DZ is new and need help with 1st kanji lesson

After completing the 1st review of radicals the program takes me to the 1st lesson of kanji. This is where I get lost. Where do I learn the proper readings before I get to the kanji lessons? Why does some translation sites give me a different answer for the # one? I feel like I missed something prior to the Kanji lessons. In other words, what do I have to do to get thru the 1st kanji lessons? Many thanks.


Kanji usually have at least 2 readings, maybe this is where you are getting confused?

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Wanikani initially teaches you either the onyomi or kunyomi reading for a kanji depending on which will be used more often (typically the onyomi, since that’s how it’ll be used in many compound words).

Just go with what WaniKani teaches you. If you learn onyomi first then know you’ll probably learn the kunyomi in the vocab lessons for when it’s used as a verb or for standalone words/nouns. Just make sure to check if you’re being taught the onyomi or kunyomi at first so you don’t confused.

Eventually you can kinda tell when it’s an onyomi or kunyomi reading based on how different it is


Is it the hirigana that you don’t know? The japanese symbols that make up the sound. Then I suggest you take a look at this guide and learn the hirigana first


Hello! Welcome to WaniKani!

You learn them while doing the lessons—whatever that means for you. You may have to write things down or draw a picture to help memorize the reading. It’s up to you. You need to learn hiragana to use WaniKani effectively, so that should be your first stop if you don’t already know it (as @Kimmy95 pointed out).

This is an important concept to become familiar with. There’s not a one-to-one correspondence between kanji and sounds in Japanese. Part of the reason for this is the significant influence Chinese has had on the Japanese language; a significant fraction of Japanese vocabulary is of Chinese origin, just as English is influenced by other languages (e.g., “language” is from the Old French “langage,” which is itself from the Latin “lingua”). Such Chinese-derived readings for kanji are called “on’yomi” readings, as @Kimmy95 mentioned. There may even be multiple on’yomi readings, depending on the character. It doesn’t stop there, however, as there are also “kun’yomi” readings, which are readings given to characters used to write (native) Japanese words. There are also plenty of exceptions to learn, particularly for very common characters or words.

WaniKani will teach you either the on’yomi reading(s) or the kun’yomi reading(s) when you learn kanji. For example, in level 1, you learn by its on’yomi reading (にゅう), but you learn by its kun’yomi reading (かわ).

This is good advice. You should be aware that there are differences, though.

You will have to keep track of the different readings while you learn vocabulary. This is quite possibly one of the most confusing aspects of Japanese to an adult learner coming from another language—especially one with an alphabet. Even compared to Chinese, where there are multiple readings for some characters, it can seem a bit absurd at first. For example, consider the characters 一 and 人, which you will learn in level 1, and 日, which you will learn in level 2. You can make words like

Word Meaning
ひと person
ひと alone
いちにん one person
アメリカじん American (person)
一日ついたち first of the month
いちにち one day

How do you know which pronunciation to use? Well, you learn it with your vocabulary and you use it while reading, speaking, and listening to Japanese. It will take time and practice.

Hopefully this helps you understand why there can be different ways to say the same character. If you look in a dictionary, you’ll see a few different readings listed. For example, with 一, you might see

and now you know what the “kun” and “on” parts mean and why there are multiple readings. :slight_smile: (You’ll also notice the on’yomi readings are written in katakana here, which is a choice some publishers make because they’re technically derived from Chinese and foreign words are typically written with katakana. You should learn katakana along with hiragana.)