Opinion: Kanji should be 'burnt' after Guru'ing them

Once you Guru a kanji, the SRS becomes less effective to the point that I’ve ‘forgotten’ the original ‘meaning’ that Wanikani taught me about some Kanji (those with multiple and disparate usages in actual vocabula) but obviously had complete understanding about the vocabulary out of which they were formed.
My point is based on the fact that learning individual Kanji meanings and readings (but especially readings; I think Wanikani wouldn’t lose much efficacy if it only taught readings before teaching vocabulary) is helpful for when someone is initially learning vocabulary, but since these meanings are rather arbitrarily chosen and rarely convey the full array of meanings that a Kanji can actually take, they just get lost in your memory and become less distinctly that Kanji specifically but a component of a word (or a word in itself).
After all, Japanese people don’t have pet names for most kanji. They talk about them in reference to their usage in words. Such as 「故郷のキョウ」when referring to the kanji 「郷」.
As such, I don’t think remembering the specific names of a Kanji after learning the first batch of its vocabulary is as useful as simply retaining a ‘taste’ or ‘feel’ for it, as well as knowledge of its usage in actual vocabulary. Lastly, the fact that the mnemonics for the vocabulary are (naturally) always based off of the Kanji meanings breaks the SRS (there have been several times where I’m pretty sure I would not have gotten the meaning of a Kanji were it not for an earlier review in which I checked one of the words that had it as its component and saw its meaning there).
This is mostly a salty rant derived from the fact that I keep forgetting the meanings of Kanji which are now clogging my review pipe when I have no problem at all with the meanings that they take on in real words (which I often times see are acceptable meanings on Jisho as well but for some reason WK doesn’t include all Jisho meanings as ‘valid’ even as a hidden option).
Radicals I don’t have an issue with since they are always useful in learning new Kanji (even if I think it’s kinda stupid to learn ‘radicals’ that we’ve already learnt as Kanji).
At the end of the day, WK is not exactly a very optimized program even if it is the best one-stop-shop out there for learning Kanji (although I probably would have given RTK a try were I not this deep into WK already) and I don’t want to sound overly complainy since it’s helped me get this far and I hope that my points are well taken.


Just add synonyms and use an undo script if you are confident you got it right and you know it, dude.


The whole point of SRS is that if you forget the meaning, apparently you didn’t know it that well. The SRS is there to solidify the meaning.

The idea is that if you know it after four months, you will know it forever.

Regarding the meaning of the kanji, just add synonyms to the meanings if you think they apply as well

I agree tho that kanji are mostly just a vibe rather than an exact definition. But how else would you convey that?


It seems to me like the content of your post contradicts the title.
You just provided a very good reason why they should not be burnt after guru: it’s easy to forget them.


Knowing the kanji will help you read words you haven’t seen before. That’s why you need to take them all the way to burned.


I mean, I really don’t know how your kanji journey has looked up until this point. But maybe the mnemonics aren’t as effective for you, or maybe you came off too strong and its back to bite you in terms of too many reviews?

The SRS increases to longer intervals after Guru so when it comes back to quiz you, Its based off how well you were able to remember it overtime. There wouldn’t be a point if it kept the same interval as apprentice items forever.


Thats so true, sometimes i dont even know the meaning of the word, but i guess the reading right. And that happens outside WK too…


Exactly. :smiley:

Even without knowing about things like phonetic components, after learning a lot of Kanji, you can make pretty good guesses as to readings.

I’m usually about 90% accurate in guessing kanji readings during lessons at this point, although will definitely decline once I get to the 名乗り ones.

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It’s true that recognizing kanji in isolation can be harder than seeing them in context. Still, there will be times when you need to be able to understand the meaning and correct reading from the kanji alone, i.e. when the context isn’t very helpful. So, there is still a point to learning kanji this way.

If you are failing too many of your burn-reviews, you might wanna to take a look at how you’re memorizing items as your current routine doesn’t seem to be working for you. You might also wanna increase your consumption of native material so as to make use of your knowledge more - which should also help with retention.

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It’s not really contradicting. I believe the point was that it’s not really relevant to remember the kanji as an individual, since in the real world they never appear that way.

I kind of half-agree with the OP, but don’t know what the best solution is. At some point in your Japanese studies it’s no longer relevant to associate a kanji with an English keyword. They will just start to “vibe” after you read and learn a lot of words that use those kanji.


As others say, just use scripts to get around it. I often use undo on Flaming Durtles for the exact situation you described of knowing the meaning in words that use it but not remembering what WK wants.

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While mostly true, I wish that was reality across the board. :sweat_smile:


I mean it’s good to start reading in the mean time when you start burning stuff :sweat_smile:


It’s true. Every time I look up a Kanji now, I’m like, yep, I already knew that one. :joy:

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Saying 故郷のきょう is indeed a way to refer to a kanji, but it doesn’t say anything about whether a person understands what that kanji means. I could say 寿司のし to refer to 司, and people would know which kanji I was talking about, but WaniKani wants to know if you know what it means. The equivalent response there would be that 郷 means さと, いなか, or ふるさと. And 司 means つかさどる. As others said, knowing those things would actually help you (or a Japanese person) understand their usage in other words. WaniKani isn’t just asking for a name of a kanji.


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