Advice on differientating between visually similar Kanji?


I love WaniKani, but one thing I find frustrating is that the “visually similar kanji” list is not as inclusive as I’d like. Since I often encounter the kanji while reviewing I forget to write them down and compare them to ones I keep confusing them with. Does anyone know of any better resources for visually similar Kanji or have any advice on how to tell them apart?


I don’t have a resource but what I try to do is to make a mnemonic for the part that is different.


I always find writing the kanji pretty helpful in remembering them. Sometimes even writing it down once makes me remember them days later. You can always get an Anki deck and practice writing them as they show up.


I’ll definitely second handwriting for kanji that you’re regularly mixing up. By far the best way to drill all the little details into your head, even if you’re only really concerned with reading at this point.


If the different part is the kangxi radical, then they are probably quite different in meaning and that will be the hint. If the part that is different is some other element, it could be a phonetic element, and you can go based on that (remembering the pronunciation of that phonetic element and trying to fit it into words you know, etc).

If they’re visually similar in some other way, then the piece by piece mnemonic method might be the only option.


If you’re into scripts, there’s a script for that:

Otherwise, I like popping kanji I get confused with each other into Anki. Sometimes it takes a few wrong reviews to figure out which kanji I’m confusing for the other, but once I figure it out, they both go into Anki, along with a few other similar looking ones if I’m feeling sassy.

And I third handwriting the kanji. If you don’t want to waste paper, just do it in Paint or some other free drawing program. You’re not going for beautiful handwriting but nailing down the details.

It’s good that you’re getting this figured out now, it only gets worse later. :wink:


I definitely need to get practice on writing, it’s really helped me in the past! I know there must be a lot of good resources out there, but I’m wary of mixing learning methods, I guess. Originally I was learning Heisig’s method before WaniKani, but I didn’t want to confuse all the mnemonics. I know the stroke order is on the app, I just need to start setting aside longer chunks of time so I can practice it when I’m reviewing.


Get my script as @Shadkat says, it will replace the Visually Similar Kanji section of WK with many more suggestions and also shows up during lessons and reviews.


THANK YOU! :bowing_woman:t2: Downloading it now. For some reason I missed this reply when I made mine.


Apart from the scripts, you can also email WK if you have other suggestions. When the Visually Similar Kanji section was first introduced, they posted this in their blog:

“We compiled a bunch of lists, as well as your emails throughout the years, to determine which kanji are hard to distinguish to make our sets - BUT we still need your help. Are there any kanji you think look similar? Kanji you mix up all the time? If so, send them in to me at and we’ll get them added!”


Going to second everyone who has said “just write them.”

One of the big reasons to write, in fact, is to help you remember small distinctions between visually similar kanji.

Even if you don’t have the time or enough reason right now to do regularly scheduled writing practice, you can at least take a moment to practice the kanji you tend to confuse with one another.