Troubles with the kanji readings!

Hello, everyone! こんにちは!

(I’m new here so sorry for something odd in this post lol)

Well, recently, I’ve started WaniKani for learning the Kanji, and I went doing seriously nothing for three months. I really made everything up so my reviews are normal now. And actually, I have nothing burned (for now). I was so happy when I got the gurus!

But there is something intriguing to me. What the hell can I do with the kanji readings? Their meaning is OK but actually, when I get to the reading, I make a mess inside my mind.

Let’s take this kanji 口 for example. You got it! It means “mouth”, ok? You know it, right? Fine, you learned it at level one, so please tell me you know this kanji. Its reading is こう, but I have serial troubles with remembering it. And many others, like 川、山, etc.

How can I remember them more easily when the mnemonics don’t help?


You could try to find vocabulary that use the reading for the kanji.

You can try to make up your own mnemonics to help stick the readings in your mind, as well. Maybe you have a nice sound alike in your native language and that might fit a lot better.

You can also try to just write them down and review on paper for a little bit right after you get the item wrong.


Maybe flashcards? The mnemonics don’t help me either. I just review them over and over and over again until I’ve memorized them. :slight_smile:
Usually, what I do is learn the readings (and meanings) of two of them, write them down, and repeat them. Then, I learn the next two, and after I repeat them, I go back to the beginning and review those I’ve already learned. Basically it’s a pattern of Learn 2 ➞ Review everything ➞ Learn 2. It’s time consuming but it works.
I hope that makes sense :sweat_smile:
As Saida already said, it might be easier to learn them with vocabulary.
For example, 口語(こうご/kougo) literally translates to “Mouth language” and means means “Spoken/colloquial speech”
If you ever want some vocab to go with the kanji, you could use the vocab given on Wanikani, or go to and search the kanji you want.
If it makes you feel better, it gets much easier to learn kanji the longer you do it.


How much studying of Japanese are you doing outside of WK? If you don’t build up a foundation to reinforce what you learn here, it would just be floating in a vacuum, and almost impossible to remember.


Remember, mnemonics work best when they have something memorable, that triggers an emotion or is outstandish enough. When I associate 口 with koichi, it’s only memorable because I remember the disgust and surprise when I see him coming with an enormous mouth full of things inside, ready to do some sketchy things.

It takes some repetitions before you can go directly from the kanji to the reading without going through the mnemonic.

Also, a solid foundation on hiragana is fundamental.

Sometimes, the mnemonics aren’t memorable enough for me either, so I associate with something else. For example, for 白(はく - White), the mnemonic given just didn’t cut it for me, so I added in the notes my own: I associated it with Haku, from the Naruto anime. Haku can use Ice jutsu, and that ice is white.

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I find that by far the most effective way to remember kanji (both meaning and reading) is to find words they’re used in. Sometimes it’s a word I already know, but even learning a new word sticks much better than any mnemonic for me.

白鳥(はくちょう) (white bird = swan) is my example for 白, for example, even though I did not know it before. In fact, this was useful to me even before learning the 鳥 kanji.

Oh, I use Duolingo.

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