I was just asked for the vocab reading for "火", and I entered "か" when it was looking for "ひ". Is there a way to get it to say "I'm looking for the Kun'yomi reading instead" instead of just marking my answer wrong?

I know this is possible, because I think I’ve seen something similar happen at other times. I don’t remember specifically, but I think WankiKani did EXACTLY as I was describing when I was prompted with “子” and I entered “こ” when it was looking for “す” or “し”, which I think is a case of me entering the “Vocab reading” in a “Kanji” question. I think.

EDIT: I just tried to answer the “Kanji reading” question for “下” (pink background)" with “した”, and it said “Wanikani is looking for the On’yomi reading”. WHY can’t the reverse be true as well?

I know this sort of thing SOMETIMES happens, so why can’t it ALWAYS happen? I think marking “か” as wrong as “フキュ” or something else 100% wrong in this case will only serve to weaken my association between “火” and “か”.

At least do this for the single-kanji-only vocab questions.

I’ve also seen one or two cases where I wasn’t thinking properly and entered the meaning when it was asking for a reading only for it to prompt me to enter the reading instead. All of the other times I did that, it just marked it wrong. Why can’t they all be like that?

This is getting really frustrating right now, and I’m on level 3. If this issue gets TOO frustrating, I assure you that I won’t be buying a subscription plan to get access to level 4 and up. Little things like this are excusable in a free service, but as soon as I start paying money I expect quality. Heck, maybe I could find another Kanji learning system that specifically teaches which readings are On and which readings are Kun. Maybe if I remembered that I would stop trying to read “女の人” as “おんなのじん”.


When it shakes, it’s because it’s a kanji (pink) item. Kanji have many possible readings, and none of the possible readings are “wrong,” but the system is designed to make sure you answer with the one you were taught before you continue on. So if you answer with a different one, it shakes, asks for the one you were taught, and then you proceed. This makes sure you don’t advance a kanji in its SRS level by only using obscure readings.

When it doesn’t shake, that’s because it was a vocab (purple) item. Those often only have one valid reading. It’s a word, not a hypothetical kanji that could be many different things. If you don’t give the reading that is used when it’s a word, then the answer is wrong, and you aren’t given another chance. Shaking and then accepting the right reading with no reduction in SRS level would imply both readings are correct.

I do understand why it’s frustrating, but I also understand why WaniKani does it the way they do it.


I think it’s also important to mention that it is in no way a “problem” or a “bug” that WK has. I do think you made it clear enough though, we’ll see with the reply.


It’s a conscious decision to not specifically teach this directly, and I think it’s a good one. It is just confusing for a beginning learner and you’ll naturally start to notice how the readings work. In the end you’ll be able to tell at a glance which reading something is.

If you are misremembering 女の人 you should probably learn the concept as a word and not just a set of characters. If you are not already doing it, you should complement WK with some other basic knowledge. That way these basic words have another mapping in your head than just the kanji. WK is just a kanji learning site, not a vocab one.


They onyomi/kunyomi information is in the lessons, also. But they don’t always teach onyomi in kanji lessons, if the onyomi is particularly uncommon relative to the kunyomi, and obviously vocab can be either on or kun, even when it’s a single kanji.

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WK is just a kanji learning site, not a vocab one.

Then what’s this page then? https://www.wanikani.com/vocabulary

Alright, mainly a kanji learning site. But the vocab is there just to reinforce the kanji. It’s not necessarily always that common or useful words. You’ll find a lot of useful words missing, especially since there are no hiragana only words.




My solution is to remember vocab not by the kanji, but by the reading.

During vocab lessons, play the audio (or enable autoplay in settings) multiple times, try to pronounce the word yourself, multiple times. Associate the meaning of the word with both the reading, and the kanji, but mostly the reading.

Then in reviews try to recall the vocab, don’t go “oh it’s the fire kanji, that’s か”. Try to match the reading to the vocab you learned. Try to remember the vocab reading mnemonic.

Color coding is vital. Purple background = vocab, pink background = kanji. It takes a while to get used to it, but it’s worth the effort.


I also used to struggle with this, but it’s just a pattern of recognizing when kun’yomi and on’yomi are used, and it comes with time. There is a lot to process when first trying to learn kanji so if trying to learn kanji and vocabulary at the same time is too much I’m pretty sure there is a script you can run that lets you just focus on learning kanji and saves the vocabulary (and other readings) for when you’re more familiar with how Japanese works.

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I’d like to apologize if I sounded harsh or angry in this thread.

I’ve simply found that I’m more likely to remember kanji if I get irrationally angry while learning them.

The prime example was an Anki deck that showed the Kanji and then the meaning, and a new one was “胆”. I figured it had something to do with the sun and moon, soI almost threw my phone across the room when I discovered that it’s “Gall Bladder” (apparently this the simplified version of a much more complicated Kanji).

This was well over a month ago. I’ve only ever seen it that once and I still haven’t forgotten it yet, so I think my strategy works.

Again, I’d like to apologize if any of that anger manifested in this thread.

I think I understand the system WaniKani uses a lot better now.


that must be hard for you…

well sometimes I just become agonzingly irrationally frustrated with some Wanikani’s mnemonics, too

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Yeah, this makes more sense the farther you go in kanji. The reason the left side is not moon, is because it’s actually 肉 (meat) and it got simplified over time when used as a reference to body parts. Sometimes 月 inside other kanji does mean moon, but in body parts it’s 肉.

The right side is used for its reading (basically, this kanji is composed using the idea "the body part that sounds like 旦). This is a very common way of composing kanji (it’s actually the most common way, making up a majority of kanji) so you’ll get used to it.


Usually the 月 radical on the left side is not “moon”, but a simplified version of 肉 (meat) and it’s usually found in kanji that have something to do with internal organs. That’s a good rule of thumb to remember :grinning:.

Edit: Leebo’d again :frowning_face:


The right side is used for its reading (basically, this kanji is composed using the idea "the body part that sounds like 旦). This is a very common way of composing kanji (it’s actually the most common way, making up a majority of kanji) so you’ll get used to it.

That’s a leftover from Chinese, right? I vaguely remember reading that Chinese characters are usually pairs where one half is the meaning and the other half is the sound.

Also, I think the use of “才” is similar as well. Apparently, a different kanji that was also pronounced “sai” was used for a while, but then they collectively got together and said “let’s just use this identically-pronounced 3-stroke Kanji instead”.

At least that makes more sense than Cockney Rhyming Slang, I guess.


Considering the Japanese learned the kanji from the Chinese, it’s only natural.


Yeah. It can even go backwards as well. 北 was originally a kanji for “back” or “facing away” (it’s two people facing away from each other). But that was the same pronunciation as the word for north, so it got used for that. Later they made another kanji that was just for back 背 (again we see “moon” meat) and 北 appears in it.

In the case of 胆 and 旦 they both do still sound like たん in the onyomi of Japanese. But sometimes the pronunciation connection is lost because of when in history the readings were imported.


Learning the kanji is just learning the kanji. They’ve given you one of the readings (the most important or commonly used one) and you just have to recall that. If you know the others, good for you! But they want that specific one for you to advance forward because this is core knowledge.

Learning the vocab is learning the kanji in real situations. Meaning to say, the reading is very much suited to that particular scenario (a lone kanji). Get it wrong and you get it wrong because no real human would actually say the kanji like that (the wrong answer) by itself in any context! You have to learn the real one so you don’t end up making mistakes in actual situations!

Sure, it can get confusing when WaniKani switches between the two and I make mistakes too but you know what? Good! More learning for me. Eventually you’ll start paying closer attention to the background colour and recall which reading is required for when. I want to say that you can just use the alternate reading since the Kanji reviews will shake even if it’s wrong but that doesn’t work for some vocab that you learn down the line.

If you want to think of it in English, it’s like teaching someone the word ‘fire’ and giving them a context where ‘flame’ is required. If they prompt the word, use fire. If they prompt with some context, use flame. OR fire. Easy for us but tricky for a newcomer. Hence why they need to fail to learn and not let the system go easy on them. Doesn’t matter if the word is interchangeable, if they shout “FLAME! The building is on FLAME!”, they’d sound like an idiot (though a helpful one nonetheless).

See, the sooner you start appreciating getting the wrong answers, the sooner you’ll realise that that just means more learning! More reviews, more SRS and you can grasp it better! I’d rather you fail at both readings constantly, learn and properly memorise both by the end (contextually).

P.S. I understand there is a definitive difference between flame and fire but I’m just trying to nail the point across.


I would use pyro for your example instead of flame. Chinese is to Japanese what Latin and Greek are to English.


I just try and remember pink versus purple. If you’re on desktop maybe look into some userscripts, as there are a few that will be more clear about what WK is looking for (on vs kun, etc) but I personally don’t like to rely on them that much.