Learning Kanji With WaniKani

What is WaniKani

WaniKani is an online platform designed to assist Japanese learners to overcome the massive obstacle they face, kanji. Many learners shake and quiver in fear at the mere thought of seeing ten strokes flash across their eyes, not knowing what each of those strokes means. Classrooms tackle kanji through standard repetition methods, mainly through textbooks, which I personally find to be ineffective. Imagine this, cramming ten kanji in the lobby ten minutes before class before just to pass a test, wipe the sweat off your forehead and begone with them…heartbreaking right?

WaniKani however, makes this a bit more interesting through its space repetition and mnemonics system.  The websites colourful layout also triumphs compared to the black and white textbook.



  1. WaniKani’s mnemonics system introduces a plethora of wild and crazy stories to help you remember a kanji in its entirety, **** strokes (excuse my french…I mean Japanese!)
  2. Audio to help hear the onyomi and kunyomi readings of kanji
  3. Not only does it do that, but it also introduces a hot heaping pile of steamy vocabulary fresh from the crab-gator’s belly for you to review with those kanji.
  4. You will not advance to the next level until you GET it… Wanikani makes sure that you aren’t treating it like your Genki I and II textbooks. Its level system is a huge motivation factor, you must reach the level of guru on 90% of the kanji that was introduced before advancing to the next level. Depending on how fast you are this can take anywhere between 7 and 100 days.
  6. There is also an active community forum for you to use while your reviews are on cooldown. You can basically go and talk to other members on the same journey as you are. It’s a great way to stay focused and not get too sidetracked.


  1. Like all good things in life WaniKani is not free; subscriptions come at 9.00 per month, 100.00 annually or 299.00 for a lifetime (most people go for 299.00). During its winter sale, 299.00 becomes 200.00, that is a huge discount if you were to ask me.
    • Since it is paid for though, it just makes you want to use it even more once you DO happen to pay for it. (Levels 1-3) are free.
  2. It is slow in the beginning! If you happen to already know some basic kanji you are still going to have to go through the beginning levels to access the higher levels and more intermediate lessons. You cannot skip levels.
  3. If you fall behind on reviews…. you will drown. BUT! There is a vacation mode you can activate when you are not able to do any reviews. It will freeze your review lineup until you get back.
  4. More of a suggestion than a con here, but WaniKani should certainly add a page that allows you to read various articles based on the level with all the kanji included in said level. Instead, it only displays one contextual sentence upon exposure to the kanji or vocabulary.
  5. The radicals can be a bit “iffy”. Some of the radicals you will be introduced to will be extremely RADICAL if you catch my drift. I forgot a narwhal was an actual animal until Wanikani named an entire radical after it. Use your discretion here…

Overall Wanikani is a highly affordable platform for Japanese learning for what its worth. Its unique methodology is what attracts learners from various backgrounds; it certainly doesn’t feel boring and its interface is bright, creative and mesmerizing. It’s like the crabgator has you in his hypnotic prowess, and you can’t escape unless you finish all 60 of his trials and tribulations! Did I mention that these 60 levels all together can be finished within a year if done at maximum speed? Did I also mention that WaniKani teaches you effectively just over 2400 kanji and 6000 vocabularies…that’s kind of crazy when you compare this amount to Japanese grade school. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR HAIL THE CRABGATOR!





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