Anki kanji cards

I was wondering how other people are making Anki cards for new Kanji that they encounter? Do you still follow the WK style of studying the kanji individually with a common reading first? Or do you just learn them as vocabulary words?

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I… have massive cards for kanji and they’re more to give context to the kanji then anything else. The front is the symbol and the back is the kanji with its meaning, 4 words and their definition and 4 example sentences(from either weblio dictionary or ejje.weblio) using those words. Its all in japanese. I dont actually have the reading of the kanji anywhere on the card but when I make them i make sure theres a word for each of the most used readings. I mark the card right or wrong based on whether or not when I looked at the symbol on the front i could name and know the meaning of an onyomi word with the kanji and a kunyomi reading word of the kanji. (if there’s not a common kunyomi reading then I dont worry about it. ) I also use awesometts and have the whole card read to me. It seems that it helps with general exposure.


Wow that’s intense! I guess it makes sense to not worry about a reading if it’s not really used. It seems like a lot of rare kanji only show up commonly in a handful of words, so you can just memorize those. You don’t use mnemonics built from radicals in WK fashion?

I only use vocab cards nowadays. Although I’ve been weaning off adding new cards lately and just looking things up as I read. As you said, a lot of kanji only have a few common words so I don’t really bother learning them individually.


I dont unless I frequently miss it and can’t get it right. Mnemonics for me quickly become a soup of stories that are easily confusable so I reserve them for cards that really need them. I can usually learn the kanji by learning associated vocabulary and reading them in context.

2021年4月24日(土) 6:26 darkhelmet via WaniKani Community <>:

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I don’t really treat Anki like rigorous study - more like the memory equivalent of that seed gloop that comes with chia pets. Like I just spackle it onto my brain in bulk and if it takes root, great.

So I’ll throw anything in there, including kanji, just in a far more relaxed way than with WaniKani.
I think of Anki as a machine to build up all those word associations that form over a lifetime of reading just a little bit faster. And I get the impression a lot of kanji live primarily in that “I don’t use it but know roughly what it means from coming across it in books over the years” space. So even if I’m not plumbing the depths of a kanji’s meaning, seeing it come up in my deck I think helps get me to that zone with it a bit faster.


I worry about my Anki becoming too serious like WK as well. For WK it makes sense: you’re trying to get a base of kanji as fast as possible. When reading, I don’t want to for example add every word I don’t know to Anki and end up having it detract from reading. However seeing a word in reading and looking it up, I tend to forget it quickly. Anki needs to be a balance in reinforcing memory while not becoming a grind.

Maybe this thread that was active yesterday might give you a good idea how to choose what words to study:

There are several tips there on how to make use of frequency indicators and the like to determine what is useful to add to Anki / your program of choice.


I’ve tried to keep my Anki kanji deck pretty close to what I’m doing here. That way, it feels like less work.

I made a list of the 160 jōyō kanji that aren’t in WaniKani. I’ve been adding them little by little whenever I’m current here. On the front, I have the symbol. On the back, I just have the meanings and readings from Jisho and the radicals from WaniKani:


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Yup, I just learn the vocab using that kanji. There’s not really a point in learning new kanji besides the 2k from WK because they’ll just be common in 1 word or 2 that I’m better off learning the words themselves.


personally i only ever studied about 300 kanji individually and that was to get an idea of how kanji worked and fit together to make words. learned almost all the kanji I know (~2500 i think) from vocab cards, reading, and mining new vocab cards from my reading. samples of some of my old cards:


so for example i never learned 懇、丁、寧、拝、or 趣 as individual kanji. i just learned words i saw them in and automatically started to associate them with those words. for example i associate
懇 with the words 懇切丁寧、懇意 and 懇談会
丁 with the word 丁寧、〜丁目
拝 with 拝見、拝む、拝読
趣 with 趣味、趣旨、おもむき

but i couldn’t tell you right away the “correct” keyword for the individual kanji itself bc i never memorized one lol. but i probably could come up with one that fits, given the feel i get from the words i’ve seen it appear in.

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Glad to hear that worked well for you. My current cards look similar, with the word on front and definition on the back:

I have one example sentence on the back as well, but sometimes the definitions from 大辞林 are a bit long winded.

nice! we have pretty much the exact same approach lol. yeah when i used j-dic definitions i try to only clip the definition that was relevant to the instance i mined the word in, rather than all of them!

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In case this helps anyone, I found this shared 漢字検定 Anki deck, which has higher quality Kanji cards than anything I would make. Planning to use this to practice handwriting.

If your primary interest is in practicing handwriting, there is also this Anki add-on that adds a colored stroke order diagram to your cards. I’ve been using it to create cards that test my recall by giving me a name/vocab word prompt and asking me to write one of the kanji in the word.

Personally, I benefit a lot more from having highly personalized cards (the one above is for a kanji in the wrestler Shingo Takagi’s name) rather than more general decks, so this extension has been working great for me!

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Thanks, that is very helpful! I’ve neglected handwriting like many, but now I’m willing to give it a shot. Hoping it will help me visualize the kanji in my mind instead of needing to see it.

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