WaniKani Review 2024: App to Learn Japanese

Learning Japanese was never an easy task for me. Its writing and speaking style are far different from English. Although I have used several platforms to learn it, I wanted to use one that was entirely created for Japanese. Eventually, I got my hands on a unique platform, WaniKani. It is a special platform created solely for learning Japanese. Initially, I was unable to understand how it worked, but with time, it became easy for me to navigate through it. If you want to know more about it, here is my experience in this WaniKani review.

Read till the end and find out how it worked for me.

What is a WaniKani app?

WaniKani is the platform created by Tofugu (a language-learning company). This platform was created to develop Kanji knowledge in users. It includes Vocabulary knowledge of Japanese and follows the Spaced Repetition System. With it, I could learn over 2000 Kanjis and 6000 Japanese vocabulary words in a year. I do not just state it but many of the other users of it. However, it is a paid resource with limited free content. Next, I will discuss the course overview in detail for you.

Note: Despite being a Kanji teaching app, it does not offer Joyo and JLPT kanji. 


Every learning platform has its own pricing plans. If we talk about WaniKani, there are three plans for it-

Types of plansPricing
Monthly $9.00

How to start with the platform?

To start with the platform, you must create a profile on it. Here are the steps you must follow-

Go to the official website of WaniKani. Click on the join us option.

Add the details and click on the sign-up option.

After that, you get the confirmation link in your E-mail. Click on the confirmation link and start learning the lessons.

Course Overview 

The only aim of this platform is to teach Kanji and Japanese vocabulary easily. They prefer to choose an entertaining way to do it. To meet their mission, there are daily lessons on the radicals of Kanji. It was so entertaining that I could not stop myself, from completing them daily. 

Interesting fact: Radicals of Kanji help to learn it quicker, making it easy to learn the vocabulary. 

As it follows a Spaced Repetition System, the team knows how well you know the content. Thus, the new content is not regularly updated at the same time. Also, there are 60 levels grouped in different sections, each with a lot of new vocabulary. Here, is the table that represents different sections-

NamesNumber of levels
WaniKani Review: App to Learn Japanese

In addition to these levels, many other features helped me understand how far I have come in my journey. Here is a list of such features-

  • Apprentice 
  • Guru
  • Master
  • Enlightened 
  • Burned

The way I have mentioned the features above is the chain around which the words revolve around. When I successfully learn a Kanji or a word in Japanese, it comes under the Burned option. Once I reach that level, I do not need to repeat those words again. Learning radicals only required a few names, but for Kanji, learn the spellings first. 

Kanji requires learning the combination of on’yomi and kun’yomi, derived from different Chinese and Japanese. 

The first three levels are free to use. In the first few days, there are only a few radicals in it. Of course, the pace is slow at the beginning but gradually increases with each level. Usually, Japanese students are taught words based on meanings, but the lessons on this platform are different. The reason I loved it was the availability of the most difficult words in the latter lessons. Further, I have discussed how the lessons are created on it.

Lesson structure

WaniKani Review: App to Learn Japanese

In each lesson, there are definitions and readings for a lot of Vocabulary and Kanji. But it focuses less on Mnemonic sounds. The lessons on this platform are less complicated and have a great SRS system. In the apprentice level, you get 300 radicals and Kanjis. Learning them all is a great thing. But when you have to review it again, it may be a tough choice. It may make you off track. However, it didn’t affect me a lot. I took it positively and practiced it again. After repeating them, there were new words in front of me. It keeps challenging me with difficult tasks. There are fewer lessons for grammar and writing sections.


It is a feature that helped me to have discussions in Japanese. There are a few fun things that I get with the community. The two most common are – Japanese book club and everyday reading. As I love to explore the cultural aspects of different countries, I discussed a lot about it in this community.

Supplemental features

Above, I have shown how the words are learned by following some sections. But some additional features give a great learning experience-

  • Vacation Mode – Traveling is something that can create a difference between the topics covered and the content available. This mode helps to pause the SRS review for a particular time. It helps to keep the queue of Apprentice, Guru, Master, etc., as it is.  
  • Review Forecast – It is basically a feature developed for those who can get time to practice a lot. It gives an activated workload for the upcoming week, Have a look at it and plan the week accordingly.
  • Extra Study – It is for the lessons completed recently. When you burned a word or a Kanchi radical, it no more comes on the screen again. This feature helps to practice them again. 

WaniKani review: Is it worth paying for?

According to my experience, it’s worth paying for it. The app made it too easy for me to understand the basics of Japanese. The different functions helped to learn the characters and words fluently. However, just like some other platforms, it does not focus on teaching Grammar. When I was stuck somewhere, its community helped me a lot. Look nowhere else than this platform to learn the basic vocabulary of Japanese. To make you more clear I have mentioned the benefits and drawbacks separately. 

Pros of the WaniKani app

Learning Japanese from an app that is only built to teach it, is a blessing. Such a platform has a lot of benefits for it-

  • It helped me remember the radicals, vocabulary, and Kanji in the language. The storytelling is done so correctly and properly. 
  • Consistency is the key to success. WaniKani knows the importance of this statement. Therefore, it always keeps repeating old words to develop the level consistently.
  • The community is full of awesome people. They are always ready to help.
  • It’s a great resource for beginners. They start with teaching us how to write the character, no other platform does that before the vocabulary. 

Cons of the WaniKani app

Just because WaniKani is designed only to teach Japanese does not mean it has no drawbacks. Here are the cons of using it-

  • There is limited free content on the platform. I only received the first three levels freely. 
  • The content on the platform is not for advanced learners. 
  • You can’t control the pace of using it. There is a particular speed of flow to follow. 

WaniKani alternatives

It’s not necessary for everyone to like a platform. I may love a platform that you hate, or vice versa. Thus, here are some other platforms to check while learning Japanese-

1. Memrise

It is a great platform for learners who want to remember the vocabulary by following the flashcards. There is a meaning of the word with each flashcard. Select the card and get its meaning. It also allows you to create your own list. I myself have created a lot of decks for my learning.

2. Duolingo

Learning Japanese from Duolingo means learning it freely. Different features helped me to learn it. The writing system tool was the special feature I got with it. Additionally, I also find a way to get the Duolingo Japanese Vocabulary list. It made it easy for me to remember them.

3. iTalki

If you want a live teaching platform, choose iTalki. It is specifically designed for language learners. Each subject has multiple tutors based on teaching experiences. Select any one of them. Don’t forget to take multiple demo sessions before selecting a tutor. This will help you determine who is the perfect tutor for you.


Learning Japanese is a difficult task. However, if taught with an engaging approach, it becomes an easy task. WaniKani is a perfect place to learn Kanji. I was taught by learning the basic characters first. Of course, this is something that is not done on other platforms. Despite offering fewer grammatical lessons, it is a perfect way to boost language knowledge. The vocabulary taught on it is through the Spaced Repetition System, making it a good choice to learn Japanese. It also has different sections in which the words are taught, starting from Apprentice to Burned. The words in Burned mean there is no need to practice more.


Is WaniKani completely free?

No WaniKani is not completely free. Only the first three levels are free. To unlock the rest of the levels take the subscription.

Is WaniKani app available on Apple?

No, it is not available on Apple. In fact, it was rejected by Apple. The reason behind it was, that it requires an external subscription. As it could not be purchased through Apple, it was rejected by Apple. 

How much kanji does WaniKani teach you?

It taught 2000 Kanjis and 6000 Japanese vocabulary words.

What kanji does WaniKani not teach?

Two types of Kanji are still not taught on the platform- Joyo and JLPT Kanji.

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