Is it a problem to read and not write?

I’m sure this has been asked before, so apologies in advance. Is it a problem the WaniKani teaches reading, not writing? Maybe it’s just me, but I find that whilst I can recognise and read some kanji now, a lot of them I’d struggle to recall if presented with a blank sheet of paper.

Is this something that eventually works itself out? Or is it best to do something else in the side to reinforce things?

Thanks all.


You’re going to have to practice it independent of WK.


It’s not a problem in the sense that WaniKani isn’t trying to teach writing. Most people don’t want to, and don’t have a need to, actually be able to write.

If you want to learn there are loads of threads here where people talk about what they’re doing to work on writing.


Not a problem. I’ve lived in Japan for 2.5 years-ish and have only ever had to write my address in kanji by hand, and I just did my best to copy it from my zairyuu card. Computers have more or less taken care of the need for me to write anything by hand. Typing is just fine for 99.9% of my Japanese writing needs.

This would probably be different if I were enrolled in a language school, or was a student at uni or something, but for my situation I just don’t NEED to write kanji that often.


You’ll need outside, dedicated practice to get writing down. My current situation is that I have hundreds of kanji I can fluently read, but not necessarily write from memory. That muscle memory is separate from recognition.

I currently do writing practice to make up the gap (using native materials aimed at school children, as well as kanji-test materials, to guide daily practice), but I waited until I’d passed N1 and was nearly done with Wanikani. Just assess your needs. If you’re just looking to survive in Japan, or interact with native media, writing can definitely be on back burner, as reading is far more important. If you’re planning on making a career in the country or just staying long-term, or want to improve your reading fluency even further, writing helps, but it’s not something you absolutely need to prioritize.

So, is it a problem? No, in terms of reading. In terms of life tasks? Maybe, but that’s going to apply to a very small subset of Japanese learners living in Japan, and even then, the speed and efficiency with which it teaches you reading probably makes up for that.


If you use Apple or Android though, the app version WAniki has a feature that shows stroke order and lets you practice writing on your screen. I’ve used it with a stylus and it’s nice. I haven’t used it extensively though because like @Chellykins I live in Japan (only about 6 months though) and really only need to write for my address (although they accept it in romaji anyway most of the time).


Depends on your learning objectives. Why do you want/need to write kanji?

Honestly for a lot of people I think you can skip writing almost entirely, and there’s an opportunity cost of whether that time could be better spent on something else. I studied for ~1.5 years before taking a trip to Japan, got by okay by conversation, reading, messaging with language exchange partners. Had a great time. I had to write a grand total of two Japanese characters during my trip: トム to put my name on a wait list as a gyoza joint in Kyoto. Not even one kanji.

Hell, I’m a bit over two years into study now, 1240 kanji down according to WKStats, and I have only just started practicing hiragana.


It’s not necessarily a problem to not prioritize writing. Especially in the beginning, that time is better spent learning grammar and vocab, in my opinion. If you do want to learn kanji at some point, I suggest learning the simple characters first (for example the 200 most common characters), and then apply a few rule-of-thumb rules to the other complicated ones. If you remember the kanji radicals, you only need to know the stroke order for the radicals and then compose the kanji out of that. I recommend reading this Tofugu article:


Thanks all. I’m just learning kanji for fun, so I have no need to write anything. I was just becoming slightly alarmed that I was struggling to picture kanji in my head, despite being able to recognise them when I saw them.

Out of interest, what is generally considered the best companion to WK? I learnt standard grammar and a decent slice of vocab years ago through JapanesePod101. I’ve tried BunPro but it didn’t really impress me much. It felt really unpolished and kind of random at times. I’ve also tried Duolingo but that stuck me as simply memorising things by rote, and it never explained anything. I’m just a casual learner, but I’d quite like to be able to fire up a Super Famicom or Japanese Saturn RPG someday and be able to read it and understand it.


Honestly, WAniki is pretty dead. At least it’s open-source, though.

Even if you don’t find a need to write or even if writing isn’t a goal for you, it will still actually help you with this very issue.

I think of it like taking notes in our native language: of course we can refer back to the notes in the future, but the very act of writing things down can help seal it in our minds in a way. I suppose it might not work for everyone, but personally I’ve found that the more I repeatedly write stuff down, the better I remember it later and can reproduce it.

This is also helpful when learning to speak a new language. At first, you might just learn to read and practice saying simple sentences out loud from a textbook. If you add on the -slightly tedious but worthwhile- effort of writing out (copying) the same sentences and speaking both as you write as well as after you write, you build all 4 major language skills (1. Writing practice, 2. Speaking practice, 3. Listening practice by hearing your own voice, 4. Reading practice by reading your own writing).

Also, like some of us nerds, you might find practicing writing kanji to be fun :grin:


I used to be very diligent about repeatedly writing kanji and vocab but I’ve since dropped it as it wasn’t useful for what I use Japanese for as I’m primarily reading. The odd times I have needed to write I actually typed it on my phone/laptop instead which worked a treat!

That said I do like to spend some time now and then writing various kanji as I find it quite relaxing. Day-to-day though, unless you have a specific need to be able to write, you’ll probably be fine without it.

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This depends on the person but I really liked Human Japanese (HJ) I and II because it is a crash course on basic grammar. It gives you the bare minimum that you need to read. After HJ, I’m trying to follow the academic textbooks: Genki, Tobira, etc… People here like Tae Kim’s grammar but since he is not a professional and has no academic credentials I prefer to avoid it. One little companion book that I’m liking more and more is the Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar.

I think it is a good idea to learn how to write hiragana so you aren’t stuck writing stuff down in Romaji… should you need to take note with paper and pencil. This way at least you can write down a Japanese word properly even if you can’t write it in kanji.


Wait, seriously? I thought writing kana was what was meant by learning them…

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I wanted to improve my Kanji recall as well, so I’ve been practicing on the app KanjiStudy.


It is a problem in my opinion. But severity of this problem will vary based on your case.

Beside the ability to write japanese by hand learning kanji writing will help character recognition as well.

For myself I want to learn writing and try to write new kanji but I don’t have time for consistent writing practice. Prefer to read and do grammar for now.

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I get my writing practice in through my grammar studies. Both from textbook work, and from an Anki deck that I’m building as I go along. One type of card it has is an English sentence, reverse/answer side is that sentence in Japanese. I do Anki with a paper notebook next to me and write those sentences by hand as I do my reviews.

I certainly can’t write all the Kanji I’ve learned on wanikani, but I don’t think getting to the point where I can would be an effective use of my time. The ones you need to write often, you’ll learn all on their own just from doing it.

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How often do you write things down in English? If you don’t find yourself writing things by hand often, then your lifestyle indicates you won’t struggle much without writing, and it can be a lower priority.

However, I do find that if I drill writing kanji that I can never seem to remember, I never forget it afterwards. Use writing to hone the kanji into your mind if you keep missing it in reviews.

Yes, seriously. I can read hiragana at a natural pace, but couldn’t write them if someone held a gun to my head. I wish I learned to write them earlier - hence the comment. I really need to get onto this as well.

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