Kanji Initial Lessons + First Reviews

I’ve been thinking about this for a while; how do you guys remember your kanji lessons initially?

No matter how many times I read the descriptions, look at radicals included, and the mnemonics, when my first review comes up I get it wrong like a thousand times before it sticks.

Sometimes it’ll be the reading, others the meaning – if I’m really unlucky both. I even write down the kanji by hand (correct stoke order only fellas!) but still for some reason, I just can’t get my first few tries down.

There may be a few obscure vocabulary I have this issue with, but its mainly a kanji issue for me.

Maybe I’m just overthinking this and it’s the obvious answer: DUH of course you’re going to get them wrong the first few reviews they’re new kanji what lol

I guess a rephrased question would be: What do you guys do when you are learning new the new Kanji? Do you just get it wrong the first 8996408 times you review it until it sticks?

Sometimes I’ll learn a new Kanji on WK and feel like I’ve got no other choice but to go to the vocab sheet and see words using it first.

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The way I’ve done it was going through the mnemonic in my head while looking at the respective radical in the kanji several times.
Just reading the mnemonic does next do nothing, you have to recall it before it can stick.
I also shortened the mnemonics to its individual components and combined the meaning and reading mnemonics to make it easier to remember.

Edit: Here’s an example with this kanji 電

Meaning mnemonic:

You’re standing in the middle of a rice paddy in the rain with an umbrella. You’re standing here because there’s nothing else that’s very tall around you. You want to get hit by electricity (aka lightning) to show that it exists.

Reading mnemonic:

After the electricity hits you, you feel your face. In it is a huge dent.

I’d shorten these two into this:

I’m standing in a rice paddy in the rain with an umbrella to get hit by electricity and receive a dent.

These kind of short sentences worked wonders for me.


Pretty much. Then, very often, the glue eventually wears off. Rinse and repeat.


So it isn’t just me! Now I’m wondering if my speedy people with a pretty consistent +95% accuracy are just that brilliant


I have tried this in the past, but what really makes this not work for me is the fact that the mnemonic sentences aren’t consistent.

They dont follow any kind of order (think: stroke order). Using your example kanji 電, I’m analyzing all over the place searching for stuff.

Here’s one that worked. I got this one right all the way up to guru because its mnemonic is written how the kanji stroke order goes.


The grain stuck in your cleat had a former life. In that life it was a rice plant

Exactly how its written. I could say this mnemonic sentence as a write the kanji. This is EXCELLENT

EDIT: A little clarification (even though I’m sure most of you understood what I mean)


Stroke order = the mnemonics and its easy because of this.


That’s how I’d do it.

I’d be doomed if I didn’t review the kanji right after.


Well, but that’s because wanikani doesn’t teach you kanji via stroke order. The whole concept relies on learning to recognize the radicals in a kanji. Rather than getting hung up about the order of the radicals, you could try starting from each radical in the kanji until you hit the right one and remember the mnemonic.

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Wow JP, I totally read your post and that section too, I think I completely misunderstood what you were suggesting here but looking back at it, this is definitely my solution.

Thanks bb!


Yeaaaah, I need to check some wording on my Guide :stuck_out_tongue: I’m glad it fits your needs!

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:star: Able to do 500 reviews a day AND still have time to drill in those new lessons. :star:

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By the way, there’s nothing wrong with this. That’s my general approach to learning new kanji. Whenever I do kanji lessons, I always go to jisho and find one or two words that use the given reading and add them to my notes.


I did 103 lessons today. Just for teasing.



You crazy.


get the self-study script and do some repetition rounds of newly learned stuff, or make a deck somewhere else, that’s the only way i can pull it off consistently.
there’s also “vocab beyond”, another script i found helpful, but repetition is the main thing.

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This makes me wish there was an :scream: reaction instead of just a :heart:
Makes me wanna complete those lessons that are sitting in my queue…


Hahah, don’t do it. I’m insane. Just make sure you stick with 0 lessons and 0 reviews before leveling up and you’ll do lovely (better than 99%) :grin:


To be on topic: I usually get some kanji wrong the first couple of times, but most of the kanji stick after just doing the lessons, I think. I do pay attention to the vocab they appear in, and whether I can kind of make out a phonetic component for the on’yomi (when I notice a certain phonetic aspect to a radical I usually add it to the radical synonyms, too).

I’ve also noticed that maybe my recall on new kanji is better when I haven’t done only kanji lessons in a row. Randomized lessons are my thing, especially the second round of kanji in a level.

To stray off topic a little bit: now I haven’t done anything for level 31 yet, but I am mostly back in the swing of things with reviews, after letting them repeatedly pile up over the couple weeks off I had. At the moment my apprentice pile is 12, so I am thinking I will do my whole lesson queue of 58 around 7pm (about 3 hours from now, guess my timezone {even though I have repeatedly mention my homecountry on these forums}), so I can do the first review before midnight, and second review tomorrow morning. Or maybe I’ll leave half to do in the morning, that sounds more realistic. In that case I will frontload the radicals before randomizing the kanji and vocab, though.

The morning after I Guru’d a set of items I write them all down in ink on paper, just because my old high school teacher once told us, that writing down something once is the equivalent of reading it seven times for the brain. Maybe because it can tie sight and meaning together with motion as some weird neural rope? For the same reason, I use the ‘autoplay audio’ function for vocab lessons & reviews.

But before I ever get to that, I do kanji ten lessons at a time, and after I’m done with #4, I look at the bottom of the page where they are all lined up and go through 1-4 again to see if I can still remember readings and meanings. After #7 I do the same again for 1-7, and after 10 again. Only then do I go to quiz.
The theory is that #1 would get squished by the pile-up of new info 2-10, so 1-4 get pulled back to the front three additional times, and 5-7 two times.

Also I do lessons only in the morning. So I can have my first two reviews on the same day and let sleep sear them into my brain. And I aim to keep it at 20 lessons per day, as I fear my brain doesn’t like having too many new things crammed into it. As a side effect my Apprentice pile stays nice and manageable.


since entering the Painfuls, i’ve made a point of taking several minutes to come up with my own mnemonics/stories/associations for each of the new kanji. sometimes the WK mnemonics work for me; but often they don’t. so at least supplementing those with my own stories has made me feel a lot more confident through the first and second rounds of reviews.

So I did all my 58 lessons last night between 7pm and 9pm. Did the first reviews between 11pm and 1:30am. Got about half the new kanji wrong. Did the second review for all the new items this morning and got only 9 kanji wrong a second time. So right after I did a review of those items on paper (Iversen method). Got 8/9 correct at the next 4 hour review (Stupidly taught myself the wrong reading during the paper review :woman_facepalming:t5:

I think if I hadn’t done the extra review I would have gotten some of them wrong a couple more rounds, haha. Thanks for the tip!

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