I know a Kanji can have On'yomi and Kun'yomi reading but even more?

This is a vocab in my lessons right now : 上げる

Right before this vocab, I learned the Kun’yomi reading of the vocab 上 which was うえ and now in this vocab, even though the Reading Explanation says it’s Kun’yomi as well, it sounds completely different
あげる。Can someone explain what’s going on? LIke a word can have multiple Kun’yomi reading as well?

Yes. Kanji can have multiple on, kun and nanori readings. Though 上 is a bit of an extreme case.


Oh man, I hope I can remember all this >.<

It’s easier if you remember to learn words as words rather than as kanji readings you just randomly mash together.


It helps to remember that Japanese writing evolved from Chinese writing.
At the risk of making a gross oversimplification, if two things were written using the same way in classical Chinese, there’s a decent chance that they’ll be written using the same character in Japanese, too, even if spoken Japanese makes a clear distinction. Similarly, some words have different kanji because Chinese makes a distinction between them, even though they are essentially the same word in Japanese.

For example, in Chinese, 上 can mean both “up” and “ascend” (along with a bunch of other things), which is likely why it is used both for うえ and あがる (and, by extension, あげる).

As ObolioJ suggests, it’s probably best not to think of it as remembering a bunch of readings, but rather as recognizing different words. After all, when you see the words tough, though, thought, through and thorough, you probably don’t think too much about how the individual letters are pronounced; with enough experience, your mind learns to recognize the word as a whole, allowing you to identify the entire word as a whole (especially when you see it as part of a sentence where only one of the five options makes sense).


Not precisely your question, but kanji can also have a third type of reading called “nanori”, which is a reading that’s only ever used in names. The nanori for 上 are あおい, あげ, い, か, かき, かず, かん, こう, のぼり and ほつ.


don’t stress yourself trying to learn these. You’ll literally only ever need to know them when you meet someone who has one of these readings in their names, so you can just learn that specific reading at such a hypothetical future moment.


Or if you’re learning のぼる (stem のぼり)


Well no, のぼ(る) is one of the kun’yomi, but のぼり is a nanori.

Yeah, it’s not the clearest example, I’ll grant, but there’s a difference.


Fair enough - but it would be fairly easy to pick up that one if you know that, compared to say かず

Anyways, enough derailing the thread from me. :stuck_out_tongue:

1 Like

I knew about these, but ignored their existence until now. Thanks for explaining what nanori is! ^>^ And also, why I can continue to ignore these readings moving forward! :joy:

(I only recently learned jukugo as a vocab, but really, I should have thought about the meaning of “na” in nanori. ^^; )


Not completely. For example, WaniKani teaches 駿 in level 53 as “speed”, with the reading しゅん or すん, but never includes it in any vocabulary. Lemme tell you one of its nanori, though: はやお.

As in… 宮崎駿みやざきはやお.


I’ll keep that in mind as I approach the levels lacking in example vocabulary. I’ll remember to look into other uses of readings then! :slight_smile:

(also, sorry, no likes! )


plus I love learning these little tidbits that I probably will forget because I’m not going to be seeing anything like it for at least 6 months :slight_smile:


I’m currently sitting at level 7 in the WaniKani spectrum and it can be daunting, but the vocab helps. Just keep pace with your lessons and reviews and (slowly) it all begins to click together. Good luck!

1 Like

Also can be read かみ! Wonder why it’s not listed, as I’ve seen it often enough. I guess it’s not an official nanori…

To clarify for OP you don’t need to know it even then, since it will most likely read in their business card or it is perfectly valid (even Japanese do this) to ask how their name is pronounced :stuck_out_tongue:.

1 Like

I want to echo that it’s easier to focus on remembering how to read words. Some kanji have a specific reading for a very specific word. Remembering all that just to say that you know the kanji would be a nightmare.

Your brain will pick up on the patterns and you will be able to guess the readings to words you haven’t seen before.

Yeah, there’s often kanji that you only see in one relatively common word/combination, like of the top of my head: 躊躇、揶揄、偸閑. I could never remember how to read those readings/kanji separately, but it’s easy to see as a word in context. Often they even have furigana, since some of the kanji can be a bit archaic.

Also, sometimes the same word can also be written with different kanji, 上げるand 挙げる both read as あげる. When different kanji are used sometimes the meaning is slightly different so I should not say the “same word” but perhaps words with similar meanings and identical readings…

1 Like

That’s a kun’yomi. :slightly_smiling_face:


Are there rules that determine which reading someone’s name uses, or do you just have to ask even if you know all of the normal and nanori readings?