Have you ever come across kanji or words that are new to you in your own language? How do you deal with it?

It’s not a rant or a complaint, I’m just curious. Just got 葵, or ‘hollyhock’. Well, English is not my first language, so no big deal, let’s just look at what exactly this is and maybe add a synonym. Aaaand it turns out I’ve also never heard of the word in my own mother language, hehe.


Well unless it’s some common cultural thing in Japan, I’d guess just move on? If you don’t know the word in the 2 languages you already speak, you clearly don’t need to know it in Japanese :stuck_out_tongue:


For sure. Items get really specific in the last levels. I think, googling to see an explanation is the obvious necessary step. And for flowers, get yourself a good real image to memorize along with the kanji and meaning. I did know what type of flower a “malva” is in this case.

But I know I struggled for real with some of the legalese items. :sweat_drops: One I manage to also rely on a native phrase instead of the English, the other, I didn’t quite understand and still don’t.

I did what I could. Again, google. I discussed it with others as well, here on these forums, and got some sort of idea. But truth is, I just don’t quite get it.

I’m not looking forward to returning there, but worst case, for single items that you cannot see yourself needing to know, there is always the solution of adding any letter of the alphabet as a synonym and just not learn those items - until I encounter them in the wild and they become useful.


Yeah, that’s exactly what I was thinking :laughing:


I had this same issue with the baseball terms. I just can’t grasp the concept, nor can I care enough about the game itself for it to worth the effort.


Yeah, this tends to be my take on it. Either the source where I’ve found it provides enough context and uses the word enough to make the meaning memorable to me; or else it’s just not worth the effort right now, and it’s better to skip it. If it is a common cultural thing it’ll turn up again later, perhaps in a more memorable setting.

Plant and fish names are a kind of middle ground for me – for instance I know “hollyhock” but only as “a kind of flower”; I could not tell you at all what they look like, because I have no particular interest in gardening, so I mostly encounter the word in reading descriptive passages in fiction where “flower” is about as much meaning as you need. I probably have a few too many of these in my SRS that are mostly just teaching me a kanji reading.

Sometimes this has amusing disconnected effects; for instance I know アジサイ is a flowering plant; and I know hydrangea is a flowering plant, but I don’t really associate the two words, and I don’t actually know what the plant looks like.


I suppose for this one specifically, if you have an interest in family crests, you might care about the 葵の御紋…

But in seriousness, you can probably safely not stress too much about the kanji.

I’ve come across a number of terms I only vaguely know in English, and they’ve proven as useful in Japanese as in English. The main way things like this have been useful have been if the readings show up in family names, personally.



(I didn’t know that was hollyhocks, but I recognize the crest :slight_smile: )

for those who don't get the reference

The crest plays a prominent part in the long running TV period drama Mito Komon, where a high ranking relative of the shogun wanders around Japan incognito solving ordinary peoples’ problems. At the end of every episode there is always a climactic scene where his identity is revealed by one of his men brandishing an inro with the Tokugawa crest on it, like this:



Well I don’t know every single English word, so, yes :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

Jokes aside,

^^If I don’t use a word frequently enough to have a good grasp of it in English, then I definitely won’t be using it in Japanese.


Sometimes it’s good to know what a geoduck is.


Pokemon has ruined my ability to read geoduck correctly.


I agree in general, but I think there are a few cases where a word in Japanese is expressing something that doesn’t have a neat translation into English, or is a word for something that doesn’t really exist or isn’t prominent in an English language context; those I can happily use in Japanese while not necessarily always having a good grasp of how I’d translate it into English. Examples of the first: せっかく, さすが. Examples of the second: 帯 (in the sense of the little paper band around a book), 下駄, 初詣.


Definitely agree. Even if a word doesn’t exist in English, the concept still exists.

Digressing a little bit but, おととい and あさって are some of my favorite words, because I always thought English should have words for those.


You could just set the Japanese term as a synonym, too. That would probably be the best way to handle plants/animals that are native to Japan.

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I take it as an opportunity to learn. I actually enjoy coming across new animal and plant names in Japanese.

I can appreciate if people decide not to bother for the sake of efficiency. I’m just not in it for efficiency.


I’m not stressing at all, just wanted to know how other people deal with this issue. =)

I like to delve a little bit into the cultural aspect of things, even if I don’t really get the meaning of anything. I guess my only issue that led me to create this post was on a Wanikani level, on how different people approach revisions of items they don’t really grasp. It’s not really a problem, just a curiosity. =)

We actually have おととい in my native Portuguese, but not あさっと, which I always found a bit odd, haha. Well, actually there is an equivalent word to あさっと but no one actually uses it. Maybe in Portugal they do, but I’m not sure.


Well, I looked up.

Then, I care more about categorization, e.g. a kind of flower / plant. I also have some imageries about baseball terms, which might not be exactly correct. (How could I be correct? I don’t really know the sport.)

Now, I prefer semi self-grading more. Show info and read it. Can be either change to right or to wrong. So, Double-Check Banzai!

I use smouldering durtles so I just press that it’s correct


There were, but they’ve fallen out of use. 「おととい」 is “ereyesterday”, and 「あさって」 is “overmorrow”.


Plant/flower kanji get a no from me, unless they’re extremely common and you’ll find them often in books.

The rest depends. Usually I add them to my Anki deck for vocab, because there is a chance they might appear later, but if it’s really some exotic word, I wouldn’t bother even checking :sweat_smile: .