What is the the point of writing down vocabulary?

Hey y’all, I restarted Wankiani recently and now I can’t decide whether I should write my lessons down or not. It’s driving me mad. I feel like I don’t really need to learn how to write Japanese but I’m not sure.

Is there any serious benefit in writing down vocabulary other than that? Surely I won’t remember the stroke order, so what’s the point?

I used to write vocabulary down up to level 20 but I’m not sure if it was really beneficial at all.

How do you do it/What is your method? What do you recommend?

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The point is remembering the exact radicals, and exact Kanji. Stroke order is the last thing I care about, yet I use stroke order font in Anki, anyway.

Realizing the radicals, as well as stroke order of each radicals, would be help with reading handwriting.

The front side of the card was English glosses, but nowadays, the front is vocab audio + sentence audio.

The point of Anki is speed and instinctive writing, and also variety.

Writing repeatedly may help with the shape, perhaps; but there are basics.


No, you don’t have to learn how to write, to learn how to read.

In the end, people that write down things might have some benefits in learning. But, it also takes up a lot more time and the efficiency of doing SRS-learning is sort of lost.

Unless you plan to live and work in Japan, writing isn’t really necessary.

Most of us using WK (I’m assuming), never learn to write by hand.

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I feel like I don’t really need to learn how to write Japanese but I’m not sure.

My unpopular opinion is that unless you intend to go work for a Japanese corporation, or you’re taking classes that require you to handwrite, you should not worry that much about learning how to handwrite. For some people it’s a point of pride that they know how to write 鬱 from memory and it’s impressive to some Japanese people but - especially if you usually carry your smartphone with you - you’re mostly going to be fine just looking up how to write kanji when you need to write kanji.

But - it’s still a good idea to get enough writing practice that your kanji generally look okay when you do write them. (Which includes correct stroke order. You don’t have to memorize it for every kanji, but if you generally know “left to right, top to bottom, [some] enclosures last” you’ll probably do okay.)

Here’s how I learn how to write kanji vocabulary:

Sentence flash card with hiragana on the front, like so:

Correct kanji on the back. Keep a piece of paper with me as I’m doing cards so I can write down the bold word in kanji. Pass if I write it down correctly, fail otherwise.


If you choose to make a habit of writing kanji, and you don’t ignore stroke order when you do it, I would be quite surprised if you did not naturally learn the stroke order. (And as @fillanzea says, it does matter if you want to learn to write.)

Stroke order in kanji follows a few straightforward principles about which order to draw the components of the kanji; this rapidly becomes second nature for everything except a handful of oddball kanji. Stroke order within each component also follows some common principles, but in practice each one comes up often enough that muscle memory will let you write them in the correct order without thinking about the principles.

Even in my own native language I dont like to write, let alone in Japanese! :rofl:

so I try to cover that when I struggle with very similar kanji to put them right next to each other, stare at them for minutes, and see the basic difference and create my own mnemonic, recently I was struggling a lot with bird and crow, after that I never confused them anymore.

Same I am doing to other kanji.

Funny, on the smartphone I use exclusively handwriting for kanji (it’s much easier for me than remembering in which direction are the vowels in the 9 key kana keyboard).


I can’t remember who said it or where I heard it from, but there’s a quote which has stuck with me for a very long time which goes something like “For practice of the hand doth steadily instruct the mind.”

Think about how complex writing actually is… So many muscles must move in unison and in extremely precise ways. Surely it makes the point you’re trying to learn bigger, in terms of neurons fired in the brain, making it harder to escape your memory?

Just my thoughts but personally I’d recommend writing practice to everyone even if their goal is just reading. It does take time but I believe it’s time well spent in the long run.


I find writing to be super time consuming so I mainly focus on reading comprehension.

Some people learn better by using their hands than they do by reading, that’s all. Nobody hand-writes things anymore, not even Japanese people. Which is somewhat of an exaggeration, yellow stickys are still a thing, but when they do write their handwriting sucks as much as mine does in English.

But I hand-write them because I find that I remember them longer if I do, plus I like it. Simple as that. If you don’t find a benefit, there’s probably not a real-world reason you’re missing.


^This. Practicing writing kanji has helped me differentiate between similar kanji. I use Kanji.sh | Download Kanji worksheets for all Wanikani levels and write each kanji as I learn them. It’s especially useful for short term memory.



I think some sort of writing practice will be useful, even if only to notice and anchor in your mind the nuances between kanjis.

What I do is that when I use the reverted wanikani with english vocab, before I complete my response I draw the kanji (either on paper or in the air). I find it really helpful.


+1 my kanji recognition has improved a lot since I recently started practicing writing routinely, I use the Ringotan app, so as to not need paper.

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For me, the only time I write down stuff is when vocab and kanji that look visually similar. It’s always usually those that become leeches for me. It helps me visualize what actually makes two words different rather than just get it wrong and hope I get right next time.

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I spend a lot of time everyday practicing writing dozens of kanji. It’s a big time commitment on top of everything else but I do think it helps me distinguish similar kanji and really assimilate every kanji in detail.

I made an Anki deck specifically for that purpose: https://ankiweb.net/shared/info/610839770

That being said you absolutely do not need to do that to be able to read Japanese and write it with an IME. So it’s really up to you, your motivations and how much time you can dedicate to it.

Here’s a sample of yesterday’s practice:

Still a long way to go before I become a master calligrapher…

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