Distinguishing 2 particular radicals

Sorry, just a quick question about how Wanikani parses certain kanji. I just had a complete mental block on reading 着 (wear/arrive) in a word because I’ve recently learned 差 (distinction) and it seems to me like Wanikani describes two identical chunks using different radicals. That is, with wear/arrive, the top part is described as a (heavily altered) sheep, whereas the same shape is shown later as king+horns+slide. I know Wanikani combines previously learned kanjis into chunks of radicals, but given the order these are taught, this actually seems like the opposite. Is there something I’m not seeing about them? The only difference I can tell at all is that there’s a little more vertical spacing on 差, but that appears to just be a result of the bottom radical.

Edit: I guess, the more I look at them (this font is more helpful than the WK page on that front), the “slide” is slightly different? Is that it?

Links for reference:


I don’t know why Wanikani handles this the way it does, but you’re right, they’re the same radical / combination of radicals. I’ve just checked a dictionary and it doesn’t make a difference between them:


There’s no particular difference. They just write the mnemonics as they see fit. There might have been some historical reason for it (radicals/kanji might have been in different order in the past, etc.) or it might just be “because”.


I… see. I’ve seen people throw around the @Mods tag here and there for requests/issues, I hope it’s not too obnoxious to do that here. I’d think it would be a lot better to aim for consistency so learners don’t run into this exact issue, because my brain got primed to look at that, see “king+horns+slide+eye” and decide it was a kanji I’ve never seen before in my life.

Anyway, thanks for the responses, both of you.


WaniKani, like any learning system, is simply a tool to help you find your way. The purpose is to teach you HOW to learn, how to cement all these kanji/vocab to memory, and create personal tags of your own. Take the mnemonics for instance… as you go further along you will see the very same mnemonics used for very very similiar kanji. Why is that? Because it’s a suggestion of a method and it’s up to you to determine what will work best for you.

Even the list of similiar kanji isn’t set in stone. It’s only a generalization. Frankly I didn’t even notice how simliar those two kanji are until you pointed it out! 差別 takes place at a construction site with a buzz saw さ in my memory palace and 着々 is one of many vocab that takes place at a party with plenty of different clothes and a steady stream of people arriving and leaving eating mochi that taste like chalk ちゃく

Listen, I’ve been there…albeit I ran into this problem ten levels later on…but since this is hitting you now, maybe that’s a good thing! Maybe I can save you the pain before bad habits of just “following along” start to set fester instead of carving what is best for you from the ground up!

I appreciate that you’re trying to help, but I really have not had many issues with similar kanji causing mixups in my memory. When I know a kanji is a radical off I can take the time to note which radical it is and make that distinction clear in my head. But all of this is built on the assumption that the set of radicals themselves are pretty consistently applied (again, outside of the inevitable combinations, but I can take note and appreciate the necessity of those). The problem you’re describing having is not the same problem… and either way I’m only suggesting it for the sake of future learners. Whether they change it or not, I’m unlikely to go back and read it. Having made this whole topic, I bet I’m going to remember these two kanji better than most others by now. It’s no problem for me unless the two remain inconsistent in future kanji.

I’m really struggling with my tone here because I’m torn 50:50 between thinking you’re trying to be nice and thinking you’re kind of condescending. I never indicated that one single mixup was at all indicative of struggles I am having. Let’s just say that I’m actually seeing quite a bit of success with how I’m doing this, and that the fact that I actually recognized inconsistencies in the mnemonics means that I’m quite likely not just mindlessly “following along,” and leave it at that.

I hope my request will be considered; I only want to help. If one of those mods happens upon this topic and would also like to close it; I would consider it solved and in need of no more input.


Hi there, thank you for pointing this out. I’m going to pass this along to our content team so we can take a closer look :slightly_smiling_face:


I think when you are further along you will see this happen a lot…radicals are later built on previously learned kanji. It’s not a matter of inconsistency but instead levels of abstraction. And I don’t know how anyone could hear “tone” in written text, but I did not mean to offend as I just found the topic very telling as to where you are in your perspective of the program from this point and made some projections based on my own personal experience and mental tags of other people who complained the same way you just did. If my assumptions were off, I am sorry as I didn’t say you were struggling. I just thought I could aid in builidng up your fundamentals a bit and make your learning process a tad bit more efficient is all. I love to see people passionate about this passionate about the process and just as detail oriented. It’s in the details that Kanji really stick so way to go!

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I’ll keep this simple, and it’s the last thing I wish to say to you on this topic.

This is, objectively, not what has happened in this case, and every single thing you have deduced seems to be built on this complete misunderstanding of the topic at hand. Perhaps you’ve caught me at a bad time as well, apologies for that, but I’d like to suggest that often people do not appreciate being given advice that they haven’t asked for, on a problem that you have only extrapolated may exist.

Best of luck to you.


Thanks for bringing this issue up :slight_smile: . I’m definitely not one to follow up on the WK radicals too much, since I always double-check the “parts” with Jisho and use that instead, but it’s probably good to take a look at part of WK as well.

Sometimes the priority seems to be a mnemonic, rather than the “correct” composition of a kanji. There are other cases where the chosen radicals/parts for a kanji are theoretically not correct, but as I try to understand, it’s a tradeoff.


Hmm, I see. If I’m understanding you correctly, at least the latter is more about how wanikani uses its own, totally made up radicals, yeah? That one I’m well aware of. This is just the first case I can think of of Wanikani taking a previously learned larger chunk “radical kanji” and then breaking it down into parts when describing a later kanji. It feels, to me, like it’s been easy so far to keep chunking my knowledge “forward” to bigger parts, but having a big part suddenly broken down threw a wrench in the works. Which was complicated more by the fact that the one they call “sheep” is already a few steps of distortion away from the original sheep, whereas it is exactly king+horns+slide. You’re further than me so you’d know if this isn’t a one-off better than I, though.


yeah, I don’t follow why you are so ticked off. honestly I am only trying to help you see the bigger picture here. I agree with @Leebo "There’s no particular difference. They just write the mnemonics as they see fit. There might have been some historical reason for it (radicals/kanji might have been in different order in the past, etc.) or it might just be “because”.

Radicals are later built on previously learned kanji. It’s all about levels of abstraction. These Kanji come from different Levels right? But in reverse because of the mnemonics perhaps? This happens all the time. I have a photographic memory so I suppose that’s why it wasn’t so strange to me, but when someone inevitably brings this up…well…

I also agree with @Iinchou “Sometimes the priority seems to be a mnemonic, rather than the “correct” composition of a kanji. There are other cases where the chosen radicals/parts for a kanji are theoretically not correct, but as I try to understand, it’s a tradeoff.”

So @Daisoujou where do you think these two Kanji belong on the Levels compared to where they are now? The spacing is different I might add and how would this effect vocab?


No, in the case of some kanji, WK uses valid radicals/parts, but in a different combination than dictionaries to explain the meaning. Considering that some existing dictionary radicals/parts are renamed in WaniKani already, I feel like that’s fair game. From a meta perspective it’s more important to memorize the kanji itself, right?

Apologies for being a little vague, but I would need to dig quite a bit to find the examples :frowning:

For me 着 and 差 differ mostly by the whitespace in 差. Also, probably because 差 shares a reading with similar kanji like 左 and 佐.

Yeah, totally understandable. I would also rather try to remember them as “sheep + something” than two different mixes of parts/radicals.


I feel like we agreed on this point but you started it with “no,” haha! Did you think I meant Wanikani used ONLY made up ones? Cause I didn’t mean to say that. I feel like you’re restating what I meant to say, that some Wanikani radicals are totally made up or renamed as they see fit for mnemonics.

Yeah, that’s all I’m asking. Once you’ve been taught “sheep,” if this variation is indeed going to be sheep, I’d just hope they’d always keep it sheep when moving forward.

Edit: I also just kind of want to add that I feel like these whole discussions being started makes it look like I care a whole lot more about this than I do! I just came here genuinely thinking I was missing some distinction and looking to get some help if I was parsing the kanji wrong. When I found out I wasn’t, my mind went “Well, this site would be that single .1% better for other learners if they kept this part consistent” so I suggested it as a tiny tweak. If they don’t change it I’ll be ok and so will Wanikani! I’m already working on trying to read so much that I’ll forget the time this was ever an issue!


My post was not a defense of the radicals or WaniKani, or a message to Daisoujou that they have the wrong mindset or anything like that, so we might agree less than you are imagining.


I’m not sure why we don’t have the “horns,” “king,” “slide” (plus eye) radicals make up the 着 kanji, since we learn them all before level 12, but I’ll see if we’d like to change it to that!


I don’t know why you felt a need to say that. Sounds pretty elementary considering we are purely speaking on abstraction.

well the spacing is different, but I wonder how that’ll effect the vocabulary as well. I suppose it is more simplistic. Thanks Rachel for your input.

I don’t know why you’re still on about this? As far as I can tell your question was “are these the same radicals” and the answer is yes. Answered in the first response. Bonus, RachelG said they would check it out to see if the way WaniKani does it was intentional.

It also seems like you’ve managed to snap at at least two people who were trying to be helpful to you. Please keep in mind not everyone’s first language here is English, and reading “tone” isn’t very reliable. Try assuming everyone is participating in good faith. It will go better.


You seem to have mixed the two of us up. I’m the OP, and I’ve gotten everything I wanted and stopped touching the topic! That isn’t me!

In fact, I’d rather like for this topic to stop. I mentioned the lock a while back.

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