How to Remember Kanji Better?

Hi, I’ve been using WaniKani for a while and I like it a lot.

One problem I’ve had though is I can’t seem to remember what I’m learning most of the time, and I’m clueless when it comes to reviews. Any help on remembering what I learn?


I assume you’re asking because the mnemonics don’t work for you even though they incorporate many styles of learning.

First, find out what type of learner you are:

I’m sure you can find many online tests. Then look up what the best methods is for your style and try to pick those bits out of the mnemonics.

We’re all a mix to some extent but we’re pretty unique in the combination.

I gesticulate an awful lot during my lessons because I remember if I incorporate gestures. I also write the kanji with my finger. I say the reading out loud. I spend time fitting the radicals in the kanji because I remember radicals well.

What works for me is unlikely to work for you. If you tell us what you do already and what style you think you have, I’m sure some people with similar learning styles can come to your rescue.

Good luck. It IS hard.

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Learning styles are a myth.

Willingham goes so far as to say that people should stop thinking of themselves as visual, verbal, or some other kind of learner. “It’s not like anything terrible is going to happen to you [if you do buy into learning styles],” he said, but there’s not any benefit to it, either. “Everyone is able to think in words; everyone is able to think in mental images. It’s much better to think of everyone having a toolbox of ways to think, and think to yourself, which tool is best?”

Some of the studies linked in the article:

That said, it’s also important to find something you like. That’s probably one of the most important things that keeps you doing it everyday.

Are you also using a textbook to learn Japanese?


Thanks for the reply

I’ve always been a visual learner and i know that
I think some of the mnemonics are good but not all of them work for me but I think the hardest thing is the alternate pronunciations of some words. I just can’t remember them at all.

When a mnemonic doesn’t work for me I make my own and write it in the notes for the kanji.

I have found noting better to do for the alternative pronunciations than missing a few reviews until the correct reading sticks.


The vocab helps me the most. At the time, the mnemonics for 先 and 元 were too bizarre for me to remember and I kept getting these kanji and their readings mixed up. But then they gave me 元気 and 先月/年/日 and it clicked.

Learning styles are a myth.

Always suspected that. Just like the temperaments and the Myers Briggs thing and even the introvert-extrovert thing.


Fair enough! I might have to send this on to the training department!

I think we still came to same conclusion though: use a bunch of different ways to remember the kanji!


In the beginning, as a visual learner, I would find images that gave me a clue to the reading or meaning. For example image should be coming up in your lessons.
The reading is くさ which reminds me of cool sandals made of grass. Like this:

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wasn’t there a whole internet outrage about this a couple months ago? That there actually were people who didn’t hear words/didn’t get any visuals?


As in, looking where (position) a particular radical goes in the kanji?

I feel I’m about to hit my limit of primarily visual memorization for kanji meaning, and need something more sturdy to attach to the learning scheme. It this what you do? I much appreciate any tips! :slight_smile:

I wish I could help but I’m way behind you. I’m some terrified and some more to hit the next levels tbh!

What I mean is I tend to remember the radicals very well so yes, I really use the fact kanji are built from radicals. I use my hands to slot them in. For sora I’d pick a roof with my fingertips, put it on top of my legs and then sit on top of a crane. I’m in the sky! I remember the motions quite well, I think for me, it reinforces the shapes.

I’m like you though. I wonder how much more info my poor old brain can hold. How scary is this:

If someone told me I could learn 59 things per day before I started WK, I would have spat my coffee in their face.

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I don’t think that’s what the 59 means. The 24.4 is the “average things per day.” I think 59 is the theoretical fastest pace.

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Yep you’re totally right. It’s 24.4 per day learned? guru’d? Guru’s probably. What’s that 59 then? It’s days but what days? I did not skip days. Either way, it’s still scary.

:smiley: I do believe I’m trying to get some sort of idea of how to properly visualize the kanji radical positions correctly, but also, connect the right radicals if they are like left, middle, or right? Up, middle, or down? Separated partially by some other radical?

[case in study is “rejoice” where “drum” is separated by “mouth”]. I just can’t tell if that’s helpful as to know as to recognize the kanji! :man_shrugging: Or how to do it. I just struggle on as I’ve been doing thus far, but the more kanji and radicals you know :arrow_right: the more complex the combinations are going to get.

(right now, it gets confusing. I might remember the components, but not how to fit them together, their positions. It’s usually about their meaning, though, not reading for me. (But, I’m also self-learned in Japanese for like 14 years, so I do know the vocabulary. But, not really what kanji goes with what word and how that’s read on principle. As the Star Wars saying goes: “You have to unlearn what you have learnt!”)

This might help:

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Yup. The original study got its conclusion because they found self identified visual learners were doing better so they concluded they were the ones being catered to.

As it turns out, the “visual learners” were just kids that realized that they were visual learners, while the other kids were visual owners who didn’t know they were.

@neito777 Try writing the kanji/vocab. By hand preferably, since studies show digital notes are much less effective than physical notes for learning.

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While I believe the research that people aren’t “visual”, “kinesthetic”, or “auditory” learners, I think there’s something to be said for personal preference for using certain tools over others. In the same way that someone identifies with their horoscope or Myers-Briggs personality type, by reading about different learning styles, we make judgments about ourselves. From that, we may consciously (or subconsciously) choose certain learning tools over others, creating the very real effect that we become more comfortable and more used to those tools.

Like, I love a good complicated graphic, yet I find it difficult to pay attention to a long speech, even if I find the topic and speaker interesting. Because I’ve considered myself a “visual” learner in the past, perhaps I’ve cultivated my reading skills more than I’ve worked on my listening. Nothing has permanently locked me into this style, but to change it at this point would take work.

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I second that. I add that sometimes the difference goes deeper than preference. For example it is said that good mnemonics are based on a vivid picture or scene with lots of details. Representations of sounds and other sensation are supposed to help too. These kind of mnemonics never worked for me. I just can’t picture the scene vividly enough no matter how hard I try. In my case there is no hidden untapped capability that could be used because I have tried many times and always failed. But other individuals have had success with this kind of mnemonics. Therefore differences between individuals exist.

I completely agree with that sentiment. It’s something I’ve noticed myself studying at school. Writing by hand takes time and that helps remember things.

I’m a visual learner as well, but also a haptic learner (?) as in learning by moving my body - learn stuff by doing. It’s something I’ve picked up from playing music. My hands remember stuff I can’t consciously bring to mind.

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