Should i write my kanjis or not?

It depends, but i think writing it on paper or typing them on the computer is a must, i would say learn by copying is a good way to learn something.
I write the kanji on a piece of paper, it works for me as everything a try to learn a tend to write them o a paper, i would say its a good exercise.
To be a little more efficient i try to do the opposite of wanikani, wanikani gives the kanji and expects de meaning and the reading, for each lvl a write the meaning of every kanji on a paper, and i try to write the kanji for each meaning. Of course this takes a little bit of time, and sometimes when i think i really know the kanji i stop writing them.

Ps: Writing kanjis its a good way to not fall asleep in class.

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Personally I want to write them but I keep putting it off…hehe

My two cents? From my personal experience, being able to write is absolutely priceless and helps immensely in the learning process. That said, if you’re gonna do it, do it right and be anal AF about it and learn proper spacing, stroke length and stroke order
sites like are incredibly helpful for this

In my opinion, nothing beats good old fashioned paper and pen to really refine your handwriting. I used to take any bit of writing I received at work or in the mail and would copy it down a few times cause its embarrassing AF not being able to write (my wife makes fun of me for doing this after she found some practice stuff of our texts when we were dating)


Hm, not sure who you read, but might’ve been me. I write each kanji 18 times per review, and an additional 18 times if I get it wrong (if I miss both the reading it’s 3x for 54 times). Like @NishiWhat, I find it incredibly useful for learning.

As most of the people have already said, recognition and recall are separate skills, but they work hand-in-hand. HYPOTHETICALLY, if you read a kanji enough times, you should be able to recall it, but this will not occur remotely fast enough to be useful, especially if your Japanese study is limited to resources like WaniKani and not regular reading of Japanese material.

Learning spacing and stroke order is so specific and particular that it’s incredibly hard to not remember the kanji once you’ve written it enough. Of course, unless you make some extra component to it (I write furigana if I’m drilling at work during downtime or verbal recite the reading after each completed kanji when I’m at home), writing won’t help you remember the readings.

If you just intend to consume Japanese media or converse, then combining WaniKani, KaniWani, and a grammar resource should be enough for your needs. Writing is very time consuming and I’d only recommend it if:

  1. You intend on living (and being an active community member) in Japan.
  2. You intend to pursue some sort of occupation involving Japanese.
  3. You are struggling to remember kanji and mnemonics are failing.

I should note that the writing drills are not my only form of practice. As I live in Japan, I’m constantly leaving notes for my coworkers, providing some helpful notes to students who got the flu, etc. With one of my JTEs, I actually just write everything on the board so he can focus on teaching, answering questions, etc. Makes it more depressing when I have to interrupt him to ask about a kanji I don’t know though. :persevere: Since my main weakness in Japanese is 音読み, I also have many pocket-sized notebooks sorted by 音読み. I drill backwards in it, and use the front to simply categorize them in a neat table. I commonly use a backpack when traveling, so I can store them easily. I’ve found it very easy to learn new spellings when I hear a word by pulling out the appropriate notebook and letting the native Japanese person point to the right character. If I don’t have it, most of the time they’re willing to right it in the next blank space so I have a new kanji. :slight_smile:

Btw @tirrorex, my hobby is attempting to beat Yen Press to translations on light novels, so, depending on which series you’re reading, I may be able to help. :wink:

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If you don’t write out kanji, you may never notice the subtle differences in the same radical that WaniKani assigns to different kanji.

Example, consider the level 3 elephant radical ( ). It’s the sole radical for the level 3 kanji 用 (task) whose stroke diagram can be seen at Jisho at用%20%23kanji – if you learn the stroke order, you’ll notice that the center vertical line is written last. But then take a look at the level 5 kanji 角 (angle)角%20%23kanji . WaniKani uses the elephant radical in the mnemonics and makeup of the 角 kanji. If you don’t practice writing these, you may not notice that there is a difference in both the appearance and stroke order of the two “elephants” of these respective kanji – i.e. the center vertical line is written last in 用, whereas the center vertical stroke is written third from last, and does not extend all the way to the bottom in 角.

There are many more subtle differences between how WaniKani assigns radicals to kanji compared with the actual appearance and stroke orders. More examples:

  • the “foot” radical on the left side of 路 (road)路 looks very different and is written very different than the foot radical and kanji (足)
  • the left “older brother” of 競 (compete)競 looks slightly different and is thus written slightly different than the right “older brother”
  • the “tent” radical 癶 is used in the mnemonic for 祭 (festival) but if you look closely, you’ll see that it looks quite different than the tent radical
  • the “train” radical is used in the mnemonic for 実 (truth) but if you look closely, it also does not resemble the train radical exactly (whereas the train radical does match the strokes in the top right part of 勝 (win))

I certainly did not notice any of these subtle details until I started writing out all of the kanji I’ve been learning on WaniKani. (Obviously, it makes sense to also practice hiragana and katakana writing beforehand.)

The best Android app I have found for studying kanji by writing them out is:


My GF and I both try to write kanji and kana as much as we can, both so that it reinforces learning, but also because it’s fun. It also comes in handy when we’ve had to fill out forms at the post office, or when my band plays.

Confession: she’s better at it than I am, but she practices more!

btw, we both love wanikani!

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Most likely, yes.

Always write.


Looks like somebody beat me to the punch. Just to follow up on the Android app that Normful mentioned, the app is called “Kanji Study” and I find it to be useful. It may not beat good ol’ fashioned pencil and paper, but I find it to be much more convenient. I can’t guarantee the direct crossover of finger movement to brush strokes, but it seems pretty analogous to me.

Pros: it has all the benefits of being an app you can carry with you at all time (set daily reminders, organize by Joyo or JLPT, etc.)
Cons: your acts may drive the looseleaf industry out of business

Disclaimer: requires an Android

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That’s sweet and all but not everyone has an android smartphone :slight_smile:

Ha, good point!

I’m a weirdo who writes actual physical letters to people in the 21st century so maybe my opinion doesn’t matter that much, but I would find it hard to say I knew Japanese without being able to write a few kanji. I’m sure that consistent writing practice is one of the main reasons I know my hiragana entirely whereas I struggle with quite a few katakana.

I don’t write out characters repetitively on paper (used to with hiragana, using photocopies from a book), but at the moment I’m learnin using an app called Write Japanese. The SRS on it doesn’t seem to work that well, I can get an item right and then it reappears moments later, but it’s a nice way to practice and learn.

It’s a skill to show off in front of friends too.


I just use ↓. Free on Android, but AnkiMobile for iOS is paid.

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My opinion is most forms of writing will dwindle as digital media makes a larger and larger footprint. Schools have stopped teaching handwriting, etc.

As a study mechanic it is probably great.

Whenever I learn new kanji I write them out. Personally I think it helps me remember things better when I write them down. I also really like writing kanji, learning stroke order etc. It also enables me to have a whole book of kanji I’m learning that I can take with me when I’m out.

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So many incredibly valuable responses here :slight_smile:

Writing has always been helpful for me, and I like to combine it with reading. When I was in school, I often made flashcards by hand on purpose, reading them aloud to myself at the same time. The physical movement of making the kanji helps me.

I do think this needs to be done in small doses to be effective. I also think it was most beneficial only once I was truly familiar with a kanji or word, not right when I was beginning to learn it. Otherwise, it could just become one of those repetitive things that causes the memorization to be incomplete–like you know the reading/can write it, but have no idea what it means in English, or at least one of those pieces doesn’t connect. That started happening to me when I overdid it with studying, and writing didn’t help me fix it.

But truly, I’d recommend having a kind of “catch all” physical journal for tips/example sentences/kanji practice/cute stickers/etc. to anyone learning Japanese–an actual place for your learnz. It just makes self study a bit more personal and enjoyable, and that helps motivate. And it’s also a platform for writing practice, which brings me to my answer your other/main question: I think whether or not you can write the kanji you can read depends mostly on your frequency of use.

Like a native student learning in childhood, the more often you’re writing it, the easier it becomes. For example, in school I could easily write all the days of the week, 勉強, and a fair variety of more complicated kanji quickly and easily because I used them ALL the time, once it was required to write kanji after a certain level of study. Now, I still know how to write all the days of the week because I use them often at work. However, while I can immediately recognize and read 勉強, I don’t use it every day like I did in school, so I can’t readily write it out anymore (if I did it would look like a mutant version of itself).

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it really just depends on what you’re using japanese for. if you’re using wanikani to study for like your classes or something, you probably should write out kanji because otherwise, like people have said, it’s not going to just be that simple to write them even if you can recall the kanji.

i had teachers in japan who didn’t know how to write kanji because electronically you don’t really have to recall how to write them anymore, if you know the reading, then you can write anything. obviously this was a problem in classrooms when teachers knew what kanji looked like but didn’t recall stroke orders lol actually some of the chinese students in my class would finger draw the stroke order for the teacher sometimes lol

personally i’m just here to learn to read the kanji because at the moment i don’t need to write them so much. i’m taking courses for my degree though so i’d always write those because i have to hand write them for class.

probably didn’t need to use all these words to… likely reiterate what everyone else has said but hey, my two cents.

Hi, I just joined but I’ve been living in Japan for many years. I won’t repeat what others said just point out one extra thing. Your handwriting will look shit if you don’t practice it a bit.

When Japanese see my handwriting, there are usually two reactions:
1, “So beautiful.” This translates to: “You write like a 6 year old.” While this may sound flattering, after years of living there it just makes me sad inside.

2, “Hahaha”. I get this when they see me mess up the stroke order.

And it just looks so cool when your handwriting becomes natural looking and natives can’t tell anymore that it was written by a foreigner. So if you ever want to live in Japan, I’d go for practicing writing a bit. But I believe it is more for developing a nice handwriting style than for memorizing kanji.


Have you ever seen 6 year olds write kanji? Any adult should be able to outdo them with their first attempt. They look like tiny cave people scratching glyphs into rocks with claw-grips on their pencils.

Those are just a-holes, no? Any time I’ve ever messed up a stroke order (which is something Japanese people do sometimes too, for what it’s worth) people just go おしい!


So far, I’ve only ever had to fill out my address on paper, and that’s copied off my phone easily enough. It will be awhile before I can write all that complicated kanji off the top of my head. I also have to write my name on things (katakana or English), and I chose to fill out the name of one of the schools where I work in Kanji, even though I finish the form in English.

So, by all means, learn how to write them, but you will probably not need to be able to do it by hand even living in Japan.

When I was in Kyoto, I had some elementary school kids come interview me when I was walking. They were probably around 7-8 and honestly their handwriting in japanese was much better than mine was in english at their age. I don’t doubt you, given your job, but I wonder if they are much more quickly taught to have proper and neat handwriting than we are here in america.