Kanji for "mountain"

I am new to Wanikani so am on my first list of Kanji. I was wondering why mountain is listed as さん instead of やま? I can’t even get my keyboard to type the kanji for mountain using the さん and it doesn’t seem to list that pronunciation on any site I look. Thanks.



The difference has to do with kun’yomi reading versus on’yomi reading. It’s a major, major part of kanji, so you’ll run into this constantly.

Tofugu (the creators of WK) have an article on it that will hopefully make it clearer for you:

As you can see from the thumbnail; they even have the yama vs san situation in mind, so I hope it will clear things up for you. ^^

Don’t worry if it doesn’t all make sense immediately. Keep at it, and it will all become clear. Before I started WK, I didn’t understand what the whole kun vs on’yomi was, either.

Best of luck!


You know that mountain called Mt Fuji? It’s 富士山 (ふじさん) in Japanese.


Because さん is the reading used in the name of many Japanese mountains. ふじさん obviously being the amongst the most famous.

Thanks. I did see that article shortly after posting. I get it now but my initial main concern was that さん didn’t produce the correct Kanji on my keyboard and since it is one of the 2 ways to write it, I thought either pronunciation would produce the kanji.

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It’s also used in many regular mountain words as well, of course like 山脈 (さんみゃく mountain range).

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How many kanji did you scroll through? Many are read as さん, with the first that comes up with that alone probably being the number 3 (三).

山 is only read as さん in compounds, so your IME won’t guess that from the one kanji alone immediately.


What keyboard are you using? It’s like the 5th choice when I just typed it on the iOS Kana keyboard.

San is usually a suffix (or prefix as @Leebo showed in one example). Your IME will be less likely to offer the mountain kanji, since it would be uncommon for you to write just “san” while meaning “mountain.” If you try “fujisan” for example, I’m sure it’ll be the first hit.

And as menioned: many things have that reading, so mountain is likely low on the list of suggestions from the IME.

I was using the hiragana keyboard in OSX. It seems better today, the initial list of about 5 doesn’t have it but if I hit tab, it’s about 8 down.

Might be higher on mine since I was typing words with さん for 山 recently. It’s tends to promote things higher as autocomplete when you do that.

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Its eighth for me as well.

I get that a beginning user would struggle to find it. I do occasionally miss stuff via the standard (windows) ime, just because of the sheer amount and size of kanji.

To make my post more relevant for the topic at hand. Jisho.org is a japanese dictionary containing many kanji: 山 - Jisho.org for 山。
If you are unsure of some readings, you can enter the kanji and then look at the right side of the screen, where a number of readings of that particular kanji are listed. As you can see for 山, both yama and san are listed.

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Here is an incomplete selection of kanji you will learn on this site that can be read さん


I should point out that when you learn 山 as a vocabulary item it will be given as やま, because when you’re using the kanji as a word on it’s own, that’s how it’s read. It’s also read やま in 山火事 which means wildfire, which is sort of two separate words smashed together (やま read with kun’yomi and かじ both read with on’yomi).

I would suggest reading that article posted above, nearly all kanji have two or more (sometimes many more) readings. But yeah your language input won’t jump to a kanji when you type it out using on’yomi normally because aside from certain exceptions most kanji aren’t read with their on’yomi on their own as words. This is also why you’ll get a lot of single kanji vocabulary items that are read differently to their kanji counterpart.

Another example might be 私, which you might know as “I” or “me” and read as a vocabulary item as わたし, but when you get it as a kanji here it will give you meanings of “I” and “private” with the reading し, because that is its on’yomi reading and in jukugo words that is how it is read ie 私立大学、private university, しりつだいがく。If I type し on its own though the kanji is buried under other items because when you’re just typing that 1 kanji it is read わたし and the IME does not expect that is the kanji you are going for. If you type out しりつだいがく it’s the first item on the list though.


Do you know that you do not need to use the hiragana keyboard right? You can use U.S. keyboard and simply type sann for さん

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I know that in Wanikani when it specifically asks for Japanese I can use the US keyboard and type sann yes. I was taking notes outside of Wanikani.


This is my time to shine!

Sometimes pizza has a support in the middle to prevent the box from touching the pizza. I call it “there’s kanji in my pizza”


Once upon a time I read that Japanese people revere Mt. Fuji so much they give it the same honorific as people. Fuji-san. And I was :0

And then, when I started WK, I learned it was just an on’yomi for mountain and my whole world shattered.

But I can understand where the misconception came from. Haha.


Wow! Kanji in real life!


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