Heeeelp! 😆

Could someone help me understand what it means when the on’yomi reading is か here but the word I understand when looking at this Kanji is した. What is the name of the reading that I know is した? Like I really do not understand why and how there is a different sound I am needing to learn for this Kanji altogether. Hopefully my question makes sense. There are many words and examples I have like this. It is very confusing. I hope I explained my question so that it can be answered by someone knowledgeable! ありがとうございます


した is what is called the kunyomi reading. That’s the native Japanese reading, whereas onyomi readings are the ones derived from Chinese.

Onyomi readings are important to know as well. The onyomi for 下 appears in many essential words.

Nearly all kanji have at least one onyomi and at least one kunyomi reading, so be prepared to encounter this situation a lot.

WaniKani chooses one reading to teach in the kanji lesson, to keep things from being overwhelming, and they require you to answer with that to advance.

した will be taught when you get to the vocab word 下.


Even though it seems like it, they’re not asking how to read 下 by itself, but how you read it when combined with other kanji. Kun’yomi is usually the vocabulary reading.


This is why I find the bright pink in the background useful. That’s mostly On’yomi kanji reading time. Then, when it goes to the calmer purple, it’s usually the Kun’yomi reading that many are more familiar with. However, you’ll find many vocabs that use On’yomi reading too.

And then when it’s that annoying bright blue, that’s Radicals time. For some reason, I have a lot of trouble remembering those, lol.


This may help:


みんなありがとうございました!I appreciate everyone who came and answered! Than you all so much!! Community is awesome!! :revolving_hearts::revolving_hearts::revolving_hearts:


Thank you so much for taking the time to help explain this! I appreciate this! :sparkling_heart::sparkling_heart:


Ooh!! Thank you so much for showing me this!!:sunflower: I was so very confused!! Wow so the on’yomi readings are Chinese? You are saying the Chinese pronunciations are used in many words as well as the traditional Japanese pronunciation? How will I know the difference? Does this mean I am learning Chinese and Japanese together!? :eyes::face_with_spiral_eyes:


Thank you so much for your time and help! I appreciate this very much!


Thank you so very much!! This is exactly what I needed!! :confetti_ball::tada::confetti_ball:本当にありがとうございました


Well, I imagine you know that the kanji themselves are Chinese. Japan borrowed the Chinese writing system, since they had none of their own, and they also imported many words as well (since why not?).

It’s a stretch to say you’re “learning Chinese”, though you are learning things that are related to Chinese, since modern Japanese is so different from the Chinese of 1500ish years ago when these started to be imported.

You don’t really have to know the difference, because the words are just part of Japanese now. Knowing the difference could be helpful to guessing the readings of words you haven’t seen before, but it’s not critical.

Think of how English has many words taken from Greek or Latin roots. It’s a similar relationship between Japanese and Chinese.

So the onyomi represents the Japanese attempting to import the Chinese pronunciation into the Japanese pronunciation scheme, and kunyomi represents when a word that originally comes from Japanese itself is applied to a kanji because the Japanese word meant what the kanji means.


In modern day Chinese it’ll almost never be pronounced the exact same as the modern Japanese on’yomi reading, pretty often it’ll be a little similar though. The on’yomi reading is generally how the kanji is used in compound words. So the word 下 is pronounced した (below)、while the word 地下 is pronounced ちか (underground).

You can tell which reading to use based on which kanji are around it, which is why it’s important to learn multiple readings for the same kanji. It sounds a bit complicated, but after a few levels of learning vocabulary, where this happens all the time, it’ll be second nature. Then you just have exceptions to worry about! :melting_face:


I (unironically) love it how you posted like 4 times in a row and one could basically feel how it started clicking. So happy to be part of a learning community that is so nice and helpful to each other. That’s all. :sparkling_heart:


Sometimes I end up watching Chinese learning videos (despite not learning Chinese) and it’s always fun picking out the hanzi (kanji) by paying attention to the sounds and subtitles. It’s almost completely useless, but it’s cool seeing just how close some Japanese words can be to their Chinese equivalents (or how the meanings of certain characters may differ).


Thank you so much!! This community is so amazing!! Thank you for being part of it too! :confetti_ball::tada::sparkles:


I did?! I am so sorry!! I am very new to posting in forums. I certainly did not mean to! I wasn’t trying to be annoying or anything. I was trying to reply through my email, and It glitched out on me. Is that what was repeated? Or the entire topic? I am confused. I apologize for the inconvenience. :worried::cry:


I think @akira70000 is just referring to the fact that you have four replies in a row. I don’t see anything that was necessary repeated, other than a bunch of "thank you"s. But that’s okay because it’s good to be polite. :slight_smile:


Oh! That must’ve been when my email was glitching! Is there a way I can delete the repeated ones? I had to go into my email on my laptop to send stop it from sending it over and over. I don’t know why it was doing that.

1 Like

I don’t think it was a glitch. All the replies were different. It’s just that usually on the forums people tend to lump those all into one post.


Hi! I was so confused by this at first too. Many people offered amazing answers already but I thought I would give my take too. As others have mentioned, kun’yomi reading (した) is the Japanese reading and on’yomi (か) is the Chinese-derived reading.

First, you’ve probably noticed there are 3 types of flashcards in Wanikani.
Blue flashcards = Radical (visual “pieces” of a kanji)
Pink flashcards = Kanji (a character which can be combined w/other characters to form words)
Purple flashcards = Vocabulary word (containing one or more kanji and/or hiragana)

This is how on’yomi and kun’yomi are used differently:
On’yomi: If your flashcard has a pink background (meaning it’s a Kanji flashcard), Wanikani will usually want the on’yomi reading. This is the reading of the kanji which is used when the kanji is combined with other kanji to form a “compound word” of sorts. For example, the word “地下” contains 2 kanji (地 = earth, 下 = below) which combine together to form a word meaning “underground”. Since this word is created by combining multiple kanji, the word uses both of the on’yomi readings, so this word would be read as ち+か = ちか.

Kunyomi: This is the reading used when the kanji is used by itself as a whole word on its own. In this case, if you see 下 used as a word in a sentence, you know its reading will be した, meaning “below.” If you are given the 下 flashcard with the PURPLE background, then you are being tested on the vocabulary word 下, so use the kun’yomi reading.

The kunyomi reading is also used if a word is created by combining kanji + hiragana. For example, in level 5, you will learn the kanji 多 meaning “many.” It has on’yomi た and kun’yomi おお. The vocabulary word 多い (also meaning “many”) is created by combining kanji and hiragana, so it will use the kun’yomi reading. This is why its reading is おお+い = おおい.

Keep in mind, everything that I said above has exceptions, which makes things trickier! But Wanikani will teach you what the exceptions are as you go along.

For the most part though, this tends to be the pattern:

  • Kanji flashcards (pink background) usually want the on’yomi reading. Sometimes Wanikani will have you remember the kun’yomi reading for the kanji instead, but this is usually for kanji where the on’yomi reading is rarely used.
  • Vocabulary word flashcards (purple background) have two options:
    If the word is either made of a single kanji or kanji + hiragana, use the kun’yomi reading.
    If the word is made up of 2 or more kanji and no hiragana, use the on’yomi reading.

Again, there are a lot of exceptions to these rules, but Wanikani will tell you what the exceptions are. Hope this helps! And I promise it will start to make more sense as you progress.