River kanji

Hey there. I have been going through the first few kanji and noticed something. The readings you ask for are supposed to be all ONyomi readings but the river kanji won’t accept せん it instead asks for かわ。According to these wiki and Jisho the ON reading is せん。

Is there a reason for this? If some are different deliberately it would help to know why.

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The answer is that’s not the case.

Most of the kanji lessons teach one of the onyomi readings, but a decent chunk teach the kunyomi instead. They teach whatever they feel is the most useful (which is open for debate) and because they feel that way about that reading, they want you to answer with that one before you leave the lesson / review, even if you know other readings.


You will be tested on the reading you learned on the kanji lesson, which is not always ON reading.

I guess I find the lessons confusing so I skip through them. My fault then. Consistency isn’t a big thing here I guess. Most of the Kanji I have so far learned by their KUNyomi because I learned that is the actual Japanese word for the kanji and what the kanji means when it stands alone- as a rule.So yeah I thought it was best to learn the actual Japanese word for that word first. It’s fine that you guys choose ONyomi to learn first here, I’ll just know these kanji far better when I’m finished with the lessons.

But the lack of consistency is just confusing. Next time I’ll just add せん as a synonym I guess, if that’s possible with the kanji.

Thanks for the clarification.

If this is a rule, it gets broken quite often.

It’s not possible to add “reading synonyms” or what would effectively be alternative readings. This has been mentioned to them before.

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Where are you getting confused?
I think they are pretty clear. The lessons are the most important part, no need to skip though them.

Should use the reading that is taught, the other readings may be used in vocabulary words and you will learn them as you do the lessons for vocabulary.

I think as others said, and I swore I read it somewhere at the start or a guide that the “most common” reading is taught, or I guess the one that is most important for how they teach vocabulary here.

The lessons are just a whole lot of information thrown at us, mostly irrelevant. So it’s easier to skip through and get to the review. At least for these early kanji that I’ve already studied. I just don’t want other stuff clogging up my memory, I want to learn as many words as possible to help me understand the stuff I’m surrounding myself with these days. ONyomi, KUNyomi, radicals, stroke orders etc. One thing at a time, and that one thing right now is the words.

Anyway I got my answer so thanks. :slight_smile:

I’m not really sure how to respond to that, other than asking why you’re here if that’s the case. Yes, a lot of the kanji who are words of themselves may use the kun readings, but they also use the on readings when combined with other kanji (but there’s always exceptions to that rule too).

Especially with the kanji in early levels like 日, 水, or 人 which have a number of vocab words that use multiple readings, which in my experience are much more commonly using the on’ readings. Like, what about the days of the week, ie 日曜日 or numbers of people like 一人? Do you not consider those words to be important? Words with these different readings come up quite frequently in the early levels.

I’m trying to give you the benefit of the doubt here, because from my perspective I’m not sure you understand how this works.


I changed the category from bugs & errors to requesting help as that the content of this thread is not really reporting a bug but seeking clarification.


Taking a less confrontational and more charitable interpretation of OP’s statement:

WaniKani is really set up to support starting from zero pre-existing kanji knowledge. Yes, if you already know some kanji, it’s no fun to slog through doing specific levels in their specific way. Some of WK’s choices are quite arbitrary, and you just have to remember them enough to get past them; many of us here have already had to go through that. Hopefully once you pass through to higher levels, the system as a whole will be more useful to you.

Or you might decide WK isn’t the right learning resource for you. I wasn’t convinced it would be useful for me until somewhere in levels 5-8 (before that, I was giving it a trial run to see if it would be good to recommend to one of my other friends who was having trouble learning from other sources). I’d at least give it until level 3 before you choose to continue or abandon.


I just find the lessons read like a dictionary, not an actual lesson. It’s just a bunch of information splashed on a screen. That doesn’t work for me personally. I’m here to learn the kanji and so far the reviews are more use to me than the actual lessons. That may change when I get to kanji I’ve never encountered before but for now the lessons aren’t helpful to me at all and it’s more productive for me to pretty much just skip through them. I know ひ、げつ、がつ、みず、ひと、じん、にん、にちようび、and all the other days of the week (I keep a Japanese diary of sorts and write in each day.) I haven’t learned much with counters yet but of course that’s on my list. I’ll just get to it when I feel like I have some memory space available for it. :slight_smile:

That’s what it boils down to for me, if there’s too much information my brain just switches off so I can focus on what my priority for learning right now is. As long as I’m learning something here it’s worth doing right? Even if I don’t do it the way it’s intended.

I got the answer I needed here and that helps me continue to learn here, which is great. If the feedback also gives WaniKani ideas on how to tweak the system somehow in a way that could work for everyone, even better.

(post withdrawn by author, will be automatically deleted in 24 hours unless flagged)


You’re pointing me to a joke thread? I’m not joking, just asking a a question and offering honest feedback.

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How is linking to that thread useful? That was a fun joke, but are we now going to direct people that are genuinely confused by WK to that thread? :unamused:

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He already mentioned that he has prior knowledge and is trying to skip through the easy levels as fast as possible. Throwing a “maybe WK isn’t for you” in his face is not only not very nice, it also damages WK - they might lose a potential customer to this completely uncalled for reply.

Lesson pages are only confusing if you go fast and don’t relax, lay back and read through them.
WK teaches you one reading at the start, just to familiarize you with the kanji, then they introduce more readings as they teach you vocab words.
Even if you mess up and fill in the wrong reading, it will shake and tell you “it’s the kun-reading we’re looking for”, so nothing to worry.

On the lesson page, there’s

  • the mnemonic for the meaning,
  • then one for the reading you get taught initially.
  • Example sentences,
  • a list of the radicals the kanji consists of.

You said the lessons overload you and crash your brain, but isn’t that fine right now? Since you already know these first kanji, this is the time to dive into it at your pace. In the long term, it definitely is worth it :slight_smile:


Yeah reading through the thread it became clear this was legit and not one of those “I know so much better” threads we keep seeing. I’m sorry for posting that and jumping to conclusions.


I agree. And I’m sorry if I sounded condescending. We get a lot of complaint posts.

The FAQ and Guide are good first reads if you haven’t seen them.

WK is a spaced repetition system (SRS) with different timings per level each item is at. If you get it right, the items get spaced out longer and if you miss them, they get shorter. You see an item quite a few times before it goes away completely and that’s assuming you get 100% on the reading and meaning.

Even with the lessons for items you know, I would still take a look through them. It’s easy to rush through the parts you know, but the system is set up to build up as you go along. The assumption is that you know 0 kanji starting out, so for anyone starting with baseline knowledge, it may take some time to get to things you don’t know, however if you are hitting your reviews as soon as they come up, you will find you’ll catch up pretty quickly.

An SRS goes as fast as you can / want to. Once you get on track, you’d be surprised how much you can actually learn. When you do a lesson, it adds the item to your review queue, so doing the lesson is how you get the review for the item.

Once you do the lesson, the item will come up for review in 4 hours, then 8, 23, and 47 respectively and if you miss it, it goes back down. Focus on getting all these timings on your reviews and you can go the maximum speed.

Once you “guru” a radical, it opens up the associated kanji, and once you “guru” a kanji, it opens up the associated vocab. Hitting 90% guru on the kanji per level will level you up. For example, once you guru 人 and 一 you will unlock 一人 (ひとり) as a vocab word.

WK is designed to be curated SRS, so you don’t have to do all the work to create and customize it, which is why everything has a set method. If you are looking for something that you can curate yourself, Anki is a common go-to. You will have to do a lot more work to customize how you like, but you have more freedom in doing so. Personally I use both, because I find them to work well side-by-side.

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The screen should shake when you try entering せん (does it?), giving you another go. The reason it isn’t marked correct right away is they want to make sure you know the かわ reading. Based on the Jisho entry for 川, the せん reading doesn’t look very common, so if you only know it and not かわ that’s really bad. If you know both, good for you, but Wanikani doesn’t consider beginners should bother with せん.


if wk tests the vocab tho, it will mark you wrong for セン, since that reading is かわ … words don’t (usually) have more than one reading (there’s some even common exceptions, like たけばやし / ちくりん, that are both equally fine, but i think wk just picks one and runs with it)

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Generally speaking, if there are two readings that mean the same thing, WK will allow either (or they’ll add the missing one if you tell them it’s missing).

But they currently have no way to handle words that look the same in kanji form but use different readings for different meanings.

So you will be marked incorrect for 主 if you answer with おも, because they taught the meaning “master, head of household” and that only applies to the reading ぬし.

If you answer with ひたい for 額, you will be marked wrong, because they taught the meaning of “picture frame” and ひたい is only used when the meaning is “forehead.”