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?


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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!


the whole production thing is not only way overrated, it’s complete nonsense.
i never produced a word of english in over 20 years, and when the time came, i had zero problems. everything was there, ready to be let out.

what you will need is practice speaking, and no SRS can give you that.


I’m not sure what those people, the reviewers, were expecting really. Do they think WK is a magic resource that somehow will teach them how to learn an entire language? It teaches Kanji, and how to read it. That’s it. That’s its strong point and I never expected anything more. The extra vocab you learn along the way is a bonus.

If someone wants the other way around, there’s plenty other resources for that. I want to be able to read in Japanese. That’s my main objective in learning Japanese.

By the way, if you want to do the reverse (EN->JP), I recommend KameSame.com instead of KaniWani. It teaches both vocab AND kanji, whereas KaniWani only does vocab.

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You could set KaniWani to only review burnt items. KaniWani goes so slowly to me.

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Then give KameSame a try. With both vocab and kanji, you’ll surely get more action :wink:

I did.

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What’d you think of it?

I think I should make a feature request to KameSame owner directly to remove ALL kanji I had learned there, but I don’t want to bother to do that, because I don’t want to disturb him and his time, and besides I had used KS for free, and I don’t think I can build something as good as KS. I think I’ll just want to test vocabularies on KS. I don’t want to type and press space over and over to find the correct kanji writing for a kanji. Anki is more satisfying for me personally.

You can check out KS thread to trace what I think more about KS.

I don’t mind it really. I really like it for its simplicity.
Once you type a new reading for the first time it pushes it right to the top and after that it’s more convenient to select the correct kanji.

It’s a matter of getting used to a different resource, I guess :stuck_out_tongue:

I stopped using KS after I knew he replied that post (that he wouldn’t add that feature). I had used KS since June 2018.

So I guess KS is just not for me (unless he added that feature, I’ll probably be back to KS). I’d rather put it this way than regretting why I put so many kanji in KS and only regretted later that I just want to test WK Vocabularies and not Kanji only.

I’m okay that you like KS.

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No problem :wink:
I just recommended KS because you said KW was slow. I though you wanted more action :joy:

I didn’t say KaniWani was slow. I said we could set KW to be slow giving us reviews if we want.

Personally my top priority is WK. I don’t want to overwhelm myself by doing things other than my priorities: KaniWani reviews/lessons, KameSame reviews/lessons + no crucial feature for me, Anki reviews, BunPro study/reviews. Eh? Probably not the last two.

We could set KW to be normal or not slow giving us reviews, if we don’t change that setting to burnt only. (referring to my previous post here). It’s just a matter of personal preference really.

i don’t want to do another SRS. i got WK, which i do every day, and iknow, which i do sporadically (and wouldn’t do at all right now if i wasn’t subbed, hehe).

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I’m not quite sure what you mean. Isn’t WaniKani a “production thing” as well? Do you disagree with WaniKani being something useful as well?

wk is input, not production. you learn to recognize kanji, not to produce them.