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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 & Examples
ichi - one

1) ichi, 2) hito(tsu) - one, the first

And so begins your kanji journey and it couldn't be any easier!

1) ni, 2) futa(tsu) - two, second

Two lines = 2, logical!; A little harder, but don't run for the aspirin yet!

1) san, 2) mi(tsu) - three, third

Three lines = 3, still logical!; Hang in there...

1) shi, 2) yon, 3) yo(tsu) - four, fourth

Ok this is where logic fails, but don't panic! Just think of 2 little legs dangling in a FOUR sided box.

1) go, 2) itsu(tsu) - five, the fifth

This is modern art. is an artist's impression of the number 5. [well, it kind of looks like the number!]

1) roku, 2) mu(tsu), 3) mui - six, the sixth

A picture of a man stretching his hands and legs is the character for '6'

1) shichi, 2) nana(tsu), 3) nano- seven, the seventh

A diagonal line through an 'L' means 7

1) hachi , 2) ya(tsu), 3) you - eight, the eighth

If you have studied katakana (one of the Japanese 'alphabets'), you will notice this is the same as 'ha.' So hachi = 8

1) kyuu, 2) ku, 3) kokono(tsu) - nine, the ninth

1) juu, 2) ju + a small tsu (a short pause), 3) to, 3) tou - ten

Remember: 5 + 5 = +

1) hyaku - a hundred, one hundred

Remember the line over & the number of lines inside the box - that can save some confusion later!

1) sen, 2) chi - a thousand

It looks like a 10 [] with a slanted line over it. Think of the line as adding an extra 0: 1000

1) ban, 2) man - ten thousand (10,000)

The next in numbers. add another 0

1) fu, 2) chichi, 3) tou - father, dad

It looks like a father tying his tie

1) bo, 2) haha, 3) kaa - mother, mom

Think of a mother holding 2 babies close to her

1) yuu, 2) tomo - a friend
1) jo, 2) onna - a woman, women, female

Think of a woman dancing

1) dan, 2) otoko - a man, men, male

The top part means 'rice field' & means 'power.' So a powerful man works in the rice field. [You haven't learned those 2 kanji yet, but I just wanted to show that most kanji are made of other kanji parts]

1) jin, 2) nin, 3) hito - person, people, man

A very important kanji! Obviously it is a person with no head or arms trying to do a split!

1) shi, 2) ko - a child, a kid, children, the young

A little child with his arms wide and his mouth open crying for his mommy

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Clay & Yumi Boutwell

Last updated:
Monday, October 02, 2000