I know that the WaniKani FAQ makes the point that it’s not necessarily the best thing to obsess over…but just the fact that it’s so heavily emphasized everywhere I look other than WaniKani has me wondering. Why do some people emphasize it so much? Is it just a different mnemonic device than Koichi’s bizarre and disturbing little stories?
Writing kanji is a whole different thing than reading it. You can study here, and ace everything, and still not be able to write kanji.
If you do practice writing, it is imperative that everyone writes with the same “stoke order” so that the characters are mutually comprehensible.
I practice writing most days. It seems like it is 50/50 here if people practice writing kanji at all.
What @RoseWagsBlue said. It may seem pretty arbitrary, but the order and direction of the strokes make a huge difference in the look of a character. Seeing as writing kanji by hand is getting more uncommon (to the point where even Japanese sometimes have a hard time doing it), it’s usually something that’s safe to ignore from a student’s perspective though - unless you want to dabble in calligraphy
Learning kanji by learning the stroke order is for reading and writing. If you just want to learn how to read and not write then you do not need to learn stroke order you can learn via the radical method. For me I just want to be able to read Japanese this is why I’m sticking with WaniKani.
Wanikani doesn’t teach how to write kanji so it’s not important. If you plan to only read and type then it’s not important.
If you do want to write kanji then the stoke order is important so you write the kanji clearly so they can be read.
There is a script, I forgot the name but I have it installed on my home computer, that adds stoke order to the kanji info.
I hand write some kanji to study so it’s useful
i think it’s easier deciphering heavily stylized kanji (like the armed banana font seen below) when knowing about stroke order.
Sometimes, it doesn’t really matter, and individual people’s handwritings will differ. Or there’s multiple standard orders.
Sometimes it is the only difference in handwritten characters, such as 千 and 干 - the shape of the first stroke depends on which way you pull it, and then the rest just follows. Although… sorry, left-handed people, this writing system wasn’t made for you.
When you start seeing more cursive-like scripts, experience tells you which parts belong to the stroke order and which connecting lines to ignore. If you write the same characters in flowing cursive with a different order, you’ll just confuse the readers.
Stroke order mostly isn’t hard to grasp, though. A few general rules - top-down, left-right, bottoms and dots last, horizontals before bisecting verticals, full components at a time - and a bit of practice are probably good enough for 90%.