"Default" Kanji readings

Each kanji on Wanikani has “default” reading, which is taught with kanji and it’s required to enter it as kanji reading in reviews.
In first levels they are onyomi readings. And it was convenient: I knew that reading when I learned first is onyomi, and then, later, while learning vocab, I learn kunyomi readings.
But then it turned out that some kanji are tought with kunyomi readings (e.g. 池, for which kunyomi reading いけ is default). And I started to confuse onyomi and kunyomi readings a lot while learning vocab.

So, my question is: is there any logic behind choosing which reading is “default” for kanji? Is it useful for any purpose beside doing kanji reviews to remember which reading is “default”?

My understanding is its the most common reading.


I just picked a random kanji here, which was taught as ka, when I look at the vocab below I can see that all but 1 in this section i screenshotted use ka. Thus making it the reading that makes the most sense to learn first.

It’s for didactic purposes, so whatever the WK staff thinks is useful to know first.

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In general they will teach you the on reading with the kanji. However for some kanji the on reading is very rare, so they just teach you the kun instead.

If you find yourself mixing them up often I recommend the katakana madness script, which shows on’yomis in katakana (like you’d see in the dictionary).

Some readings (like いけ) aren’t possible to exist as on’yomis, which you should start to get a sense for recognizing after a while, but even so there are some that can exist either way, か especially, that I find the script helps with a lot.

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As others said, the first reading is the most common, and the other readings they teach when they teach vocab. Eventually you’ll get a feel for when onyomi or kunyomi readings should be used - which useful when you see other words outside of WK, generally you’ll be able to guess the correct reading.

As a rule of thumb, standalone kanji or kanji with hiragana attached uses kunyomi, while compound (jukugo) words uses onyomi. there are excepts, of course, but its a good place to start.

Thank you for answers, everyone!

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