I can read Japanese kanji just fine (being able to read/write Chinese already). However, I can't seem to remember the pronunciation as the Chinese reading gets in the way. For example, my mind repeatedly reads 食物 as "shi wu" and not shokumotsu. Are there any ways of memorizing the correct readings other than simply rote memorization? (To make matters worse I also know Cantonese, so I struggle between 時間 being read as "shi jian", "shi gan", and "jikan"). Anyone been able to overcome this? It's a bit of a roadblock in me learning to read Japanese out loud, especially learning new Japanese terms to speak.

  • Have you tried using furigana? It could be helpful for transitioning into the Japanese pronunciations. By the way, I find myself encountering the same problem in my Chinese studies- using on'yomi readings instead of the actual putonghua reading haha
    – user11589
    Jan 5, 2016 at 17:43
  • Questions about learning methods are off-topic because they're not about the Japanese language itself. See: We don't do "how do I study X?" questions.
    – user1478
    Jan 5, 2016 at 23:06
  • This is a problem of "interference", which is something we also discussed on Language Learning Stack Exchange.
    – user18139
    Oct 5, 2016 at 17:09

1 Answer 1


If you're familiar with the Japanese spoken language, one approach you can take is to rectify each kanji you read with a familiar word that it appears in.

For example, if you see the kanji 手 and you naturally want to pronounce it "zu" instead of "te," recall that you know that same kanji from the word 手紙, in which it is pronounced "te."

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