Learning Onyomi readings

Based on my studies using WK so far, I see there are way too many common Onyomi readings such as:


I find this really hard to memorize so far. I occasionally even cheat on some of those Onyomi readings using the script so i can advance. Kunyomi readings tend to be easier to remember for me. Knowing the meaning of the Kanji is also relatively easy compared to Onyomi readings.

My strategy is not to let myself to stuck with Onyomi readings but move on so I can learn as many kanji/words as possible in the first place. And let the not-so-memorable Onyomi readings stick with time and with the Japanese course I attend online.

I feel comfortable with this approach but still would like to hear some external opinions. Maybe there is something else I can benefit from. What do you think about this strategy? Would it hurt me in the long term? Have any advice?

Well for the majority of kanji the on’yomi tends to be the more common one, so I would say to make sure you know those well. There are indeed a lot of kanji with the same on’yomi reading, but I actually find that those have become a bit easier over time. The mnemonics for readings I’ve seen before tend to stick a bit better since you already have some knowledge to work off of.

I would also recommend the semantic-phonetic composition script, which as time goes on becomes more and more useful in helping you figure out patterns in on’yomi readings.

But all in all, I would recommend to spend a bit more time to make sure you know the on’yomi readings. They are incredibly common and not knowing them would make it a lot harder to read a lot of vocabulary words.

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Although I never skipped any on’yomi readings, I also find that the kun’yomi readings tend to stick in my mind easier because the native japanese words tend to stick with me more easily than the sino-japanese compound words. That being said, those sino-japanese words are very common and numerous, and getting used to figuring out how to read them via knowing on’yomi readings is a very useful skill to have for reading.

Also keep in mind しょ and しょう, for example, are not the same reading and that long vowel vs short vowel is an important distinction in Japanese that you’ll have to get used to.


Thanks for the replies. Really appreciated.

Just a clarification, I do not skip Onyomi readings completely. I have problem only with the common ones. And even with those ones, i think i learn their first appearance well but the subsequent ones tend to not stick.

Are you learning the vocabulary (meaning and reading)?
If so, I probably still wouldn’t advise neglecting the onyomi readings, but it probably wouldn’t be the end of the world.

The main thing that’s nice about learning one common onyomi reading to spring to mind when you look at a kanji is that it’s easier to guess the reading for new words that use it, or to look them up, or even to look up / guess at the reading of kanji that aren’t the same but have shared elements.
And for vocab with kanji you do know it’s of course easier to get the reading right.

So if you find you’re still learning vocabulary comfortably this way and don’t have a problem with it yourself, I think it’s fine. (And I’ll admit on Anki flashcards I give myself a lot of similar leeway)

Conversely though, it might be an even better idea to try to use the vocab to reinforce the onyomi Wanikani wants to teach you.
In general I also think it’s best to not stress about getting things wrong on wanikani at all (I never installed the take-back script), but to think of them as another opportunity to reinforce the thing you missed.
And one other thing that might help is I tried to make up my own mnemonic for common onyomi and especially keep the similar-sounding ones completely different, like ろう would be a really long road stretching into the distance, but ろ would be a tiny, angry, miniature version of professional wrestler Roman Reigns (or something). Because it is tricky to keep those straight.

@rodan yes I am learning vocabulary. That helps to reinforce the learning.

The end goal is learning Japanese and i know it will take a layered approach. Completing WK perfectly likely not going to be sufficient. So I try to get as much as i can from WK (not perfectly) in shortest time (approximately one year) while supporting my japanese learning journey with formal course/dramas/tv/newspapers/visiting japan etc.

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