I just started and I have some questions

WK Forums…

Too sarcastic…

Never would’ve worked THAT one out from looking at literally any thread


Welcome to wanikani…
You don’t need to use the wani kani radicals mnemonics. If they don’t help. you can make your own radical names and mnemonics, because we are all different learners/.

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I understand where you’re coming from and I too had some trouble accepting the system during the first level but I very quickly began to enjoy it when vocab was introduced. I “knew” about 350 kanji before starting WaniKani and I don’t need mneumonics at the moment to remember kanji but I can tell that they will help in the future when it gets crazy. I try not to take the “radicals/kanji parts” too seriously here and plan on learning the “real” ones later if I feel like it’s necessary.

For example: even though I knew 海 (sea/ocean) before starting WaniKani, this mneumonic makes me laugh and it sticks SO well. (kanji parts are “tsunami”, “window” and “gun”)

“You can see the “tsunami” coming from your “window”, so you point your “gun” at it. “You better turn away, sea, or I’ll shoot!” The sea decides it doesn’t want to die today, so it turns its tsunami around and goes the other way.”


Sorry didn’t mean for it to be a reply to you, carry on with your day please.

A younger coworker asked me if I had ever tried WK. I’m always up for trying something new, so I figured I would give it a shot.
Yes the first few days have been a bit annoying at their pace, but I know that not everyone who comes to this website already has a back ground in studying the language, so you have to start at the beginning.
At this time, I can’t say that I will be interested in buying the subscription, but I can say that I will likely stick with it until the free levels run out. With so much time between reviews, I’m sure that will take a little while.

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I said those exact same words but here I am. WK

lol I was wayyyy to confused by that at first.

@mizumiducky If you get everything right the first time, the first levels last about 3 to 4 days. A lot of people here forget that this isn’t for everyone and some people’s learning styles are different, some of the fan base for the site is a tad rabid in their insistence that WK is the only way to learn Kanji.

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I’ve taken Japanese lessons for nearly 8 years in a traditional school in my city run by nikkeis, and we learned Kanji through practice sheets, weekly exams and reading practice. I would normally forget most of the Kanji the next week, as I had a new list to memorize.

Of course you can learn Kanji by brute force memorization and writing it down hundreds of times. I passed JLPT N3 that way.

But keep in mind that WaniKani promises to make you a perfectly functional Japanese reader in 18 months. Making it to level 3 won’t take more than a few minutes a day and I bet you will feel progress as you’ve never felt in your life.

If you came here curious about how the method works, just suspend your disbelief and trust the method for a while.


Indeed I am, and rightly so; what you are criticising is the WK method which you have not given a fair chance. Don’t judge the system before you’ve tried it.

This is all irrelevant since what is being discussed is your experience with WK, not your experience with Japanese. I never assumed you just started learning kanji, what I did was look up how many gurued items you had and found that you had only yet learned the radicals.


I actually had a kind of similar opinion when I started a couple of days ago.

When you already know what the radical actually means it can be a little weird to be forced to type something else in order to receive “credit”. However, you have to realize that not everybody starts out already knowing some characters. Given the pace of the lessons/reviews, people that are completely new to kanji need to quickly develop some sort of a trick to memorize a lot of unfamiliar information. This is why some radicals have goofy or humorous mnemonics that help people memorize this weird new “shape”. I am sure you will appreciate the mnemonic system later on when you might encounter some radical/character that you just can’t memorize using “traditional methods”.

With all that in mind, I can still sympathize with a certain dislike for quirky radical names (e.g. “triceratops”, “raptor cage”… I’m not big on dinosaurs, okay ._.) and wanting to learn the real meaning if possible.

Something that has helped me is the option to add synonyms. When you first learn a radical in a lesson you are required to complete the recap quiz using whatever mnemonic you were just taught. However, later you can add your own definition of the radical. From there on you can enter either the original mnemonic or an alternative meaning you chose yourself and get the answer correct :slight_smile:

Honestly, I would not stress over the radicals. Have a laugh at the fun/creative interpretation of the radicals and then focus on kanji and vocab, which are both tested very nicely by WK, in my opinion.

I hope that helps!


Thank you for speaking up! It encourages people to participate in a discussion! I recently posted a concern I had and people responded! Thank you wanikani peeps! Anyway my advice is to also use kaniwani at the same time. It’s excellent! And yeah I would love if wanikani actually provided audio for its Context sentences and a description of the grammar behind them but guess that is what japandict.com and Duolingo is for - if they ever actually release a desktop version. Welcome! Why there needs to be like 48 different things to learn a language is beyond my pay grade.

The radical system in WK is just a means by which WK creates its own system to provide you with pre-determined mnemonics to help you learn the Kanji.

In reality, if you can create your own mnemonics maybe using the “official” radicals then you actually can completely ignore the radicals and WK’s use of them in its mnemonics and just use WK for the SRS. However, that’s what makes WK work so well: the fact that all of that is done already for you.

Also, if you decide to work a little harder and learn to write the kanji and not just read, having all the pieces of kanji broken down into radicals you already know is sooo helpful. A kanji like 整 would look daunting for me before WK. But now it’s so easy to write if you know the 3 radicals that comprise it AND already have the mnemonic ready.

I take Japanese in University right now, and I had a major problem with kanji before WK. Just at levels 17, my reading ability in class has gone up dramatically. I used to dread having to read sections out loud in class because I would constantly get hung up on kanji. I really wish I had used WK from the beginning to supplement my studies. >.<


Finding radicals or parts of kanji that have a consistent meaning across all kanji is impossible. Giving them a memorable name adds to the complexity. Creating a memorable story using that name even harder. So what you are asking for is an impossibility. Kanji doesn’t work like that - there is no logic, rhyme or reason for most of them - even if there ever was it is long gone. WK doesn’t work like that either.

I find adding synonyms to the radicals, using other sources for mnemonics if I don’t like or can’t see the WK ones or simply remembering them in another way (eg visual representation) works for me. Ultimately we want to get used to seeing them and recognising them like a Japanese person would so the mnemonics are only a temporary tool until that happens.

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I’m totally with you here. I knew a fair few and in the early lessons skipped some mnemonics of kanji I knew I’d never forget. Skip to 20 levels later and with 4 or 5 similar kanji now learnt. When that original kanji comes up for Burn suddenly the doubts creep in and I’m looking at every part of it to try and distinguish it from the more recent ones.

It’s definitely worth putting a story or something together for each one.


You can’t really do that with “official radicals” though, since they don’t work that way. You would encounter parts of kanji that don’t match the Japanese radicals. You’d need to make your own and then you’re just in the same place as WK is.


To any WK “radical” I tend to add (if not already there) any or none of:

“Official” radical meaning
Single kanji meaning(s)
Any meaning from any other source I might use eg Henshall, Kanji Damage, Jisho
Anything I think it looks like/means

For instance, the 弗 radical is “slinky” in WK based on spring 弓 learnt earlier. However we know 弓 is bow as we learn the kanji later so that gets added. Whilst 弗 is still many springs it’s also “dollar” as it looks like a dollar symbol. Indeed it is then used in expenses 費 above shell 貝 which I’ve also added as “money”.

This may seem more complex but for something like 貝 then I learn both the radical and kanji as “shell”, add “money” to the radical and forget the “clam”, “shellfish” meanings - far easier. To be honest I think the first time I ever encountered 貝 I understood it as shell or money (as shells used to be currency).

For me it’s using WK as a base and if that doesn’t work for you or you have other methods or you do more research or whatever - in it goes.

Yeah I think I’ll have to go through similar looking kanji later and create stories if things start to get too tricky. Thanks for the heads up and I’m excited for the later levels!

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