Onyomi v kunyomi readings

Okay, I browsed the forums on this before posting, but…

I’m tired of getting errors on reviews because the quiz doesn’t specify onyomi or kunyomi. A “reading” could be either.

I just missed two kanji I’ve known for years, because I gave the kunyomi. It was marked wrong, so I said, Ah, they want the onyomi for this set, and the next kanji I answered with the onyomi, and it was wrong.

The previous posts I found said to just memorize by color (pink wants onyomi, purple wants kunyomi) but I didn’t find Japan’s signage to be helpfully color-coded to WK standards :slight_smile: and so I don’t think memorizing readings by color instead of by name is the most long-term efficient approach. Is there a pedagogical reason WK doesn’t clearly ask for which reading it wants?


Wrong. Pink wants kanji, purple wants vocabulary. It’s a huge difference. A kanji quiz will not mark a different KANJI reading wrong, it’ll just shake and prompt you to input the one you learned in the lesson. A vocabulary quiz will accept the only correct reading of that specific WORD, so thinking about different KANJI readings is wrong.

The kanji 手 has the readings て (kun) and しゅ (on). When the pink quiz appears, you will not be marked wrong for either of them, it’ll just want one in particular.

The vocabulary word 手 is just て, there is no word with the reading しゅ that uses the kanji 手, the only correct answer for the purple quiz is て.


Yeah, those previous posts are not accurate and in a number of cases flat out wrong. 本 uses the reading ほん for both kanji and vocab and it’s on’yomi. Other cases use kun’yomi for both.


I’m just quoting other posts, which I guess was a bad idea.

If I see 山 and answer やま I don’t get a shake, I get it wrong. When it comes around again in the review, if I put さん, then I get it right. Does that mean something is wrong in my WK settings, that I’m not getting a try-again but an incorrect answer?

To say there is only one correct reading of a word is not helpful. やま is a legitimate reading of that word, I believe (やまにのぼいます is I think correct) so it comes down to remembering which one WK wants in this lesson.

Which I guess means more reviews, with more emotional attachment, which combine for better recall? Maybe that’s the master teaching plan?

1 Like

Okay, that’s good to know, thanks. :slight_smile:


Can you provide a screenshot? That doesn’t match behavior I’ve ever seen. For a kanji review, you never get marked wrong for a valid reading even if it’s not the one from the lesson.


What is the context? This is what I’ve been stressing. Is the background pink or purple?

If it’s pink, it’s the kanji quiz, meaning that if you type やま instead of さん you’ll get a little shake and a prompt to put in the other reading. Because both are valid for kanji, it makes no sense to mark a valid reading wrong.

If it’s purple, there’s only one possible answer. The only vocab for 山 is やま. (さん) on its own is not an individual word. Here you’d get marked wrong is you select さん.

Edit: Check out this article in the knowledge base (and feel free to browse it all, it should dispel most of the confusion):


Other people have already said this, but are you getting the wrong answer for a kanji card? That shouldn’t happen. Are you getting the wrong answer for vocab for 山 when entering やま? That also shouldn’t happen. Unless you are typing ふじやま instead of ふじさん for 富士山. Or ひやま instead of かざん for 火山.


A little OT, but it reminded me of the thing I was curious about since I learned the ふじさん vocab:
In some of the older materials, such as travel guides, or videos, Mt. Fuji was sometimes refered to as ふじやま (of course written in romaji, as Fuji-yama). Why?


At level 1 and 2 I was very confused by this but you just learn better what the website wants. In the end, I find the answers it wants for the pink kanji reviews to be the most useful reading.


I think this was a mistake in translation? But I am not sure.

I have heard a different story about people explaining fuji-san as an anthropomorphism. So saying Japanese were so polite, they even say Mister Fuji for a mountain.


I found this on Encyclopedia Britannica:

The origin of the mountain’s name is uncertain. It first appears as Fuji no Yama in Hitachi no kuni fudoki (713 CE), an early government record. Among the several theories about the source of the name is that it is derived from an Ainu term meaning “fire,” coupled with san , the Japanese word for “mountain.” The Chinese ideograms ( kanji ) now used to write Fuji connote more of a sense of good fortune or well being.


Well, yes, but さんに行きます would be wrong. The vocabulary (purple ones) only have one reading.* It’s not useful to think of that as always kun-yomi or always on-yomi, but they do only have one reading, just like in real life.

*except when they have more than one, but that’s much more rare. I think I’ve only noticed a few on WK like that so far.


I’m pretty sure that’s just a misunderstanding from people who don’t speak Japanese, but know that -san can be an honorific.

In any case, if it can be shown that やま was marked incorrect for 山 at any point, that would be a bug that you encountered, and not a site-wide issue.

1 Like

Yeah, I agree that’s a false etymology, as they’re not the same “san.”

I will keep an eye out for the やま occurrence, just in case, but given what everyone here has said, probably it was indeed a bug.

At least I’ve learned that the color advice wasn’t sound advice!


I find this unlikely. Not that WaniKani doesn’t have bugs of course, but this is core functionality that many users are familiar with. If this was broken, many people would have noticed by now.

That said, if we’re all mistaken please do take a screenshot and let us know.


Yeah, I even triggered the shake unintentionally in a kanji review earlier today.

The same thing has happened to me! It’s not a lie. That is why I assumed that Onyomi was pink and Kunyomi was always purple. I will just mark it wrong if I use the undesired reading.

You had やま marked wrong for 山?

1 Like

Yes. If it wanted さん and I put やま I got it wrong. It could just be a few kanji where this happens but I has certainly happened to me