Am I learning... Or am I just memorizing

Hello everyone, not even sure this is in the right spot.

So I’m attemping to learn obviously, but I question if I’m actually learning what I’m supposed to be, or simply memorizing patters for some of them.

For example the numbers sure one and two are pretty easy, but some of the others when you do the japanese words for nine things I keep thinking it should be くつ instead of ここのつ. I don’t understand where the ここの comes from.

Sure I’ll remember eventually that 力つ is the same as ここのつ but did I really -learn- anything… or just memorize it. Because there is no way theoretically that I’ve gotten to yet to look at an unknown kanji with 力 and understand what it means.



WK doesn’t replace all studies, you can look up where the different readings are coming from outside of WK. Children learning the numbers also see the result and not the history that lead to it, but they are doing still fine. It is possible to memorize first and “learn” later.

Consider this: you get a bunch of 20 new kanji in WK and each one is like a long wikipedia article of how Chinese emperor so-and-so had this horse that was the inspiration for a certain kanji … I don’t think I would have gotten far in WK.


Hi there, welcome!

It’s true, there’s a fair bit of both learning and memorizing when it comes to learning a new language. Before joining here, I was learning grammar through the Genki textbooks and, while they’re great, it’s not nearly enough. To learn Japanese (or any language), you need to take in a bunch of kanji and vocabulary.

Learning the grammar and patterns is important, but at the end of the days, there are always tons of exceptions, turns of phrase and saying which just have to be memorized. At least, that’s my experience so far.

So keep learning and memorizing that kanji, but also find a way to study grammar and, as soon as you can, start reading actual Japanese and speaking/hearing it when possible. Wanikani won’t be enough on its own, but it’s an important piece!

Hope this helps. がんばって!

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You are correct on the wikipedia. :smiley: But I personally (And no I don’t fault WK for this) wish that in some of the kanji info, they could at least put a spot to look at for more information, or some kind of explanation how ku = ここの.

Although I guess since I’m remember that… maybe I am learning it. :wink:

I’m just afraid when I start getting further in my studies i’ll see 力 in various places and be unable to read it.

ありがと (Hope I spelled that right)

I’m trying, I guess I just felt a little discouraged.

My advice would be to first get a feeling for WK, like the difference between radicals, kanji, vocab, the different options to read kanji (on, kun), and then look for patterns.

Did you read through this:

This especially concerns the readings for the numbers, because they are more often used in the kun “Japanese” style.

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No I didn’t. I kinda stopped at Tofugu after finding this place because if I subscribe, it’ll have to be just to one, as I’ll be unable to afford two of these kinds of subscriptions, and I believe ToFugu is going though a revamp as well.

But I will look at that now, thank you.

Tofugu is the same company that does WK, there are often articles that are also important for WK.

In case you have input problems:


I actually found how to imput the characters from WaniKani and from an extra page on google search… Though I still have problem with the smaller つ here on WK.

But I’ll keep an eye on Tofugu now that I know it is actually related.

One of my problems is so many places tell you so many things that it’s really hard to keep track. But since they are connected, the teaching styles should be the same.

Still kinda sad that Tofugu doesn’t have the Katakana videos like they had for the Hiragana.

Just as a note, you do not need to be subscribed to Textfugu to read their blog Tofugu. There’s a ton of free content like that article.

I’m signed up for emails from them. All sorts of stuff from culture blogs to grammar and study tips, it can be very useful for a beginner-intermediate student and interesting for anybody!

I’m not sure if you’ll ever get a satisfactory answer with regard to this. Languages in general can be a bit arbitrary when it comes to understanding their mechanics. Patterns emerge and exceptions to those patterns also emerge as well. The best one can do is take what they know and apply it accordingly.

Yeah it sucks that 九つ (not 力つ) isn’t read as くつ, but being aware that that’s how it’s actively being used in Japanese should be enough for one to just accept and move forward with their studies. English is a really good example on how consistency of a pattern can be destroyed. For example, why isn’t 11 and 12 pronounced “oneteen” and “twoteen”? I could continue with numerous examples, but the fact of the matter is that people agree on how what words are words and use them accordingly; it does require a bit of memorization, but over a period of time it’s acquired into one’s knowledge set. The same is true with anything one takes the time to learn.


Thanks… And just to note… I love the oneteen and twoteen mention as I never considered that before.


As a language teacher, I hear complaints like this all the time about English, that’s why.


Well it is a logical complaint.

It’s just I guess as a native english speaker, I never considered it.

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English is, as far as I’ve heard, one of the hardest languages to learn due to inconsistencies. It’s a godawful mashup of Germanic, French, and Latin bases with a large smattering of random other languages. (There are neat charts on this wiki page.)

Japanese is similar but not quite as bad. It’s a Japanese/Chinese primary mix with some English influence (mostly katakana words) and a small smattering of other things (as any language will have). But it has only two main bases, and we thankfully don’t have to worry about Chinese tones.

Not sure, but this may help you feel better about having to learn the exceptions due to the counting system…

Cardinal numbering in English follows two models, Germanic and Italic. The basic numbers are zero through ten. The numbers eleven through nineteen follow native Germanic style, as do twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty, and ninety.

Standard English, especially in very conservative formal contexts, continued to use native Germanic style as late as World War I for intermediate numbers greater than 20, viz., “one-and-twenty,” “five-and-thirty,” “seven-and-ninety,” and so. But with the advent of the Industrial Revolution, the Latin tradition of counting as “twenty-one,” “thirty-five,” “ninety-seven,” etc., which is easier to say and was already common in non-standard regional dialects, gradually replaced the traditional Germanic style to become the dominant style by the end of nineteenth century.

See? We have weird mixed-up numbers too!

Edit: I guess LucasDesu pointed out the English numbering inconsistencies before I did, and more concisely to boot. Whoops!


In case you are really interested where the numbers are coming from:

There are actually some eye-opening things in it, like:

The original numerical system, he suggested was based on a reduplicative scheme that was in turn reflected in the counting system. ancient Japanese used two hands to count: two (puto) was formed by adding one (pito) finger on one hand to the identical one on the other hand; three (mi) doubled to six (mu); four(yo) doubled to eight (ya); and five (it) doubled to ten(to)…”


It would really bog things down to go into etymology at the same time as teaching beginners their first steps in a language. It’s enough to know that most kanji have multiple readings for historical reasons. WK doesn’t bother explaining the way those categories of reading came to be.

And especially when you consider that WK isn’t about teaching Japanese, it makes sense. It’s about teaching how to read kanji. You’re expected to learn the rest of the language elsewhere.


Learning IS memorization, especially when it comes to languages.


“Ten-one”, “Ten-two” would be more Japanese-like or, as our teacher when I was about 9 used to say, why not “One-ty one, One-ty two” etc.

I don’t recall mentioning Japanese learners making this comment.