Doing anki cards with English on the front and Japanese on the back

A lot of anki decks you find in the wild will contain both normal JP -> EN cards, and so-called “recall” cards. Recall cards are cards that show you the English word on the front, and challenge you to recall the Japanese word for it on the back. They are supposed to be an aid for your ability to actively remember words and become able to use them in output/production.


  • There’s honestly none. Zero benefits.


  • Languages don’t usually map 1:1 from one another. Especially Japanese. A lot of English words can be translated into Japanese in many different ways. Especially without context it’s impossible to accurately translate words like “understand” into either 知る or 分かる. (See: 知る vs 分かる perspective)
  • Creating a strong association with an English word into its Japanese equivalent can create misunderstanding and unnatural phrasings because we are used to apply our own native (incorrect) intuition to a foreign language since that’s what comes natural for us. Recall cards make this problem even worse
  • Without context, certain words in English can mean completely different things, how do you know if “bat” is the animal or the tool? Or “spring” being the season or the metal thing that goes into a clock?

Conclusion: Do not do anki recall cards, or any card that has English on the font and expects you to come up with Japanese. You want to distance yourself as much as possible from the English language, and reinforcing that relationship in reverse is not a good use of your time. There are zero benefits and it’s just going to take you more time to do your anki reviews, plus I can guarantee there will be a lot of frustration and confusion. If you are using a pre-made anki deck like a core2k deck or similar, sometimes they will have recall cards. Make sure to delete them or skip them.

Exception: There is a benefit in production cards when it comes to kanji handwriting. If you memorize unique kanji keywords (using a method like wanikani, RTK, KKLC) and you have a clear association in your mind between an English keyword and a kanji symbol, and if you want to train your handwriting from memory, using English words on the front to quiz you on kanji can have some value.