Why does WK teach some completely useless words?

My point was just that no one would really question it. People typically assume that all the joyo kanji should be the obvious, unquestioned baseline, and anything below that is what they would get the pitchforks out for.


Yeah I’m famailar with the prominence of the “all joyo pls” crowd, but there’s still enough people in the frequency/usefulness 至上主義 crowd to where I was expecting someone to say something. Maybe I was too fast and didn’t give them enough time to appear


I’ve also seen it in other shows (but this was the only thing I could quickly find), and I’ve seen it on signs too, so it can’t be that rare.


It definitely falls into the category of “every Japanese person knows it and would not be surprised to use/encounter it in the course of a regular day.”

But the threshold for what people will call “completely useless” is stricter than that, it seems.


You’re playing semantics here, obviously, no words are completely “useless”, I’m speaking, as a beginner Japanese learner, ~2 months in the journey, being taught how to count loaves of bread (with a N1 kanji), how to say a wool yarn, a colloquialism of testicles, etc… before things like walk, family or cat, so yes those words will maybe come in handy in 2 or 3 years but I don’t see any uses to them right now

The first post seemed to be suggesting that even if it was the last item taught on the site, it wouldn’t make sense to have since it’s “useless.”

If your argument is just that you wish WK was ordered differently, then I missed that.


It seems obvious to me. It is there to make sure you get every other review for 民, 近 and 氏 incorrect of course.


But is there even a Jouyou kanji for “pitchfork”? I think we’re probably safe…


山 is the closest they might get


At the end of the day, WK is a kanji learning website and the vocab is there to reinforce the kanji (minus the kana words because they lost the plot back in march).

WK should be thought of as an abandonded project a kanji supplement that added kana vocab for no some reason. Do not rely on it for what is useful because in most cases there are loan words that serve the same purpose or have a similar utility. This is basically an expensive open source project that everyone overpaid for, so keep your expectations super low and don’t think about it too much.


I think with learning the useless stuff gets filtered out over time anyway and the important stuff you retain. And what’s useful and what not also depends on context. That’s really all there is to it.

Of course we should improve and update the list over time.

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I concur. I see/hear/use it. I usually buy bread at the small local bakery near my home and as the bread is behind the counter I have to tell them whether I want 1 or 2 loaves. Also awesome banana bread at this place, but I digress…

Just now for fun, I reached over and grabbed the two loaves of bread on the counter and asked my wife how many loaves I was holding. 二斤 was her reply. I set one down and asked again. 一斤 was her reply. I asked if 二個 and 一個 were OK (which I also see/hear frequently as well), to which she replied yes. I asked if they are the same. Answer was yes, pretty much so, but slight difference in nuance she was at a loss to explain (involved some stuff about loaf of sliced bread versus un-sliced and kind of bread and context and such. I was lost at this point). I asked which was most commonly used. According to her, 斤. That was all the info I could I get as by that point I was interrupting her game playing too much and she want back to her game :slight_smile:

So, a useful (and “useful” in this context will always be subjective) kanji and some vocab for (my, but I presume I am not the only non-Japanese that buys bread in Japan) daily life. Is it the most useful? Far from it. Are there other, more useful, kanji/vocab that I have not/will not learn here, Absolutely. Does that diminish the usefulness of it? Not at all.

Not intending to offend anyone and meaning this in a “fun” way. When it comes to such threads on the forums when I see “I have never seen it in the wild”, my first thought is always, “ah, so this user does not not live in Japan” :slight_smile:

Yes, I am aware that there are some vocab on WK that does not apply to. I do not recall anything specific at the moment, but there are some that everyone I ask (wife, her family, friends, co-workers) have never seen in the wild. My wife does get a kick out of some of the context sentences. I like to share the really odd ones with her to see her reaction.


The first book I ever read in Japanese was The Very Hungry Caterpillar

(It’s the wrong kind of caterpillar though. He is an 青虫 not a 毛虫)

I did also get stung by 毛虫 a few times when I was living in Japan, but I will conceed that many Japanese learners are not as outdoor focused as I was and may wish to learn other words first.


If you go Cookpad, 斤 is everywhere that has bread loafs in the recipe which is quite a lot. And far as I see, 毛虫 is written as kanji all the time and pretty low hanging fruit to help reinforce what 毛 and 虫 is. Maybe it just doesn’t make its way into fiction or video games often which seem to be higher priority for a lot users.

They sell their platform as “Learn over 6,000 Japanese words, all carefully validated by a human to be common or useful”. Maybe they need a YMMV addendum as short and long term goals vary between users or a user at any given point…or just accept the learning experience and try to enjoy it trusting as some point there will be some exposure overlap. There just isn’t any autonomy whatsoever to the platform which is it’s overall weakness when it comes to frustrations here, especially for the amount of time it commands…its more of a ‘just suck it up and do it’ approach where arguably there could be better time spent on short term goals but in the long run, maybe it doesn’t matter so much.


We have a pet 甲虫 (かぶとむし). Japanese Rhinoceros Beetle. A first for me.

A couple of months ago my wife came home from work and had one in her eco-shopping bag. She saw it on the walk home and I guess had flashbacks to her childhood days and instinct kicked in and she caught it.

Until then I had not been aware of the popularity (generally young boys) in Japan of catching them as pets each year. She handed me the bag and said “look what I got”. I looked in the bag (bear in mind it is a shopping bag) and my first thought was “I wonder how this will be cooked?”. I have worked in a few places where insects are not uncommon food items, but I have never eaten an insect that large before. She was a very taken aback by that and I was quite relieved to learn that it was a pet. not the evenings appetizer. I had to make a short trip to the nearest department store to get a home for him and some supplies.

It was supposed to be something we were going to give to the neighbour’s 6 year old son. However, that was 2 months ago and Dozer is still here with us. I am watching him rearrange the things in the terrarium as I write this. Apparently he does not like my decorating touch. Come to think of it, neither does my wife, so I guess it must be me.


This is the crux of the matter really. If you are aiming for true fluency, every single word has its use and its place in the grand scheme of things. But most people have an angle they will be approaching a language from.

My husband is Japanese and works in the financial sector in London. He knows words in English that I wouldn’t be able to confidently define. Meanwhile I will bust out a Japanese textiles term and he’ll look at me like I have two heads.

One of the first learning resources I completed in Japanese was Japanese for Busy People, which was pretty irrelevant to my life because it was all office scenarios and I was going to Japan on working holiday visa and needed farm lingo, cleaning terms, and words like that. I probably would have learnt more useful terms from playing Harvest Moon in Japanese; although I did once have to fax a brewery, so maybe Japanese for Busy People wasn’t totally useless…

I didn’t know beetles had an innate sense of Feng shui :wink:


Although to be fair, a beginner doesn’t really have any other method of determining what they should know and what they can hold off on for now. For joyo Kanji, every Japanese who graduated middle school should recognize them, so it makes sense from a beginner perspective to assume “I should know those”. Naturally, for every other kanji they’d be questioning whether or not they should spend time on it or learn another Joyo kanji instead.

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What constitutes a word that people use is largely determined by their lifestyle. I worked in manufacturing for 20 years, and I’m now in data science and studying astrophysics. There are words I use everyday that I know my dad doesn’t know. Yet he used to work as a medical scientist, and has a whole dictionary of medical terms I’ve never heard of.

There are lots of words that you could consider ‘universal’ that you could easily go a lifetime without needing. I’ve only just learnt the meaning of the word beige recently for example.

WK has the aguement that the vocab it teaches aren’t necessarily the most common, but are to reinforce the kanji readings… but I don’t think their system backs this up. Take 業 for example. I picked it at random for this post, and the WK database has 20 vocab using 業, all read as ぎょう. Two or three would surely be sufficient.


This is true but my complaint wasn’t really on the vocab itself but more on the fact that they are way more useful words I should be learning before bread loaves (and I’m French so bread is really a part of my lifestyle haha)

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The bread loaf counter for example exists because they use it to reinforce the axe radical since it’s a kanji that is exclusively composed of that radical and other kanji that use that radical are more complicated so were presumably deemed not appropriate for that low level.