I'm not really doing WK "correctly" and wondering if that'll come back on me

Because I’m starting WK after having some basis in vocabulary, even if I don’t know how to write the things I can say, I often find the mnemonics less useful than thinking of kanji in terms of words. Sort of the way Japanese students do, I guess.

so when I learned 写 the other day, the mnemonic had something about a shaman copying… something? but for me, I look at it and think “Oh, 写真の写!”

I’m admittedly only level 4 now but I’ve hit around 10 words that were truly completely new to me, and tried the mnemonics to remember them. To some success, I’d say! But do you think not going “all in” on mnemonics from the start is going to bite me in the rear down the line?


It’s a huge benefit to use Japanese words to remember kanji readings, so if you can use that you can hit two birds with one stone.

However, the WK mnemonics tie together the kanji shape with its reading, you have to actually remember that 写 is in 写真 without a memory aid like “the beggar with a hat” or something. If you don’t need that … well you already know the kanji :slight_smile:


Not at all. At first I worried too much about that, but these days I barely look at the mnemonics. Whatever works for you, use it. I think using words you already know is much more effective, especially if you already know some vocab. Everyone is different and the mnemonics don’t work for everyone.


I don’t use the mnemonics at all :joy: I sometimes read them for the comedic content but other than that, I just remember the kanji as the kanji. It has yet to bite me, but I pride myself on my memory skills ~ They really help some people, but not everyone needs to use them. If you find another and more beneficial way for you to remember something then just use that, whatever works for you :slight_smile:


Most of the time using existing Japanese words I already know that use the Kanji I’m learning really helps, I don’t think it’s a bad thing.

Sometimes I try to come up with my own mnemonics when learning and use the provided ones if I need a push - or if it’s a こう Kanji - I’ll read them for a laugh.

In the end, the mnemonics isn’t the part you should remember, it’s the actual reading, the mnemonics are just there to help you remember the Kanji, but if you can remember it without an mnemonic, you don’t need it.


I rarely use the mnemonics, I just want the SRS system. :stuck_out_tongue:
Even back then, I didn’t really know anything about kanji, but I’m good with memorizing stuff.

And the same as you, I just use the mnemonics when I really need them, since we’re doing them anyway as radicals (most of the time), it’s easy to remember them and apply them, even if I’m not doing so otherwise. :slight_smile:

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The only thing I will say is that when I did JLPT test, I found the mnemonics helped me keep some readings straight. I can’t remember the exact word so I will just share the one that comes to mind.

女性 = woman
but is the reading じょうせい or じょせい?

I used the mnemonic that 女 is a woman who uses a じょ to be absolutely sure I was selecting the correct answer.

TL;DR Using the mnemonics can help if there a few readings that are really close.

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I would say that you’re actually at an advantage here. Incidentally one of the few japanese words that I knew was also 写真. So that’s like 2 free on’yomi readings! No mnemonic required. Every once in a while I’ll find another kanji that makes up a word that I’m already familiar with, so I don’t bother with the mnemonics too.

I still think it’s important to identify the radicals though, that way you won’t confuse the kanji with a similar one :wink:


@Inochiko don’t tag me for no reason. I know you’re doing it to be annoying, but I just want to let you know if you do it again I’ll just mute you and that’s why you won’t see any responses for your actual trolling. You don’t want that do you?


I didn’t bother with mnemonics until quite late on as aI came to WK with a fear bit of kanji knowledge. They are pretty useful now I’m at a level where the kanji is, by and large, unfamiliar. I still try and get off the mnemonics as quickly as possible, pushing them down into my subconscious or whatever happens to them.

Doesn’t always work. I need to go back and deconflict 織、議、裁 and a few other leeches that are hanging around like old friends.


I’m from a similar situation, having known a fair bit of kanji and vocabulary. Whenever possible I relate new words and kanji to things I already know. This has helped me far more than wanikani’s mnemonics, especially given how stupid and unrelated they are to the kanji/vocabulary itself. That said, occasionally I’ll make up a brief mnemonic that relatea to help me remember the first few times, but that becomes unnecessary after a few repeats in SRS.

What I find most annoying is that wanikani gives you the kanji without any vocabulary to support it until you guru the kanji. Since I do all my reviews on the phone (I would likely not make time to do wanikani without it) I use an appli with a ‘retry’ button since typos are abound with the tiny keyboard. I correct all radicals all the time, and correct kanji most of the time until I get them to guru and get their vocabulary. After that, I’ll let SRS do its thing to both the kanji and vocabulary, not correcting either unless it was a genuine typo.


Thank you all so much! This is a bit of a relief. I’ll just keep plugging along like I’ve been doing, then, and see how far it gets me.


My exact method when I get a word I know! And those Kanji tend to stick for me. Write out the word a couple of times and you will know both kanji!
EDIT: I am pretty stuck now that I am on Level 14 so I want to advise you not to follow my footsteps, find a mnemonic to link the kanji components to the meaning, and then use our method only for the reading. I usually change the reading mnemonic to something really simple. I use words like: show; chew; shoe; Ken (my late father’s name) to link the concept in my head, but now I am looking back at kanji from the first 10 levels and just don’t recognise the shape at all.

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I was doing fine with that, but now on level 14 I am very frustrated that I don’t recognise stuff I really “know”…

Mnemonics are essentially just training wheels; even if you decide to use them, you should eventually reach a point where you have no need for them whatsoever.

I personally stopped reading WK’s mnemonics around Level 5 :man_shrugging:


I agree with this. The words I knew before starting WK made learning the Kanji much easier for me.

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I’m still fairly low-leveled, but I have to disagree with those above me. I feel that there is some cumulative effect from learning the mnemonics as they’re taught that you’ll lose out on if you skip ahead.

Mnemonics for recurring and common readings (like Mrs. Chou for ちょう) become more helpful the more they’re used. It’s easier to remember the mnemonic for 町 if you already know the one for 丁, for example. You may come to a point down the road where you do need the mnemonics but find them less helpful because you don’t have prior ones in your memory banks to draw upon.

Have you considered using an extension that lets you skip vocab? Since you know most of it, you might find it more helpful to do just kanji and radicals.

The ones I haven’t known are really useful though! 公立 is a cool vocabulary word. It’s just, when I learned it, I learned it as “公園の公、立つの音読み” instead of whatever mnemonic :laughing:

I’ll just stick with it.


I’m nearing level 20 and was in the same place when I started. I’d say it was actually a huge boon to know those things. Granted, I think it is still vitally important to learn the individual meanings of the individual kanji. So even if I knew before hand that 写 was 写真の写 I didn’t know that the meaning was to copy, so in that regard I found the mnemonics helpful.

But in the instances where I already knew both, I ignore the mnemonics entirely and it’s not hurt me yet. In fact, I’ve got a lot of those kanji burned so I’d say don’t stress about it.


Do you mind telling me the name of the app you use? Also is it for iOS or Android and how do you hook it up to your browser account?