Why does WaniKani place more emphasis on the On'yomi (at least at first)?

I already know around 200 kanji, and am just starting up WK now, but apparently most of the words I happened to learn them from were Kun’yomi (native Japanese reading). Is there any particular reason the box will occasionally shake and say “I’m sorry, we were looking for the On’yomi”? Are the words you learn based on the kanji mostly based on the Chinese reading?

It wants the “most common” reading, be in On or Kun

Okay. It just seems like it happens more often when I try Kun.

It’s whatever reading was taught during the kanji lesson. I think it is more often On but as daisuke said it’s the more common reading, whichever that may be.

There are a few rules as to which reading a word will use, though as with any language those rules often aren’t followed. A word consisting of only kanji will often use the on’yomi and a word with kanji and hiragana will often use the kun’yomi. You will see both the on’yomi and kun’yomi for a lot of the kanji in the vocab items.

Personally I don’t see any advantage to knowing what the On and Kun readings are for the kanji. I just learn each vocab as a single entity. There are so many exceptions that don’t use the On or Kun reading anyways.

Edit: Oh and as for the shaking. Keep in mind that is only for the kanji items. Because technically the On and Kun are correct for the kanji so you won’t be marked wrong. However for a vocab item there is only one correct answer, if you put On and the answer is Kun, you will get it wrong.

I disagree with this; for me knowing which reading is which has made it much easier to guess correctly a reading for a jukugo, whether “in the wild” or here on WK. I’ll see the new vocab, make my informed guess, and then click over to the reading tab to see if I was right. So if you can add the extra layer of information to your learning, I at least think it will benefit you in the long run.
The rules and some exceptions will start to internalize over time. (That said, there’s no reason to get hung up over this, and it doesn’t need to be your main focus.)

The important thing is, you really need both readings (usually) in order to read in Japanese.


Oh yes it is very helpful for guessing and I use it for that all the time. I still couldn’t tell you which is the On and which the Kun though. The name doesn’t matter to me, just how to read the vocab word. That’s energy I could be using remembering something else (like more vocab). And as I said the exceptions and rendaku’s happen often enough that the guessing only works sometimes anyways.

Focus on the background when you get to the Kanji displayed. If it is a red-salmon background then it is going to be using the on’yomi. If it is a purple background it is going to want the kun’yomi. The reason why the kanji are taught with such a heavy emphasis on on’yomi is because of compound kanji (jukugo), which uses the on’yomi readings most of the time. I.E 人口 (じんこう)- population

That is not always true! You will get things wrong with this method.
The vocabulary items (purple) usually only except ONE reading, and that reading can be On, Kun, or a mix of On and Kun depending on the kanji used.
That is not a good way to think about things.

Many vocabulary words are only using On readings, as many are Jukugo (kinda like compounds) words.

EDIT: I see what you are saying, and you’re not entirely wrong… However you said that in a confusing way without mentioning that being for lone kanji only.

EDIT 2: @mizakiharuno @scaryslender18 I’ve previously explained it in a bit more depth (of what WaniKani wants) here: https://community.wanikani.com/t/Help-please-re-Kunyomi-vs-Onyomi-vs-Vocabulary-vs-Kanji-Reading/13081/31?u=animecanuck
Also I do believe BreadstickNinja had a really good explanation somewhere​ (which I’ve been meaning to link in another thread).

To me it would be better to have just on’yomi first all the way. Now I don’t always know what is what and have to sometimes gamble with vocabulary answers even i know it’s on’yomi reading. Not too often tho so so far it’s ok. Well at least we don’t need to learn stuff that is hardly ever used now and learning vocabulary is easier when common reading is known.

Over time you’ll get used to the sounds that are used for on’yomi readings. It doesn’t really matter which reading you learn first if you instinctively know which is which.


For this, there’s a script that replaces “kanji reading” or whatever it says with “onyomi”/“kunyomi”. Can’t remember the exact name this second, but it’s something like WK OnKun. If you go to the userscripts section of the forums you can find it.

I’ve found that having this script definitely simplifies things as far as what reading is what without taking too much more effort on my part.

This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.