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Kanji 漢字

There are about 2000 kanji needed to be literate in Japan. But in reality, knowing just a couple hundred will allow you to read most anything with the aid of a dictionary. Very few foreigners have mastered kanji. Could you be one of them?
What are kanji ?

Kanji make up the third part of the Japanese writing system after Hiragana and Katakana. Taken from China hundreds of years ago, kanji have evolved in a number of ways to make it sometimes considerably different from its Chinese ancestors both in appearance and sound.

There are about 2000 kanji needed to be literate in Japan. But in reality, knowing just a couple hundred will allow you to read most anything with the aid of a dictionary. Very few foreigners have mastered kanji. Could you be one of them?

How do I study kanji ?

You gotta love ’em! If you don’t decide from the beginning to love kanji, I am sure you will end up hating kanji. There are many, many kanji with various meanings and readings, so without a desire to explore, you will become quickly discouraged.

Write them! Speak them! and Look for them!

My suggestions for studying kanji (as humble as they may be) are to

  1. Create fun mnemonics that will help you remember the character.  Make it personal and even absurd to make it stick better.  For example, the moon 月 looks like the character for sun 日 but with legs.  Think of the moon trying to run away from the sun since it usually only comes out at night.
  2. Copy each individual kanji several times while speaking and thinking the readings.  While writing them, try to emphasize the kanji’s reading, meaning, and shape in your head.
  3. Finally, read! Begin with the reading practice on this site and then search for the newly learned kanji in other contexts. It is an exciting feeling to come across kanji that you have just studied.

One trick would be to highlight a new kanji and Google it to find ways it is used in “real life” Japanese.


Kanji Stroke Order

If you only have time to remember one
thing get this:

START FROM THE TOP-LEFT
OF THE KANJI AND
WORK DOWN TO THE BOTTOM-RIGHT

RULE #1: From top to bottom

三 san
(three 3)  

言 (to say) 


RULE #2: From left to right

州 (state) 

 And when you have both a
vertical & horizontal go horizontal first 

十 (10) 

But it wouldn’t be fun without exceptions!

田 (rice field) 

王 (king) 


RULE #3: If you have left, right and center options, work from the center

水 (water) 

糸 (thread) 


RULE #4: If there is an outside bit surrounding an inside bit, the outside comes first

国 (country) 

風 (wind) 

Except when the outside is shaped like a
“C”

区 (district) 


RULE #5: If there is a vertical line going through other parts, it comes last or at least later

中 (inside, middle) 

書 (write, writing)

And if there is a horizontal line that overlaps other
parts, it goes last

女 (woman) 


RULE #6: If there is an “X” or a crossing of diagonals the top-right to bottom-left goes first

文 (literature) 

人 (person) 


RULE #7: If there is a , it goes last:

進 (proceed) 

These 7 rules will not cover all
kanji, but knowing these rules will help to figure out most kanji

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