How To Memorize Kanji


Convert your name or your favorite word into Kanji! Why not use it for T-shirts, stamps, stickers or tattoos?

Column of Japanese Culture

Last updated : 20.12.2020
Author : Akira Katakami

How To Memorize Kanji

Kanji is notoriously difficult to learn, but there are still methods that make it easier for anyone to become proficient over time. Here are some simple tips which you can use to improve your kanji memorization. Try them out and see for yourself!

1.Learn to associate images with characters

Kanji of person and treeKanji characters are very hard to memorize, so what some students do is use the power of image associations. The kanji character for “person” looks a bit like a drawing of a person, for example. The character for “tree” looks a bit like the trunk of a tree, with branches stretching upwards. This is a particularly helpful tool for those who are very visual learners.

2.Set a reasonable goal and hold yourself accountable

There are approximately 2,000 kanji characters that are commonly used. If you can remember these and learn how to read and write them, you can consider yourself fairly proficient. To memorize this many characters, set yourself a reasonable weekly goal of characters to remember. Don’t force yourself to finish too many in a week just for the sake of saying that you have learned kanji – it’s about retention, not temporary memorization.

3.Learn character radicals

More complex kanji characters are composed of smaller elements known as radicals. By remembering these radicals, it will be easier for you to tell these complicated characters apart from each other. It will also help you with learning to pronounce these characters, as characters with similar radicals sometimes tend to be pronounced similarly as well.

4.Talk to a native speaker who knows how to write Kanji

One of the best ways to learn how to read and write any language is to practice with someone already familiar with it. By showing a native speaker and writer the characters that you draw based on the word you are trying to say, you will get a better grasp of how to do it properly, and when you’re making a mistake. In kanji, sometimes the smallest stroke will completely change the meaning of a character – and therefore the whole sentence.
A native will be better at spotting these mistakes and will show you how to correct them quickly and simply. Over time, practicing with them will make it easier for you to memorize these characters.

5.Use technology

While there are many traditional books that you can read and try to understand for improved kanji memorization, there are also apps that you can download that will quiz you every day about kanji and make you do writing and reading drills. These apps make it easy to learn on the go no matter where you are or what you’re doing, increasing the time you dedicate to learning kanji and the subtle differences between characters.

The trick to memorizing kanji is really to just stick with it and practice these five basic tricks above. With a little patience and dedication, you will gradually become proficient enough to read many publications, write well, and retain most of what you have learned.

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Seigakudou(静岳堂), a working calligrapher and native Japanese, will write your name in Kanji. Rather than a computer font, your kanji name will be hand-brushed by a professional calligrapher.


Akira Katakami(片上明)

The translation from English to Japanese will be undertaken by a professional native Japanese translator with a kanji proficiency qualification, you can be sure of an error free standard. Also, an explanation of your kanji name will be provided in English.