Japanese definitions of Vocab on Wanikani?


I was wondering if anyone has ever tried adding Japanese synonyms to their vocab in order to minimize English used during reviews? I was thinking of giving it a try because it’s something I really love about using Jalup Next intermediate and it has helped me think in Japanese more. But I also realize it’s a pretty daunting task with all the vocab we learn so I was wondering if anyone has tried this before and could give me an idea of if its worth it?

Examples using vocab from level 22 and level 6:

評価 - 価値を判断すること (Judging the Value)
instead of entering the English definition ‘Appraisal’

Both the vocab used are ones I just learned and understand and thus allows me to introduce an extra review mechanism into my reviews.

or a simpler example:

死ぬ=亡くなる instead of death

It’s a bit of the +1 theory I suppose. I was also thinking it might reinforce learning just by taking the time to find definitions.

Obviously this will not be possible for beginning levels and even at higher levels not all vocab can be defined in Japanese I will understand. I also think it is still important to learn the English meaning of radicals and Kanji.

For definitions I would not be making them up myself. but using a Japanese thesaurus and Children’s dictionary to find native definitions I can understand.

Edit: Big Problem: You can not input kana for definitions during reviews. Is there an override of this? :skull_and_crossbones::skull_and_crossbones::skull_and_crossbones:

Thoughts? Ideas? ‘Give up now before your head explodes’? ect


Sounds like a lot of work, I would check if WKs error tolerance can handle it. For example 「価値を判断すること」 is quite long, and I would expect that WK would tolerate 3–4 wrong kanji, giving you the ability to enter almost anythingすること. Don’t know how the meaning input screen will react to Japanese itself as well.


Yes I was wondering about the error tolerance too. But the input screen does not allow Japanese so unless I can find an override this idea is stopped before it began…


A compromise solution would be to enter romaji.

If you don’t need kanji, you can enter kana and write a userscript to convert that to the corresponding romaji.


I thought of that too but I quite detest romaji and I’m not sure all my work would be worth it if I can’t practice writing actually Japanese.


I don’t know what Jalup Next does, but actually writing long(ish) explanations during reviews also will take much longer to complete, and there are different ways to phrase things, so you either have to add it multiple ways or actually remember the way you put the explanations as well. I don’t know if you will still like your idea with 150 reviews or so waiting :slight_smile:

Wouldn’t it be better to have some kind of multiple choice without writing the answers? Plugging it into a unmodified WK seems not a good fit for me.


If you don’t want romaji, then you probably need to write a userscript.

One could theoretically wrap the WaniKani system to achieve this. Let’s say that one were to reversibly encode Japanese text into ASCII. Then, one could have a userscript that:

  • allows adding synonyms with kanji/kana
  • allows input of kanji/kana during reviews (in addition to English)
  • would no longer reliably do spelling correction

Whenever one adds a synonym with non-English characters, the userscript can encode it to ASCII. When retrieved from the server, the userscript decodes it back to kanji/kana. A similar technique will allow kanji/kana during reviews. But since the encoded characters might not map perfectly to ASCII, spelling correction would be reduced.


Yeah I get your concerns about time and it’s one of my big concerns too.
I will say though that I’m not worried about my Wanikani pace too much. While I do want to learn as much Kanji as possible for me quality over quantity is more important.

I’m not sure what you mean about multiple choice. I figure if I found a definition I decided on I could just use that. And I’d always have the English definition as a back up if I still want to mark it right (if I remember it lol). Perhaps the Japanese definition could be an extra challenge ?

But perhaps you’re right that Wanikani is not the ideal system for me to try to do this.
It is a kanji learning website first and foremost I suppose.


That sounds amazing! But unfortunately if one doesn’t already exist I don’t see myself being able to make it. I have zero experience in that kind of stuff.

(Although Wanikani does already allow adding synonyms with kanji/kana so I’ve got that going for me lol)


It does, huh? That’s funny. In that case, such a script might be easier than I thought since it might just be a matter of overwriting a JavaScript check. (There’s probably a browser-side check to prevent you from mis-entering JP when EN is expected.)

I’ve only tweaked around with userscripts, but never made one myself. Perhaps @rfindley would know?


A thesaurus is not a dictionary. That is just a way to get more confused unless you have a much greater command of the language.

Plus, something like 評価 has three definitions in a dictionary:

① 物の善悪美醜などを考え,価値を定めること。「死後に学説の―が高まった」
② 品物の値段を定めること。また,その値段。「土地の―が年々上がる」「―額」
③ 物の値打ちを認めてほめること。「―できる内容の本」

Which one are you gonna use?

Not to mention depending on the word this is going to be much harder.


Yeah defining might not be 100% right.
And for some words it’s just going to be impossible definitely. But I think having the English definition to compare to or fall back on helps.

But I don’t think I should give up on Japanese definitions completely because of that. This was something we used to do in my Intensive Japanese class while studying abroad and it really helped my explanation abilities. Sometimes I’d forget the word but I could explain the definition in easy Japanese to my friends and be understood. So it’s not flawless, but I think the pros out weight the cons. (Maybe not, as I’m finding out, in the case of using it on Wanikani but with other things like Anki I’d still suggest it)

I will say though that in my particular case I have a little bit of an edge in that I’m living and working in Japan so I can double check with coworkers and friends to make sure any definitions aren’t incorrect.


I just don’t think Japanese definitions and answer in Japanese every time are the same thing. If you want just install a script that links to Goo or some other dictionary (or if you have a Mac use the built in 大辞林), and then just go on as normal. Plus, no matter what you’ll get a better sense of the meaning of words you’ve learned from simple seeing them out in the wild. Trying to get a simple definition of かける is near impossible, but seeing it over and over again while just learning “to hang” or something like that is more than enough.


Hm I think you’re probably right that maybe it won’t help with my understanding of a word any better than the English definition and seeing it being used naturally. And yeah it’s not going to work with a lot of words like かける

I guess my main goal is to keep thinking in English to a minimum if that makes sense which is why I think it could be worth while in the end for me. I really enjoy things that are more Japanese immersive and feel I get more out of them.


I don’t think it’s so bad. At the end of the day we have to except we know English much better than we know Japanese. So sometimes, looking at one thing in English can save my hours of reading things in Japanese trying to get handle on something. Vocab is one of those things that you just have to keep shoving into your head over and over. I don’t think it matters how it gets there.

But you know what, I do have a story where learning in Japanese would’ve helped. 払う in English always gets the first definition of “to pay” as the main one. But the Japanese definition is じゃまなもの,無益なもの,不用なもの,害をなすものなどを除く。手などで勢いよく除き去る。I was in a 殺陣 class and they kept saying it, and I absolutely had no idea what it meant or how to merge my understanding with the meaning of “to pay”. But had I read that Japanese definition first, it would’ve been fairly simple to understand. Though getting the meaning of “To pay” from that definition is a bit harder.


By the way, I have no problem entering Japanese in the meaning field or as synonym using my IME. So that’s a problem you actually don’t have :slight_smile:


What??? how? haha.
Everytime I input kana into the meaning part of the field it won’t let me press endter


Wow, you’re right. I never tried to press enter, since it would be obviously wrong.
There’s a check, I think it’s this line:

if (!n.allowAction(r)) return n.stopEverything(t);

Where r is the input text. I don’t really understand what n and t are supposed to be, though.

There’s no check for adding synonyms, though.