Best way to practice writing kanji in the WK learning order?

Hi all,

Complete newbie here. (Accidentally clicked on the Japanese course on Duolingo, caught the hiragana bug, and here we are two months later with an average of 2 hours studying a day and having the time of my life.) (Don’t worry, I stopped using Duo for Japanese.)

I’m only on level 2, but so far I really enjoy how WK structures the kanji learning from simple to complex (as opposed to by grade level or test level) and from browsing the upcoming levels, I think it will work really well for me as I progress. For this reason, I’d like to stick to it as my main method of learning kanji, just to keep everyhing streamlined. It’s been great for recognition, but I also want to practice EN → JP recall for what I’ve learned. (I know people use KaniWani for that; I think I prefer my personal Anki decks in the long run, but that’s not really relevant.)

The problem is I need some sort of middle step between recognition and recall where I learn to actually write the kanji – both the stroke order and, maybe more importantly, the balance – so that when I recall it, I can strengthen both the visual and muscle memory by airdrawing. I had great success with using the Kana Draw app for learning hiragana and katakana and I was hoping to find something similar for kanji: an app (for Android) to practice drawing kanji, hopefully with different levels of difficulty, i.e. tracing the shadow, then only using the square, then maybe nothing at all, with immediate feedback if I get anything wrong. (I’ve been using paper and pen for the easy kanji so far by looking up stroke order, but the immediate feedback would really help.) I’ve downloaded a couple apps; some of them seem to kinda have what I’m looking for, but they don’t have a WK-specific study set, only the traditional ones. Since I’m going at my own pace and I’m not studying for any exams, I don’t want to mix together kanji I have and haven’t learned through WK. Kanji Tree doesn’t seem to have an option to create custom study sets, Kanji Draw doesn’t have the non-trace writing option, etc.

Kanji Study seems to be my best bet so far, with the ability to create custom sets unlocked after purchase, but I’m not sure it takes into account previous results when practicing and I don’t wanna fork over the cash without being sure it’s what I’m actually looking for.

Basically, what do you guys use to practicing writing kanji? Any experience with the aforementioned apps? Should I just suck it up and do it in the JLPT/Jouyou order?


I used to use a few apps on my Android made for Japanese students, but it seems they’ve been removed in the meantime from the Store. I use this one exclusively now: but it’s not in WK order (neither were the ones I mentioned before).

I also used this to generate practice sheets for myself to practice writing with a pen: Website for generating printable kanji worksheets


I really like the app “Japanese Kanji Study – 漢字練習” on the Google Play Store. The developer’s name is Chase Colburn. It has the decks by school level but you can make your own. There is a timed flash card quiz option and the option to write the kanji (you are given a blank area and the readings in Japanese only.) You can set how strict the drawing feedback is.

The feature I’ve come to use most though is the app’s dictionary! It lets you search for kanji by stroke count, radical(s), grade level, and readings (romaji and hiragana supported). You can also combine search terms.

For example, I see a kanji and I recognize the radicals 日 and 木 and I count 13 strokes. I select those from the various lists and it gives me every possible kanji (in this case, there are 13).

There is also a word dictionary that’s really good, too. Lots of great examples sentences and then even obscure usages at the bottom like places names and such for each entry.


Why’d you stop using Duolingo? :thinking: The vocab I get from it is invaluable. The community is great too.

Anyway, I write the Radical, Kanji and Vocab three times, on paper, then go to the next. I do this when first learning them, and every time I review. If there are about 80 reviews, I don’t bother writing things down, I just do them.


Wow, that app is really nice. Thanks :slight_smile:

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Japanese Kanji Study – 漢字練習
This is my most favourite app of all time. Seriously. They have tremmendous functionality. I use it half a year and still discover new features once in a while!
And it is totally worth the cost.

I use it as dictionary, but mostly for practicing writing.

From my experience, the best use (for writing) is as follows.
When you level up on WK, create a custom kanji group (e.g. WK_lvl_#). You can create sets inside the group. It is best to put not more then 5 kanji in 1 set while you are lerning them.
Usually I add kanji while I am doing new lessons in Flaming Durtles (android app for mobile acces to WK).
Once I am finished with new WK lessons (e.g. 10 kanji for a day) I open Kanji Study, open the group, then open the set. Then click on first kanji. At the top there is this icon that opens the training mode:

There are a lot of other tools, too. You can turn on/off the shadow by clicking “layer” button at the left corner, or play the stroke order, or clear the space and start over.
I can recommend doing it a few times with the shadow and then without. Then one clear round without shadow.

Once I’ve practiced enough, I exit the set and come back to the group. Then I click “learn” (not sure how this button is called in Eng version of the app) and choose stroke order practice.

It will open a different mode - quiz. I recommend going into settings and chose “repeat until perfect result”. The app will ask you to write the same kanji until you do it right.

After the quiz, I click settings and choose “select uncorrect items”

And start a new session.


Im also pretty new to this. So far, pen and paper method works best for me. I use jisho to see the stroke order and just practice writing it out as I practice WK


You can get the stroke order from Jisho directly into WaniKani with this script (If you’re on a computer)! [Unsupported] [Userscript] Stroke Order Diagram


I use Jisho as well and usually just go in the order WaniKani gives, and look up each individual kanji on Jisho. Unfortunately my Japanese classes in college do it in their own weird order, so I end up half-learning how to write random kanji as well lol.

I did try to learn in the order of JLPT/Jouyou for a long while BUT it’s not a very effective way, as the only method to learn it like that is through rote memorization. (which we all know is terrible, otherwise we wouldn’t be using WK lmao)


You can learn the radicals and create your own mnemonics, though.

For sure!! But most JLPT/Jouyou kanji (and I’m talking purely about the in-order JLPT/Jouyou kanji) resources won’t really teach you the radicals, so it’s really difficult and can be downright confusing even to learn the radicals of kanji that are ordered in terms of common usage and vocabulary meaning, rather than building off radicals.

Edit: I recognize it’s not impossible or beyond anyone to do that, but from my own experience I just think it’s not really worth it to learn them that way. Japanese as a language already takes so much effort to learn (let alone master), and I think if there’s a way to make kanji-learning simpler or at least more clean-cut (like WK or RTK!), I personally would rather take that route than spend even more time going out of my way to learn the same things in a more complicated and time-consuming way.

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Some kanji books teach them with mnemonics for stroke order and such (like the 正しく書ける正しく使える series), but I get what you mean. I just wanted to address that the way you wrote it sort of sounded like you couldn’t learn them in that order without rote memorization.

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The vocab would be nice, if it had any way to list anything you’ve seen before. (lesson vocab list)

(best to continue discussion of DuoLingo in that thread if you want to, click on the up arrow)

Thank you all for the intro to Japanese Kanji Study on Android! I had heard from a friend that it was really good, but wasn’t sure how to integrate it with my WK study. I also didn’t know it was such a good dictionary. Especially @ustaalary’s overview was very insightful:

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I mostly just added that because I know Duolingo doesn’t have the best reputation among Japanese learners on sites like this.

The community is great, I agree, and I enjoy the practice experience it provides, but it’s more of a supplement to learning a language rather than the main source, as it focuses more on the gamification aspect and regurgitating preset sentences rather than true understanding of the building blocks of language. (Unless you just want go on vacation and use the pre-made phrases, in which case it’s great.) I’ve had good results with it for some European languages, but Japanese seems to be too different, structure-wise, for this type of exercise. I had a good start with hiragana (before it became super repetitive), but already in like lesson 5 or something I remember encountering the phrase “[name]といいます” and no amount of looking at the forum threads or lesson texts could tell me what that actually meant. That was when I began looking for alternative sources for learning, because I wasn’t interested in just knowing phrases – I wanted to understand them.

I suspect I’ll go back to Duolingo once I’ve got a solid grip on grammar and an established routine to look up anything I don’t understand. It is a good way to drill sentence construction and such (at least for other languages); it’s just not super helpful for a total beginner.

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that’s a good point! I’m already using it and it’s been great for remembering stroke order, but I do want that immediate feedback when writing, since I can’t always spot my own mistakes in balance and I’m not attending any Japanese classes where someone could look over my handwriting at the moment.

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Thank you for this guide! I wasn’t sure there was a way to use this app for what I needed, but this seems to be it! It’s great to see someone’s established routine that works for them, and I’ll definitely be checking this out. Спосибо!

You are welcome! I am glad my comment was usefull :slight_smile:

By the way, if you are looking for an app to start learning grammar, you may consider LingoDeer. It is quite good and, from my experience, the best app out there. They don’t have an SRS built in and this is a major downside (it seems like no one exept BunPro does it yet), but they have multiple tools to repeat what you’ve learnt.


Funny thing about this is that sometimes I don’t bother with understanding. I tell myself, “If this is a way to say something, just copy and regurgitate.”

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If anyone is also still looking for this, I ended up changing my approach and solving the whole thing with Anki. (Which I honestly prefer, because Anki is my homebase for languages; I like to input everything I’ve learned into it even if I’m SRS-ing it someplace else so that I can rest easy knowing that if I stop using that other service or it disappears or I forget my password, I’ll still have all the info. It’s a bit more work on the day to day, but in six years, even with multiple breaks up to a year long, I haven’t forgotten a single thing I’ve put that time in with – and if life gets crazy and I have to give languages a break for another few years, I can pick up very nearly where I left off. Also I just like having all my stuff in one place. A passive-feeling but very-effective place.)

Basically, I decided to separate stroke order memorization from practicing balance and actual writing. So for stroke memorization, I just altered the cards I already have. I have two Japanese note types – one for vocab, one for kanji – and several decks for each. I put a new field for stroke order on the kanji note and made it so the EN → kanji card displays that as well as the kanji itself.


This is such a simple solution-- it was the first thing I thought of, but I thought that it would be too complicated 1) finding the stroke orders, and 2) getting them into anki. (I didn’t wanna go through the whole process of saving, or worse, screencapping pictures from Jisho onto my computer and then uploading them to Anki. That would be a nightmare.) BUT it turns out it’s really easy with the Stroke Order Diagram userscript, already mentioned above. Whenever I learn a new kanji on WK, it’s just right there in the lesson as a saveable .png and I can just copy the image into Anki which takes care of importing it, no manual downloading required. (I mention this because as someone who’s been using computers for most of their life and considers themselves fairly knowledgeable – for a non-CompSci person – the idea of copy-pasting images rather than their URLs is still incredible to wrap my mind around and I frequently forget it’s an option.)

Anyway, whenever I learn a new kanji I’ll just make an anki card and then I can learn the stroke order right from there or review it if I’m not sure. And then for balance I can either just look up the kanji I already know in Kanji Tree (I prefer its drawing UI to Kanji Study), or clone that Anki card type into a new deck where my answers depend on writing the kanji out on paper and seeing how well it matches the diagram. Possibly both.

Thanks all for your suggestions!

EDIT: Based on @ustaalary’s tip that Ankidroid has a drawing feature (and I do all my reviewing on mobile), I’ve further altered the look of my cards to include a practice square so that I can also get that ~balance training~ in.

(If anyone’s interested in doing this, this is the guide I used. The image had to manually go into the media folder before it could be added to the HTML of the cards; it also took some fiddling with the size of the image (in MS Paint :joy::sweat_smile:) 'cause otherwise it was either too small for me to draw anything or so big that when the answer appeared it would push everything up and what I’d drawn would not be in the square anymore. But I got there in the end and I think this is gonna revolutionalize my kanji learning. :smiley: )


By the way, anki (at least on mobile) has a drawing feature. Screenshot: