When should I start learning the other Joyo Kanji

So, I was playing around with WKstats the other day, and I noticed that there are like 200ish kanji that are part of the Joyo list but not taught by Wanikani. When would you guys recommend starting to learn those kanji, if at all?

A large number of those kanji aren’t particularly common, so just addressing them as you encounter them will be fine for most people.

I have drilled all the joyo kanji for various reasons many times, and there are still kanji in there that I’ve never encountered in the wild. I only studied them for specific tests covering joyo kanji.


I wouldn’t suggest learning them at all really. Not in isolation. If you come across a word that uses one (and you will), just learn the word. As of a couple weeks ago I have just finally seen every joyo kanji in the wild I believe. Finished it off with 玉璽


Thanks. I am trying to, hopefully, get to N1, and didn’t know how important these kanji were.

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tldr: spend your time reading instead

learning long lists of items by rote is in many ways one of the worst ways to learn. when your brain doesn’t have context for stuff, it very easily forgets that.

WK, by providing mnemonics and vocab, creates a little bit of context to help you remember. but it’s still mostly rote learning.

arguably, the japanese writing system requires you to know a fairly large number of kanji before you can easily read anything. so we do have to do a lot of rote learning, to bootstrap us up to a level where we can start making sense of japanese texts. at that point, we can start reading. that reinforces the kanji we learned by rote (here on WK or elsewhere), and shows us lots of new kanji in context.

the rarer a kanji is used, the less useful rote learning is. you’re less likely to get exposure to rare kanji in the wild/with context, and you’re more likely to forget it. so for rarer kanji, it eventually becomes more useful to learn it when you encounter it in the wild.


One thing I’ve noticed is a number of non-WK kanji have readings for words you would already know, and are usually just a slightly different way of expressing certain words.

For example:

足(あし) can mean “foot”/“leg”, but so can 脚 (in WK). I’m not 100% on the difference but I think 脚 is the more physical sense and usually means leg opposed to foot.

思う(おもう) can mean “to think”, but so can 想う (kanji in WK, but not the word). The later is more emotional.

香る(かおる) can mean “to be fragrant” but so can 薫る (joyo, but I haven’t seen it).

入れる(いれる) can mean “to make tea”, but so can 淹れる (not joyo but I’ve seen it).

Read read read, read read read them books!

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LOL. I didn’t recognise this because I’m too used to the simplified version in Chinese. It exists in Japanese too? I didn’t realise. Very nice.

I passed the N1, and I can guarantee you that even though I know quite a lot of kanji (maybe 3000?), I definitely don’t know all the jōyō kanji. (For proof, see above.) If you want to focus on passing the N1 while studying in a fairly organic way, you can just focus on reading the news and learning the kanji (or readings) used in the news as you encounter them. Sure, you’ll need a little dedicated grammar study on the side, because some of the really rare stuff that the N1 tests you on doesn’t come up much in the news, but guess what? They’re so rare that they’re rare on the N1 too! (Jokes aside, I think there were a grand total of 5-10 structures based on archaic grammar in the N1 I took in July 2022, and that’s a lot less than N1 grammar books prepare you for.) You’re also not going to be tested on all the jōyō kanji during the test anyway. There are other things that are more worth your time, even if your sole reason for learning Japanese is to pass the N1.