Why so tightttttt?

So after each vocabulary lesson I read through the context sentences.
Usually the Kanjis are “recognizable” without having to put too much effort.

But then there’s this 識 :thinking:
Or this 警 :flushed:
OR THIS PSYCHO 劇 :scream: :scream: :scream:
(and I’m not at level 20 yet)

If I’d want to be able to recognize it out in the wild I’d probably have to zoom in 150%. All those radicals are crammed together making it look like a fuzzy white block…
On the phone it would probably be easy to solve but what if you’re reading a book?

So my question here is, does it get easier to read such dense Kanjis? Or even the Japanese go through those struggles?


Probably just experience, but it’s very easy for me to tell what those kanji are even in their squished state.

The worst offender among things you learn on WK is probably 鬱.

I’m sure people who’ve learned it recognize it though.


I zoom in all the websites to ~125%-150% even in English. I guess wearing glasses would be a possible solution.

But other than that an experienced reader looks at the general shape of a word (several kanji) and can read it without actually looking too closely at the kanji.

For a language learner you’ll need to look at the charaters more closely perhaps and analyze the radicals to recall the reading/meaning.


You will recognize them in the wild because the context give you clues of what they are. I’m experiencing this after started to read Japanese news everyday.

By what I mean “clues” is you don’t even need to think “umm I guess it’s this Kanji…” your brain will automatically recognize them.


I mean most kanji are distinct enough that they’re recognizable the more you learn but some like 撤 and 徹 are annoying.

1 Like

I feel you. I have the same problem recognising them “in the wild” (ie. not on WK, although I sometimes I struggle here as well). And that’s with basically the same typeset, just a different size. I guess it comes down to experience and seeing the same Kanji in different styles and contexts again and again, but I’m not there yet as well. So good for us, we can still enjoy the journey … I guess :sweat:

1 Like

I must say, whenever I see a small text Japanese, I don’t even bother to try reading it, unless I have a way of zooming it in. In my opinion, the idea of kanji and the idea of a small font are incompatible :sweat_smile:

Speaking of monster kanji, here’s another one: たてがみ


When there are similar kanji where only a radical is different, I have to put my face closer to the screen to see if I don’t recognize the word, or I’ll copy and paste it into jisho.org or whatever to look up the word. However, with time and sentence context, this isn’t a huge problem for me anymore.

I remember one of my Japanese customers used the wrong kanji once and even my Japanese friend didn’t recognize the mistake until I showed her the kanji online haha. It was the difference between 禍 and 鍋. Also when handwriting, many Japanese people will write some common kanji in shorthand or just hiragana if it’s a “dense” kanji.


I feel you

Some manga out there, it makes me really want to have a talk with the publishers


That’s what I often do as well, unless the font is ginormous to begin with. Can’t help it, really.

Ah, yes, there is a bit of a problem with kanji usage in context sentences. It gets easier with levels, however. At level 20 I’m usually able to read most of them and that’s when it starts being fun :stuck_out_tongue: .

It does get easier. 2 things come into play:

  • the overall composition of the kanji which is possible to tell even if it’s kind of small
  • the context, like you have 劇場 so you’ll know it’s a theater or 職場 (workplace)

Even things like 機 you’ll be able to tell :slight_smile: . This one’s especially difficult to even write on paper.

And that’s unfortunately true. Many fonts get weirdly distorted (uneven distances between horizontal and/or vertical lines) across font sizes.

Now imagine if the kanji was handwritten :smiley: :smiley: .


What is the Japanese word or phrase that describes a kanji with a lot of strokes?

I refer to them as ‘gnarly kanji’, with all its connotations of twisted, difficult and kind of cool. There’s something neat about being able to see recognize 義 or 機, but when they’re new? Forget it. 劇 seemed impossible at first, but now the idea of plays and theater gets replaced by that blob when I see it, but not as automatically as the word ‘theater’.

1 Like

Oh boy I couldn’t agree with you more


I found one that made me think of this thread: 靄