Why is the kun'yomi for river taught before the on'yomi?

I have not started learning vocabulary yet, but out of the kanji i have learned the on’yomi are all taught before the kun’yom except for the kanji for river(川). Is there a special reason for this or is the kun’yomi reading for river just more common then the on’yome?

Good question! There was a recent overhaul to have on’yomi readings first for most (but not all!) Kanji. I’ve linked it below. The portion you may be interested in is section 3.

Not all of them changed to on’yomi, though. You’re still going to have kanji that teach the kun’yomi/nanori reading for some reason or another.


Yes, the kunyomi for 川 is more common. Most kanji have their onyomi taught first, but it’s not unusual for kunyomi to be taught first either.


The order that some kanji are taught is one of my biggest frustrations with WK. I’m not sure the rationale for teaching the on’yomi for single kanji like tree (もく ぼく) or sun (にち じつ) if just a little bit later on in the same lesson, really a couple days, the kun’yomi reading is expected as the answers (tree: き, sun: ひ) since it’s a single kanji.

Why not teach the kun’yomi reading up front when learning the single kanji where it is essentially in the proper context, and then learn the on’yomi for each when they are combined.

Maybe there is a reason for it, but it’s lost on me at the moment.

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If they always teach the kunyomi in the main lesson, then they essentially haven’t taught you anything that will help with the majority of other items. Yes, you learn how to read the one single-kanji item that might come up later. If it uses kunyomi, which isn’t always the case either.

The kanji lessons are about associating a useful reading with the kanji. So when you encounter stuff in the wild later, you can take a good stab at it. You can quibble with certain decisions here or there, but I don’t see much point.


The rationale is to not teach too many readings off the bat, and with those in particular both the on and kun readings are very, very common, so it does not matter much which is taught first. However, in the old way the kanji were a mess of on and kun readings, whereas now the vast majority are on, so at least the user has a fair idea which reading they are learning and its likely application in native language or jukugo etc.

The kanji lessons are to teach you the kanji, as is, with at least one common reading for it, but the vocab lesson with a word made up of a single kanji is to teach you a word. There are even a couple for which the word made up of the single kanji, and that kanji’s meaning as a character, are different (並 springs to mind. As a kanji, a piece to be used in other words, it means “line up” but as a word on its own means “ordinary” or “average”). I like the way it is now, at least it’s more consistent. But imo try to think of kanji, and vocabulary made up of individual kanji, as separate entities. Like I don’t see 日食 in a sentence and wonder whether it’s 2 individual words or 2 kanji making up one word, I know it’s the latter and have a rough idea how to read it. Kanji and vocab are in separate lessons for a reason.

Heh. I remember when I started WK, I had the exact opposite complaint! I saw it pop up on the lessons and thought “Hey, I know this one, it’s kawa! Easy peasy, get me to the hard stuff. Wait, what is this? This can’t be right.”

Boy did I have a lot to learn.

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