I just want to learn one pronunciation for each kanji because I want to write them with the keyboard. Or do I have to learn all the pronounciation for the kanji?

  • 2
    This seems very opinion-based to me. – istrasci May 10 '19 at 14:15
  • It is certainly very opinion based. Particularly because everyone has different learning goals and different learning styles, and the possible answers to such question would vary so much depending on those factors. It also seems off-topic as this is not a question about Japanese, but a question about learning Japanese, if that makes sense. – jarmanso7 May 11 '19 at 13:36

If you only want to be able to type into a Japanese keyboard and get kanji out, then you only need to know one reading of the character - but you'll need to know which character you're looking for, because there can be multiple characters with the same reading and different meanings (and sometimes they can be very close, like 会う{あう} and 合う{あう}).

However, if you're trying to develop your understanding of Japanese outside of just making characters appear, then it would really help to start learning the multiple readings of characters, especially in terms of being able to read different compound words.


The IME will propose kanji based on the pronunciation you type and on context. The way you describe it, context cannot be used (e.g. trying to use a kanji in a compound but knowing only the kun'yomi) and you will have to pick kanji one by one yourself (the software will be of no help). And (especially with on'yomi) there can be dozens of kanji with the same pronunciation to waddle through.


If you ever want to read Japanese, you'll need to know all of the kanji readings.

Even if you only want to be able to input Japanese, it'll be a lot easier if you know all of the kanji readings.

An alternative way of looking at your question is to rephrase it by analogy to English:

Is it acceptable to learn just one pronunciation for each letter?

Think about it. How many ways are there to pronounce, say, the letter g?

  • sing
  • giraffe
  • ground
  • knight
  • rough

I'm sure I'm missing one or two. But that should hopefully provide a hint as to why learning to read, and learning to write, cannot be reduced to a single pronunciation for each letter (or kanji).

  • By reading you mean reading aloud. Strictly speaking, you can understand a kanji you cannot pronounce (somewhat like the Chinese situation). – Mathieu Bouville May 11 '19 at 14:55

It is completely acceptable, depending on what your goals are.

For instance, I do not bother to learn even one of the readings for any Kanji, but I rather learn Kanji just inside of words, with the pronunciation of the word as a whole with their Kanji. The readings eventually settle in your mind once you have learnt several words that make use of one particular Kanji. This way works well for me, so it is acceptable for me.

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