One of Japan’s three writing systems is called Kanji. The aggregate name for these three scripts is Kana. Japanese Kanji are symbols for entire words.

Kanji characters can stand in for whole words but can also take on new meanings when combined with other Kanji or Kana characters. Learning Kanji can be complicated because characters have multiple pronunciations depending on their context.

The Importance Of Kanji In The Japanese Language

Despite what you may think, Kanji plays a crucial role in Japanese.

They are crucial to understanding what the sentence and words imply. There is more than one method in which the Japanese language makes exceptional use of the characters. Let’s check out a few of them!

Figuring Out Meanings

It helps to know how to pronounce the kanji characters, but knowing their meanings will allow you to figure out the context even if you don’t.

If you know how to recognise individual kanji characters, you’ll have no trouble recognising them in compound form.  Jinruigaku (人類学) is the Japanese name for anthropology.

Sort out homonyms

There are a lot of homonyms in Japanese; many words share the same pronunciation and sound. There are more than fifty possible meanings for a single pronunciation. Japanese people recognise them as distinct from Kanji.

The word “kanji” itself has multiple ways of being spoken. There are at least two distinct interpretations of this pronunciation. Both Kanji (漢字) and Kanji (感じ) are Chinese characters; however, the latter also means “feeling” in English.

Radicals

A Kanji character’s “radicals” are its parts. Some kanji characters’ components consist of multiple characters squeezed into a single character. The Kanji for “wood” (木) is also radical in the Kanji for “branch(枝),” “cedar (杉),” “root (根),” and “forest (林),” among others.

The kanji 木 appears on the character’s left side. Predicting a word composed of Kanji is similar to predicting the meaning of a single kanji based on the radicals formed from other Kanji.

Why Should We Learn Kanji?

Using only hiragana and katakana could simplify things.

At first, it is more practical when learning the basics of vocabulary and grammar. But if you want to get ahead, learning kanji is a must. Even if the above explanations for why we should all learn Kanji when studying Japanese aren’t persuasive enough, here are some additional reasons why we should:

Kanji Is Used To Interpret Words

One would have to use context clues, as one does in English, to infer meaning in the absence of kanji characters. However, using kanji characters provides significance to the words and aids the reader. Kanji characters make it simpler to tell one meaning from another. It also lends the term a touch of personality. After some practise, you’ll see that each kanji character conveys the same essential idea. For instance, the Kanji for “love” (愛) connotes a comforting hug because of its message.

Reading Sentences Is Simplified With Kanji

Believe it or not, Kanji makes sentences much simpler to comprehend than if they were made up only of hiragana.

Over time, you’ll noticeably improve your reading speed. You can read a book in minutes (well, that’s an exaggeration, but you get the idea) once you’ve mastered the kanji characters that make up its text. 

Let’s use an example: きょうはすしをたべにいきますか? “Kyou wa sushi o tabe ni ikimasu ka?” 

Cherry blossoms and castle in Himeji, Japan.

When there are Kanji involved, it is more challenging to read. Here’s the sentence with Kanji: 今日は寿司を食べに行きますか?

Sometimes, some people can even skim over the recognised Kanji instead of sounding out each hiragana character in their head. It’s like recognising a picture — your mind understands and grasps it well but doesn’t have to sound it all out. Similarly, you’ll be able to understand the meaning of a sentence just by recognising each Kanji one by one instantly.

Less Space Is Required For Kanji

Kanji characters can have many syllables, sometimes as many as three. When writing a statement in hiragana, you’ll need a lot of space for each syllable, but when using Kanji, you can fit several syllables into a single one. Kanji saves so much space that a 10-page document can be reduced to a 7-page one, making it more efficient and presentable.

Learning Kanji: What Are the Steps? Tips For Getting Started

1. Get Started by Understanding the Radicals

The structure of a kanji relies heavily on what are called “radicals.”

It would help if you started with these characters because they serve as the “base” for learning more advanced Kanji. There are 214 altogether, but learning even the most basic ones will put you far ahead in the game.

2. Stroke Order Practise Can Help You Remember Kanji

Learning to write in Kanji is an excellent strategy for memorising the characters. Did you know that each line of a kanji has to be written in a precise order?

This is termed “stroke order,” although it may not seem significant, it is crucial. The stroke order is typically described in Japanese dictionaries.

“Does it matter what order I draw the lines in?”

First of all, it’s important to individuals who read your handwriting. A proper stroke order or placement can make your Kanji challenging to read. If you started at the top and worked your way down, the resulting check mark would be even wobblier and stranger-looking.

After little practice with the correct stroke order, Kanji will likewise stick in your memory. Even if you’re not planning on becoming a Japanese writer, memorising the stroke sequence of the Kanji will help you read the language more fluently.

3. Learn Jouyou Kanji

That’s all well and good, but how do you decide which Kanji to study? After all, there are more than 50,000!

The jouyou kanji are the ones you should prioritise when learning Kanji.

(Jouyou is written as 常用漢字, which means, “commonly used Chinese characters.” See how we can infer meaning from the combination of Kanji?)

The Jouyou kanji are what kids in Japan learn first.

These are the most frequently encountered characters; mastering them will allow you to read at least 80% of all written Japanese.

You’ll learn some beneficial phrases with the help of the jouyou kanji—everything from “tree” (木) and “me” (私) to more advanced words like “law” (法律) and “vicious cycle” (悪循環, which is one of my favourite Kanji, by the way; “bad” + “repeating” + “circle”? It’s perfect!).

4. Use Additional, Meaningful Words Alongside The Jouyou Kanji

You may think, “God, I wish I knew the X word!” while you peruse the Jouyou Kanji.

Learn the Jouyou kanji, and remember to add any other keywords to your vocabulary. Your motivation for learning Japanese is a key factor here.

Words related to the seasons, the weather, and your daily activities are good places to start when composing letters to a penfriend. Think about words crucial to defining your work if you’re studying Kanji to research a specific topic.

If your goal in learning Japanese is to read Japanese literature or manga, you should prioritise acquiring vocabulary found in those works. You can supplement your study of the jouyou kanji with the words you find most useful.

5. Use Spaced repetition systems (SRS)

If you’re having trouble memorising a particular kanji, try creating flashcards for it—make use of a variety of approaches:

  • Create flashcards featuring Kanji to learn their meaning or pronunciation.
  • Make flashcards with whole sentences written in Kanji and practise reading them.
  • Create flashcards where you write a word in your native tongue on one side and its kanji equivalent on the other.

The beautiful thing about spaced repetition is that it adapts to your preferences. If you consistently obtain the same card, it will be some time before you get it again. It will display the card more often until you master the Kanji you’ve struggled with. These methods cater to your learning style to make memorising Kanji a breeze.

6. If You Want To Learn Kanji, It’s Best To Read As Much Japanese As You Can

It’s one thing to learn Kanji by heart. However, you will only truly learn how to utilise them in real-world situations when you need to write or utter the phrases yourself if you see them in context.

Finding engaging content written at your reading level can be difficult. After all, you will only get much out of reading if you comprehend at least some of what you’re taking.

If you want to learn how to pronounce the new Kanji you come across, you must also listen to the audio of what you read. In general, it takes work to come up with such content.

Strategies for Managing Daily Kanji Learning

1. Breaking Down Kanji Into Manageable Chunks

Typically, persons who wish to learn a certain number of Kanji divide that amount by the number of available study days. While this may make sense initially, it might cause issues when put into practise.

Instead of forcing oneself to memorise a certain number of Kanji daily, you should assess your current proficiency level and use that as a guide to determine how many kanji you should study each day.

2. Establishing A Routine And Study Schedule

Setting aside time each day to study is an effective time management strategy. Time spent studying helps you break Kanji into smaller, more manageable portions. 

A study schedule’s greatest strength is its ability to facilitate attaining objectives. This is because you’ll be able to give yourself ample time to prepare for studying by organising your goals around specific dates.

3. Utilising Mnemonic Devices And Visualisation Techniques

Many kanji textbooks employ mnemonics, a standard approach for learning kanji, to aid students in memorising Kanji. 

Kanji can also be viewed as a visual representation of the words they stand for. However, since these symbols were developed centuries ago, it can be challenging to understand what each Kanji symbolises just by looking at them. But one of the best methods to learn Kanji is visualising a word’s meaning.

A typical and simple example of a kanji mnemonic is 男, the character for “man”. The top half of this Kanji is 田, “rice field”, and the bottom half is 力, “power”. So here’s the image: A MAN is someone who uses POWER in the RICE FIELD

4. Incorporating Kanji into daily activities and practice

Try reading your favourite Japanese manga in Japanese now! Thankfully, most of them can communicate with each other using everyday Japanese, and all of the Kanji have furigana. This will help you ease into reading kanji after becoming proficient in reading hiragana and katakana.

You can also find great texts to study in Japanese online, in blogs, and on social media. Learn more about whatever aspects of Japanese culture and language strike your fancy. Add some fun to your study time by reading your favourite books or listening to music.

Useful Kanjis To Know

In light of all this discussion of Kanji, here are some essential characters to learn that will prepare you for studying more advanced Kanji.

入 — enter

口 — entrance

出 — exit

駅 — station

車 — car

左 — left

右 — right

電 — electricity

One of Japan’s three scripts, Kanji, is as integral to the language as the others. Although it is more complex than hiragana and katakana, you will be glad you studied it because it is so commonly used in Japan, and you will feel accomplished once you have mastered it.

Conclusion

Since Kanji represents complete sentences and can take on new meanings when coupled with other Kanji or Kana characters, mastery of this character set is an essential part of learning Japanese. Words and sentences cannot be understood without the use of kanji characters, which are needed for interpretation. Kanji can be learned in a number of ways, including through deciphering their meanings, separating out their homonyms, and creating their radicals.

Kanji is utilised to decipher words, making it simpler to differentiate between possible interpretations and lending a sense of character to the word. Kanji makes reading words easier, and a 10-page document seems more professional and uses less space. Having numerous syllables per kanji character simplifies reading a text.

Beautiful Kyoto city and temple at twilight, Japan.

The “base” for learning more complex Kanji is a grasp of the radicals, thus getting it down is a good first step in studying Kanji. Practising Kanji stroke order is essential for memorisation since it aids in ingraining the correct sequence of each line of a kanji into one’s long-term memory. Jouyou Kanji are the most commonly used Kanji, hence it is imperative that you master them. You can read at least 80% of all written Japanese if you learn these characters.

Reading as much Japanese as you can and listening to the audio can help you learn Kanji. It’s important to learn Kanji every day, but how many kanji you should study each day depends on your present level of skill. Creating a study regimen and plan can help you study more efficiently by chunking the learning of Kanji into more manageable chunks of time. You can learn the meaning of Kanji characters by using mnemonic devices and visualisation strategies. Once you’re comfortable reading hiragana and katakana, incorporating Kanji into your regular routines and practise might help ease you into reading kanji.

Content Summary

  • The aggregate name for these three scripts is Kana.
  • Japanese Kanji are symbols for entire words.
  • Kanji characters can stand in for whole words but can also take on new meanings when combined with other Kanji or Kana characters.
  • Learning Kanji can be complicated because characters have multiple pronunciations depending on their context.
  • Despite what you may think, Kanji plays a crucial role in Japanese.
  • They are crucial to understanding what the sentence and words imply.
  • There is more than one method in which the Japanese language makes exceptional use of the characters.
  • It helps to know how to pronounce the kanji characters, but knowing their meanings will allow you to figure out the context even if you don’t.
  • If you know how to recognise individual kanji characters, you’ll have no trouble recognising them in compound form.
  • Jinruigaku (人類学) is the Japanese name for anthropology.
  • There are a lot of homonyms in Japanese; many words share the same pronunciation and sound.
  • There are more than fifty possible meanings for a single pronunciation.
  • Japanese people recognise them as distinct from Kanji.
  • A Kanji character’s “radicals” are its parts.
  • Some kanji characters’ components consist of multiple characters squeezed into a single character.
  • The kanji 木 appears on the character’s left side.
  • Predicting a word composed of Kanji is similar to predicting the meaning of a single kanji based on the radicals formed from other Kanji.
  • Using only hiragana and katakana could simplify things.
  • At first, it is more practical when learning the basics of vocabulary and grammar.
  • But if you want to get ahead, learning kanji is a must.
  • Even if the above explanations for why we should all learn Kanji when studying Japanese aren’t persuasive enough, here are some additional reasons why we should
  •  One would have to use context clues, as one does in English, to infer meaning in the absence of kanji characters.
  • Kanji characters make it simpler to tell one meaning from another.
  • You can read a book in minutes (well, that’s an exaggeration, but you get the idea) once you’ve mastered the kanji characters that make up its text.
  • When there are Kanji involved, it is more challenging to read.
  • When writing a statement in hiragana, you’ll need a lot of space for each syllable, but when using Kanji, you can fit several syllables into a single one.
  • The structure of a kanji relies heavily on what are called “radicals.
  • “It would help if you started with these characters because they serve as the “base” for learning more advanced Kanji.
  • Learning to write in Kanji is an excellent strategy for memorising the characters.
  • This is termed “stroke order,” although it may not seem significant, it is crucial.
  • The stroke order is typically described in Japanese dictionaries.
  • The Jouyou Kanji You may think, “God, I wish I knew the X word!”
  • Learn the Jouyou kanji, and remember to add any other keywords to your vocabulary.
  • Think about words crucial to defining your work if you’re studying Kanji to research a specific topic.
  • If your goal in learning Japanese is to read Japanese literature or manga, you should prioritise acquiring vocabulary found in those works.
  • You can supplement your study of the jouyou kanji with the words you find most useful.
  • Create flashcards featuring Kanji to learn their meaning or pronunciation.
  • Make flashcards with whole sentences written in Kanji and practise reading them.
  • The beautiful thing about spaced repetition is that it adapts to your preferences.
  • If you consistently obtain the same card, it will be some time before you get it again.
  • It will display the card more often until you master the Kanji you’ve struggled with.
  • These methods cater to your learning style to make memorising Kanji a breeze.
  • Finding engaging content written at your reading level can be difficult.
  • If you want to learn how to pronounce the new Kanji you come across, you must also listen to the audio of what you read.
  • Instead of forcing oneself to memorise a certain number of Kanji daily, you should assess your current proficiency level and use that as a guide to determine how many kanji you should study each day.
  • A study schedule’s greatest strength is its ability to facilitate attaining objectives.
  • This is because you’ll be able to give yourself ample time to prepare for studying by organising your goals around specific dates.
  • Many kanji textbooks employ mnemonics, a standard approach for learning kanji, to aid students in memorising Kanji.
  • A typical and simple example of a kanji mnemonic is 男, the character for “man”.
  • The top half of this Kanji is 田, “rice field”, and the bottom half is 力, “power”.
  • Try reading your favourite Japanese manga in Japanese now!
  • You can also find great texts to study in Japanese online, in blogs, and on social media.
  • Learn more about whatever aspects of Japanese culture and language strike your fancy.
  • Add some fun to your study time by reading your favourite books or listening to music.
  • In light of all this discussion of Kanji, here are some essential characters to learn that will prepare you for studying more advanced Kanji.
  • The radicals and stroke sequence of Kanji can make the language seem complicated.
  • The best way to learn Kanji is to read them frequently in context and spend a lot of time exploring how they are formed.

Leave a Comment

Nunawading Japanese School
5.0
Based on 230 reviews
js_loader
Scroll to Top