Is that one radical? Or two?

I’m confused. 暗 (dark) for example. To me, that’s Sun and Sound. However, WaniKani is teaching it as sun, stand, and sun again. I’ve seen this already a couple times with a couple of different Kanji.

Am I the only one who’s really confused by this?

Why learn radicals when we’re not even going to use them half the time? Feels like I’m either filling my head with useless stuff or I have to come up with my own Mnemonic.


It’s possible that in a round of shuffling things to different levels, they just missed it. I mean, it’s also possible they just think the mnemonic is better or more memorable the way it is, but it’s more likely that it just didn’t get updated in the radical overhaul.

If you send them an email about it, they might put it on the list for the next update.


Maybe they thought the sun, stand, sun mnemonic was easier?

I also vastly prefer to think in the “biggest” parts possible.

When I see a Kanji with 4 radicals, I don’t bother even reading the mnemonic. That’s just too much.


I’m going to completely agree with you on this one, @nckmnn. This is one of my biggest complaints about Wanikani, and I say this as someone who’s “completed” it and hit level 60. I’m not bashing here, this is an area in which I’d like to see some improvement.

The way it should work, and presents itself as working, is using the component parts (what Wanikani calls radicals) to create memorable mnemonics. Like you pointed out, the simplest way to break down 暗 is Sun + Sound. But for some reason, Wanikani breaks it down even further. And “Sound” is a radical that exists in the system!

In this case, it might just be an oversight, but there are a lot of examples from later levels where Wanikani reuses a combination of radicals when they should really be combined into one. Take 襟, Collar, which is so obviously ネ, Spirit, plus 禁, Prohibit, but Wanikani teaches as Spirit + Tree + Tree + Jackhammer. That’s just dumb. (Edit: Oops, actually it’s , which should really also be its own radical. My bad.)

Luckily, there is a solution! The single most useful script out there, in my opinion: The Phonetic-Semantic Composition Script. Not only does this let you see the actual component parts that went into creating the kanji (for example, , , and , which all share the root not taught on Wanikani at all), it also makes learning the readings a hundred times easier (, , and all share the On’yomi じ, for example).

This is all information that really, really needs to be included in the native, vanilla Wanikani experience. And again, I say this as someone who clearly approves of Wanikani enough to “complete” it. In the meantime, @nckmnn, @M4tthi4s91, and anyone else who feels the same: install the Phonetic-Semantic Composition script and vastly improve your kanji-learning experience instantly.


I remember this being brought up in the discussion about improvements for WK some time ago. Like you, this is also my biggest issue with some of the mnemonics: they get increasingly convoluted and thus lack the punch to truly be memorable.

I think the most helpful thing I did was also installing the Keisei Semantic-Phonetic Composition-script as it calls attention to the bigger components that are carriers of readings for kanji during lessons (and might be ignored in the WK mnemonic). It really helps when the mnemonics gets too weird I feel.


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