So, what is your preferred method of torture?

Just wondering what your favorite resources for studying kanji are?


"Kanji In Context" (Inter-University Center for Japanese Studies)
Henshall's "A Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters" (but I make my own unique, weird stories)
Dell Axim x50v Japanese OS loaded with EBPocket and Kanjidic, among other EPWING dictionaries
Stackz/Pocket Stackz reviewing software.
Anki spaced repetition software.
Nintendo DS with Japanese kanji games, mostly Nazotte Oboeru.

I have mostly used a brute force "write it till you die" method coupled with "weird stories that make sense only to me" coupled with reading lots of books and other Japanese articles with my Pocket PC by my side so that I can write kanji I don't know for easy lookup. For the occasional kanji that just won't stick, I have made some kanji movies (and then I never forget them). I blew through all 1945 joyo kanji + 2 others, and at least at one point, I could read and write them all (not all at the same time). Now I'm just trying to get them to stick and mostly focusing on more common kanji... some of the joyo kanji are never, ever used, and some non-joyo kanji are commonly used.
酢七面鳥 Nov 20, 2008


Jun 16, 2008 Ryan
Ive just been using a book "Essential Kanji" by P.G. O'niell. It has them in order (loosley) with the most basic and common, like numers and basic adjectives, first. I also use Anki. As far as writing Kanji, I havent gotten very far. I bought a small white-board so I can practice without blowing through pads of paper.
Jun 17, 2008 ヤコブ
Rosetta Stone.

I also usually just look up kanji I think I can remember. (Ones that look distinct and simple to remember.) And ones I see often on news sites and such.

I'll get a resource book eventually, but not right now.

I use the drawing tool in Windows a lot too to practice.
Jun 18, 2008 iSoron
I've been using the book 'Remembering the Kanji', by J. Heisig, and the site Reviewing the Kanji [1], which lets people share their mnemonics.

For vocabulary (words and compounds), I also use Anki.

Jun 20, 2008 ezgi
hmm just recently ordered Kanji Power, tuttle
its quite good as it explains the different uses of the kanji
You make Kanji movies?
Can you show us some, maybe via youtube?
Jun 20, 2008 Matsurika
Most of the times, I use the "Basic Kanji Book".
What I really like about it is, that it shows exactly how to write the Kanji and its most important combinations, and there are also a lot of exercises to remember them.
Jun 20, 2008 Zarxrax
I am also using "Remembering the kanji" with the Reviewing the kanji website. I have been working at it for almost 3 months, and will be finished in a few days. Then, I'm moving to the books "2001.Kanji.Odyssey", which give example sentences with common readings for the kanji.
Jun 20, 2008 ZTV
"Basic Kanji Book" really has a lot of interesting exercises to remember kanji. Now I try to use "Intermediate Kanji Book", but I find that there are too many Japanese words I don't know. So it's hard a little to do the exercises. But they are really interesting!
Jun 24, 2008 hu3
I'm learning to write them one by one - nothing fixes them in my memory better than that. Just starting out though so I know around 20 so far.
Jun 30, 2008 Tomek
i use some Kanji flash cards. I have a set of 448. Its a good start in my opinion. When I'm teaching myself japanese and I find a kanji that's been appearing a lot, i look it up in my cards.
Jun 30, 2008 Sneaky
My method was Remembering the Kanji with:

Then after that, I started using anki, studying more vocab and sentences and grammar.

In RTK, It is easy to learn how to write (but not read) 20 kanji in a day...last summer vacation, I was hardcore and did 100 a day.

Once the book was finished it leaves you with a good idea how to write 2000 kanji. But more importantly it leaves you with an intimate familiarity with all the characters. So when you start learning vocab and readings, it is much faster and easier than if you do the reading and writing at the same time.
Jul 5, 2008
I previously used Kanji Power and Essential Kanji. But mostly I follow the lessons in my textbooks (Genki 1, Genki 2, Intermediate), and use Anki for the flashcards.

I just got back into the studying groove, and am trying to learn the 1,000 most frequent kanji in newspapers, as listed in the back of the Kanji Learner's Dictionary.
Jul 7, 2008 Tsuki
I use manga. I know a lot of people say that learning Japanese from manga isn't the best, but I find that when I see the kanji in use within a sentence I remember them better than if I just look at them on a flash card.
Jul 9, 2008 margo
I just like to use flashcards. I make them myself since it is extra practice and more customizable. One thing I learned is to kind of force myself to study slowly and not try to learn a bunch of kanji at a time because I would just get discouraged.
Jul 29, 2008
I'm doing what Johnzep said he was doing last summer.

Right now, I'm about halfway through the 2042 Kanji in the text, and steadily learning about 50 or so a day. With a combination of Anki and "Reviewing the Kanji" I can retain about 70% of them, and review all the ones I forgot. It takes an couple of hours to do, but well well worth it.

Has anyone completed "Remembering the Kanji"?
Aug 16, 2008 Tako-chan
Hi there!
"Remembering the Kanji" - for me it's just THE method for Kanji learning (including the great "Reviewing the Kanji"-Website and of course Flashcards ("Mnemosyne" - it's really easy to use!)).
I studied chinese at university using the "write them till you die"-"method" but could NEVER maintain all the Hanzi (=Kanji) in my mmemory so it was nothing but frustrating after 1000 Hanzi or so. And most of the other students had the same problem. You really have to see all of them everyday (or so...) to remember them accurately and even then it's quite hard to recall them properly when writing them.
It's not like that when you just start - the first 500 Hanzi/Kanji or so are quite easy to remember, but after a certain threshold it becomes harder and harder not to mix them up or forgetting them.

The Heisig method changed really ALL of these problems and it's really easy to remember Kanji now! And it's also more than a great help during reading and learning "real japanese words", because you know the meanings of the single Kanji and can now combine those 2 (or more) and so easily remember the new word (or perhaps EASIER than without the method...).
All that is, of course, if you do the "Heisig" properly, i.e. exactly as he recommends! There are many voices against this method out there but every single one of them had some flaw in his arguments, i.e. you could see WHY the method didn't work for him/her. It was always the same thing: Not doing exactly how it is meant to do; even minor changes can let this method fail completely!
The only thing really necessary to change is, in my opinion, to review the Kanji also from Kanji to Keyword; but best to do this AFTER learning all the Touyou-Kanji first!

One more point: It really, really-really IS the FASTEST method learning Kanji! No matter what people say ("O, it was SO awkward and time consuming, deary me, ..."), spending just 3 month or so and just a few hours a day learning 2000 Kanji AND remembering them (well, at least 95 %) is REALLY more than you can reach while doing endless repetitions.
Of course, there moght be some gifted people out there who can do without a "method" but just read some new articles on learning psychology and you'll understand that your brain works a certain way it ca save you a lot of time to learn a proper way, i.e. a way fitted for your brain.
All in all, RTK saves you a lot of time, nerves and money and you'll be quite confident when doing translations.
My suggestion to everyone: Just read Heisig's foreword to RTK - you can do that for free in the web! After that you can decide for yourself, knowing the details.
For me: I found RTK in a store and thought "what crap's that?!". When searching for material for learning japanese on the net i stumbled over it again, now reading the foreword. I thought "waht the hell" again but decided to give it a try. The first 100 Kanji or so where - well, awkward and a bit hilarious to leard, but after that i kept remembering and it became real fun! Now I think it's the best method I ever used and am extremely glad I tried it out (and of course grateful to Prof. Heisig (and the translators!)).
Of course, it's really "just" for remembering the KANJI - nothing more, nothing less. You have to also study vocabulary and grammar, but these also will be easier when recognizing (at least some of) the Kanji! And you can do all these (Kanji, voc, grammar) at the same time (if you want and have enough time!).

O, and yeah, I have completed RTK a few month ago - it really works, BUT you have to keep going and review them PROPERLY (i.e. using "Reviewing the Kanji" or a flashcard-program like "Mnemosyne"); but that's just about half an hour a day or so...
Reading a lot (manga, shortstories, newspaper, websites,...) is also an effective way to recall Kanji AFTER learning them!

Best wishes,


PS.: Um, I used "you" a lot i think, no offense meant to anyone - I just wanted to tell you my experience and these expressions came in handy. Of course everyone can (and has to) choose his own method, but I really do think that it's most often NOT the fault or incompetence of the learner, when he/she fails to remember the Kanji but "just" a wrong method learning them. Sadly, in school or even at university there's no really proper way in teaching languages (and other things; well, at least here in Germany) - they really should study the (not so...) recent developements in this field and apply them... But that could make learning and life simple and who want's THAT! *eye-rolling and sigh* Well, I think that's not going to be for a looooooong time to come *sigh even more*
Nov 11, 2008
I am using flashcards now ^^
Since I have been studying for about 5 years now, I have tried out several quite different ways of learning kanji, but that method works best for me.
And yes, I am one of those nerds who learn almost all readings together with the kanji - but i have been on exchange for one year and therefore know some vocab, which makes it easier to find words that actually use the reading of the kanji I have just learned~

But maybe the most important thing I found out was that I can't go too fast... The kanji just won't stick in my memory. (Currently I am fine with 5 Kanji and about 15 compounds a day <3)
And, of course, the key is revision over and over. Even though it takes much more time than actually learning and is not half as interesting... O~oJ
Nov 11, 2008 richvh
I have found transcribing what I read into text files to be an effective (if time consuming) method of learning how to read kanji, at least the more common ones. The act of typing it in reinforces the reading you just learned by looking up the word, as does proofreading what you typed to make sure the right kanji was selected by the IME. The common kanji get repeated over and over, quickly sticking in your memory; the less common don't get repeated as often so get less reinforcement, but since they are less common, they aren't as important to remember.
Nov 19, 2008 Milkytea
I have been using the book, "Basic Kanji book". This book is really amazing because it has applications where you can write sentences and do puzzles. This keeps you thinking about the Kanji you have already learned as you proceed throughout the entire book. I have also been using Kanji Flashcards from white rabbit press. The most important method for memorizing the Kanji- writing them over and over and over again until I fill up a few pages( front and back) in a notebook. Hope that helps others !
Dec 12, 2008 W.Hammer
I am all about tradition! Why have fun thinking of new ways to get a job done with you can do it the old-fashioned way? I am all for writing, writing, writing, and rewriting what I just wrote until I know what-in-the-world I am writing!

Sometimes I linger onto sites I like that use kanji a lot. I recently relearned some of my old-kanji's. They are just that plain boring ones like 魚。 Oh the joy!

Textbooks are interesting too.. It is hard to find one I trust. And one that is overly boring. Ya know?

Flash Cards- though a waste of paper, can be helpful.
Dec 15, 2008 カローラ
I have to know certain kanji for our kanji tests in university (about 100 kanji ever 2 weeks I think). Basically we have to make our own lists of kanji from the chapters we learned. I study them by the simple "write until you die" method (as I not only have to be able to read them but also actually write them). This has caused me sore shoulders, neck and arms but it's worked so far XD
Jan 13, 2009 Skunkfrukt
I used James W. Heisig's "Remembering the Kanji" book series in conjunction with the "Reviewing the Kanji" website. Since I finished learning the writing of all 3007 kanji dealt with in said books, I've been working mainly on readings, only occasionally picking up new, "non-Heisig" kanji as I've run across them in various contexts. I think the most recent kanji I learned was 璧. ò_o
These days, I still review kanji, but I've switched to the flashcard application "Anki", as that allows me to keep pure kanji reviews and sentences in one place.
Feb 1, 2009 エミ
I'm using the "Remembering the Kanji" book and the "Reviewing the Kanji" website for stories, and Anki to review. (I don't use the SRS on the RevTK website because my internet tends to stop working on some days). I'm currently at frame #1575. I can read/recognize various other kanji just from reading, but have no idea how to write them yet because they're past the part where I currently am at in RTK or are "non-Heisig" kanji.
Apr 2, 2009 mariam
i'm studing kanji from 2 places. first place is the i downloaded a kanji pdf list there is onyomi, kunyomi readings and some examples. i study the stroke order from youtube. i studied about 20 charachters but the main problem is which reading i should use and when?????? ^_^
it's my problem coz i'm studying by myself so i don't know what to do realy.
can anyone tell me what can i do? よろしくおねがいします。
Apr 9, 2009 Niko-chan
Hi there,
I'm new to this group. Recently I've been studying Kanji using facebook's Kanji Box application. The creator has recently added a 'readings' section where you are drilled / quized on the readings of kanji compounds that are common for whatever level of the JLPT you choose. For the moment I'm hooked on this and it seems to be working fairly well for me.
Apr 17, 2009 lemon
Hi guys,

I’m using heisigs remembering the kanji along with reviewing the kanji and anki.
Apr 18, 2009
Hi all,
I'm making cards by myself, it's really works for me.
Step 1: Making the card, big one Step 2: Write down the kanji in "normal" size, with all reading and meaning, 5X. And that's all, the kanji had been studied. For me, it's really easy to remember to write the kanji, and the readings/meaning, but I've got much bigger problems with the words (kanji combinations), and not with the proper reading, but the meaning. For me this is ~6-7 word/kanji.
Mar 1, 2010 Raichu
I went through Heisig's book and I learned many kanji that way. I already knew about 400 when I started and by the time I finished the book, I learned to recognize and write about 1100 more (although the book doesn't teach you the readings). I was unable to learn the remaining 500 or so kanji in the book using Heisig's method.

Now I'm concentrating on learning words through flashcards containing sample sentences. I'm simply learning kanji as they happen to come up in material I read. I started with the AJATT site's SRL facility, but I found a paper system to be more flexible and I'm much happier with it.

One of these days I'd like to go through RTK again to try and consolidate my learning and try to pick up the kanji that I missed the first time around.
Apr 3, 2010 ryougi_shiki
As for me, I prefer books, light novels, to be specific.

First, I write down all the unknow kanji characters within one page (with their readings if they are written with furigana), and look for their meanings in the dictionary using radical lookup. After that, I start translating the page.

Of course, I should try to memorize all the kanji by writing them over and over without looking at my notes, but I haven't done it yet. My motivation for studying kanji suddenly dissapears once I have translated the page.
Apr 25, 2010 Pecha
Firefox addon - Rikaichan helps so much. Remember the Kanji by Heisig too. These two are just fantastic
Apr 26, 2010 zapa1928
as of firefox addons, i`ve recently switched on perapera-kun as it allows me to switch between chinese and japanese dictionaries. realy helpful if your are also learning chinese. haven`t foud this kind of option in rikai-chan