Why I’m quitting WaniKani

When I started I really loved the system however over time it has become counterproductive. These are a few reasons I’ve decided to quit.

  • many of the kanji I’ve learned or studied are useless. I live in Japan and have shown the kanji I’m studying to my wife, coworkers, and friends (all Japanese). Several people didn’t know the kanji in the lists or don’t use them.
  • the kanji lists aren’t organized by stroke order, frequency of use, or JLPT tests.
  • the enormous amount of time it takes to study the kanji has become detrimental. I could be studying the grammar or speaking or listening or literally anything else.
  • the last one is on me. I don’t really enjoy it anymore. Honestly, I don’t really “get it” when it comes to Japanese. It’s never clicked for me.

In fact, I only live in Japan because of my family and have no particular interest in the language. This app has made me frustrated and annoyed and made me enjoy learning Japanese far less.

After over two years I’ve only ever managed to get up to level 16 or 17 and had to reset several times due to the overwhelming number of kanji in my study queue.


At level 16, this seems really hard to believe.

Japanese people are fond of acting impressed at foreigners studying kanji, but if they graduated middle school they know all the kanji in the first 16 levels (and many more).


That’s an odd claim. I’m 6 levels below you and I’ve probably encountered well more than 90% of the kanji I’ve learned amongst graded readers, manga and NHK News Web Easy. What exactly are you reading where you don’t encounter most of the kanji or words you’ve learned so far? I don’t think I’m reading anything so esoteric where I should be encountering the kanji from WK at an abnormally high rate.


I quit Japanese for two years before coming back. Not saying you will come back, but life has its funny twists and turns sometimes. I agree that if you don’t enjoy this any more, you don’t have to keep doing it. Hope to see you again some time, but if not, do something fun!


It’s really difficult to learn a language and you need a strong interest and passion to keep going.
It’s like trying to get your PhD in mathematics when you dislike math.
Though maybe japanese/kanji is just not for you right now, but your always welcome back.


I was going to say the exact same thing. That seems unlikely.


I wish you a good crabless life!


If you don’t enjoy it then I think that’s good enough reason to quit it!

I think before you even start WK they do say that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and that you really can’t be too casual about it, you gotta do it everyday, as one of the elements of the system is the repetition, so the intervals and frequent reviews are important. So yea I can totally see why someone who doesn’t enjoy what they’re doing would just hate it even more instead of being converted into it.


This is probably the majority of the problem, honestly. If you have no interest in the language or culture, it’s going to be extremely difficult to have the motivation to actually learn. If someone shoved a plate of pickles in front of me, and I had no particular interest in pickles, I wouldn’t eat them, and that’s with it being given to me. Learning a language is exponentially more difficult than being handed a plate of pickles, not to mention this specific language being one of the most difficult, so this altogether leads you down a dead-end road to begin with.

The other part of the problem seems to be the amount of time dedicated to following the system. I can’t sit here and say that WaniKani is 100% guaranteed to teach you Japanese, but I think it’s safe to say that the overwhelming majority of people here who actually put genuine time & effort into it, learn a significant amount. There are people here who follow the system and only do 10-20 reviews/lessons a day and progress further along, so I can’t help but question how much actual time and effort you’ve put into it.

In the end, I understand why you’re walking away, but I just wanted to point out where the reasoning may be flawed. Either way, good luck!


It’s a little unfair to blame the app, isn’t it? You just said in the previous sentence you’re not interested in the language. If you feel like you’re being forced to learn it, you’re going to hate whatever tool you use. That’s totally understandable! Meanwhile, there are people that love the language so much that they learned the kanji back when Heisig’s and physical flash cards were the standard. People enjoy different things and that’s fine :grin:

Do you read anything in Japanese, or do you just talk? You can technically speak Japanese and know zero kanji (although I wouldn’t say they’re useless even in that case). To me, no kanji are useless, but if you have no motivation or reason to read, then I can understand why the kanji feel useless to you.


Best of luck and hope you find something else that works for you and helps to make it click (since, I think, there must be some trace of interest if you’ve been trying for over 2 years). If it’s making you feel like quitting in general then ofc you should cut wanikani out, at the end of the day it’s a tool not an end goal.

Although I do see you have lifetime so maybe we’ll see you again sometime :blush: :wave:


I agree that learning kanji is not really a priority to learn Japanese, but at some point you have to see the grammar points in action, or see correct sentence constructions instead of figuring them out on your own by using grammar and vocab.

But on the other hand, you are living in Japan where Japanese is a basic requirement to communicate with probably anyone outside of your family. I would suggest that you actually do the grammar or speaking or listening for now, and consider if you come eventually come back (or learn kanji with some other method) once you can’t progress any more.


Tbh this is the only reason why youre quitting which everybody is free to do. Theres no need to justify yourself by saying things equivalent to “none of the Japanese people I know have seen Kanji thats taught in Grade 2”.

You dont need to know Kanji to be fluent in Japanese, many foreign born Japanese people dont know very much Kanji at all but theyve spoken their whole life. Kanji is just required to be literate.


Over the years of being on this forum, from time to time I’ve come across the complaint that Japanese people involved in a user’s life (be it significant others, friends, in-laws, coworkers, etc.) have negatively influenced the user’s attitude toward WK. To the OP, I’m not saying that this is 100% the case for you because you’ve listed other mitigating reasons for stopping. But comments questioning the validity and/or the effectiveness of a learning app because of passing comments from native speakers who are glancing over at the app seems to be a real thing that affects users.

A lot of people tend to reject things they don’t understand especially if it wasn’t the way they did it. I personally had a naysaying experience when I first started as well. I had told a Japanese colleague that I was studying how read kanji, and I could learn 2,000 in about a year or so. The reaction I got was incredulous. Fortunately, I did have the motivation to push through despite that. Now that I come across Japanese people who ask what I’ve used to learn kanji. They can’t really say anything because they already know I can read.

TLDR: With using WK, it’s probably best not to let other people who can seriously discourage you know about the app. Most people criticize things they don’t understand.

To @myenglishimages, I wish you the best. I’m sorry to hear that this didn’t turn out well for you. Since you have a lifetime subscription, you can always come back later if you change your mind.



You could learn the kanji you want in the order you want with http://houhou-srs.com/. Though if you do come back, it will be easier the second time so please do look back.


Most of the comments I had have been addressed, so just one more thing:
When I first joined WK, I didn’t like it either (for other reasons). However, 5 years later, with a lot more experience under my belt (JLPT N1, among other things) I did come back, and sticked with it all the way to 60.

I didn’t have the impact of nay sayers on me because, well, I have personally seen all those kanji and vocab in real life (seeing is not the same as knowing, though, hence why I am here). So I knew that everything here is useful. That being said, I do agree that some of the stuff here isn’t priority. As other have said, maybe try to focus on other parts of Japanese and come back when you need to know more kanji :slight_smile:


There is never really a point where Japanese “clicks”. It isn’t really a yes or no, you know Japanese but more of a gradient of how much you know and how strongly you know it.

Not saying you should continue learning, but at least reviewing what you know by reading some beginner material will make it feel more like you spent your time on something worthwhile.


I agree with everyone that if you don’t enjoy the language and the culture, it will be very difficult to learn. However, as hard as it may be, I urge you to do whatever it takes to learn it, WK or not. My father is American and my mother is from Germany. I grew up with both languages, which has been a tremendous blessing. However, my dad never really tried to learn German. As a consequence, I feel he has always been somewhat alienated in our family because my mom and I speak German most of the time unless the conversation is directly involving him. Also, when we go to visit family in Germany, he is limited in his ability to interact with them. I really wish that he had put forth more effort to learn the language. He’s had 36 years to do it, after all!

I know it’s hard, and Japanese is surely harder than German for an English speaker (I’m assuming you are). But please do it anyway. It’s worth it. You don’t want decades to pass and regret it later. There are many things in life that you find hard or don’t like but that you need to do and so you just do them anyway. Sure, loving the language and culture would make it easier, but not loving it doesn’t make it impossible. You love your family and are already making the sacrifice of living in Japan for their sakes. If you are gonna do it, then do it right. Go all the way with it. You’ll be much happier in the end. Your efforts will be worth it.

Anyway, sorry if that was getting into your business too much, but this is just an issue that is close to my heart because of the experiences I’ve had in my own family. If my situation can help just one other person, it would make me happy. Best of luck whatever you choose to do going forward.


Everybody has already said everything, so I’ll just sit here wishing you success on whatever you choose to spend your energy on :two_hearts: