How many of the radicals here are actual kanji?

Does anybody know? Also, how many of those have a radical name that differs from the kanji meaning?

There is thread with a list of radicals. Compiled by @Belthazar . A List of WaniKani’s Radical Names vs More Common Radical Names - #2 by Belthazar

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That doesn’t actually answer my question though… I do not like learning a radical only to later learn it is actually a kanji with an entirely different meaning, so I would like to prepare. There is absolutely no reason for me to keep a meaning associated with it that exists only to pass the tests here. Honestly, this should be the default setting for all radicals, if they are actually a kanji, the kanji meaning should be a synonym by default.


It half answers the question. You have a list of every radical some don’t have kanji and those are all listed as having a “Standard” name or meaning as a radical. Many however on that list are listed as having a radical name in Wanikani but as simply kanji in “Standard”. You would have to then check each Wanikani radical meaning to its kanji meaning. But for a quick count maybe just search that list for the amount of times the word kanji shows up in the “Standard” list?

I will say from experience (but experience is of course clouded by poor memory) that it felt like in the beginning the radicals had different meanings and rarely were stand alone Kanji. Later it felt that many radicals were kanji and had differing meanings. I usually just added the synonym and moved on with life. Now I tend to learn radicals that have the same meaning as the kanji. Is this accurate and proven with the actual statistics? No but its my 2 cents. Hope that helps. Or hopefully someone has a link to an comprehensive list somewhere.


The separation of radicals and kanji on WaniKani, even those that are identical, serves a larger purpose overall in the long run. Don’t think of radical names as meanings, because that’s usually not what they are (especially with WaniKani). Japanese only has 214 “official” radicals while WaniKani has well over 400. This is designed to help you break kanji down more easily as a secondary learner who is seeing things like 鬱 or 霧 into more manageable pieces down the line. They’re just a way for you to break kanji down into more simplistic pieces rather than a random conglomeration of lines.

As for radicals that are also kanji, they’re separate so that you can learn the kanji itself (for example 木, tree) which is a stand-alone kanji, but appears in a large number of kanji as a radical (林、森、村、and many many more) as well. I don’t really see how knowing in advance which radicals are also kanji will help you, as many do have the same name as their kanji counterpart, and you’ll usually learn them fairly close to each other.


The radicals are mainly there to build mnemonics for the actual kanji. An early kanji-as-radical you learn is 也. You learned it as Alligator, because that is easier to associate with than ‘considerably’ (which you learn at level 45). It is also a relatively rare kanji to come across in the wild.

Another example is 可. You learn it as Lip Ring in level 5, and in level 18 you learn that it actually means ‘possible’. Arguably easier to build a (ridiculous) story around Lip Ring.

Another thing to remember is that many kanji-as-radicals often don’t represent the same meaning when it appears in a kanji.


Lots of relevant comments here already, but I figured I’d add a few numbers to the discussion.

Out of 481 radicals in the WK database (only counting non-hidden ones):

  • 36 have no character at all, and can only be represented by an image.
  • 122 have a character, but that character is not also a kanji in the WK database. (Some of those might still be kanji in the Japanese language, just not in the set that WK has included.)
  • 323 have a character, and that character is also a kanji in the WK database.
  • Of those 323, 295 share at least one meaning with their corresponding kanji. 28 do not.

I wouldn’t advise this if you use the mnemonics or radical system - but if you’re like me and don’t use the mnemonics or the radicals at all to determine what kanji it is - then every time you learn a new kanji, which is the same as a radical, just add a synonymy to the radical.

It’s a bit of a pain to keep changing them but it deals with frustration of getting the kanji wrong because you remembered the radical word not the kanji one.


That’s helpful. I do notice there is a lot of meaning overlap, but then there are some that are quite obviously not right, and I find those to be a hindrance, not an aid. I almost never use the mnemonics provided, or mnemonics in the form of “ridiculous stories”.

You could use Keisei to see which radicals have kanji (even if the kanji are not included in WK). What you would normally understand as radicals are not covered (just shown as the semantic part).


Yeah, I know what you mean. I remember learning the radical 里 as “village”, but when it shows up as kanji it’s “home village” or “home town”. Sure, the “village” part is still in there, but “home village” is a very different beast. Very annoying.

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I think WaniKani is aware of that.


See you again when you’re dealing with level 40+ kanji


I think radicals are more important for writing kanji than reading, but it also helps finding structure in the writing system. this does answer the question, since there is a literal list explaining which are radicals and which aren’t. I say about 3-4 non existent radicals like begger and psychopath. toe actuall means oracle, but most stick to the original meaning.

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I already am.

Sure bud .

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So what, when you started doing the self-study script, you literally just started “reviewing” everything on the entire site at once?

Not exactly. Before I started with the self-study script I had two anki decks for kanji and I simply got rid of the new cards limit, changed the srs spacing, and would flip through the decks four hours. I’m actually dealing with a lot of depression so the crying gets in the way of studying but the bulk of what makes WaniKani a challenge is the vocabulary, with the different readings and such, not the isolated kanji. Kanji by itself is not hard, unless you are writing it by hand, which I’m not. What I do is look at the kanji and “read” it, as in I “read” what the drawing seems to be saying, and then I remember the meaning. I do notice what the kanji is made up of (the “radicals” so to speak), I just don’t invent a crazy story as a mnemonic, I let whatever story naturally appears to me be enough. As for readings, I try to make sure they come by reflex by simply drilling, and linking different kanji which share readings together in my head.

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