Why do we learn the names of the kanji?

Hi! I’m a new (level 2) and enthusiastic user of WaniKani. I’m amazed at how much I’ve been able to learn by just using a little time every day. Here’s my question: Why do we bother to learn the names of the kanji? Since our goal is reading Japanese texts, we’ve already decided not to spend time learning how to write the kanji - why not skip the names of the kanji as well, and learn only the vocab readings? How will we benefit from knowing the names of these kanji?

B…because Kanji want to be called by their names too… b…baka! <_< :sparkles:

What do you mean by names, though? You mean the kanji readings individually? Well, because it’s easier to learn the reading in a more abstract manner to then learn the individual vocabulary after you already know the reading :blush::sparkles:
I tried it the other way around first but if you don’t know the reading, you will eventually find yourself not being able to guess how vocab are read if you don’t know the vocab itself.

If you mean the meaning of the kanji – well, often it gives you some idea of what a word might mean. A lot of meanings evolved historically from different concepts.

Or maybe there are names I’m not aware of?


Yeah… what do you mean by “names.”

You’re not learning the names of the kanji. You’re learning the conceptual meanings of the kanji.

The radicals have names - is that what you mean? We learn the names of the radicals so that they can be used in mnemonics.

You are getting used to radicals, then kanjis and then vocabulary usages. Step by step.

I’m sorry to be ambiguous: I meant to ask about the readings of the individual kanji.

As others pointed out, it’s so that things build up, rather than get overwhelming. Sure you could just crack a dictionary open and start learning words from scratch, but WK’s approach is that each time you are taught a building block before the whole thing comes together.


Basically as I mentioned above, it’s a lot easier for your brain to recall the individual readings when it sees and recognises the kanji VS first searching for some word in your brain that might have this kanji, then remember what reading this kanji has in said word and then applying it to the new word.
In reality, if you learn vocab only, you will usually end up not being able to apply abstract readings / predict readings as you go.


Also, WaniKani does not each every single Japanese word. At some point you might be reading a text and see a combination of Kanji you haven’t learned yet. Knowing the individual readings makes you able to sound out the Kanji/vocab. Especially before you get to level 60

Like what unyuu1 said at the end

As a periodical learner of Mandarin Chinese, I agree: memorising the shape of radicals and the pronunciation (in the target language) and the English (or whatever language you start from) at the same time greatly increases the difficulty, as your brain tries to connect three ideas instead of two - 6 connections instead of 2. That is possible, but breaking down the steps makes learning more efficient.


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