such a big part of my schedule, i never even realized ^^