What physical study techniques do you use?

Hi everyone!~

I started wanikani ~2-3 months ago, and I’ve been really appreciating not having to make flashcards for all of the vocab and words I’m learning! BUT, I am a person that LOVES taking notes, making lists, writing things down, etc. I have been trying to figure out how to incorporate some physical notetaking/studying when so many resources are digital (wanikani, satori, etc) but while simultaneously not getting overwhelmed trying to organize everything. For example, I’d like to start reading a bit more, but I’m not sure if I should try to write down new kanji/vocab I come across, or if that would quickly get out of hand and time consuming.

SO my question is: do you have specific things that you do in physical format? Do you write down new kanji when you learn them to get them to stick better in your brain? How do you keep everything organized? What’s the process that you’ve found works best for you.

Thank youu~~


Sorry couldn’t resist. That immediately popped into my head when I read physical.

Have nothing reasonable to add to the original question, sorry. I don’t write except for some rare occasions in grammar workbooks.


Kind of tongue in cheek, but I watch study videos (Cure Dolly et al) while walking on my treadmill!

To actually answer your question - I have a collection of physical books - grammar dictionaries, manga, textbooks, J-J dictionaries, E-J dictionaries etc that act as study tools and motivation.

I also think that writing kanji, etc is probably a GREAT idea. One of my eventual study goals is to be able to physically write in Japanese as well as I can write in English. I’m holding off on that right now, though, until I finish WaniKani and am able to read Japanese at an N2 level or so. Only because in my list of priorities, being able to write is well below being able to read. But it’s definitely in the list!

Oh, and welcome to the WK Community! :slight_smile:


Listen it works well and I just forget to update :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

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I’m taking university classes, so handwritten notes are a bit of a must. We take handwritten kanji tests which makes the physical notes I take really important. I have a few half-size Kokuyo Campus grid notebooks (the 5mm ones from Daiso) and I fill the pages with kanji repetition as well as common combinations which use the characters.

I’ve only just started Wanikani to supplement my classes and hopefully get ahead, but handwriting kanji in cute grid notebooks has, I think, made it easier to recognize those characters in the wild. Kanji that I’ve studied but never written are more difficult for me to recognize in a natural setting. When reaching unknown kanji in Wanikani that I haven’t studied in class, I imagine I’ll do the same - repetition of the new character, as well as the common words that are provided in the lessons.

I hope this helps! Good luck!


Oh! Nice question :laughing: I have the same thing. What I do is I always write my lesson vocabulary down in a notebook. My pages are separated in two columns and I just bullet down the vocabulary in kanji w its definition on each line in a list. For Kanji, each level I stick a new sticky note on my computer and I handwrite every kanji down as I learn them so I’ll have a little reference for each level. I use an old notebook to review. I would just look the kanjis on that sticky note, and from memory try to write the reading and meaning in the notebook. If I forgot the meaning, I would circle that Kanji on my sticky note so I remember that it was one I was struggling with. I’d also place another sticky note for the select few vocabulary words I really kept failing really bad and getting wrong. So on my computer, I’d have a kanji sticky note to the left and the like 6-8 or so hard word list sticky note on the right of my mouse.

I love writing down my lessons, I found it makes me remember them way better for some reason. Also, I like to finish a level and stick that Kanji sticky-note on my wall so I feel accomplished and can review again.

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There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using physical study methods. Sure, the digital age is great and all, and the supporting research is exhaustive, but ultimately, the best study methods are the ones that motivate you and you enjoy doing.

Personally, I am moving away from reading/meaning/translation recall flashcards, and onto question flashcards. I gather sentences from multiple sources, and I create question cards. “Read the below sentence. What is X particle’s purpose here?” Or “Whom is the recipient of the verb?” Or “What is the plain form of this verb, and why is it conjugated this way?”

Questions that require and foster understanding > memorization cards, and I wish I knew this a year ago. Instead of “Do I recall the answer to this?” The better question to ask is “Do I understand the answer to this?” Things that are understood are so much easier to move into long-term memory. Even the vocabulary words and kanji contained in your question cards will stick better than they would individually as recall cards.

If I have cards that I frequently can’t answer correctly, I’ll make physical, handwritten flashcards. The act of writing it out also helps a tiny bit, although I’m aware research doesn’t support output as a memorization aid.


I like adding in physical study aids where I can. Not only does it cut down on eye strain, it stops me from picking up my phone and “accidentally” opening a game instead of my lessons. :sweat_smile:

My rule of thumb has been to keep similar types of information/study together. If I have a digital tool (like Anki) that’s designed for reviewing new vocab, I always add my vocab there. If it’s stray info that doesn’t really have a dedicated app, though, I write it in my paper notebook. Stuff like grammar video notes, test-taking advice, etc. all wind up in the notebook.

Writing on paper is also great for stroke order. I printed out stroke order guides for the weekday kanji and started writing them daily in my planner, and that helped me finally remember the days of the week.


It doesn’t? Dang, that surprises me. I definitely remember things better after writing them out instead of screenshotting or typing them.


Well, one thing you may find in your studies is that the research and what works for you individually can be at odds. I think writing does help, because I remember the kanji I have written multiple times much better than ones I simply studied by visual examination. I think the learning process has an important interactive component that gets discarded by many because it seemingly conflicts with the research. I fail to see how any type of engagement with a language does not lend itself to competency in that language.


I practice writing the kanji that I learn. When I level up I usually try and learn all new Kanji in one go. Within the first few days of learning a whole batch of kanji I will sit down and go through them one by one, writing them down 3 or 4 times while I say them out loud

I also really try and think about the radicles that make them up and how they fit with the meaning of the kanji, Sometimes the mnemonics that wanikani gives works well enough, but a lot of the time I simply think of my own. And also now that I’m getting up there in levels I’ve noticed that I’m starting to mix up similar looking kanji, so really understanding how each radicle fits with the kanji is extremely helpful.

Then once I’ve finished all the kanji in the batch I will go back and do it all again once more. It usually only takes 15 minutes or so and I find that I can recall them much easier afterwards. I keep a chicken scratch notebook where I write them all down, and I don’t try and make it look nice or anything, It’s purely just for writing practice.


In the past, I wrote sentences in digital papers in a tablet, and perhaps on real papers too. I don’t think I have written Japanese along with English translation. JP only always.

Nowadays, I write phrases mostly on AnkiDroid, with a stylus. Very occasionally, in digital papers. I also find stylus very important, not finger.

For me, the purpose of writing is about stimulatingness of the action. For memory, though, I think it only matters when I notice that I forgot something, and need to fix that; rather than about repetition.

Probably it’s somewhat similar to typing Japanese sentences, just more stimulating (or challenging).

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I have a notebook where I write all of the items I get incorrect from my reviews within the day. Sometimes I’m not able to write all of them down cause it could be more than 10 items but I usually write down at least 5 items a day. The Stroke Order script has been super useful for me when I do this, so I don’t need to look up the stroke order from a separate app. But note that it only for the kanji items (not the radicals or vocab).

Additionally, I usually rewrite the grammar points and new vocab for every lesson I finish on Minna no Nihongo with my italki teacher. I think it helps to retain the knowledge and because I don’t have the physical MnH books, I can refer to my notes without going through the chunky PDF file I have on my computer.


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