Why does WaniKani only focus on Japenese -> English and not the other way around?


Hi guys,

As I am working my way up the levels, I came across several reviews about WaniKani.
Even though I find WaniKani very helpful, I read and heard a lot about one particular issue, which is that WaniKani only teaches you to translate from Japanese to English and not the other way around.

I’m not sure if this is as bad as these reviewers are calling it and I will definetely continue using WaniKani but I’m still interested if you guys know the reason behind this?
I suppose it would be easy to add the other way around. Is there a reason?



I cannot elaborate on the reasons, although I would think they wanted to concentrate on the passive use of the language (aka reading) and that’s why.

If you want to practice the other way round, visit KaniWani. You can use your API key from WaniKani and study the other way around. It’s free. :slight_smile:


Also I have heard from other people that have obtained fluency that doing so English-> Japanese will reinforce translation conversations. Meaning you will think of what you want to say in English, then you will translate it to Japanese, then you will say it. You might notice this with non-native English speakers because it is very common. However the opinion of others and myself is that you do not want to reinforce this. You want to start thinking in Japanese. You do this by reading, listening and shadowing.

If you still want to practice it, kaniwani is good, but it can be a little frustrating because there are a lot of ways to say the same thing. Like article, action, government to name a few.


The simple answer is that many people have misguided expectations about WaniKani. WaniKani is meant to teach you how to read kanji.

If you think of WK as a tool for learning Japanese, you’ll find many shortcomings. It doesn’t drill English to Japanese. It teaches ‘pine needle’ before ‘cat’. The example sentences are not very helpful. The vocab list is hopelessly incomplete. And so on.

If you think of it as a course that will teach you how to read 2000 kanji, you’ll find it does that pretty well. Even the vocab list makes sense if you look at it as a means to reinforce readings; it explains why some rather uncommon or literary words are included while some very basic ones are not.


I find that yes, with the few things I know it goes think what to say in English, then how to type/say in Japanese and that does make things difficult at times. But I’ve basically accepted that WK is for kanji, which will let me read stuff, which will let me consume actual native material, which will help with speed and recognition, which will help with the end goal.

So it does teach Japanese, or at least, a foundation of sorts.

As for a reason, I would assume because its easier when starting to learn from your native language rather than the other way around.

Definitely go for kaniwani, it is the same thing but flipped so JP to Eng.


I heard about Kaniwani before. But I don’t have the time fore another thing… I’m already doing a lot to learn Japanese.
For me, Wanikani complemented with a Japanese class at my University is the right way to go. I was just wondering why WK is designed its way.

@Chop I agree that it is a good way to help you learn the language.

@rodrigowaick & @Jibister If I think about it, I have to agree with you. The site is just about learning to read Kanji and nothing more… Even though there is a lot of Vocabulary to learn, it should just help you understanding the Kanji better.

Thank you for your answers!