Help with troubled Kanji

Hello I have been using Wanikani and always have about 80 kanji that are constantly being forgotten or confused with other Kanji and clog up my apprentice level greatly limiting my progress. I have tried to make flashcards and using the self study script in Wanikani but no luck. I was wondering what suggestions other people have for this issue. Some of the ones I constantly confuse are To find/To be found/To distinguish and wait/special.

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I would say look for patterns. I cant say that I’ve found many nor do I remember if they work, I’m still working on it.

Remember any changes to a word. For example:

みる。 to see.
せる。 to show.
あたる。 to be found.

This goes along the same way as patterns. Some “action” kanji use as their on’yomi reading.

“this one ends in す therefore it means…”

Find little ways to make it memorable-- ways that it resembles English words, if you’re a native speaker.

Some kanji that they’ve set you up to learn at the time will all end the same way. Once again… patterns.


I had the same problem earlier - and still encounter it with the new kanji, as I easly mix up the symbols that are visually similar. Or if they have somewhat close meaning, so my brain cannot properly separate them.
Visually similar ex: 特 and 待
Close meaning ex: 始 and 初

What eventually helped me is to draw them on small cards and pin those to a board on my desk. I see them a few times during my day and each time I notice the card I spend a minute or two to check their radicals or difference in meanings and refresh it in my head. When I am done with a certain pair, it goes out of the board. Usually there are from 2 to 4 pairs or sets of cards pinned to work on, never more.

Items like that are referred to as leeches. You can do a forum search and read around for tips in previous topics on that subject.

You can also install the Self-Study Quiz script, plus the Additional filters. Then you can put together review quizzes (that don’t affect WKs SRS) of just leeches that you have accumulated.

You can also look through the list of API and third party stuff that’s aimed at quashing leeches.


To be fair, they said:

If using the self study script on your leeches doesn’t work, what other choices are there?

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Whoops, managed to read over that line. ^^

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I think sometimes the act of trying to draw similar kanji can be helpful to pick up the difference - worth a try?

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I had that couple weeks ago. What i did was to stop doing lesson till i start to get them right everytime. Took me around 15 days. Now i started to do only small amount of lesson every day(instead of burning through all of them in single day). Mainly because of this problem. I think taking it slow is beneficial sometimes especially now that you recognized getting same mistakes repeatedly. So it can be demotivating

Where you’re getting muddled between different kanji, I would carefully look at the pairs / groups that give you trouble, zone in on what differentiates them, and make up mnemonics / hints to tell them apart that focus specifically on their differences.

You don’t have to do them all at once, but each time you encounter one in reviews.

Then each time they come up in reviews, you have to take the time to study them carefully and consciously remember the hint.

I often get leeches like this, and they simply don’t go away until I bother to pay them attention - spamming reviews helps, but I find that if I don’t give myself a way to distinguish them I’ll just start getting them wrong again once they’re at a higher level.

Thanks for the feedback guys I appreciate the help!!!

I made an excel spreadsheet for myself, where I have tabs like “similar kanji” or “similar meanings” … in the wild, it’s hard to remember which is which, but when I stare at them side-by-side it’s easier to see “Oh, BUNDLE and EAST are identical, except EAST has a rice paddy where BUNDLE has a mouth.”

And then (since I’ve learned Bundle/East, just not how to tell the difference) I make a new mnemonic: the Rice Paddies are in the East. Done. So when the Kanji comes up in the wild that’s either bundle or east, I see the rice paddy, it triggers my memory, I know it’s east.

I do that for all the ones that throw me–Fault has a head (I kept thinking arrow = fault, but not anymore!), you teach kids, you think about beggars, and so on. Now that you know the kanji, so to speak, you can forgot why you know it, and concentrate on remembering the differences.


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