Tips for remembering Kanji

Hi guys, I am fairly new to WaniKani, I am having troubles with memorizing the On’yomi for Kanji that I am learning, do you guys have any tips that could help me remember them better?


I would recommend for now to just do the reviews as they come up. It’s normal for some readings to not stick on the first couple reviews. You’ll just get to see them more often. If it still seems like you aren’t retaining any of it after a couple days or a week, you can try to do some additional study.

Also, see if you can’t come up with your own mnemonics for the tough ones.


At this point, on’yomi or kun’yomi does not really matter.
The kanji pronunciation is usually picked to be the most common one. There are a limited pool of sounds in the Japanese language. After a while, they will all be familiar to you, and that will help. Also, do not discount the power of the mnemonics. For instance, in level 1 you have some こう kanji. The mnemonic for that is こういち. You will see this mnemonic hundreds of times in your stay here. So, go look on the internet for some pictures of koichi. He is our founder, and even stops by to chat sometimes.
The vocabulary are intended to reinforce pronunciations. So, as you learn the vocab, you will get better at just seeing the kanji and guessing how it is voiced. For some people this is more natural than others, but it works for everyone with time.
Good luck here!

Also, if you download the self study quiz, you can review to your heart’s content.


I agree with @RoseWagsBlue Start with the mnemonics and memorize them. Don’t rush the lessons, but take your time with the kanji. You can also redo the lesson for the kanji you’ve failed in a review by just clicking on the kanji or using the search function and go through the info again until it sticks!

You won’t remember the mnemonics in the long run, but by that time, the on’yomi and kun’yomi should feel natural when seeing the kanji.

I think it’s also helpful to look at the example vocabulary. You’ll see them at the end of lessons, but you’ll also get a bunch of vocab after guruing kanji. Vocab sorts of brings it all together as they reinforce the kanji readings that you’ve just learned.

And like @Saida said, it’s normal to not remember readings and meanings. The reviews aren’t “tests” of your memory, but rather a tool to make you remember. Only after burning an item is that process finished. So, failing items is just part of the process that we all go through here. :slight_smile: Don’t sweat it and ganbatte! ^>^


Is it really just on’yomi in particular? Is there something about them that you find more difficult? As some of the others have said, there probably isn’t an obvious difference between on’yomi and kun’yomi for beginners. My best guess would be that on’yomi appear more often in compounds, whereas similar kun’yomi appear across related native Japanese words, so perhaps it’s easier for a beginner to handle kun’yomi since on’yomi tend to involve more kanji knowledge. Even so, I can’t think of a reason for on’yomi being harder… are you facing a particular challenge?

As a Chinese speaker, I’ll say that a lot of ‘pronunciation memory’ comes with experience. You have to get used to seeing a kanji being used with a particular reading, and so that means you need to either read/watch/listen to more Japanese, or you need to revise and test yourself with a system like WK.

That aside… ok, this is how I learn kanji in Chinese and Japanese, and I can’t guarantee it will work for anyone else, but here goes:
I find out what a kanji means and see it being used in example sentences, maybe as part of a verb or noun phrase. I then ask myself what I feel when I think about that meaning – I visualise it, add emotions, imagine sounds etc. Finally, I look at the kanji (and possibly write it) while repeating the reading and visualising the meaning at the same time. If I can find some way for the reading to ‘feel’ like the meaning, I put it into my head – 決める(きめる)means ‘to decide’, and to me, the sharp K sound seems ‘decisive’. My aim is to link up all the knowledge I have about a new kanji and turn it into a block. On that note, in my opinion, if at all possible, you should never separate meaning, reading and kanji. Those three things should be learnt together, ideally with a single image/story/idea. Splitting them up like how WK does it gives you extra work and fragments your memory, and you end up unable to use your knowledge of meaning to trigger memories related to readings and so on. (Initially, at the very least, because you get used to accessing separate memories for each type of knowledge.) WK’s approach still works, but I think it’s less efficient. Experiment and see what works for you.

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