Font Matters

I had an interesting experience yesterday when I used WaniKani from a different computer than I have used previously.

The radical “fins” came up for review. I’d gotten this to Master level weeks ago on the other computer, but the new computer was using a different font, so the right “fin” was curved inward instead of outward, and I mistook it for “eight.”


That’s when I recognized that the new computer was using a more traditional font, while the original computer defaults to a more contemporary font for Japanese. The newer computer has a much larger selection of Asian fonts, as it’s set up for design work.

I’m going to poke around and see if I can alter whatever system settings determine the default font, as I think it’s potentially useful to see Japanese in different fonts to get used to them.


Did you know there’s a script that lets you display reviews in random fonts? Very useful for training your eye to catch all those little (or not so little) variations in the ways kanji are written, but I need to warn you that your reviews may suddenly feel much harder than they were before.


I second omk’s recommendation. A font randomizer is a great way to force your brain to abstract the kanji more and not just rely on recognizing the exact same shape every time. Might be a little bit more difficult in the beginning, but you’re gonna get used to it fairly quickly and it is actually really helpful for reading kanji in the real world as you’re not always gonna encounter the exact same font


Thirding the recommendation for a font randomizer. One of the things you notice very early in the learning process is that many kanji are visually quite similar. 字 and 宇 are separated only by the angle on the “neck” stroke.

Given that so many of them look so similar to one another, how can their shapes be changed/distorted by calligraphy or stylized fonts and still be recognizable as different characters? Using a font randomizer helps your brain learn those rules implicitly. It’s definitely more challenging at first, but well worth the trouble overall, I think.

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font randomizer is great

the only downside is if you have to factory restore your computer or similar situation you have to install them again one by one, I wish there was a way to make it like a batch :grin:

It happens sometimes that radicals have different names than the kanji that looks the same. Probably because the radical name has to be used in many different mnemonics. In this case, there is no radical for ‘eight’, so if its a radical question (blue), then you know it’s ‘fins’, if it is a kanji question (pink) then it is ‘eight’. I’m pretty sure there is no difference in the radical and kanji versions.

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You can’t be too sure about that. As a matter of fact, 八 is quite well known to have a little (albeit minor) font differences (in particular, top-left and top-right in the image).


But of course, “fins” radical is just an image. (It actually uses Katakana . It’s not a Kanji, but has font differences too.)


Yeah. Some of the radicals have number names, and it had been over a month since doing those level one radicals, so I wasn’t sure if eight was a radical or not. The thing is that when I learned “fins” I learned it with the font that draws the two “fins” as mirror images of each other, flaring out away from each other. So when I saw the two lines, both curved in the same direction, it caught me off guard and I thought of eight.

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