Why not all onyomi?

For probably 90-95% of kanji where there is both an onyomi and kunyomi reading WK teaches the onyomi. Why isn’t it 100%? If the onyomi never came up I could understand it but that isn’t the case eg 起 has many words with onyomi and similarly with 頭 - what is more frustrating is that a lot of such kanji are in very common words with kunyomi readings that if you have learnt even a bit of Japanese you will know so learning and remembering the kunyomi is easier than the onyomi.

Why isn’t is all onyomi?


I don’t know either, I only understand it in the case of 届 and such, where the on’yomi is basically never used.

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They talked about this in the podcast-- they purposely trach you the most common readings first.

The onyomi generally comes up eventually, once they get to a vocabulary word that uses it. For example, the onyomi for 頭 showed up somewhere in the death levels, if I remember correctly.


While I haven’t listened to the podcast, this explanation has been mentioned elsewhere in these forums. When it comes to kun’yomi, a lot of the time I’ve encountered them somewhere, so they do seem common. Perhaps also since kun’yomi are used on their own it’s easier to pick up on, while on’yomi goes more unnoticed when they become parts of vocab. :thinking:

In any case, WK give you mnemonics for the on’yomi when they introduce the vocab that needs it. So, it’s not like they skip teaching you these readings.

But, if you wanna stay on top of things, I suggest just installing the Keisei-Semantic -Phonetic script as it lets you see the on’yomi reading(s) during lessons regardless of what is taught by WK + shows how it relates to other kanji with the same radicals.


Yeah, it just be like that sometimes. Parts of the body like arm, nose, ear, etc. usually have words with kun’yomi readings. From what I’ve learned so far, there are not that many frequent words with on’yomi for kanji for body parts, so that’s one reason why it is not 100% on’yomi for kanji on Wanikani. There are some exceptions, of course. Like 目 and 口, as you probably already know, can be found in tons of words with their on’yomi readings.

On the flip side, I get a bit frustrated when I read books/manga and find a kanji I know I’ve learned on wanikani but haven’t learned that exact kun’yomi reading. For example the reading 暴く (あばく) which means “to expose”. We only learn the kun’yomi 暴れる (あばれる) on wk. (The latter is probably more common though, I’ll give them that.) Just knowing that the kanji 暴 can have the meaning “exposure” too, helped me get a better sense of why 暴露 means “exposure”.

Another example is 如く (ごとく), there’s no vocab with kun’yomi reading for that kanji on wk at all.


As a Chinese speaker, I know what you mean: ‘Oh look! I know what this kanji might mean! Wait, what’s this word it’s in though?’

I know this isn’t universal, but I think it’s fairly common for kanji to have similar kun’yomi across words, provided those words are related. Of course, there’s no way for us to know for sure if they’re related – I hadn’t seen 暴れる or 暴く before you mentioned them – but we can still use known kanji readings to help up make guesses.

I guess WK just doesn’t want to overload people with more than one keyword per kanji? I’m gonna guess that the keyword for 暴 was ‘violence’? Some stuff just has to be learnt through exposure. (Oops, seems like ‘exposure’ is unexpectedly appropriate here, even if it’s a different sort of exposure.) Then again, I think part of why I remember this is because 爆 and 暴 sound exactly the same in Mandarin (bào), and since they both express fairly violent ideas, I treat the two of them as almost the same thing. I frankly shouldn’t, but I haven’t used Mandarin in a while, so I’m starting to mix them up. And I mean, ‘violence’ is violent, ‘explosions’ are violent… and when something is suddenly ‘exposed’ or ‘revealed’… it’s like a a bag/dress/shirt/suitcase/folder of documents bursting open. That’s ‘violent’ too!

I think this is really just because it’s a rather technical word, and the kanji is (I think) fairly rarely used? All three forms (如く, 如き, 如し) seem to be in use, but only in fairly formal/archaic contexts, and each has to be used differently: the first as an adverb; the second as an adjective coming before nouns or before は, in which case it’s like a noun; and the last as a sentence-final adjective that probably only appears in fairly old literature or in sentences meant to sound like Old Japanese (e.g. proverbs). That’s probably why they don’t turn up on WK. I could be wrong, but I doubt that WK wants to tackle words that have a tendency to only appear in supposedly ‘high-level’ grammar points, like 余儀, which appears in the structure 〜を余儀なくされる, which tends to be labelled as ‘N1’. Vocabulary is one thing, but teaching words that carrying grammatical baggage is probably less appealing since WK users can’t employ them without first learning how they should be used. (I’m just making guesses here though, since I don’t use WK myself. I’m just on the forums.)


While I would guess it might not be the most common word in everyday usage, it’s very common in quite a few light novels and manga I’ve read(which doesn’t really contradict anything you said otherwise, just thought I’d mention where it can be useful to know).

(If anyone wants specific examples I’m pretty sure SAO, rezero, 安達としまむら, and まちカドまぞく all had it in Kanji out of stuff I’ve read recently. SAO especially uses it a lot)


Fair enough, and I think it’s quite common for LNs to use the kanji versions of things, particularly when it saves them character space. I’ve seen them in… I don’t know, really. Maybe some study…? Could have been in an anime, honestly, since like in LNs (which are often the source material for anime), certain characters are given formal/archaic speech patterns.

What I was trying to say is that I have a feeling WaniKani doesn’t want to cover stuff that’s very ‘grammatical’ since it’s not a grammar learning resource. That or there’s an assumption that anyone who comes across such words is probably sufficiently advanced to look them up themselves, and would probably be better served doing so. These are only guesses though. I don’t know why these words aren’t covered, and I feel it’s always good to know more rather than less.

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WK has plenty of “grammatical” words though, so long as the kanji forms are at least rarely scene, like 他, 以上, 以下, 以外, 有る, 居る, and 結構 just from the top of my head.

Japanese people don’t learn kunyomi readings for it in school either. Only the onyomi is a jouyou reading. I don’t fault WK for that decision

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Well, again, I don’t know how exactly WK chooses these things. I don’t work at WaniKani. :stuck_out_tongue: However, just as a further clarification of sorts,

I agree that most of these words primarily serve to structure phrases, sentences and paragraphs. As far as I know, however, they don’t really end appear in very specific ‘grammatical structures’ of the sort that end up in ‘grammar points’, where they would be coupled with other words or phrases that come together to give a particular meaning, and which require a particular construction (e.g. the particle を must be used, the phrase has a negative connotation, only abstract concepts can be referred to, the meaning changes when a person is referred to instead of an object or action etc.) 有る and 居る are very important words, but they rarely appear in their kanji forms when serving a grammatical function (e.g. as auxiliary verbs), except in old texts or texts in which the author prefers the kanji forms. As for your other examples… most of them can be used simply by knowing their translations. They don’t require much of a special construction, and so seem less technical. I’m sure that WK covers kanji like 筈(はず)as well for the same reason: the word is very common, even if it’s more technical than what we’ve already mentioned, and it would be good to know how to read it if it appears as a kanji.

On the other hand, I doubt (though I could be completely wrong) that WK covers stuff like 成る可く while teaching 可く(べく)as a reading under 可. Same thing with the examples I raised earlier: these structures are too rare in the sorts of things people with intermediate Japanese grammar knowledge might read, so I have a feeling WK just chooses to avoid these things so it doesn’t have to provide explanations for grammar and proper construction as well.

Like ほかに〜ない (nothing else)?

This is the kind of stuff I’m studying for Kanken pre-1…


Hm… fair enough. I tend to think of 他に as just an adverb though. ‘In another fashion’, ‘otherwise’ or even ‘other-ly’, if that existed, like in 「他に質問はありますか。」or 「ほかに誰が来ますか。」That’s the reason I didn’t consider that. However, it’s true that those examples can combine to form more complex structures. 〜て居られない was another one that came to mind, except that almost no one writes it with the kanji.

Guess that kinda proves my point about some of these readings being a bit too weird/rare/advanced for WK to want to include them? Haha. They’re interesting to know though.

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