Question How to Start Learning Kanji

Hi, I’d like to ask how others have studied kanji.

I have just done memorising Katakana and Hiragana.

Currently just started using Genki for studying at home. I also bought a Pimsleur CD from Aldi to listen while driving to work (it’s a long drive to work daily so I can get through each unit by the one I get to work/home)

Now I am done with the Kana it was obvious to start Kanji.
Now my plan was to use a Kanji lesson book where each lesson has about ten characters.
Each character has the kun and on readings followed by some examples.

I was happy to go along his format but I recently discovered on r/learnjapanese they recommend learning kanji the other way round, ie pick a word and learn kanji that way.

I prefer following a guide like the kanji lessons because I’d feel so clueless which word to start and there is no format/guide to lead me along.

As the redditors were telling me, if learning the reverse way is more beneficial than why don’t textbooks teach reader the reverse way?

Or is there tips/structure on learning kanji from vocabulary rather than from characters? Thanks for any advice


  • +2

    Personally I use this website:

    Its awesome, gives you some sort of mnemomics to remember the kanji, and teaches you the radical which helps you figure out some kanji you may not even know which has been useful for me. It also uses SRS (Spaced repetition) so that it helps move it from your short term memory into your long term memory. Note this unfortunately won't help you write though, there is some apps that are better in teaching stroke order.

    You can also use flashcard like apps for something similar, I think the key is to use some sort of SRS like app which is what helps me. Sometimes you'll remember the kanji enough that its easier to read then the kana.

    • Thank you! I saw on reddit about ANKI which sounds alot like what you mention 'SRS'. However, it looks like a deep learning curve. Will give that ago cos it's free.

    • Thanks! Will have a look at this app

  • +2

    Any chance you are coming to Japan to teach in November? (send me a PM)

    As above, I've been doing wanikani for 4 years now. It will get you hooked on doing daily revisions for a while. If you have the patience, you can get a few anki apps to get you through. Im considering quitting this year, about level 50, and going back to studying from books. I spend 1-2 hours a day on wanikani, and do a level every 3-4 weeks with about 200 reviews a day. All of the mods with tampermonkey are essential.

    Easy Japanese News (android app) with the TODAI purple logo is also recommended. It will help you read faster. Reading and recognising the kanji after you have done the SRS is very helpful at putting it in your mind.

    I was reluctant at first to learn kanji, but its my favourite to study now. I'm terrible at grammar still, but Bunpro is helping.

    • Thanks. I will definitely look at wanikani.

      I am definitely not gonna be a teacher! Been going there on holidays and thought it's time to learn the language proper.

      I think ANKI (on PC) is probably the way I will go to but the learning curve to just use it looks difficult .

      Will also look at the apps you recommend too.

  • This is serious question but is this app (wanikani included) is good substitute to Diploma/Short Course/TAFE source?

  • So you know how to write YAMATE YAMATE in Japanese letters ?

  • +1

    Another Wanikani user here and also highly recommend it.

    Trustnoone and DarthAntz have already gone through the jist of how it works and the benefits of it.

    But as an OzB post, I would recommending trying the first 3 levels first, they're free, but don't be fooled by how easy it seems as it does become a handful in later levels when the reviews stack up on each other.

    When you reach level 4, stay on level 3 and try to get all those kanji to "master" level. by then Wanikani will have their end of year "lifetime" membership sale, which is 33% off from what I recall. That would be the best time/plan to sign up to.

    As the redditors were telling me, if learning the reverse way is more beneficial than why don’t textbooks teach reader the reverse way?

    Usually these resources follow a structure of teaching you the easy/common kanji first and then build from there. I have seen some books where the chapters are broken into themes, so they have vocab which teaches you in the reverse order.

    • Thank you for the reply! Will give wanikani a go.

      Thanks for answering my question, I'll feel more comfortable knowing there is a structure to it.

      • +1

        Between Christmas and new year they have a 50% promotion, every year.

        • Cheers. I saw the ozb post on it. will keep eyes peeled!

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