How important is reverse kanji?

Hi, I am new to Japanese language and right now dividing my language time between WaniKani and Japanese For Busy People. I see mentions of reverse Kanji apps and wonder how important it is in the current state of my Japanese journey. There is only so much time and I want to use it wisely :slight_smile: Any advice and insights on the value of learning reverse kanji in the start of learning Japanese?

Thank you!


I would say its pretty important. Wanikani teaches you kanji but you can see the kanji in front of you. Apps like Kamesame help you recall the kanji which can be useful with communication and further memorization. Since you are only level 5 it is almost more important to start one of the reverse kanji apps because it will be so much easier compared to later on down the road. I did not even know about the reverse kanji apps and now I have thousands of reviews to cover on there :confused:


I would say not important at all… and it kinda reinforces the whole “japanese to english and english to japanese” thinking.

Even then, I’ve seen a lot of people recommend the reverse kanji thing to when you’ve burned items, so you’d be a while from that. That’s cause if not, it can get to be too much work, and kanji and grammar definitely should take priority in that sense.


I think a lot of people will disagree with my opinion on this, but I believe it to be not all that important, there are better things to invest your limited time into early on such as grammar. I believe that once you get to a certain level of understanding (in terms of grammar and vocab) you can immerse yourself in the language, which is kind of the starting point of effective language learning, and everything you do prior to that is just a crutch for getting to that point.


I disagree with you here. I think WK takes enough time already. It’s better to spend extra time on grammar and language practice (e.g. reading, chatting) than SRSing reverse kanji.

@indiehop don’t focus on reverse kanji until you yourself will feel like you can benefit from it.


I’ve personally never cared for practicing translating into the language I’m learning…

I think it’s fine to just let your active vocabulary grow naturally as a result of practicing your passive understanding and then just practice actual communication (speaking, chatting, writing etc) when you’re ready for it.

There’s also the issue that the more synonyms you know the harder it will be to find the specific translation of, say, “learn” that you’re supposed to answer with (do they mean 覚える?教わる?学ぶ?) so I get the sense that it’ll become less feasible with time… but I guess the people who do practice this has gotten around this somehow.

I actually prefer not to practice translating at all if I can help it… most of my “answers” to vocab meanings are context sentences these days, with translation as a fallback.


Yes, you should learn 逆 immediately. There are lots of fun words like 逆説.


Agreed. A lot of the time it can actually enforce bad habits, especially if you’re talking with other non-natives which is usually the case in a classroom setting. Translating to the language you’re learning often just creates weird senteces if you haven’t had enough input yet.


Oh! they are so cool! :heart_eyes:

Thank you all for the various ways to think about this. I have decided to not invest any time to learn reverse for now. Mostly because I want time to get better at grammar and apply what I am learning. Come to think of it, the scenarios where I need to translate to Japanese are few. And I also am not sure how much more time Wanikani is going to take as I progress :innocent:

Thanks again for all your insights!


Wanikani helps me read Japanese text; Kamesame helps me speak Japanese, particularly words that don’t come up often in conversation naturally, but if I can think of the English equivalent, it flows (for instance, remembering the word 学歴 once to ask my sensei about his academic record).

This is my current method. Reading is easy. Coming up with the proper vocubulary when I want to speak is the difficult part. Kamesame helps with this. Because it is tied to my wanikani practice (which is also loosely tied to my formal Genki lessons with a teacher), I am learning quickly.


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