On-yomi & kun-yomi

I suppose this was probably discussed before but couldn’t find it. What my issue right now is, you sometimes learn kanji and its kun-yomi. That’s fine. Problem is when that kanji is used in a word with on-yomi reading… suddenly I don’t have that knowledge in my brain and I have to remember another thing that’s kind of disconnected from kanji itself (especially when the word is later down the line way after you memorized the kanji itself). Is anybody else bothered by this? Would it make sense to learn both readings while memorizing the kanji instead of learning only one? I generally like to rrecollect kanji by meaning - kunyomi - onyomi.

I don’t know about other people, but, for me when I learn the Onyomi or Kunyomi separated later with a vocabulary, I take the mnemonics of the vocabulary and attach it to the real Kanji, for example, 2 minutes ago I faced the Onyomi for 付 which I didn’t know before because I learnt the Kunyomi, the Kunyomi is つ and the new reading which is the Onyomi is ふ, so I added ふ to the story I created for the kanji and I didn’t separate it cuz that will make my head blow.

Basically the deal is that WaniKani teaches the kanji with the reading you’ll probably encounter most often. You really don’t gain much from learning a pile of readings in isolation.


You have to draw a line somewhere, since some kanji have many common readings. They drew the line at 1 reading, which is sensible considering the amount of people that get overwhelmed even at that amount.


I personally also get really confused by learning a kanji and then having vocab with a different reading connected to the same kanji.
I think in my case it would be better to learn both readings as to not be confused. But it does sound like a lot of work.

Well, you’ve always got the option of adding the other reading as a synonym and coming up with your own mnemonic.

Then you’ll be confused when you learn the 3rd reading. Or the 4th, or wherever you decide to stop.


That is true.

One of the good things I think that WK decided not to teach you multiple readings is that you don’t have to go through the step in your head of going ‘okay this is the word, do I need to onyomi or kunyomi reading? The on yomi is x and the kunyomi is y… I think it’s x’ instead you just read the kanji, and later on when you see them in words you just read the words.

If you had to learn all the readings for all the kanji before moving on you’d have a bad time because some are so common and some are rare and some have tons of readings and exceptions that it’s just better to learn them in vocab


I can’t speak for those who come to WaniKani with zero Japanese knowledge, but I came already with a reasonably large Japanese vocabulary (but rudimentary kanji knowledge), and the system of learning one (or sometimes two) reading per kanji has been terrific.

There are so many exceptional readings in Japanese that it really doesn’t make sense to teach all possible readings of a kanji before introducing the vocabulary where that kanji is actually used.

It’s better to think of the kanji you learn in this way: Remember this shape (or combination of shapes). It may mean this when used in a word. It may sound like this when used in a word. But most importantly, remember this one shape with this one possible meaning and this one possible reading. That way, you can understand how vocabulary words are formed, and those words won’t become so overwhelming, even if the meaning and/or reading changes from the kanji you learned originally.

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I must admit I am only on level 4 but WaniKani has (at most) 2 versions per type of reading right? I have seen words with 1 kun’yomi and 2 on’yomi does that mean there are actually only 3 in “the wild” or did WK just pick the most common ones?

I count 9 readings for 生 here on WK, not including rendaku. And WK doesn’t teach all of 生’s readings.

I find typically kanji has 3 readings - 1 kun-yomi and 2 on-yomi. There are of course many exceptions to this rule… multiple kun-yomi, multiple on-yomi, some don’t have kun-yomi at all…

That… is a lot :scream:

Thanks for input everyone. Yes, I come to WK with some knowlage of Japanese too, and this may be the problem. Actually typically I remember reading using a word it’s in. Such as necessary - hitsu as in hitsyyou. I actually don’t use mnemonics for readings at all. As non english native 90% I’ve checked just don’t work for me at all. I’m pretty sure I read many english words the wrong anyway, so… yeah.

IIf this works for some people (obviously it does), maybe just make it an option or something?

Some readings are also just not worth learning. If WK was going to teach the kun and on for everything would that include 英?

The onyomi is super important, but the kunyomi (はなぶさ) is not. It’s relegated to trivia, even among Japanese people. I literally saw it as trivia on a quiz show the other day.

Yeah, I have to say, this is a gripe about Japanese more than it is about WK. Kanji are not learner friendly no matter how you cut it, but I do think that WK have simplified it as much as it possibly can be, which is a good thing. Yes it’s annoying to discover down the road that there’s a 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) reading for a Kanji you felt like you already had a handle on, but it probably would have been much more difficult to get a handle on it in the first place had WK thrown everything there is to know about the character when one reading could probably cover you in 60-90% of situations in the wild.
I share your frustrations, but they are definitely frustrations inherent in learning Kanji full-stop, and not in the particular way WK does it.


you learned 付近 didn’t you?

I understand how you feel, and honestly I’ve been there many times. To answer your question though it may have already been stated. They way Wanikani teaching you the reading that you’ll come across the most. I can’t see how beneficial it’ll be to learn both reading separately; that would be using a lot of brain power.

As to your problem with the English mnemonics, I’d suggest where appropriate to make your own mnemonics using your native language, and write it in the Reading Note or Meaning Note space. I’m an English native speaker, but even so, I have much better success in general with remembering readings when I make my own mnemonics. I started doing this for almost all the kanji that I didn’t already know around level 10, and it has really helped with my retention.