Real-World Practice

Hello there!

I’m a level 12, with just over 800 burns. I feel like I am learning fairly well, and have a pretty good handle on Wani-Kani (and Kani-Wani) lessons. The problem I’m running into is that when I see a Kanji outside of those sites, I often have trouble recognizing it. I’m not sure if this is a difference in the style of how the Kanji is written, or just my brain not recalling.

For instance, when I play a video game in a Japanese world and see signs on shops, I feel like I should be able to recognize a good number of them at this point, but its just not clicking. I try to read in books as much as I can, but I’m working through graded readers, as my grammar is probably a bit “behind” my Kanji learning. So, it is fairly simple and always includes furigana.

So, my question is, is there anywhere I can get “real world” experience? A quiz site or app that shows you a picture of a sign or a shop name or a sentence from a book, and then tells you if the translation is correct? Ideally, in different styles of script?

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This is not what you ask for but the Jitai font randomizer script will show a diversity of fonts in Wanikani. Maybe this will help you.


I don’t know exactly what sorts of font variations you’re having trouble with, but I think one thing you can try is a Japanese OCR app like Yomiwa. There’s no way to guarantee that the app’s interpretation is correct, but it should be reliable for printed text, which will allow you to get an idea of whether or not you’re on the right track.

That aside, what you’re looking for sounds like a collation of kanji transcriptions. I don’t know of any site that has a collection of such data, most likely because the most common use for such information would be explanations for tourists trying to read some ancient carving, meaning it’s likely to be landmark-specific and not a set of examples from various sources. I think your best bet for bringing up varied real-life examples is to google something like 「ラーメンの店 東京」 (‘ramen shops Tokyo’) and see what comes up in Google Images, using the captions and article text to see if your kanji recognition is accurate.

If you want WK-based alternatives, there are only two I can think of:

  1. @prouleau’s suggestion, which will be good practice, at least for the kanji you’ve already seen on WK
  2. The ‘Let's decipher stylized kanji!’ thread on the WK Forums, which has already endeavoured to get through several mysterious kanji so far. :stuck_out_tongue: They’re all real examples, but I think many of them are way too stylised to be commonly encountered forms of kanji.

That aside, I think it would be nice if you posted a few examples of the sorts of kanji you’ve been having trouble with. That might give us an idea of what’s making it hard.

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Not exactly what you asked for, but I like to use NHK Easy News for “real-world practice”, and it has become an even better tool for kanji practice since this awesome invention: userscript that hides furigana based on your WK level.

With the userscript you’re forced to actually read the kanji you’re supposed to know rather than relying on furigana.

Though there is only one font (or at least I don’t know how to change it).


Expanding on @prouleau, if you use the app Flaming Durtles for android, the author also added that ability. He actually let’s you upload your own font too.

I will say, I do also run into the same issue. Unfortunately, stylized text is hard. I’m sure stylized English is probably just has hard to for Japanese people.

One thing I do is when I look at kanji on a sign, sometimes I’ll try to find the individual lines and draw it myself. I’ll then find sometimes I can figure out the kanji with the thinner lines using a simpler style since I’m no artist.

I will say, as far as printed kanji goes there are are a few kanji I’ve seen with different variants that I’m now starting to get used to. Like the kanji 直 for fix. This looks a lot different from how it is shown in WaniKani. Even my stupid dictionary changes the font in different locations which you can seen in the attached image.

Takoboto is a great dictionary and that shouldn’t happen. What you’re seeing is not a variant but the Chinese version of the kanji. Install Japanese as a secondary language, that should fix it.

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I didn’t know that’s what caused it. Interesting. I do actually have japanese installed. But I did just find a option in the dictionary that says force Japanese local which did seem to fix it.

Other than the font, the other thing that can often be confusing is just seeing Kanji next to each other like that.

WK presents the item on its own with a colored background and that lets you concentrate on it. Out in the world, you have the additional task of parsing the text first.

The only way I’ve found that reliably works is reading. Looking at different fonts helps but doesn’t address the problem of parsing. You’ll have to just practice that.


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