Worth the money?

I’m still using the first three free lessons you get when you sign up. I was just wondering, is the rest of WaniKani worth 9$ a month? What has been your experience with the system? Should I buy the rest of the lessons?

Thanks for all the help. ^^

(Also, is there a way to skip beginner-level lessons? I’ve been teaching myself Japanese on and off for a while now using various methods, and I already know most of the basics. Don’t get me wrong, WaniKani’s system is great if you’ve just started learning . . . but since I already know a lot of the basics, I’m kind of sighing thinking about how long it’s going to take me to get to the point where I’ll start learning something new again. XD)

Definitely worth it

No you can’t skip anything



I’d say it is. I reset myself from level 11 because of my own failings to keep up, but I’ve learned more here than I ever have self-studying. But no, there are no ways to skip beginner levels. Just think of it as a way to remind your brain of things, and have an easy exercise.


Yes and no. In that order. If you want to get your money’s worth, I’d suggest signing up for a year (assuming you can afford it), since if you want to make significant progress with kanji it’ll take you at least that long. Also, dropping money on something tends to make it more likely that you’ll actually use it


Thank you all! ^^ I actually didn’t know any radicals for Kanji before this (I’d been trying to find a way to learn them for ages!) so I’m excited for that! Just not so much the rest of the basics, lol. XD

I don’t think you’d find anyone still using the site that would say it isn’t worth the money. Skipping the earlier levels would be a bad idea in the long run. The later levels build upon what you’ve learned in the previous ones. And when it comes to radicals, don’t confuse them with the dictionary lookup radicals. WaniKani’s radicals are building blocks that are entirely made up. Some of them are the same as the dictionary ones, but they usually have different names. The others are other parts of the kanji broken up into building blocks or sometimes entire kanji. They’re designed to help you break the kanji up and for use in the mnemonics.


Definitely worth it. If you can manage it, buy the year for $90 and save a little money. But, wait until you’re finishing up level 3, the end of the free intro, just to make sure you like it enough.

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Thank you so much for that post - I really appreciate the thought and honesty. ^^ Yeah, I noticed that about some of the later radicals. A lot of them I recognized as actual Kanji I’d already learned and I was wondering if that was on purpose or not. XD I figured they invented some of the names, but it works for me since I don’t know the original radicals anyway.

Thank you very much! =D

You’re asking a whole bunch of people that pay for the service if it’s worth the money.

Thanks to WK, I’ve been able to read a lot of signs outside and I’ve started reading light novels.
There are other free ways of learning Kanji but WK makes it such that it’s fun and I want to learn more.
I bought a yearly subscription which saves 2 months worth of subscription but I do not plan on staying for more than 3 years. I think I would have moved on and started learning on my own based on the foundation WK has given me.

If you like it past level 4, I suggest buying a lifetime subscription around the end of the year when there is a sale.
Not sure the price but definitely worth the price.

No, you can’t skip lessons but it’s not a problem because you know most of the basics, right?
WK has it’s own name for radicals and the reason for doing beginner levels is to get used to them. You can add your own synonyms if you like. I assume people who’s mother tongue isn’t English use their own synonyms. It only takes 4 consecutive correct answers to move on. You’ll fly by in no time as long as you log in once they appear in your review queue. I think the fastest level up is in 3 days and 20 hours.

Once you start your subscription, the rest of the vocab, kanji and radials are unlocked. You can start studying the items you don’t know while quickly leveling up. It takes 90% of kanji to level up which is ok for you since you know “most of the basics”. You can have some error for the kanji you don’t quite know yet.


I think you’re not going to find too many people on the WaniKani forums who’ll say it isn’t worth it, for obvious reasons. I’ve been using WaniKani for about 11 months, and like I suspect everyone else on here, I think WaniKani is definitely the best way, by far, that I’ve used to learn kanji.

But it’s also, by far, the most expensive system around, so whether it’s worth $80/year to you is a different question. You’re definitely paying a huge premium to use WaniKani compared to other options. If money’s no object, go for it. You can feel a bit better that your subscription is going to subsidise the other operations of Tofugu, like the articles.

But if money’s tight, only you can decide whether you might be better off putting your $80/year toward something else. I bought a life membership at level 4 and in retrospect I think it’s overpriced.


For me it’s worth the money, so much so I bought lifetime after 1 year of subscription.

I’ve learnt 2K kanji and 6K vocabulary in just over a year, and that’s amazing to me.

But whether it’s worth it to you, is whether you can dedicate yourself to finishing it and also your compatibility.

If you find the way WaniKani teaches you effective for you, that’s great you’re compatible. The ones that are likely to drop WaniKani are those who don’t feel compatible and rage against the app more than learning.

Good luck!

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I’d have to agree here. Without a discount lifetime will equal ~2.5 years of monthly, well past the average time to finish. Skritter and Satori Reader are also pretty expensive for services with similar appeal, but I think all of them are worth if someone can afford them. Like you suggested, I’d still recommend a textbook or something else instead if money is tight.

As for my WK experience it has been nothing but wonderful. Somewhere around lvl 15 I hit up the beginner grammar textbooks hard and have had almost no problems with the kanji in them. Around 25 I started trying to make it a regular habit to read NHK Easy News and have been having a much, much easier time getting through it. I don’t really feel like kanji is a weakness anymore, just my general vocabulary and grammar. Even then I don’t feel bad since it’s much easier to read and learn those things on my own now.

My biggest issues right now are that I want to spend too much time on WK over other materials and that I’m not sure if I want to power through the rest of WK or take a break later to focus on intermediate texts. I’ve said it before, but WK is a soul sucking addiction I don’t want to let go.


Thanks to everyone for your honesty and thoughtfulness! ^^ A lot of you told me that I should finish the free lessons first, and I’m planning on taking that advice. After that, I’ll see where it takes me (I can’t pay for the lifetime plan but I might pay for the yearly plan if all goes well).

@sudoyulo: You are so, so, so right. ^^ Thank you so much~! And yeah, I’m actually okay with doing the radicals because I didn’t know those yet~ Plus of course since I’ve been self-teaching thus far so I’ve missed some basic Kanji, so there will be a few I haven’t learned yet. :stuck_out_tongue: Again thank you!

@ccookf: Wow, that’s amazing! Reading native things is one of the goals I’m most excited for~ ^^ Also watching anime without subtitles. Occasionally in slice-of-life anime I’ll hear a few sentences that I recognize without the subtitles and it makes me super happy~! ^^ BTW, do you know of anyplace that’s really good for just reading sentences? Beginner sentences, of course, I’m not that far yet . . . XD

Absolutely. I started WK almost a month ago and I think that it’s really effective as a tool to learn Kanji. I am currently on a monthly subscription service and hoping for a sale on the lifetime at the end of the year (let there be a sale please, Koichi! おねがい!)

I suggest waiting till you are done with the first three levels first to see if this is something for you, and also to stretch your dollar so to speak. :slight_smile:

All the best in your Kanji journey!

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Well, I dunno, based on anecdotal evidence of a seemingly high number of users, many like to take their sweet time. I must have seen dozens of stories of people taking years long breaks every now and then. Personally, I’m set to finish after a total of a bit over 1 yr, which I had planned from the beginning (going at a fairly quick pace), but even at a more moderate pace, 2 years assumes you really do keep with it every day, which doesn’t happen with a lot of people. Plus if you don’t use reorder, could be even longer.

So all in all, I’m not sure if I’d be confident about that average, especially among WK users, so I wouldn’t hesitate recommending lifetime to someone who doesn’t think they can keep a constant pace even when life gets in the way.


I definitely feel that it’s worth the money. I’ve been here a while (don’t be fooled by my level; I reset back to 01 about a week ago) and I definitely don’t think I’d be able to learn this many kanji without it. I love the system and I love the community. Even just knowing some of the earlier kanji has helped me study other aspects of Japanese such as grammar.

If you’re like me, I definitely recommend getting a lifetime subscription, but of course it’s not necessary for everyone. It all depends on your study schedule and how much time you’ll be spending on WK each day. If you don’t have a ton of time for lessons/reviews, lifetime might be best so you can go at your own pace and not have to worry about a time constraint. That’s what I like about it. But that’s completely up to you to decide! Good luck!

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From what I’ve tried, textbooks << nhk easy, graded readers, satori reader << normal news sites <<< light, web, visual novels, ect. Manga and anime tend to vary, but fit somewhere around the middle of that in general, familiarizing myself with N4 grammar was what made the big difference. There’s a whole list of stuff you can take a look at over here.

@Visceral The 1.5 to 2 years was something I remember reading from the WK staff somewhere, but the wording was also something along the lines of “of users who finished” which is a very small proportion of the overall user base. Considering the attrition rates and number of users who seem to have stopped paying (see here) I’m more inclined to accept survivor bias than anecdotes from active users. However, I will concede that I’ve read plenty of posts from users who hit level 60 after more than two years as well.

Overall, I’d say it’s an awkward decision to make based on individual goals and dedication. Considering the dropout rates and sales I’d say the safer bet is to pick up a monthly or annual sub, then snag lifetime at the holidays if you know you’re committed to progressing.

Ah, well if we narrow the pool to those who have finished, I could get more on board with that. Unfortunately, there probably indeed are quite a few who get lifetime but don’t finish or take forever to. That’s the double edged sword of lifetime - you’ve got time to take it easy, but that also makes it easier to just use that as an excuse to never or barely progress and say “it’s ok, I’ve got lifetime.”

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I’d say if the system and mnemonics work for you, go for it. I got the monthly subscription (couldn’t afford yearly or lifetime) just last week and I know it’s worth it in the long run since mnemonics really bridge the gap between kanji and memorisation for me.

I have this issue too! The reviews are so frequent I get determined to do them ASAP so I can feel that great sense of pride when levelling up and then I end up putting other resources aside. Another side of it is that when I’m really busy (e.g. I’m working EdFringe right now and I’m either working or watching a show with no day off for a month) WK is great because even if I’m only doing reviews at least I’m doing something. Not to mention it’s easy to access on web or mobile and there’s always something to do.

On top of that, small victories like being able to read kanji in tweets, titles or names definitely makes me feel WK is worth it when it’s already paying off in such a short amount of time. I’d say to do all 3 levels to get a feel of the program and see what you think at the end - don’t subscribe right now, take advantage of the free levels first and have a hunt around to see if there’s any other apps/programs that take your fancy.

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