Quiz #2: Usually kana...?

Check out the first quiz if you haven’t already: Quiz: Wanikani Pleasant vs KanKen level 1. Which is more common?


Jisho, a site everyone should be familiar with, offers information on whether words are usally written in kana or not. However, what is actually “usually kana” can vary quite a bit depending on what you’re reading. As a result, Jisho’s attempt (seemingly to cater to the average) can be very far off the mark for a lot of words in some content. Otaku works such as light novels and visual novels often aren’t afraid to hold back when it comes to kanji, so how well does Jisho’s tags apply to them?

The Game:
Using jpdb.io, I have gathered the relative frequency of the kana forms of 15 words appearing in novels, web novels, visual novels, live actions, and anime. All words are listed on Jisho as usually kana. Your job is to guess whether that is correct or not. Similar to the first quiz, all words I have picked are relatively common to make this more accessible and provide opportunities to learn a useful word for people who don’t know one of them. And again, jpdb groups by series in nearly all cases for novels and has primarily light novels.

  1. Kana freqency includes katakana and hiragana’s frequency added together.

  2. I probably don’t need to say this, but 51%+ counts as actually being usually kana.

Post your score below! Good luck.

1. 綺麗 (きれい)
Usually kana? No. Kana: 31%
2. 馬鹿 (ばか)
Usually kana? Yes. Kana: 59%
3. 勿体ない・勿体無い (もったいない)
Usually kana? Yes. Kana: 73%
4. 眼鏡 (めがね)
Usually kana? No. Kana: 32%
5. 誤魔化す (ごまかす)
Usually kana? No. Kana: 37%
6. 是非 (ぜひ)
Usually kana? Yes. Kana: 58%
7. 兎 (うさぎ)
Usually kana? Yes. Kana: 68%
8. 髭 (ひげ)
Usually kana? No. Kana: 40%
9. 悪戯 (いたずら)
Usually kana? Yes. Kana: 53%
10. 溢れる (あふれる)
Usually kana? No. Kana: 23%
11. 爽やか (さわやか)
Usually kana? No. Kana: 18%
12. 煌びやか (きらびやか)
Usually kana? No. Kana: 41%
13. 咄嗟に (とっさに)
Usually kana? No. Kana: 43%
14. 蝙蝠 (こうもり)
Usually kana? No. Kana: 46%
15. 即ち (すなわち)
Usually kana? Yes. Kana: 73%


I’m enjoying these little quizzes! Thanks for doing them! :grin:
Results: 13/15


13 - I don’t recall seeing this one in kanji before. Interesting!
14 - This one was a bit surprising for me as well! I expect animals to be in katakana more than kanji!


I only got 9 correct :frowning:


馬鹿 (usually kana)
是非 (usually kana)
兎 (usually kana)
咄嗟に (usually kanji)
蝙蝠 (usually kanji)
即ち (usually kana)

Guess I’m pretty biased toward kanji forms :sweat_smile:


Uff. 5/15. I really suck at this one apparently. But honestly I’m nearly never amazed if something is written by kana or not. So It was mostly a random guess from me. Most of the time my perception e.g with 兎 even mislead me (isn’t it written in Kanji like 90% of the time???) :frowning:

Either way keep the quizzes coming!


The alternate forms breakdown is my favorite feature of lookups on jpdb. It’s a really, really nice site.

馬鹿 (ばか) example:



11/15. 2/4 wrongs were words I’ve never seen before, so wild guesses (5 & 8). 溢れる I got wrong because I think I’m reading one thing that has it in kanji and one that doesn’t and decided I’d seen it more without. xD And for my last, I think I’ve seen とっさに once, and that was kana, so guessed from the one instance I have, so basically a wild guess there too.


8/15 (my mistakes were 2 5 6 9 12 13 14).

PS: pet peeve, but: the dictionary information, including the ‘usually kana’ tags, displayed by sites like jisho.org is not actually produced by them. They (and basically every other free J-E dictionary site) are displaying entries and information from the JMdict/EDICT dictionary. So what we’re really talking about here is EDICT’s ‘uk’ tag. Incidentally, if you think the ‘uk’ tag is wrong/unhelpful for an entry you could submit an edit suggestion to remove it…


I’m aware, and actually considered including that in my post, but I figured it wasn’t worth going into for something that would have no impact on the game.

Yeah but who has the time or motivation for all that.


Got 8/15

Wrong answers

綺麗, had mostly seen it in kana
誤魔化す, didn’t even know the kanji equivalent :sweat_smile:
是非, doubted it could either way
悪戯, mostly saw it in kana
爽やか, doubted
煌びやか , this was a wrong guess, had no clue
咄嗟に same here
蝙蝠, it being an animal makes me biased towards kana


12/15, wasn’t certain on all and numbers 12-14 were complete guesses but probably a safe assumption that most adverbs will likely be kana only. Another fun one, thanks for sharing again!


I got 10 right, but I feel like some things I’ve read recently led me astray.


These are all just based on what I feel like I usually see them written as so I won’t write down my reasoning for the answers this time.

  1. Kanji. Correct
  2. Kanji. Wrong
  3. Kana. Correct.
  4. Kanji. Correct.
  5. Kanji. Correct.
  6. Kanji. Wrong.
  7. Kana. Correct.
  8. Kanji. Correct.
  9. Kanji. Wrong. (I’m surprised by this one since I feel like I almost only see it in kanji, but that might just be the books I’m reading)
  10. Kanji. Correct.
  11. Kanji. Correct.
  12. Kanji. Correct.
  13. Kanji. Correct.
  14. Kana. Wrong.
  15. Kana. Correct.

I think that’s… 11/15 correct.


Nice data collection! This was quite a revelation to me. I had often found words in kanji form that jisho labeled as usually kana, but it didn’t occur to me there could be usage stats for that, that’s fantastic. Looks like a very impressive site, jpdb.

Though sometimes I have a feeling script writers just accidentally hit the space bar instead of enter key, e.g. 流石 instead of さすが, saw that in Persona 4. jpdb says 12% for the kanji form. Maybe 12% space bar slipup is plausible? :smiley:
Also, 筈 (はず) very shortly after (10%), which was suspicious.

(especially weird coming from the “delinquent” character who’s struggling with keigo.
FYI, 天城 is a character name)


I got 11/15 right. Most of the ones that I got wrong I can’t remember seeing recently (not sure how often 蝙蝠 comes up in anything I read :sweat_smile: ) so I just guessed at those.

  1. No way. :white_check_mark:
  2. No! (I guess I’m reading the wrong books.) :no_entry_sign:
  3. Yes. :white_check_mark:
  4. No, but always with furigana. :white_check_mark:
  5. Yes. (Wrong! Whut?) :no_entry_sign:
  6. No. (Wrong books again :rofl:) :no_entry_sign:
  7. Yes. :white_check_mark:
  8. No. :white_check_mark:
  9. Yes. :white_check_mark:
  10. No. :white_check_mark:
  11. No. :white_check_mark:
  12. Yes? (never heard that word…) :no_entry_sign:
  13. Yes. :no_entry_sign:
  14. No. :white_check_mark:
  15. Yes. :white_check_mark:

10/15 correct!


“Castle in the sky/air”? That sounds like a rather … unfortunate name to me :flushed:

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Does castle in heaven sound better to you? :wink:
Or maybe it’s “imperial castle”

Also, anime fans would beg to differ :wink:
(by the way, 天城 (あまぎ in this game) is the surname, not the first name)


These two are actually not that uncommon to see in kanji in novels and vns, at least in my experience


Interesting. Well, jpdb says ~10%, so the question still remains whether it’s intentional, or they slipped on the spacebar. But yeah, with 10%, if you read a lot of VNs, you’ll see it from time to time. Or maybe they were trying to save space, to fit something in one line.

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That’s what I suspect is happening when I see this stuff in manga. One time I saw 迄 (まで) and was like “you really wanted to save that character, didn’t you”.