Learning words i'll never use

Slight rant, I just learned “飴細工 sugar sculpture” and " 喉頭 larynx" on level 18. While also just now being introduced to the vocab for the weekdays. I know so many random words I almost never use in daily life. But I suppose WK introduces words based on Kanji.

Sometimes I just wish there was a magical way to learn strictly the most commonly used words, followed by vocab that is relevant to my own hobbies, interests, work, etc. Like a language extension pack lol.
I guess I just gotta start active immersing in more content related to my daily life. (ex - farming, yoga, cooking, giving directions). Sigh… if only I had more time.


You’ll probably use that if you ever visit a matsuri in Japan, though possibly not with all the kanji.


You’ll probably use that when you try to eat your 飴細工 in too big a go and choke. :stuck_out_tongue:

The thing is, though, even in English you may not use “larynx” in your day-to-day life, but it’s still a word that you know, and there will come a day when your knowledge of it benefits you. And sure, that day may never come for Japanese, but it’s still a word that your average Japanese speaker will know. They might tell you “oh, we never use that word”, but the fact is, it’s still a word that they know.


There is almost certainly an Anki deck or something similar that will cover exactly this, if you want to try that.

You can find this by engaging with said hobbies / interests in Japanese (depending on what the interest is). That’s where those words and terms will show up, after all, and then you can add them to your repertoire (and, optionally, your SRS)!


I absolutely agree with you in that It’s still worth learning and knowing. But when practicing speaking, sometimes I feel discouraged that I haven’t picked up some of the most basic words, yet I have words like this floating around in my head. Lol especially during speaking when trying to grasp any words I can find but instead “sugar sculpture” comes to mind and I blank. :sweat_smile:


Yes, thank you! I think anki and vocab mining is the way to go.


oh hey it’s this topic again.


WK is for learning how to read though!
Don’t give up. It takes time. The common words will come eventually if you keep at it. It takes a long time. Don’t get tricked that if WK had different vocab it would be so easy. Good luck!


I feel this. Sometimes, when I learn something on Wanikani and think, “what are the chances of me actually using this anytime soon?” I make up a situation artificially. Sometimes I can find a chance to shoehorn it into a conversation, but sometimes I just say to my tutor/friend/coworker/what have you, “Hey, guess what word I learned today? Larynx!!!” And usually an interesting conversation stems from that. It doesn’t teach me anything more “useful” necessarily, but it makes it fun to learn the more obscure stuff.

I’ve also been concerned about having gaps in my “basic” vocab knowledge, so I recently started one of those core decks on Anki, which from my understanding are basically exactly what you said–strictly the most commonly-used words. I don’t focus on memorizing the kanji or even the words perfectly, but more use it as a way to expose myself to things I’m a lot more likely to encounter when speaking or reading casually. Maybe that could help you feel better about what you’re learning? I bet you could find specialized decks related to specific hobbies, as well. And I think Tofugu has an article series on learning Japanese through yoga!

And of course, I agree with the advice already given that the best way to learn is by doing. Good luck! :four_leaf_clover:

I have been consistently surprised by how often I have needed words that I thought I would never use.


That too–I’m sure it’s mostly frequency illusion, but I’ve been surprised many times by running into a Wanikani word (or something I learned somewhere else that seemed really specific) immediately after learning it.


Maybe WK should teach 細工 directly, but 飴細工 does work indirectly.


Yep, we know. In English you can learn 26 letters and be able to read. This means you can save larynx for later or never. In Japanese you have learn 2500+ kanji to be able to read. WK sets out to teach you most of those kanji. Unfortunately to learn all those kanji you sometimes learn words that seem less than useful.

We’ve all been there, we feel you, nevertheless we persist.


I take it that you have never visited a matsuri anywhere in Japan.

Was quite useful for me on a recent visit to hospital for a medical issue.

A learning platform designed solely and exclusively for you to the exclusion of anyone else. :grinning:

Probably mostly words I would rarely, if ever, use in my daily life. But then every language is made up tons of words many never need or use.

FYI - all my comments are tongue in cheek. Speaking of which, how does one say/express tongue in cheek in Japanese? 皮肉な表現?

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Both of these apps let you study by topic, including sometimes hyper specific topics

If you’d like to stay on renshuu though, if you can aggregate a list of the vocab, you can make your own schedule/deck.

Immersion’s also good though


I for one believe WK is losing a lot by not teaching 里心 and 魑魅魍魎.

I am obviously joking. Or am I.


Are they actually normal at matsuri? I’ve never seen a stall for them at my local ones, but idk if that’s just because I live too deep in the inaka.

I’ve never seen them at my local matsuri, but I have seen some in Kyushu… I don’t know if it’s a local thing or a size of matsuri thing.


Good to know. I guess the best way to find out would be more field work :eyes: :yum:


I ran into this in Berserk. Which was crucial for understanding the story. I don’t joke about it because I lived it.


I actually had to learn this before I learnt it on WK, for my linguistic class. I still don’t know the English equivalent though (I added synomym for my native language in WK), it’s much more logical in Japanese, since it’s the 頭 of the 喉.

Medical stuff is extremely useful when you have to visit the doctor. I always prepare with the vocab before visiting but they always hit me with something unexpected (but now I know 腎臓 as well).