Using WaniKani and Remembering the Kanji?

Hey everyone!! Most of you have probably heard of Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji book, and I imagine a lot of us have tried it out. I bought the first book some months ago when I was finally getting into studying kanji to learn them (not memorize… after literally 4 years of Japanese study I think I know now that rote memorization for this stuff doesn’t work. at all.), but I only really got through a few pages of it.

Then I found WaniKani, which has a fun design, amazing SRS system already set up, and readings and vocabs along with the English meanings. It seemed to be a lot less effort for me to do WaniKani, so I pushed RTK to the side but promised myself I would still use it. Months later, and that’s not happening (lol).

BUT, I spent money on that book. I was really excited about it, and do like the method and the mnemonics. So my question is: Do you think I could use both at the same time? Or maybe even just passively read RTK while focusing on WaniKani, to get at least some use of it?

I’ve heard a lot about how it’s the ultimate way of learning kanji and I honestly don’t doubt it; but I also recognize that it requires a lot of focus and self-discipline that I don’t currently (but want to) have.

(Another thought I had was using RTK to strengthen the knowledge of the kanji I’m learning on WaniKani)


Whatever you decide (I’m sure there will be many great comments here), make certain not to let yourself be tempted either way by the sunk cost fallacy.


I’d never heard of that!! Definitely will remember this; I usually try to have that attitude when I impulse buy and regret it haha

Forget RTK. If you don’t have an iron will, discipline and motivation, you’ll quit RTK rather sooner than later.
The radicals also have different names, not too much use learning multiple names for a radical (though sometimes it can actually be useful).
WK does everything RTK does, in a more accessible way, except you can’t finish it in 3 months or so by spending 8+ hours a day, and it’s more expensive.


I started out with RTK, and I think that after the first couple hundred kanji I started WaniKani on the side. I had planned to keep up both at the same time, which worked for a couple months. So yes, it is possible to do both at the same time, giving you’re willing to spend a lot of time each day reviewing.

That being said, after hitting the ~1500th kanji I’ve been slacking hard on my Anki RTK reviews. I do think it’s extremely helpful to practice writings and meanings on their own, as they can offer extra insight into a kanji. It also makes going through new lessons a bit easier at new levels, because you probably already know a good chunk of the meanings of the new kanji, which only leaves you with the reading to study. This is probably what I like best about doing both at the same time.
Though it is always good to study more, there are some small downsides as well, mainly when you mix up the same but different radicals. This is particularly annoying when WaniKani tries and use the radicals in the kanji (instead of the meaning) to create a mnemonic for the reading.
Another small issue is knowing the meaning and writing of a kanji from RTK, but WaniKani does not use the same meaning, and then you have to add synonyms which can be a pain (God forbid we could actually add synonyms while doing lessons, but I digress).

I often feel like WaniKani oversimplifies and glances over (what would be, when writing) important details in a kanji. For example, WaniKani does not differentiate the radicals found in 初 and 礼 , when there is in fact a difference, albeit one small stroke. These are details so small you don’t really notice and probably shouldn’t care about if you’re not going to bother with studying writings, but is frustrating to see nontheless.

I think the philosophy behind WaniKani is that because everything is digital nowadays, that there is no merit in trying to learn the writings, which I’m not sure I agree with honestly.

Oh and one small benefit I forgot to mention is that because RTK teaches you how to handwrite kanji, it uses a handwritten font, which helps with understanding kanji when they are in a handwritten font, which you still see a lot in real life Japan.

A couple examples that come to mind are the kanji 之 and the ‘scooter’ radical, whose writings differ a little bit when in a handwritten font, though I figure once you’ve seen these once, you wouldn’t have trouble recognizing the kanji even if you do not know how to write them.

P.S. I do intend on picking up RTK somewhere in the next couple weeks again, being able to write kanji is oddly satisfying.


True, though that doesn’t matter for reading/mnemonics/IME. It does matters for handwriting.

Personally i’ll learn handwriting after reading, which will be easier then:

I’d love to learn handwriting, but i’ll almost never use need it,
so i prioritize reading/understanding/grammar for now, besides WK.


Isn’t RTK the epitome of rote memorization?

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not quite, it also uses radicals and mnemonics.
First it provides mnemonic stories, later on it tells you to create your own.


I suppose that’s true 251446983644938240

I’d also like to add, try not to fall into the trap of deliberating on how to study for too long. You could easily sink hours and hours thinking about all the possible study methods and in what order to do them and etc etc but at the end of the day, there is no “right way”, and the only thing that is going to make you better at Japanese is studying Japanese.

Everything you learn will add up to more knowledge than you would have otherwise, so order/efficiency/nay-sayers be damned, just let your kokoro guide you and get studying.


I tried it, then realized how much time I was wasting; doing it and WK. And things got tiresome once I got to characters that I had already learned, but had different names between the two. I stopped doing RTK. WK was more pleasing for me.

I say try it and see how you handle it.


Btw I think there’s a userscript for this, but i simply always keep a second tab of WK open, so i can quickly change to it, search for the word, and add the synonym there. A bit tiresome, but i don’t need to do it too often.
Keep in mind synonyms don’t work during the lesson quiz though without a script, so you’ll have to enter the WK meaning once.


Oh, nice. Though all my scripts stopped working suddenly today, I’ll have to sort that out.
Link to the script for those who care

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I’m pretty sure they work for me, as sometimes I add words in my native language and always use those instead of WK’s.

Edit: just tried it and it works :woman_shrugging:

you mean during the lesson quiz and not during reviews, right?
of course synonyms work during reviews.
maybe you’re using a script? synonyms don’t work for me during lesson quiz, because without modifications you can’t add them during lessons.

Oh, missed the part that you’re not using the script. Yes, I use the script to add them!

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right, hadn’t tried that script before, but i will now that i know this :slight_smile:

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That’s part of the reason I really want to use RTK, since I really enjoy learning how to write kanji and I think it’s important!!

I think I will!! I enjoy the book so even I don’t end up using it super seriously, it’s worth a try.

A rote memorization version would be learning the translation/reading(s) without connecting it to meaning and then just plainly “recalling” it over and over again (I put it in quotations because it doesn’t actually help you recall anything lol). RTK connects everything to meaning with mnemonic stories, exactly how WaniKani does

Hey there,

I can only speak from experience here but personally I try to keep my resources as simple as possible.

At one point I tried to implement Human Japanese, Wanikani, Kaniwani, Misa’s Videos and Lingodeer into my daily routine and tbh it worked for a while but it just wasn’t sustainable in the long run.

I know that your question is about RTK and Kanji studies but what I’m trying to say is that I dropped anything as soon as I noticed it requires “alot of effort”.

That being said resources that aquire little to no effort were and are still suited best for me because I know I have to keep using them every day, so instead of risking feeling drained I’d rather drop them.

I think you should try using RTK in conjunction with WK and see how it goes. You can always change your routine. This is the fun part about self studying imo.

also unrelated but +1 for your profile pic. Love Edens Zero and wish I could give you a follow/add you to my friends list whelp

Screenshot_20190827-011958_Manga Rock

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