When should i learn to write kanji?

I know kanji to see them, but to think of them in my head is like a blur.

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For some people, it helps to write them down as you go along, making it easier to see clearly when you picture it in your head. But unless you’re planning to have a job in Japan that requires writing or living there (anything that will require you to write), it’s not really a requirement.

If you think that writing will make remembering easy for you, then go for it! You can do it by writing full japanese example sentences with each grammar point you learn, or new kanji you make. It’ll be faster for you to read hiragana and katakana afterwards too!


Learn them now. The problem is that you are only learning them by rough appearance, which will cause you problems later on if it hasn’t already.

A lot of people think writing is useless, which in terms of its use in Japan may be true, but it can be incredibly useful in helping you to remember kanji so for me it’s basically a requirement.

Also paying more attention to the radicals and using mnemonics may help you remember the details better.


Coming off a 4 month-hiatus, 第 and 弟 seemed to be the same character to me for two days, and having the same on-yomi reading further confused things for me. It’s amazing how easily you forget small things after a while.

Forgetting the small details is easy when you don’t have it burned into your skull, and writing can certainly help that.

There’s no reason not to do it immediately. It makes learning a little smoother, and it takes maybe a minute extra to learn how to write a certain kanji.

Learn how to write all the grade 1 kanji (first 80) before you do anything else would be my recommendation. It makes things a lot easier. And they’re all really simple, distinctive characters, too.

Practically, I don’t really see a reason for learning how to write kanji outside of Japan. If you can read and speak Japanese, you can also type it. But writing is a fantastic aid in the learning process, and I recommend you start doing it as soon as you start learning kanji so you don’t get lazy like me. It really cements the kanji in your mind.


There’s a lot of foreigners who live in Japan who aren’t able to write whatsoever. Although the quality of their life isn’t of one who can write, it’s really up to the individual if they’d like to defy expectations. (Although I’m pointing this out I’m not saying writing is not necessary).

There are reasons to delaying learning to write including but not limited to speeding up the acquisition of other language skills. Practicing writing kanji isn’t a one off activity but practice needs attention and regular cultivation otherwise you’ll forget how to write characters over time. For this reason, many forgo this to focus on other language skills they feel will achieve their goals for Japanese.

@spencehughes90 if writing is a skill that is one of your top priorities for learning Japanese, then you should prioritize cultivating that skill. If it’s lower on the list of things you need compared to other skills you’d like to improve be aware that any time you dedicate toward writing will take away from those other priorities. In essence, I’m saying it’s entirely dependent on your needs.


Like was said by most everyone here, it helps me to tell apart similar kanji and overall remember them better. But at least for me there’s the fact that I would be bothered if I were learning a language and couldn’t write it at all. I would feel illiterate if I could only understand it, and it feels pretty satisfying to write kanji on paper.


I find it helps me remember them when I write out each kanji and vocab word when I first encounter it in a lesson. Then, after I’ve done my WK reviews I do the Kaniwani reviews and write out each answer before I type it in.

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I think the answer is if you have time, definitely as you’re learning them. Write each one a few times; make flashcards, etc.

But more practically, at least with me, I just wind up writing them as I need to in Japan. This means I am remembering rough appearances until the time comes to write someone a note, and after a few times writing it, it sticks. I think it goes without saying that the ones I’m forced to write at any point in daily life are the ones I remember best, and I’m always happy to have had to do it.

If I were still in the U.S. and studying as more of a hobby, I’d probably take the time to write as I went through each lesson.

Re: Requirement for life in Japan: I mean, I guuuuess it’s not strictly necessary, but holy hell is it useful even when it comes to simple things like paperwork. Take the time to practice writing if you can afford it. Don’t break yourself over it, and if acquiring more vocabulary and kanji faster is your goal, it’s definitely something you can focus on if and when you need it, but it’s non-trivial in the long run.

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I work on writing because I have taken, and will take again, the Kanji Kentei. Does that interest you? I think it’s fun, but that’s just me.

As others have said, it can be useful to know how to write, but isn’t strictly required for life in Japan. I filled out a membership application the other day at Tsutaya, and the employee was mildly surprised that I knew how to write my own address. I mean, it’s a low bar here.


The kanji kentei definitely interests me.
I think i should start taking the time to practice writing the kanji I’m learning.

That T Card is invaluable!

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This is very true to the point that it’s frustrating at times.


Japanese certainly seem to expect that no foreigner actually knows how to speak, which is really a pretty fair assumption 99% of the time. The 1% are just left to defy all expectations and be left frustrated. Reminds me of this video lol


I was doing RTK before Wanikani (still am). And the writing part was probably what really cemented the kanji, because my SRS was to actually write them (Kanji Study app).

Now with Wanikani, I realize that I’m needing the writing, mostly for the similar kanji, since I was so aware of small differences when writing, and I can see how you can mistake some kanji otherwise (cow vs. noon was my clearest example so far in WK :sweat_smile:)

And you would be right since:

The corollary is that the inability to write does indeed define an illiterate person.



Well, I guess that would explain my feeling… I also feel a bit stupid now hahaha

Don’t worry too much about it. Despite our most persistent efforts to convince ourselves of the contrary, we’re all rather dense at the core :wink:.


No matter what people say, it depends on one’s goals and ability to learn.

I’m focusing on WK for Kanji for now because learning kanji vocab when you already know the Kanji is 5x more effective to me (probably even more). This way, WK is allowing me to increase my vocab learning productivity. “Oh, cool! I can add this word to my vocab SRS because I already know the Kanji!” It also avoids me a lot of wasted time, by having totally awkward words sent to me by message.

That said, I’ll only start with writing around lvl 40. Writing definitely helps a lot with retention (that’s the only way I got to learn hiragana and katakana, other options failed), but so do mnemonics/radical identification/etc. It all depends on what you want. Do you wanna send postcards to your Japanese friends? Cool, better start now then! :grin:

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Recently the was the so-called “international day” at our universty and at the Japan-stand you could try some 書道. The people there were visibly and audibly impressed when I wrote 燕 and 飛. That by itself made me think that my daily handwriting practice paid off.

I kinda regret not having written 鬱 too though.

And writing with a calligraphy brush is an AMAZING


Speaking of which, you can also use this . I feel like you can get away with not writing them because you can always type and it slows you down, but I’m going to learn to write them only because of Japanese classes.