I'm forgetting the mnemonics (good) but now the visually similar kanji are blending together (bad). WHAT DO?

Should I just keep refreshing myself on the mnemonics forever so that I can painstakingly put every kanji against them and see if they match so I stop getting wrong answers? I thought you were supposed to forget them but it started happening and so did the mixing up : (


I personally find the mnemonics aren’t very useful for this, but the radicals are. The more ingrained the radicals become, the easier it is to tell similar kanji apart - what I do is really focus on what radical differs between similar kanji.

You don’t have to know or use the names WK uses for the radicals for that or anything, just so long as you have some way to associate the right radical with the right kanji.

I find the mnemonics become increasingly useless as I learn more kanji, because I have more trouble remembering which part of the mnemonic was the key word to focus on again than I have with actually learning the kanji’s meaning or reading. But learning to treat kanji as a collection of radicals has helped my recognition tremendously.

Also I think this may be in the wrong part of the forum, I don’t think this is a bug in WaniKani :sweat_smile:


Definitely this! It has helped me immensely with some kanji like 徴 and 微. It’s a good idea to put kanji like that side by side and “spot the difference”. Maybe even writing them down would be useful

The way I usually go about this is that in a kanji I identify a radical which would possibly be responsible for the reading, because it’s a kanji by itself like 責 or because kanji with the same or similar readings share a radical like the 青, 祖 and 怪 groups. Due to the limited number of readings and some readings being more common than others, this sort of works.

At some point the radicals become so abstract that unless one builds a mnemonic around them or uses the one WaniKani provides to get the “meaning” of a kanji, I can’t see myself being able to derive it from the radicals.

Looking at vocab with a specific kanji proved to be way more helpful in retaining the meaning to me :slight_smile: .

That is not to say radicals are not useful in understanding the meaning of a kanji! @yamitenshi is absolutely right with the impact of individual radicals on similarly looking kanji. I just feel it might not always work for more conceptual kanji for which we can approximate some sort of general sentiment through several meanings, but never really fully understand why a given kanji has that meaning unless we study its background.


Exactly. I know neither of those but just seeing them side by side it’s immediately clear there’s 王 in one and 兀 in the other. That’s a lot easier to retain than “this huge thing” and “that huge slightly different thing”

I had the same thing with 待 and 持 until I put them side by side and realised 持 was the one with the hand radical (I think WK calls it finger?), which happens to be relevant to the meaning as well. Same for 役 and 投.

池 and 地 are the same - water radical for pond, earth radical for earth.

But even when they’re not relevant to the meaning, a 5-stroke radical is much easier to spot than just a 5-stroke difference in a 25-stroke kanji.

Yup, knowing about phonetic components is extremely useful.

It’s actually kinda silly that 念 is the first kanji in WK that mentions the concept, to my knowledge.

Scratch that, the component mentioned in 念 isn’t even a phonetic component but a meaning-related one (心). Which is equally useful, but so far no phonetic components have been mentioned even though I’m fairly sure a bunch of kanji so far have had 青 in them as a phonetic component :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

Scratch that again, 雰 mentions a phonetic component (分)



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So far 90% of the times it’s been random bs. Like how 横 has 黄 as its phonetic component.


But yeah many times this even works out of a coincidence, and sometimes like the “temple” radical it still has the same reading

I’m pretty sure it doesn’t, though? They don’t share a reading.

For the temple radical though, yes, that can definitely be a phonetic component - it’s not 100%, but seeing 寺 in a kanji means there’s a good chance at least one of the readings is じ


And both have the reading こう so that kind of works.

黃 also has the reading おうlike in 黄金.


Oh it has that reading? oooh I had no idea I only knew of ki

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き is the kun reading. The rest are on readings.

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Right, but that’s in Chinese, that’s not always going to be relevant to Japanese

Wait, really? I never knew that about 横

For me, this is when vocabulary becomes extremely useful. For some kanji, I can no longer recognize them in isolation, however, I have no issues recalling the meaning or reading of associated vocabulary, especially if context is provided, e.g., an established theme, a series of dialogues, images, etc.

I’m not too concerned about forgetting individual items because the ones I encounter a lot will definitely stick, and the ones that don’t are either rarely used, or beyond my current level of Japanese, and will start to stick later once I continue to move towards more difficult content.


Haha no, sorry, this is my bad. I confused it with another similar kanji 構 :sweat_smile:. Apologies!

横 has the on’yomi reading おう, but I guess that could then be used as a common one.

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oh ok so I’m not stupid
for a moment there I thought I had finally lost it

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But I’m not forgetting anything I’m just having a really hard time telling visually similar kanji apart
I already know what to do tho, hyper-focus on the small differences between the ones I’m mixing up and idk maybe right them on my wall or have it as my wallpaper

I use this script for exactly that reason.

Knowing kanji in isolation is of very limited use unless they’re also words on their own, anyway. It can help if you know the reading, in case you encounter a new word with them, but… Meh, even then, just learning the new word is fine, and if you don’t immediately recognise it you probably will once you see the reading.


Wow! This is extremely useful! But isn’t it cheating?
I’m gonna go the boomer way of asking this - is that how japanese kids learn kanji? do they learn them in words? do they not have to recall them separately?


Why would it be? :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: It’s not as if you’re going to encounter kanji in isolation “in the wild” anyway, in all likelihood. Kanji aren’t words, they’re just parts of words. As long as you can read the words, you’re good.

That’s just my opinion of course, don’t take it as gospel, but I see no reason I need to know every kanji in isolation when only a few of them are words in and of themselves - and that’s covered by the relevant vocab item anyway.

From what I’ve gathered, yeah, for the most part. They know more of the language than they can write in kanji for a good long while.

I’m sure they also have to recall them separately to some degree, but that’s no doubt going to be supported by knowing words they appear in, rather than the other way around, which is the way it’s taught via WK.

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I’m thinking of tagging leebo or someone like that to ask if this is really a good idea but
1 what you said totally makes sense and
2 lol nah m8

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