Is WaniKani + Remembering the Kanji Possible?

I think that WaniKani is one of the best resources for one’s journey of learning Japanese, but from what I’ve heard and personally experienced, Remembering the Kanji is better with Kanji specifically, as it goes through them faster (even though it doesn’t have as good mnemonics, it seems be better for learning kanji, somehow). The author argues that you should learn all of the main kanji, and then move to vocab and readings However, this creates a problem: How can I use Remembering the Kanji for learning Kanji, and then go to WaniKani for vocabulary and readings, since the mnemonics I get from Remembering the Kanji will be different from those I get from WaniKani? Won’t that make things very confusing and lead to me forgetting which story to use or even forgetting the meaning of a kanji by losing the story I used for it an all kanji associated with it?

But… WK is specifically for kanji…

Isn’t this because you’re only learning the meanings at first?


It might be a recipe for burning out


If that’s what you’re worried about, then you shouldn’t really have a problem, just go through RTK and then ignore the meaning mnemonics when you get tot them on WK, you already know the meaning, so there’s no problem? just learn the readings and vocab at that point.

Also WK is fundamentally different, because it uses SRS, to help make sure you “know” the kanji.

Plus you already get the meanings from WK, so it would just be more time it takes to learn.

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Oh, good point about how I would already know the meaning of the kanji. I was just thinking that it might be a problem for remembering vocab, since WaniKani sometimes connects the vocab mnemonic to the kanji mnemonic.

Also, a problem I’ve encountered is that some of the meanings of words in Remembering the Kanji are not fully accurate. It said that the 中 kanji means “in”, even though, depending on the context, it can mean “middle” or “medium.” So, I don’t want to end up getting worse definitions, but the problem is that I seem to learn slower from WaniKani, as having to learn kanji appearance and meaning along with their readings, as well as vocab and their readings, too, makes it pretty confusing and hard to remember everything. What do you think I should do to learn the best?

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Actually, ignoring the WK mnemonic would be problematic because almost always the story told to help remember the meaning connects or leads to the story to remember the reading. (Meaning mnemonics are actually almost never used in learning vocab, though.)

Of course you’ll learn kanji more slowly if you’re learning the meaning and reading (and vocab) together, but for some/many (?) of us here, doing all the pieces together helps it stick a lot better. And knowing single (sometimes odd) meanings for 2000 kanji doesn’t get you very far very fast if you don’t know how those kanji function in compounds. (Both because the way to get from individual meanings to compound meanings is not always obvious, and because without a REALLY solid grammar and non-kanji vocab knowledge, you can’t get your reading up and running quickly enough to practice all that knowledge as quickly as RTK tries to teach it.) Of course, some people find RTK super helpful, so it’s a matter of taste, background, personal learning style, etc. I just wouldn’t recommend choosing RTK as a “quicker” method, but instead because it works better for your personal learning style.


I have never, ever used a vocabulary mnemonic related to a kanji mnemonic, truth be told.

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Not only this, but don’t they assign unique keywords to each kanji, rather than teaching the full meanings? My impression was that no two kanji in the RtK system have the same “meaning.” And that you don’t learn a variety of meanings for single kanji.

Someone can correct me if I’m wrong.


I think either method works, but there are tradeoffs. I’m skeptical that combining the two is worthwhile.

RTK is faster, but you’ll need to fend for yourself for vocab and readings. It seems that most people who go this route build vocab lists to study and “absorb” kanji readings from their vocab studies. This could be good if you have a more independent learning style.

Wanikani is the all-inclusive approach: With over 6,000 vocab words built-in, you will be spending about 3/4s of your time here on vocab. You will come away knowing how to read unfamiliar words even if you do nothing outside Wanikani.

Personally I like the way that Wanikani is learning on auto-pilot: Just come in each day, do the reviews, do the lessons, and you will learn whether you like it or not. But lots of folks have been successful with both approaches, so do whatever sticks with you best!


I completed RTK (vol 1) about 15 years ago when I lived in Japan, and then I left Japan and lots and lots of life got in the way so I am now finishing up kanji readings & vocab with WK. Comparing the two, I think RTK is perfectly structured, whereas WK is all over the place, though it’s ultimately useful enough that I’m committed to it now to refresh & fill in the gaps in my kanji knowledge.

RTK is helping me do WK very fast because I can safely ignore WK’s mnemonics entirely. It requires you, more or less, to build mnemonics from your own imagery. The radicals have vivid imagery based on my life, so I recall them even now, years later. It’s more work than using pre-packaged mnemonics, but it’s better work with more lasting effects.

Doing RTK is like getting the feel and structure of kanji, as a system, pre-installed into your brain before diving in to fill out readings and vocab.

That said, I think trying to do RTK at the same time as WK is a terrible, terrible idea. The order is off, the keywords are off. The only way they would work in tandem would be to do all of RTK before WK, and thereby have a much easier time of the long march through WK, focusing mainly on readings & vocab. Or you could just do RTK instead of WK, using the book and maybe Anki (ugh), but the 2nd volume, while useful in its description of pure groups etc., is not as good as the first.

If you’ve never read the revised introduction to RTK, I really recommend it. It’s online in a PDF and has some really important stuff to say about kanji education for Westerners.

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RtK helped me get accustomed to kanji, and I did about 150 before starting WK, and then I got to about 200 in RtK or so before mostly abandoning it because I started to devote more time to WK because WaniKani was also giving me readings and the vocabulary… and it was helping me test my learning.

Every now and then, I’ll go back and look over Heisig’s mnemonics because they are fun and helpful. But mostly, I’ve found a way to personalize and build my own mnemonics and occasionally use WK’s (maybe 1/3~1/5th of the time).

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Genuine question: what are you hoping to achieve by learning all the kanji keywords in a vacuum if you’ll be using WK afterwards anyway? Faster doesn’t always mean better… But if speed is a problem, there are people here who got to level 60 in around a year - meanings, primary readings and vocab (with extra readings)!

I tried RTK before WK, got up to around 700 and couldn’t be bothered anymore - at some point he stops providing mnemonics, I didn’t have time to come up with my own for all of them, and community ones were of varying quality.
Personally just learning a keyword and no reading didn’t feel like I was actually learning to read - just learning the names of the letters and not the sounds they make and how they combine into words. It works great for some people, but I guess I was too lazy for that!

If you’re doing RTK maybe you’d prefer to use a core deck for learning vocab, so you can go as fast as you want. Or maybe you’d prefer to take the easy all-inclusive option of just WK! It’s primarily a kanji learning platform, and while not perfect, it does a pretty great job!

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