Kanji at smaller sizes

Hey there, I feel rather silly asking this question but every now and then I watch からめる. It’s silly and fun and I learn reading from the comment section. However, I’m quickly starting to realize there’s an issue.

Of course, on my monitor, at Wanikani’s size reading Kanji is easy and the different ones are easy to tell apart. How do you recognize kanji and vocabulary in sentences in much smaller formats, for example Youtube? I feel like obviously it should be doable but I don’t know if anyone else ran into my issue at some point. I feel silly having to zoom in and carefully inspect the sentences.

Has anyone else felt that way or experienced the same thing? Does it just get better with time or as soon as you get more into textbooks and other things? Obviously I am only level 7 (about to turn level 8 in an hour, happy about it!) so I would not know.


I deeeeefinitely had that. Sometimes I still fail to recognise it right when I’m reading a physical book with vertical text because some of the line breaks are obtuse. Over time it mostly became a non-issue, and the stumbles I do have are very occasional.

At some point you’ll also be more familiar with words, and then it’s less about recognizing the physical difference, and more about you simply knowing it’s a small kana being used there.

I’d say it’s perfectly common not to immediately notice every detail in a script you’re unfamiliar with, but it will all be fine. :+1:


I’m mostly at a stage where I will notice words I’ve learned in texts, I will go “Oh wow there’s 風 here! That’s wind! Wow I really am learning things, huh!” but I can’t quite read yet so I’m assuming that might be why, thank you so much for reassuring me :slight_smile:


I think your issue’s already been resolved, but I’ll just drop Jitai, the font randomizer and Niai, the kanji disambiguator here, because they’re really really helpful (imo) and somewhat underutilized, even by those who use scripts. They don’t alter the text size, but they do help with recognition of handwritten and weird-looking kanji. Do get something like ArmedBanana — it’ll help with your understanding of stroke structure and standard variability immensely.


You eventually will get used to the shapes to the point where you can recognize kanji even if blurry or small.


It’s just that compared to a native Japanese person, who grows up seeing (even if not knowing at that point) all those kanji every day for many years, means you have a lot of training of your perceptions - so ability to interpret visual signs.

Which we don’t. We just have to face that it takes a long time to be able to read the small print and understand it as the same thing (and read it just as quickly as a native). It just takes us longer to interpret the visuals of the kanji for what they are, when things are less clear, due to font size, stylization etc.

A good starting point might be to actually play games for kids, like Ni no Kuni (once you’re up for it) as the kana is also getting this 8-bit look that can be hard to read. And you just have to get used to it really.

I don’t think this is as important to focus on compared to kanji, grammar or listening, but eventually, you just have to expose yourself to the weird and small fonts and learn to read them as well, through experience really.

It gets better over time as you expose yourself to a variety of different fonts and sizes, as well as learning more kanji. I also recommend the jitai script to practice a bit in wanikani. Seek out manga, they’re great for using all kinds of fonts, styles and sizes. Even if they’re outside of your scope to read atm, they’re still great for reference.

i struggle with small fonts as well. i’m so used to looking at big, beefy kanji lol.

i imagine it gets better of course but kanji are very crowded so IDing them globally is harder.

i have a magnifier with a light to read hehe!

I’m seconding use of the Jitai script. I think it has helped me immensely! I also think this is where learning how to write kanji really helps, because you’ll be able to identify and disambiguate different radicals a lot easier if you can understand how they’re being drawn. One user put together kanji writing practice sheets that you can print off, organized by WK level. Learning to write kanji is a lot of work, but even just practicing a little can help.

I have this issue when reading furigana in nhk news or any other website, usually I cant see if it is a ba or pa, I have to zoom in a lot!

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