Is it advisable to write Kanji down while learning them?

I’ve started learning Kanji recently and while the learning isn’t going poorly I’ve been wondering whether writing the Kanji down with its respective reading and meaning is worth the time?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated!



If that helps you learn faster, then by all means go for it.


Is it advisable to write kanji down while learning them?

  • Yes
  • Only if you care about writing kanji from memory
  • If that’s your thang
  • No

0 voters


if you don’t like relying solely on stories i think writing can help you see what differences a kanji has as they get more and more complicated. You can save paper by doing it digitally if you have a drawing tablet but any way of writing i think is fine. I would just suggest that you write them during your SRS studies so that way you’re not over-studying the same kanji over and over (if you care about the SRS system).

Its not mandatory in learning so figure out what works best for you.


Hi! Welcome to the WaniKani community (:

There is currently another discussion of this topic going on in this thread:

Hopefully, you can get some existing information there, just trying to reduce redundancy in topics within the forums


Personally I think at least writing the kanji does help for me. It helped me pay attention and remember the different radicals and various parts of the kanjis better than the nmemonics did. But again, that’s just me and admittedly it took awhile for it to start working and “see the big picture”.


Although it takes longer to do, it does help you learn them “faster” (with less cycles). Writing the kanji helps you learn details of the character that you may initially miss (you’ll discover these details once you’re forced to compare it with another similar kanji. Take 教える and 数える for example). Most of us have forgotten the mnemonics for the early kanji, but you probably won’t forget how to write them as easily. It also engages different parts of your brain which strengthens pathways to the memory. Even for more complex kanji, if I know how to write them I very rarely will make a mistake reading them. Kanji that I’ve only learned to read, I will mix up sometimes.


Depends a lot on your learning style. Best advice would be to try it and see if it helps.

As for me I don’t see any images in my head and I don’t think in a language so any note-taking is completely pointless to me. But I know people who quite literally think by writing things down and that’s what helps them make the knowledge stick.

So take some time to figure out what works for you. Even if you decide it’s not your thing you’ll have some useful, reusable knowledge for the future. And since studying kanji is a marathon not a sprint the extra time you used will be negligible in the context of your entire kanji journey.


It helps but I started to writing Kanji only after level 60 since before then I was always overwhelmed with reviews.


Do it if it helps you, just check in with yourself to see if it really is helping. I studied this way for a long time (pre-WK) and when it came down to it I did not find it at all helpful. Normally writing things does help me so I was perplexed. When I really thought about it, what helps me is having the kanji used in context. When you really use something or have some kind of discovery about something, that’s when you’re more likely to remember whatever that something is. So try writing, but maybe also try seeing if you can remember the vocab that goes with it and not just the kanji solo. And I would say to try and scan/read things to see what kanji you easily recognize even if you can’t understand anything. Seeing things “in the wild” is good for memory and also good for your ego and will help you want to keep at it.


I’ve been doing it since level 11 and I’ve really found it helps my recall of them, though it could be a placebo effect - just paying closer attention to the page and the radicals by itself might do it, haha.


Usually I write them down if they consist of many radicals/elements or certain radicals/elements that I cant really remember by mnemonics (possible candidate “驚”)


I wrote them all down through to level 30 and reset after way too big a break, and I’m not writing them down this time but I am making more mistakes this time around (mostly dumb typos). Either way writing helps cement it in my head, and I did it with using the mnemonics, not as an alternative. My accuracy with both has been over 99% with both goes through but I am good at learning through reading and writing.

If it helps do it. For my wife, writing was a demotivating chore and made her want to quit so it would be better for her not to write. It’s all down to you. But you won’t know if you don’t try imo. I also get pleasure from having neat Japanese handwriting tbh but I can’t write from memory, only copy. Wanikani won’t allow you to write what you can recall on sight so don’t expect that.


I find that one to be relatively easy to remember by its parts, since it’s 敬 (respect 敬う) and 馬.

“You respect a horse? I’m surprised”

I guess the problem of going in WaniKani order is that 敬 is taught after 驚.


Sounds like the correct horse battery staple… Generate passwords by kanji!


no in my opinion, just keep up with your learning here till 60.
and if you really have free time. Spend them into reading and speaking.


I’m just going to quote myself here, on whether or not using a Buddha board is enough for learning to write kanji. I deal with the usefulness of using writing to learn kanji in the final paragraph:

And here, on some things to consider if you decide to incorporate writing into your routine without spending too much time on it:

Finally, here’s my most recent post on the subject, where I provide an example of two kanji (or more accurately, traditional hanzi, since they’re only used in Traditional Chinese) that I might find difficult to distinguish without knowing how to write them:

The short version: I grew up speaking both English and Chinese (with my English being better because it was my main language, and still is), and I really think I wouldn’t have retained as many kanji as I know now, after 10 years of compulsory Chinese education and 7 years of hardly communicating in Mandarin using text, without learning how to write them. Knowing how to write helps me to remember details, tell kanji apart, and also helps me to split kanji into blocks for memorisation
(e.g. here’s the traditional version of 法: , which can be memorised using the simplified version, knowledge of etymology, and familiarity with common kanji blocks like 氵, the top of 鹿, things that look like 与, and 去) Also, almost all kanji follow a certain set of principles for stroke order, so while learning to write might seem time-consuming at first, it becomes fluid and intuitive once you know the patterns. (At present, I personally only look stroke order up in order to compare ‘official’ stroke orders in different countries, or to check if my personal preference is right. Most of the time though, because I know the patterns, I can make a good guess without any reference sources.) Finally, if you’re into calligraphy… you can make pretty things! (I wrote my profile picture myself. :stuck_out_tongue:)

Seriously though, if writing doesn’t interest you, then don’t force yourself. You might want to reconsider if you start reaching memory roadblocks further down the road though. Also, while I don’t want to dismiss or invalidate the success people have had without writing practice, but I feel like learning kanji without knowing how to write them is like memorising a painting along with its name. I can’t imagine that working for very long without lots of additional input.

Final note: I don’t think it’s useful to write the reading and meaning down with the kanji unless you’re creating a kanji notebook or you’re struggling with kana/remembering the reading, because having more to write will probably slow you down. My personal approach would be to write the kanji or visualise it being written while saying the meaning and reading during the writing. I would also visualise the furigana for the reading for the sake of practice.


Could I suggest you remove the profanity, please.

I’m glad to hear that the mnemonic seems to be sticking, and I’m sure the kanji will become even more familiar with time. However, if you find yourself making more mistakes when you go faster, perhaps it’s best if you attempt to add other mnemonics/ideas to your repertoire so that the meaning becomes more intuitive? I’d suggest trying to create non-verbal cues so your mind doesn’t have to process an entire phrase containing a keyword (‘counting’) in order to bring up the meaning. Here’s what goes through my head (the important stuff is in bold. The rest are just additional thoughts.):

  • 数える – First of all, 数 on its own is かず. That gives me a hint for the reading. The ending vowel will probably change, and there are only four others, so I have a 25% chance of getting it right with a blind guess. As for the meaning, I could attempt to think things through: etymologically, 攵represents a hand (if my memory serves), and… honestly, I’ll just stop at ‘hand’, because it could be useful, but the rest of the character is actually a calligraphic simplification of something else, so it’s probably meaningless. (Here’s the traditional character: . I don’t remember all of it myself.) Honestly, what I see in my head when I look at 数 is a hand raised with the index finger pointing outwards, as if to count something. (See how the hand (攵) has come back?) The things being counted can be represented by the four dots in 米. As for associating the reading with the meaning… I see the hand bobbing up and down to music as it counts: ‘Ka-zo-e-ru, ka-zo-e-ru’ (do-re-mi-do-rest-do-re-mi-do OR CDEC-CDEC if you prefer German-English music notation). (The music is a random thought that struck me earlier. I don’t usually sing when I see 数える on the page.)

  • 教える – if we’re looking for another musical trigger for the reading, there’s always this line from the Hyperdimension Neptunia opening theme: 「教えて、コンパイラ 〜アア!」(My apologies if I sound like an otaku trying to induct you into some crazy fandom, but it was the first thing that came to mind when I asked myself for something memorable associated with 教える. I just can’t forget that sudden high note: The line starts around 0:30 and the アア comes in at 0:33) I don’t have any other good mnemonics for the reading, unless you know that Oshiete is the Goo version of Yahoo! Answers. As far as the meaning goes, the kanji contains 子. Stereotypically, children are those who need the most instruction, so it has to be about teaching. (You can pretend the hand (攵) is a teacher’s.) If you know that 孝 is the character for filial piety, then you could also go with ‘filial children are teachable’ ([insert Asian stereotypes here] You can discard this version if you disagree with such a view. I’m used to it because I’m Asian.)

Whatever you choose to use, the more vivid and intuitive (and possibly non-verbal?) a cue is, the less effort you’ll need go searching for it, in my opinion, and one way to get there is to go beyond mnemonics based on clever phrases and the images that come with them (though they work too, of course). The more senses and emotions are involved in the memory, the better. I personally try to turn reading, meaning and kanji form into a cohesive block in my mind, so that when I see a kanji, I’ll be able to read it, and by hearing the reading and seeing clues in the kanji, I will be able to recall the meaning (if it doesn’t come to mind immediately, anyhow).

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That’s odd, do you know why wanikani orders the lessons that way? Are there many other instances like that?