Why so much substitution of kanji with hiragana in the example sentences?

I’m just wondering why so many of the example sentences here uses hiragana instead of kanji? I know that a lot of words are normally written with hiragana, but am I alone in feeling that there’s many words here that would be more natural and easier to read if they were written with kanji?

I suppose most people learning Japanese uses a dictionary script like rikaikun or similar. When words are written with hiragana it’s really hard to decipher the sentence by using such scripts. Would it be possible to implement a way to toggle between hiragana and kanji or are the sentences only stored in the database the way they are shown in the examples?

One example sentence I encountered the other day used the word “Shinkansen”. In the example sentence this was written “新かん線”, wouldn’t it be better to just write “新幹線”? Just hover over the first word, I’ll guess your dictionary script can’t translate it, at least rikaikun can’t.

This is a kanji learning site after all so I feel that exposing yourself to kanji even if you don’t know them yet can’t be bad. What do you think? Would this be possible/easy to change without rewriting all the sentences?


Because people complained about the kanji they hadn’t learned yet in the example sentences fairly often.

Here’s just one of many examples.



My feeling was that they used kana if the kanji hadn’t been covered by WK yet. I think that was based on the fact that many people complained that the original example sentences were way too hard for the corresponding level.

I don’t see why they couldn’t have used kanji with furigana tho…


So the sentences was written with kanji before? Then there would be really nice with a toggle to switch between all kanji or the way it is now. And as rmizuno mentions I don’t see the problem with just using furigana.

Btw Leebo, I feel you’re a full time employee at wanikani…


No, old sentences were written that way and still exist. New sentences have been written the new way.

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I think kanji with furigana is the best option too…


He might actually have more posts than all of the full time employees combined, ironically enough.


I also think that furigana would be by far the best option. There should be an option in the settings: kana/kanji/furigana, so everyone could choose what they prefer.

As for “people complained about that” this is definitely not a good argument: people complained about a lot of things that weren’t addressed after the complaint. People here are complaining about the lack of furigana for example, and yet furigana are not there. What is there and what it isn’t it’s not due to people complaining, but it’s a choice of wanikani curators.

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Thanks for the answer. Can’t really see the reason why they do it though when the sentences still uses the same advanced words just written with hiragana instead of kanji. If you don’t know a word it doesn’t make it easier to understand if it’s written with hiragana instead of kanji, it just makes it a struggle to use a dictionary. This point might be a bit weak since a lot of people listen to Japanese media and might know words that way that they don’t know the kanji for, but my point is that since this is a kanji learning resource we shouldn’t be afraid of looking at kanji we don’t know.

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Personally, I’m curious as to why you learn “breakfast” as 朝ごはん in level 8, then again as 朝ご飯 in level 17, once you’ve learnt 飯.

昼ご飯 and 晩ご飯 both wait until 17 to make their first appearence.

There were many, many complaints about this though. I’m sure that had an influence on their decision, as it probably should.

They seem to have a definite anti-furigana stance (because it acts as a crutch / distraction if you do know the kanji). Whether you agree with that or not, I imagine that’s why they decided to go for avoiding kanji which hadn’t yet been learnt altogether, rather than falling back on furigana.

I think furigana should be applied only to kanjis not yet studied (the ones that now are in kana), so the ‘distraction’ argument doesn’t apply, as the kanji is not show at all at the moment, so there isn’t anything to be distracted from.


WF staff have already said that they will not be adding furigana to a kanji learning site.

Options such as adding furigana only for unlearned kanji only or adding toggles would take work, and would be a poor allocation of resources, especially since installing free add-on Yomichan renders the point moot.

One of the OP’s points was that the new way of splitting words into part-kanji / part-hiragana sometimes renders those dictionary extentions incapable of reading the words properly.


wanikani also doesn’t teach you any of the grammar needed to read any of the sentences, maybe you can get them to add explanations for each one too. #sarcasm

furigana would be the best choice otherwise some kanji compounds would just look unnatural, but control c, control t, open jisho (j?) and control v + enter is pretty easy set of key combinations.

You can’t install add-ons on mobile browsers (at least not on iOS).
What is a ‘poor’ allocation of resource is entirely subjective, and if many customers show interest in this option it’s definitely in the interest of the company to do so, as in the end it’s the user base that keeps the boat afloat.
Even if they said in the past they wouldn’t do it, they could still change their mind and implement this change.

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