What level should I be to start Minna No Nihongo?

I’m currently looking at the different grammar books and such, and after much consideration I’ve decided Minna No Nihongo is the best simply due to it’s language immersion and depth. The only concern I have is when should I start this book series? I know it’s all in Japanese, and I also know there’s the translation book too. I don’t want to have to constantly flip through both books though, as I feel it would hinder the learning process. So I ask all of you: at what level can a person start the Minna No Nihongo series and can understand most of the kanji in the book?

If it’s level 10, cool
If it’s level 30, cool.
As long as it provides a solid learning base, I’ll go to any level necessary to be able to go through the book without to much flip flop between the translations.

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I did grammar before even beginning kanji


here’s a list of kanji in 皆の日本語: Imgur
For comparison, I’m level 35 and I’d say I know 99% of the kanji. But you might want to consider Anki decks if you’re shooting for that.

You might also be interested in this stats website: wkstats


I just started it last level, at level 7. My process is learning the vocab list for the chapter in the translation book before I attempt to read the main text, and so far, I’ve had to do pretty much no flipping back and forth, because I already have the vocab memorized before trying to read the text, so the only thing I have to worry about is deciphering the grammar.

As far as the WK levels of the kanji go, I’ve been looking up all the unfamiliar ones in WK, and for the first two lessons at least, there’s a lot of kanji that you will already know, but there’s also a lot in the 20’s and 30’s and even a few in the 40’s. So I would not recommend waiting too much longer, honestly. Because if you do, you’ll be waiting a very long time. If you don’t want to try to learn the kanji early, you can just learn the words by the kana, and read the furigana to comprehend the text. I’ve found that it’s not too bad for me to learn the vocab with unfamiliar kanji if I take them slowly, and only work on a few of them a day, and practice physically writing the kanji down in my journal. The main thing to avoid flipping back and forth between the books is by focusing on pre-learning the vocab until you’re pretty confident with it, and then trying to read the text.


As a personal experience, I started MNN1 when I reached level 6. I already know some vocab & kanji, so it really helped me. It’s a matter of comfortable I would say, back then at level 6, I still have a lot of unknown kanji vocab even on chapter 1. But along the way, when I gaining at WK, it become faster.

I would say the sweet spot is at level 10-20, remembering that MNN1 & MNN2 mostly cover N5-N4 materials. Or more precisely level 16 based on wkstat → N5 100%, N4 98%.


Oh and in addition, if you worried to flip flop with translation book (as I feel it too), you can use anki deck per chapter before jumping into the chapter Japanese: Minna no Nihongo 1 & 2 (Lessons 1 - 50) - AnkiWeb . What I did is run through vocabs in anki, then read some grammar explanation on translation book, then jumping into main book. And the good thing about translation book, it also contains trivia, so you’ll get broader application ~


Yeah, I can second this method! The Anki deck is super handy! It’s a good way to know if you’ve learned the vocab well enough to read the lesson. If you’re like me and also really prefer having audio with your flashcards, what I’ve been doing is using Yomichan to import the vocab into Anki, and then copying the audio links on the imported cards and sticking them on the cards in the MNN deck (as well as deleting the furigana on the cards with kanji I already know). It’s a bit of a pain, but it’s not too bad if you just add the audio one lesson at a time.

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I recommend Japanese from Zero book series. I started with it. It start with hiragana + katakana and basic grammars and words. The video series is complete (over 100+ episodes) , fun (the teacher is funny and fun to watch as well) and free ( all on youtube ). There is also an active discord community.

It a bit slower for some people, but I think this book serie entices praticing the basics more instead of rushing and it help you having a stronger core and developping an habit. I have completed all the five books in a period of 6 months. It gives you approx a level of N4/N3 without the kanji. And then you can dive in Tobira

Minna can be, and is designed to be, started without any kanji knowledge. You can start that grammar book at level 0 on wanikani, and you can learn all the grammar without ever touching any kanji.

You will however want to invest in whatever translation is native to you. It’s the standard in Japanese language schools in Japan. I think because it’s translated into so many languages, so the school can just hand you your native book and then do all the teaching in Japanese only. So if you ever go there to study you’ll want that book anyway. However, you don’t have to buy the Japanese only book. The translated book is all you need. But in the larger scheme of things just buy both. If you stick with it, it won’t be a waste.

Point of reference: I’ve completed both books at the Yamasa Institute in 岡崎市 and did so in my youth thinking kanji was too hard and I’d never be able to learn it. That was a mistake. Learning kanji makes reading so much easier when you are not a native speaker, but you can progress though Minna without any kanji knowledge.


At the beginning I started in classroom, but along the way I jumped several chapter ahead

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Minna has furigana over all of the kanji it uses and the translation book covers every bit of vocabulary, so you shouldn’t need any additional help. It’s just a nice bonus to realise that your WaniKani study is making it easier to understand, or when something you saw and remembered in Minna turns up in WaniKani at last.

The one thing that gets frustrating is when you’re ten chapters in, can’t remember what one word that was introduced in a previous chapter meant, then have to go looking back through several of them to try and find it. I find it a lot easier to just put words into Jisho to get a translation.

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I like bunpro! Similar to Wanikani but for grammar!

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the common books for learning japanese are all designed for people who have no previous knowledge of japanese, including kanji. so really you can start as soon as you want to.

using WK, we tend to frontload the kanji. learning grammar, and thus being able to start reading, allows you to see kanji in context. and that’s perhaps the best thing you can do to reinforce what you learn on WK ^^


in bunpro is it like WK when you start a new level there is almost 100 new lessons? How is the pace for reviews daily?

I dont have a lot free time even at night after a day’s work. Barely for wk reviews.

Since I am still low level on WK I think of, at least, to “close” the kanji gap for N4 when I hit level 27 in order to have way more vocab to understand the sentences.

What level? It’s called “MINNA no nihongo”, not “only some people no nihongo!”


Anyway grammar is more important than anything else. Vocabulary, kanji, whatever. Hop to it.


Minna no Nihongo is a beginners’ textbook, so jump right in. You’ll just have to be prepared not to know all the kanji or the vocabulary words, and I mean, that’s normal since you’re learning Japanese: the point of getting a textbook is to learn something new. Whether or not you want to try retaining the new kanji on your own is entirely up to you: I would do so by learning to write them, but I know that many people on WK don’t study kanji writing. You’ll probably come across them on WK at some point anyway, so studying them on your own might not be what you want to do. What I think you could try as a compromise is to get yourself a handwriting input option and to use that to look up new kanji to see if they’re on WK (just google ‘[kanji] wanikani’ and see if the kanji page comes up). You can then read through the page and see how WK tackles it. Take it as a lesson preview if you like.

I’d just like to say that even if you know all the kanji used in a given text, you might not know all their combinations, so there isn’t much of a point – in my opinion – in waiting until WK has given you ‘everything’ there is to know about the kanji in Minna no Nihongo, simply because it might not. That aside, you’re fairly likely to encounter some of the kanji you’ve already learnt on WK, which will only strengthen your memory and understanding of them. Whatever the case, all the grammar you’ll learn in a beginners’ textbook will allow you to start applying the knowledge you’ve gained on WK in reading and possibly in making your own sentences, and there can be quite a bit to get used to initially because Japanese sentence structure is so different from English sentence structure, so I think the benefits of starting early far outweigh the discomfort caused by any struggle you might have with the kanji and vocabulary used.

Hopefully someone with experience replies you soon, but from what I’ve heard (since I’m not a Bunpro user myself), it sounds like it really depends on which courses/modules you decide to do on Bunpro. I don’t think there’s a fixed curriculum. Instead, you choose the grammar points you want to study (e.g. JLPT N5 grammar, N3 grammar, N2 grammar). After that, you start clearing grammar points. I don’t know if there’s a level system, actually… it could even simply be that you go at your own pace unlocking one grammar point at a time? Whatever it is, while I could be wrong, I’ve never had the impression that Bunpro imposes a set workload on users by level, unlike WK.

EDIT: Yeah, from the Bunpro FAQ, it really sounds like you choose the grammar points you want to study.


There is no set amount of lessons per level; you can add as many grammar points to your review pile at any point. I think it defaults to 3 per study session. It can get out of hand easily if you keep all the ghost reviews on.


Each lessons is divided into 3-8 sections therefore you can choose your own pace. Bunpro has a 30 day free trial give it a try!

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Before Wanikani people learned very few Kanji and most took forever.

Just look at Genki, it teaches only 300 Kanji in two books.

People used to even learn Japanese in Romaji and somehow did it.

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