Do you practice writing kanji?

Hi :slight_smile: I write out all my notes by hand because it works better for my memory than typing. I can write hiragana and katakana ( I still mix up a few). I can also write a bunch of the really basic kanji with correct stroke order. I enjoy writing out kanji, but it is very time-consuming to practice. Does anyone actually learn how to write all of the kanji? If so, what does your practice schedule look like? Thanks :blush:

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I have a thread where I talk about preparing for and taking various levels of the writing exam Kanken.

There are a lot of resources dedicated to that exam specifically.

Nowadays, I mostly just practice writing when I have some extra time in the day. I’ll often ask my wife to give me random words to write and see if I can remember how.

I’d like to give Kanken another go at some point, but the next level for me (pre-1) would require an insane amount of prep.

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In terms of kanji, I write them out when I first start learning them in lessons to better memorize them. I’d say it takes around 10 minutes while learning the lesson batch and writing the characters out several times in the correct stroke order. However, since my focus is mostly reading right now (I don’t forsee myself handwriting in this language by hand for the most part), I don’t really memorize the stroke order after I learn them. I also found I practiced writing when I started mixing up similar looking characters and could finally see the details of what differentiates them apart.

If one of your goals is to learn how to write them out by memory, maybe you can start off by writing out a simple diary entry of your day (1 or 2 sentences). You’re bound to use the same characters and words after a while, and that way you can eventually memorize how to write them out by heart without constantly looking up the stroke order.

When I don’t actively study, I found following Japanese calligraphy artists on social media to help look at how they write out the kanji.

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I find it satisfying to write kanji, but I really only write them out when I am doing my reviews every day. But on almost all days I am just writing the kanji with my finger in the air, lol. I think that’s good enough, though! Sometimes I will think that I remember a kanji well, then when I go to air write it, I realize I might be confusing some part of it with another. So air writing seems to be good enough for me to remember how to write them from memory, and it doesn’t take as long as writing with pen and paper. My handwriting is not very neat though…

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I think that’s a great idea!

I started out doing kanji writing drills using an app (Kanji Study for Android) and on paper, then accidentally fell out of the practice of doing it as I got several levels into WaniKani. I wish I hadn’t stopped, though. I’m noticing my memory is not as strong with newer material as it used to be. Memorizing the radicals and their position/scale relative to one another in kanji helps a lot, but I think writing it really cements it in my brain.

My intention is to start the practice again when I begin learning the radicals and kanji for this level (currently working through the previous level’s remaining vocab). I think writing it in the air is a great way to make it low-effort in the sense that you don’t have to grab paper or another device to write on.

I wouldn’t worry too much about the quality of your handwriting unless that’s something you really want to focus on. After watching this video of Japanese folks trying to recall and write kanji, I feel much less bad about my childlike handwriting: https://youtu.be/sJNxPRBvRQg?si=DLpql_7y-2lKSzl0

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Thank you for all the information :slight_smile:

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I take Japanese, so that comes naturally, but I also find that writing my lessons down (excluding all the text, mainly just important mnemonics, the kanji, furigana, and definition) definetely helps with memorization as well. At the end of the day, being able to read kanji is basically all you need as everything is digitalized.

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I write all my notes by hand because it helps a lot with memorization too :smiley:

I also use a great SRS writing kanji app, Ringo-Tan
You can set it up so that you can learn kanji in the same order than in WK :smiley:

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A little bit, yes.


I started around level 15 because I was confusing similar kanji too often for my liking. It definitely improved my ability to distinguish kanji massively (even in weird fonts). It’s a huge time commitment though, according to my kanji drawing Anki deck stats I have done 20k reviews over the past year for a total of over 200 hours of study time, and since I tend to write every kanji several times for every review I’m probably at around 100k kanji written during these practice sessions.

It’s certainly a bit extra and not the most optimal way of learning kanji if you only care about recognition and not production, but I don’t regret doing it personally.

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I used to write kanji before taking my 9-month hiatus and had two different ways of doing it.

The first way was inspired by someone else who shared their study tactic in a different post where you write down the items you get wrong during every review. However, unlike the sample he provides in his post my notebook was more like @simias ’ as he shared above. But it also includes the way it’s read and the meaning at the very end of the line. The reason why I started it was exactly for the same reason simias did because I was mixing up similar looking kanji.

I accompanied that practice with another one, where I would learn how to write kanji that I’ve already burned. I started this in a different notebook because I took up the Book of Shame exercise a bit later when I realized I wasn’t learning how to write any of the items already burned which were the really basic ones. This one was just for fun though because I actually like writing kanji :sweat_smile:

If you’re using scripts for WK, what was really useful for me while doing this exercise was the [Userscript] Stroke Order Diagram which allowed me to see the stroke order for kanji items. Would be even more useful if they did it for vocab items too though!

I might start the practice again once I get to level 21, which was where I was before resetting. Best of luck on your kanji writing journey and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! :slight_smile:

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Yeah, this is exactly why I’ll be starting back up my writing practice when I’m done with Level 13 vocab and start the Level 14 radicals and kanji. I don’t like that I’m mixing up kanji* or that I vaguely recognize kanji by magic but don’t have a firm basis as to why. I find my memory of kanji is way better when I can clearly visualize it in my head with all the radicals/strokes.

Though writing is considered output/recall, in my experience it helps immensely with improving recognition, too.

* to be fair to myself, it felt like half of Level 13’s kanji had the definition of “feeling” or “emotion” which definitely didn’t help.

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Wow, they looking amazing.

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I wish, but thank you!

Here’s the Anki deck I made specifically to practice kanji by the way: https://ankiweb.net/shared/info/610839770

The way I did is is that I started with all cards suspended, then I un-suspend them when I do the corresponding lesson in WaniKani.

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Anki on Android with S-pen, for vocabulary decks. In the past, I put EN on the front, just like KaniWani. Now I use JP definitions from Yomitan, edited specifically to remove Kanji, and also add context sentences.

Kanji tracing for a vocabulary is made using Kanji Stroke Order font.

Individual Kanji writing is done sometimes too; for the basics like radical components. Stroke orders are memorized by each radical, then radical sequence. There are exceptions, but that can be corrected along the way.

Writing for waking up, and keeping a good and big handwriting.

I write in Japanese with a pen sometimes too, like when learning grammar, or writing a diary in Hobonichi.

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fyi someone started a handwriting club here that you could participate in / revive 🖋 Handwriting Club 🖋 or at least see what resources that one turned up

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I found this method the easiest, since I’m on my phone most of the time anyway. Ringotan is a fun app and it really helped me cement the differences between similar kanji.

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Thank you for sharing ૮ ˶ᵔ ᵕ ᵔ˶ ა

Yeah I started doing it, not really in a structured way but it’s a start.

The way I make it work is to start with something I know and then go from there. I already know kanji somewhat from previous learning methods, so I’m combining my experience from reading, kanji and vocab knowledge and stroke order to bring it together for writing practice. The overall goal is to get better with it.

One example I unsealed all the stuff I got from Japan and made notes by copying the titles by writing it down:

Another example is that I got myself:

To help practice parts I might miss myself.

I also revisit the basics of kana that I neglected over the years. As for why I bother with it, I can improve my other skills while I’m doing it as well and muscle memory is very powerful.

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Hey, this is great! I might just pull Anki out of the hole I left it in for this. I need a way to track what’s moving up and down the SRS ranking, 'cause trying to do that on paper for the number of kanji I’m dealing with ain’t gonna cut it.

I stayed true to my word and restarted using writing as part of my learning process. Holy cow, WHAT A DIFFERENCE. As items from Level 13 come up for review, I’ve been working on them as well, along with the occasional older item.

@Thud A friend of mine loaned me an older version of that “game” for the Nintendo DS. That was back when I first started Japanese and wasn’t quite sure what to do with it yet, though. This was a good reminder that I should try it out now that I’m further along!

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I recently took at look at DuoLingo for Japanese. They have a pretty nifty system for learning how to write kanji in the proper stroke order. You start out by tracing a template for a new character, then graduate to adding missing strokes to an existing character, then finally to writing the character all by yourself. They incorporate a fair amount of repetition, which is helpful. Of course, they don’t introduce kanji in exactly the same order as WaniKani, but so far I recognize all the kanji they’re teaching me, thanks to WaniKani.

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