How do you handle vocab with kanji you haven't learned yet?

So I’m about 1.5 months in learning Japanese. For now, my primary source for studying grammar and some occasional vocab is Lingodeer and simple texts in Japanese. Since in the process of learning, encountering a lot of words, that use kanji that you don’t know yet, is a common occurrence, I wanted to ask what the more experienced Japanese learners did/do. Right now, I’m just shoving all the new words into an Anki deck, hoping that the kanji used shows up in a Wanikani lesson.

So far, Wanikani has been amazing: the community, the SRS system, the internal memes just everything about it makes learning words so much fun :grinning:


First, I check if the word is one which is “usally written in Kana”. If it is? I don’t bother with the Kanji.

If the Kanji is not in Wanikani at all it depends, if I think I might need the Kanji more often.
If the Kanji comes up in the next 10 levels of Wanikani, I just study the vocab in Kana only and wait to learn it here.

So, if I see a word which is in WK Level 47 or something, I’ll study the Kanji (in the context of the vocab word) now, because 47 is too far away.


I just look it up on and try to remember it.


I look it up and if I end up looking it up often enough and it’s not sticking I chuck it into Anki


I focus on learning the hiragana. It is a pleasant surprise when I review them again on my Anki and find out I now recognize the kanji. Very rewarding.
If the kanji is too far away in WK levels, I try to learn it with my own mnemonics, and it works.
Also, be careful when learning a word. If it has a tag which says “usually written in kana”; don’t trust it too much. I’ve had dozens of cases where words that are usually “written in kana” show up in their kanji versions.


I’ve found that trying to learn words I don’t know the kanji for is mostly a waste of time, so I mostly just look them up and move on. Exceptions are:

  • kana only words, which I learn as kana.

  • groups of related words, especially where I know at least one of the component kanji. For example, I recently encountered 気温, 体温, and 高温. (air temperature, body temperature, high temperature) 温 is new for me, but I know the others, so these will probably stick, and I’ll learn a new kanji as a bonus.

  • “common” words, especially where I know at least one of the component kanji. These are words that I’ve seen often enough that when I look them up I realize, “oh, that,” and so I try to learn them in a more structured way.


I just search for it in wanikani if it is not here i search for the reading of it. 喋る is an example means to chat (しゃべる)
Nvm 喋る is indeed in wanikani. I must have missed it somehow before

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I’m doing a core 2k vocab deck in Anki, and it’s not uncommon for me to encounter a vocab word with a kanji I don’t know yet. I don’t really do anything special, just memorize the kanji at the same time as I’m learning the vocab. If I’m just reading something in the wild, I’ll usually just look it up on Jisho. Sometimes the kanji sticks this way if it’s common enough.

I haven’t made an Anki deck specifically for kanji though as I don’t personally think it would be worth the effort to learn kanji in two places.

This way of learning kanji is definitely not as effective as the WK method with mnemonics, but if I see a kanji enough I can usually remember it. Plus it has the side effect of learning a kanji on WK that you’re already familiar with, which makes reviews easier.

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I usually just look it up in the moment and move on.

I think it was added quite recently.


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