Why wanikani kanji is not alway on'yomi?

Hi all. First, english is not my native language so sorry if i do a lot of errors or if I may be harder to understand.

I’m at level 10 and to my understanding (until today) it was that when we learn the Kanji, we were learning the on’yomi readings and we were learning the kun’yomi with the vocabulary. Today, i have realized that it is not always the case. When the screen is kind of pink (so learning a kanji), it may be or not the on’yomi.

I feel like it will be harder later when i will learn the word for these kanji without having learned the on’yomi. An example : Wake up. While i’m learning that kanji, the answer wanikani want is “o” (kun’yomi) but the on’yomi is “ki”. On the 10 vocab i’ll learn in wanikani, 7 use “ki” and 3 use “o” (the 3 verbs). I feel that the O for the 3 verbs is a lot easier to remember because these word are so commun compare to the “ki”

I feel like it would have been more logical if it would have always been “pink” mean “on’yomi”. If i don’t go look individualy each kanji, I dont know which i’m learning.

By the way, I know I can manually add “new reading” to a kanji (to practice the on’yomi instead of the kun’yomi). It’s just it feel like a lot to do to make everything like it should have been.

Honestly, if I would have seen that before buying the full pakage at Christmas, I would have searched for an other site instead.

Is it me or there it should have always been kanji = on’yomi ? Is there something that may have escaped me ?

I would like answer from people that are a lot higher level than me if possible to understand the impact of that design choice. Thanks for your time

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They teaches you the most useful reading with the kanji and the other ones with the vocab. Most often the most useful reading is the on’yomi but there are exceptions to this pattern. That is why you are sometimes being taught the kun’yomi.


Some Kanji don’t have a “common” On’yomi, and sometimes don’t have an On’yomi at all.

In the first case, commonness is indeed debatable according to learner’s experience and exposure materials. Many people started at some low level of Japanese, and didn’t know many vocabularies beforehand. Wanikani also wouldn’t want to overwhelm newcomers, teaching too hard.


I’d suggest you stop thinking about what is the on and what is the kun.
You will know which reading to use even if you don’t know which reading you are using. Though you can probably make a guess.

It seemed weird at first to me too, but I stuck with it without thinking about it, and it turned out just fine.


First, a preface: I may show closer to Lv 10 at the moment, but that’s because I had to reset around Lv 20 or so, due to life issues. Nevertheless, I have experienced what I describe below.

As others said, ultimately, it really doesn’t matter what reading you learn first. And, this early in your studies, it also doesn’t matter which reading is called what. In fact, it may never matter which readings are which.

What will matter is the fact that you’ll need to learn multiple readings for many kanji, anyway. So, in the long run, there will be virtually no impact on which is taught first.

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I second what people above wrote about WK using the most common/useful readings. It’s pretty valuable to have a tool that already decided which readings were useful. Forgetting about the on’yomi vs kun’yomi debate for a second, in general it’s hard to look at a dictionary and know how many of the many readings you should learn, especially when a word has 3-4 on’ and kun’yomi each. This is where wanikani did the research already, and though it’s not perfect, it’s better than doing that research on your own.

I also recommend not adding a custom new reading to the kanji. Wanikani won’t mark an on’yomi answer wrong when it wants the kun’yomi - it will just ask you for the kun’yomi. If you don’t know the kun’yomi, that’s a sign you could know the kanji better, and it should drop in SRS level, prompting it to be reviewed again. This is probably annoying to accept, but better for your Japanese.

You can be assured wanikani will never ask you to provide an uncommon reading for a kanji. And in the long run, after completing WK you will probably discover that there were many readings (both kun and on) that you wish you had been forced to learn by the app, but never did because WK can’t cover everything. At least, that’s how I feel.


You can?

On’yomi and kun’yomi might be good to know at first, but it doesn’t matter in the long run when you already know them and when to use one over the other. They’re also usually easy to differentiate.

You yourself say that WaniKani is teaching you the most common reading for the kanji, which is the point, while still teaching you the other one with vocabulary.

Do you want to learn kanji, or do you want to learn the on’yomi readings of kanji first and then the kun’yomi readings, for some reason?

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