A gentle introduction to Kanji

Posted on my Facebook group (which in facebook’s ultimate wisdom requires you to login to view, lame).

Ok, let’s learn some Kanji today! You’ll see that it’s not so scary!

口【くち】 – mouth
Just picture an open mouth except um… more square. This box shows up ALL THE TIME in Kanji so MAKE SURE you get the correct stroke order.

五【ご】 – five
I guess it kind of looks like 5 with a line on the bottom

日【ひ】- sun; day
Similar to mouth, it’s a circle made into a square with a line in the middle to represent sun rays or something.

木【き】 – tree
Pretty much exactly how I would draw a tree (my drawing skills are terrible)

本【ほん】 – root; book
The Kanji itself means root. As you can see it’s a tree with a line on the trunk bottom to emphasis a root. It’s also the word for book as in “books are the root of all knowledge”. Quaint, ain’t it?

日本【に・ほん】 – Japan
Root of the sun, you know, the “Land of the Rising Sun”? It would be pretty hot over there if it were really the case.

言う【い・う】 – to say
言 is like four lines of dialogue or sound waves on top of a mouth (notice the first top stroke is slanted). Easy!

語【ご】 – language
Combine the radicals for “say”, “five” and “mouth” and you get the single character for language. To say with five mouths, I guess it kinda makes sense. It’s not a word by itself but you can just tack it onto countries to describe that country’s language such as スペイン語 = Spanish. Cool!

日本語【に・ほん・ご】 – Japanese (language)
Just tack on the character for language to the word for Japan to get Japanese as mentioned above.

Ok, let’s make a sentence with KANJI!

What is this called in Japanese?
lit: As for this, what do you say in Japanese?

Replace これ with whatever you want to know the Japanese word for.

Hopefully this will give you an idea of how to make up mnemonics for memorizing Kanji.

MAKE SURE to practice after checking the stroke order which you can see here:

6 thoughts on “A gentle introduction to Kanji

  1. Hi Tae! I just recently found your blog and I must say, it’s been very helpful for me. I’m currently studying in Japan for my graduate studies, yet I don’t really speak Japanese…nor can I read/write kanji (I’m in the English graduate program of course). I hope to keep following your blog to improve my lack of Japanese skills, especially since my “spring break” just started. Keep up the good work and thanks!

  2. I’ve been using http://www.asahi-net.or.jp/~ik2r-myr/kanji/kanji1a.htm to learn kanji. I like it, because it’s like a quiz type of thing and also has flashcards.
    It doesn’t have stroke orders, though, but it has onyomi and kunyomi and also rough translations of their English meaning, which is a minor detail, I think, since I can look up additional meanings and so forth, on jisho.org

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  4. I am a student learning Japanese for fun, and I discovered that kanji is actually easier than I thought! This is because I learn Mandarin and the characters are similar and the meaning is the same. Takes a load off my back. 🙂

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