Remembering Vocab is really hard for me, remembering the Kanji really easy

I’m still on my trial with Wanikani and tried Anki as well. I’m trying to decide which tool to use and I do like Wanikani a lot especially with all the user scripts to improve the overall experience.

But I just can’t remember the Readings of the Vocabs, I keep forgetting them. I have no issue remembering the English meaning but I can’t remember the readings.

Is there any way to practice the vocabulary for reviews? I added the self study user script but that only allows you to add all of them at once instead of only the ones I’m studying currently.

I appreciate any hits because I don’t have that problem with Kanji, the mnemonics really make it easy but some vocab words dont seem to have them at level 1 vocabulary.

There are two things you can do.

The first one is to do some extra studying on the lesson summary page. When you are done with your lessons a summary page displays all the item you have learned. Go over the items one by one and recite aloud the readings and meanings. Then move the mouse over the item icon. This will make the correct anser show in a popup. This extra studying will help make your vocab items stick better.

The other thing you can do is to use the Item Inspector script. Disclosure: I am the author of Item Inspector.

This script will display the items in a table. By default it shows a leech table which is the items that gives you trouble in reviews. There is also a failed last review table for studying the items you have failed the last review in the past 24 hours.

You may study the items in two ways:

  1. You recite the readings and meanings of the items aloud. Then you move the mouse ove the item to reveal the answers in a popup.
  2. You click on the Self-Study quiz button to start a quiz in Self Study quiz on the items in the table.

If you don’t like Item Inspector you may try installing the Additional Filters script and configure the leech filter in Self Study Quiz. This will let you study your leeches directly in Self Study without going through Item Inspector.


I’d recommend coming back to the lesson or level page after 5 minutes, then 10-minute intervals to quiz yourself or just look at the vocabulary readings again. Also, you can try brute-forcing it into your head by writing it down on a piece of paper and looking at it.

Personally, I’d just write my own mnemonics and use KaniWani though.

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This method has personally worked for me as well. Do some lessons, take a short break doing something distracting and come back to revise. That should get you ready for the actual WaniKani review (I think first one comes 1 hour after the item is marked as learned?)

Since you have a good grasp of kanji readings, it’s a good idea to browse through and see in which words these kanji appear to practice their readings. Or is the problem that the initial kanji have on’yomi readings mostly and many of the words you encounter use kun’yomi?

Also, since you just started know that it’s going to get better as you level up, because WaniKani will give you words consisting of multiple kanji with the same readings you just learned for individual kanji (jukugo words). For instance, you know that 人 is じん or にん and that 口 is こう. WaniKani gives you 人口「じんこう」.

The problem with the first levels, though is that you get stuff like 一つ and other basic counters and verbs using kanji 上 and 下, both of which have several readings. So it’s not very representative. It gets more consistent later and the only one you have to watch for as well is 生.


Just keep working at it. The readings are the hardest thing for me to remember. Meanings for radicals, kanji, and most vocabulary seem to stick fairly easily, but the readings… oh my. Try creating you own mnemonics. I also speak French and sometimes the readings sound closer to a French word so I make my own mnemonic.

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I think that is the most confusing part for me right now, as you said in your example, I learn the Kanji first which shows the on’yomi reading, then I learn a vocab word using that kanji and I think of that reading and it turns out to be the kun’yomi reading.

I’ll try the interval method you guys suggested and try to install the userscript suggested above and play around with different methods to see what sticks :slight_smile:


I think that’s because you just started, I felt the same when I started, but with time more vocabs have readings that I already know, so I don’t have to memorize as much. Just keep going, they’ll stick finally.

Keep at it. At this early stage, your brain is still trying to figure out what you’ve gotten it into. At first, it will want to pick one thing to remember and simplify. It’s what brains do. They try to figure out a simple pattern first. One reading, one meaning. After a bit, when you’ve got more words, more kanji, your brain will adapt and start finding deeper truths that it can latch onto. Those will be wrong too, because kanji are perverse, but they’ll be right more often. That’s progress.

Others have said it gets easier the further you go. Fewer weird readings. I think this is because the simplest kanji (fewest radicals and strokes, so easier to recognize) are generally also core language concepts. And in Japanese, like in all languages, core concepts are the most likely to be irregular. Take counting works in English. We have “one”, “two”, “three”, but also “first”, “second”, “third”, and then there’s “single”, “double”, “triple”… Not to mention special purpose words like “pair”, "couple, “dozen”, “score”, “hexagon”… Ow!

Kanji adds a unique spin to this. Since the kanji gives you some meaning, you can often make a guess. Since kanji have common readings, you can make a guess. But neither guess is really certain. The kanji could have been chosen for their readings, but the meaning of the kanji are irrelevant (carrot, anyone?). Or the reading could be grafted on to the kanji later based upon the meaning, so the reading is totally unique. Nothing is really certain. They can be irregular, uncommon, or just perverse. Sometimes all three.

All that being said, there is a point, and it’s not that far in (I think I hit it around level 5 or so) where you start developing an intuition for it. You’ll just know, or at least suspect, that something funny is going to happen.

And you’ll be right. Cause it’s kanji.

And you’ll smile to yourself, and enter the right answer.

Good luck!


I really appreciate all the encouraging words everyone! Japanese will be my third language to learn and even though it’s hard, this is the first time I’ve been this motivated to learn something new.

I was afraid if I’m struggling in the early levels already, I’ll be miserable in the later levels but it’s reassuring to hear that it gets easier the more you get used to the language structure.

I’ll keep at it and take your study tips into further levels, thank you so much again everyone!


I’m still getting the number of people/things wrong. At level 8, they’re the hardest thing I’ve seen so far…

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Thats promising since that and number of days are giving me fits. The adjective and noun forms are also a headache but I am guessing once I start my grammar studies, those should be explained away.

Yeah, “one person” and “two people” are kind of difficult to remember, but you’ll see their base words used a lot. Same thing with number of things, which has base words you’ll use a lot with days of the month, as well.

So, they’re well worth learning. がんばって!

Thanks! Given that I will see them so much also probably means that they will be reinforced relatively well.

I am guessing a lot of the vocab starts forming patterns to make it easier to remember as well?

Kind of? It’s more like the repetitiveness of the kanji allows you to expand or diminish their meanings in order to better understand everything.

But, yeah, you end up getting this feeling where you feel like you understand half a word, but can’t quite figure it out because you don’t know the other kanji in it. :rofl:

That is definitely the reason I haven’t started grammar studies and especially reading and listening as it will have me with a dictionary looking up 70% of the words and not be effective at what it was supposed to do.

@promiseow I think that for remembering the “one person” and “two people” readings it might help to also remember that these mean “alone” and “together”, respectively in some contexts. For instance, “I went to downtown alone” or “I went to a pub together (the two of us) with a friend”.

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Actually, that latest reply reminded me exactly how I ended up remember for 一人.

I just thought that ひとり sounded like 人(ひと) or “person” and you only need one 人 to a have a person, even if that person were going by り.

I figured ふたり was the other one, and it also kind of sounds a bit like “two”, though that might be stretching it. :sweat_smile:


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