Advice Needed - Visually Similar Kanji

What scripts or techniques do you guys use for visually similar kanji? I’m currently getting destroyed by ‘room’ and ‘clubroom’ but these aren’t the only culprits. When only one of them is on the screen at the same time I have trouble distinguishing it from other similar kanji, so ideally I’d like to find a script that lets me see visually similar kanji after I fail a review.

On my phone right now, so it’s a bit annoying to search and link for it, but check out the script Confusion Guesser. :smiley: I’m pretty sure that’s what it’s called.

Otherwise, I would sometimes write the visually similar ones by hand, because it would emphasise the differences for me more starkly. They look the same at a glance, but when you’re writing every stroke, you’re reminded of the different radical parts used.


N-No? :deciduous_tree::eyes::deciduous_tree:


Writing them by hand works great. Do does going back over mnemonics side-by-side to see the differences. Some kanji systems (KLC, KiC) introduce visually similar kanji together to emphasize the differences better.


Room and clubroom got me mixed up a couple times too. The (top to bottom) ground-private-dirt radicals are in both of them. Here’s how I concrptualize it: when I’m in my room, I’m constantly cognizant of the position of the roof (or the ceiling). The flag radical looks like a roof to me. It looks like the way I think of the ceiling when I’m in a room (it includes walls; the flagpole is the wall). And… ugh, the roof radical in 室, well it’s more like the roof/ceiling of a room I’m not in; I only see the top and it doesn’t surround me.

部屋 I think of as my/someone’s unique and personal room, and the 屋 kanji feels more personal to me than 室 which feels more generic. Especially because it’s used as a generic ~room suffix.

There’s always a slight difference in the radicals used, so paying close attention to them is your only option.

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Seconded. Write them out when you learn them and when you get them wrong, if not every time you review.

This is really good well-meaning advice but I think my issue is that I’m completely unaware of the difference whatsoever. There’s only one of them on the screen at a time so I have no chance to compare them. I know WK by default has some kind of support for visually similar kanji but it’s kind of a chore to try to go through and find the kanji in their list. I’m looking for a way to have visually similar kanji pop up on my screen so that I can do a comparison. Something like confusion guesser might be good but it seems a little more extensive than what I wanted. I was hoping for something focused on visually similar kanji.

I’m getting a lot of replies saying to write out the kanji. I don’t mean to be dismissive but I feel like that’s more time than I really want to spend on visually similar kanji. Ideally I’d just like some way to quickly compare then for 10 seconds and understand why they are different.


This looks like what I wanted, thank you.

Is there a way to search through available scripts so I don’t have to bug you guys every time?


bro im s t i l l getting destroyed by those




Oh my god all this time I thought it was the kanji on the left that was different! No wonder I couldn’t tell the difference.


Haha funny for the first one I always read it as ぶや so it’s makes me think of Splatoon then I laugh then I write へや… EVERY SINGLE TIME ^^"


I think the only reason I got past this was I managed to burn 部室 by some miracle and so it’s gotta be 部屋 when it comes around. :wink:


Yeah I’ve been relying on knowing which one is currently in apprentice but obviously that’s not the point of WK… since someone posted the comparison screenshot I’ve been doing much better with it. I don’t have any issue with room and shop, it was just that first kanji being the same that threw me off.


True, although I think I managed to burn 部室 by watching anime where they used it a lot so I gave myself a pass on that one. hehe


Roofs, hooves


Uh… I don’t know if this is any use, but it might help to understand the meaning of the individual kanji in each case? I know it’s more of a recognition issue because you see 部 and perhaps can’t remember how the meaning changes with what comes next, but maybe if you can somehow associate the meanings with the shapes?
部屋 is likely ateji (i.e. characters chosen because they sound the same as the Japanese word), but you can still associate meaning with the shapes of the kanji: 尸 looks like a roof (see the covering at the top and the sloping section that lets rain run off?), and so the character means roof/house, and a part-house is just a room.

部室: in ancient writing, the 宀 radical looked more like a bell jar. Some examples:
Seal script
Oracle bone script

甲骨文,象形文字,金文,篆文,汉字的演变 甲骨文,象形文字,金文,篆文,汉字的演变
So you can really think of it as a room inside a building. In this case, 部 on its own means ‘club’, not ‘part’, so it has to be a clubroom. This is a compound word composed of the meanings of the two kanji, whereas 部屋 feels more like a single word.
By the way, I get this sense that 室 on its own already means ‘room’, often ‘room for a specific purpose’, whereas 屋 on its own does not mean ‘room’

I know that you’re aware of which is which (based on this^ post), but I was just hoping I might help make the connections more vivid. All the best with such kanji anyhow!


Oh man, there’s a ton of this.
For 部屋 and 部室 the way I remember is that 部屋 is also used to refer to a sumo stable and the 尸 is the heavy body of the wrestler making the 屋 character top-heavy.

壹vs. 臺 (“1” - “Platform”) was a particular bugbear for a long time. The bottom part of 壹 has 一豆, “one bean”, so it must be counting the number 1. for 臺, the weight of the 吉 “auspiciousness” needs extra support from the bottom half, so it’s a platform or deck.

人 - people walk with evenly balanced legs
入 - it’s a slide to let you enter


I quite like your way because it’s more coherent: 尸 is technically the body/corpse radical. Apparently though, the source character involved 尸 on top of 厂 (roof/factory radical), so it was someone sitting down. The 厂 has since been removed though. I shan’t go into too much detail coz it’ll become confusing for OP, but apparently both 屋 and 室 originally had something to do with a room for resting. The difference was who was inside. (@mpernst I’m sure you’ll be able to search for the etymology if you want. Some dictionaries quote the explanation from 說文解字, but it should be ok since your Chinese might be better than mine: I’ve only ever tried the HSK 5 even though I started Chinese as a toddler. Hahaha. Your other mnemonics are nice too!)