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Most of the examples include kanji not learned yet (probably), but I think it is good for you to be exposed to kanji that you will later study. My suggestion is to look carefully at each kanji spending time reading the pronunciations and then carefully copying the examples to paper. Think of it as art and it can be fun, really!
The pronunciations in italics are the ''Chinese'' pronunciations and the boldface are the native Japanese readings. The pronunciations in red are recommended to learn as they are the most useful

The Kanji Readings & Meanings

1) san, 2) yama - mountain

Think of it as a range of 3 mountains, the tallest being in the center

1) sen, 2) kawa - a river, stream

This is a picture of water flowing down a stream

1) haku, 2) byaku, 3) shira, 4) shiro(i) - white

Don't confuse this with () which means self: white has one line and () has two lines

1) ten, 2) ama, 3) ame - heaven, the sky

Heaven is very BIGGER than the kanji for big (), therefore there is a line above it

1) u, 2) ama, 3) ame - rain

Think of the top part as the sky opening to release the rain

1) den - electricity, electric powered

Notice the top part is rain, so think of electric lightning

1) ki, 2) ke, 3) iki - spirit, intention, mind, power, energy [just look at the examples, this kanji has many meanings]

This is a fun kanji to draw. Sometimes the best way to learn to read a kanji is by drawing it many times

1) sha, 2) kuruma - car, vehicle

Using your imagination (to the limits of your ability), you may see a car with 4 wheels

1) koku, 2) kuni - country, a nation

This is a combination of kuchi () [mouth] & tama () [ball]. Sometimes if the parts that make a kanji are strange it becomes actually easier to remember! So get a ball stick it in your mouth and think of your country!

1) en, 2) maru(i) - a circle, yen (money

This is often used instead of the Yen symbol

1) wa, 2) hanashi, 3) hana(su) - a talk, a topic, a story

Most kanji are made of parts. The left side means 'a word' and the right side means 'tongue'

1) bun, 2) ki(ku) - to hear, listen, ask

This is a combination of gate () and ear (). People go to the gate to hear news

1) jiki, 2) shoku, 3) ku(u) 4) ta(beru) - eating, a meal, food

It looks like a person reclining under his roof eating something

1) doku, 2) yo(mu) - to read

The left part means 'a word' and the right part means 'to sell.' So a book is a bought word

1) rai, 2) ku(ru) - to come

This is one of the very few irregular verbs: kuru becomes 'kimasu' in the -masu form!

1) sho, 2) ka(ku) - book, document

Remember this one as the one with a lot of horizontal lines. Also remember there is a sun at the bottom; after all, you must have light to read!

1) ken, 2) mi(ru) - to see, 3) mi(seru) - to show

The top part is me (eye) and think of the bottom as legs. Therefore actively using your eyes means to see

1) gyou, 2) kou, 3) i(ku) - to go

It looks like a side view of a dog (with no tail) ready to go

1) shutsu, 2) da(su), 3) de(ru) - to go out, leave

This looks like a mountain on a mountain [actually it is not] So think of going out to the mountains

1) nyuu, 2) i(ru), 3) hai(ru) - enter, to go in, to insert

It looks very much like the kanji for a person () but with a little hat on.

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Clay & Yumi Boutwell

Last updated:
Tuesday, October 03, 2000