Why are some kanjis so late in lessons?

For instance ‘語’ is easy with all known radicals and yet it requires level 10 despite being JLPT n5 and really common…


I wouldn’t call lvl10 late.
If they would put all the Kanji that are “really common” into the first few levels, then the first few levels would contain much more Kanji than any other level. They have to spread them out and especially the first few levels are focusing more on radicals and easing the user into Kanji.


Level 10 is early.
But yeah, they are some common kanji that appear way too late (like Lv30+) even though they’re common.


sure but I feel like some kanjis could have been swapped around though

They’re actively doing that, like even this week some were moved.
But I mean, you also can’t do EVERY useful kanji at once, and which ones are more important/common/easier/etc than others is a matter of opinion.

Just for the sake of interesting discussion, not to argue, but:
let’s say they did move it up. What level do you think? And now the hard part – which one would you kick out? (Assuming the number in each level was fixed)


WaniKani doesn’t follow JLPT/Jouyou grades, nor should it IMO. It’s a different approach. In particular WaniKani will always tend to teach simpler-looking kanji first due to the radical system. 語 is indeed rather common but visually not the simplest.

Most kanji up to at least level 20 are extremely common and useful, which is nice actually, it means that your effective ability to read Japanese progresses very quickly during these levels.

Use this as motivation to get to level 10 as fast as possible! I remember doing that while I was going through the levels, it gives you meaningful milestones. “Ah I finally get to learn this one!”


They explain this here:

Japanese children learn kanji in order of both usefulness and how simple the meaning of the kanji is, not how simple the structure is. This makes sense because Japanese kids are just that: kids. Even if the structure of a kanji is more complicated (that is, more strokes), they are more likely to learn it if the kanji’s meaning is simple and common.

WaniKani assumes you’re an adult, or at least not an elementary school student. So, we go the other way: more simply structured kanji, even if the meaning is too difficult for a kindergartener to understand. This way we can teach you more complicated kanji (in structure) using your knowledge of simpler kanji. And, you’re not overwhelmed by something with 13 strokes right from the start.

By doing this, you do miss out on some super common kanji right in the beginning. But, a couple months in you’ll know all these common kanji, plus a couple hundred more. It doesn’t take long to see our focus on the long-term pay off.


Hmm. Tough question. Easy swap would be counter for breads because that is rather barely used kanji but it’s also simple and teaches kin reading for subsequent axe containing kanjis. Maybe mugi?

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Chilled 麦茶 is a pretty common summer drink.

but it could wait till level 10 since it’s n2…

Who cares about the order of kanji? Just do it. Don’t waste time on thinking “why”


That is all nice and good but you expect a person to do all 60 lessons before you do anything else? That seems a bit strange. I want to take JLPT this year for instance (n4) to have something ready in case language school will need it so order kinda matters a bit for me…

WaniKani do not follow any list closely but they still try to put common kanji earlier so while it doesn’t 100% follow JLPT or Jouyou grades it’s still reasonably close:

You see for instance that by level 16 you get full N5 and 97% (all but 4) N4 coverage but only 3% of N1 (assuming that those JLPT kanji lists are reliable, which they aren’t, but you get the idea).

So the claim sourced by @spiced_onions above that Tofugu only cares about visual complexity is clearly not accurate, they factor both complexity and commonness. Otherwise wouldn’t be taught at level 51 (admittedly they introduce it as the “stool” radical long before) and at level 8.


You’ll have 100% coverage of expected N4 level kanji around level 27, and probably wouldn’t even need that much to be able to pass the test if you make sure you’ve got yourself covered in other areas. (grammar, vocab, listening and reading comprehension) Around level 10 or so, you probably know enough to pass, if you keep your studies balanced.

Level 27 might sound far off, but you’re pretty much a third of the way to that goal already.

I agree a lot of the order of kanji is very jumbled, but most of the important things are definitely within the first half of the program, and the fact you can reach that within a year without going at max speed is an extremely good pace.


I didn’t say do all 60 levels before anything else. You should definitely be learning other materials alongside Wanikani. Wanikani won’t change their order anyway, so I think you are wasting energy on things that don’t matter.

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We make it every day in our house and have a jug in the fridge at all times. It is what goes in both of our thermoses for lunch time at work :smiley:


I of course study something else in the mean time :slight_smile: but not kanji because that would be clashing with wanikani

I would definitely move 書 and 語 way up, and as for which ones to kick out, there are several to choose from: 投、矢、局 and more.