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JPLearn! - Volume I
Introduction to Kanji: Part 1
Introduction to Kanji: Part 1
1. Introduction to this lesson
We have previously discussed the History of Kanji, and Kanji Stroke Order & Radicals. We have also learned a few very basic kanji in the previous lessons including: 一二三四五六七八九十木.

However, Kanji cannot be ignored forever as the Japanese language utilizes kanji everywhere and it would do you no service to ignore it. In fact, there would be no way to pass any of the Japanese Language Proficiency Tests without it. Do not despair, Kanji is exciting to learn and with our methods, you will learn them all in the most efficient amount of time as possible.

Today, we begin that journey, while we are big at learning Kanji radicals, there are about the same amount of radicals as there are Hiragana and Katakana. It would take time to learn them all but upon learning them, you will be able to read just about every Kanji you encounter and will only need to memorize the meaning(s) behind them. Knowing this, we cannot possibly teach only radicals as it would not be practical for your studies. The most effective way to learn Kanji will require three things.

  1. Casually learning the Kanji Radicals
  2. Learning simple kanji that grows in difficulty overtime while learning radicals
  3. Using the Burning Imagery technique to make it simpler to remember the meaning behind kanji

We will combine all three techniques and the studying methods of writing and using flash cards for improvement. We will use the kanji learned in the new lessons and as we progress with new lessons, so will your kanji vocabulary. This will be a seamless process that will accelerate your ability to learn Japanese, far faster than any other program known. Occasionally however, we will have a Kanji-specific lesson such as this for predatory work. In some examples, additional (unlearned) kanji will be presented but you are not expected to learn them today. A kana translation will always be provided in those instances.

This lesson is divided into two-parts. The first part (this page) will contain half of the lesson. The homework assignment will be included in the second part of the lesson.

さぁ、始めよう! (Let’s begin!)

2. Exploring a few basic Kanji
There is a process in learning new kanji. The first step is of course to look over it and kind of get an understanding of the word and perhaps even find a means to memorize it easier such as mnemonics.

In Japan, learning new kanji differs by grade but children are generally taught kanji through different means such as using illustrative kanji and furigana. Let’s take for instance the Kanji for Gate is 門.

As illustrated above, it is easier to remember the Kanji for gate when it resembles an actual gate to a yard with cemented walls. It won’t take much time to remember what this kanji is. かど is the word used most commonly with this character, もん is its OnYomi reading. Kindly remember that Kanji may have different readings depending on the context of the sentence. We will not be learning all the different meanings for each kanji at this time as it would complicate things.

English: Gate
Hiragana: かど
Radical: This is considered a radical.
Strokes: 8
Add 門 to your vocabulary list

Example: を開けて。
Example with learned kanji: ををあけて。
Example kana: かどをあけて。
Example in English: Open the gate.
New word: to open = 開ける(あける)

The next kanji is above or up. The easiest way to remember this kanji is imagining a tree sapling growing up from the ground.

English: Up, above
Hiragana: うえ
Radical: This is not a radical.
Strokes: 3
Add 上 to your vocabulary list

Example: 貴方のです。
Example with learned Kanji: あなたのです。
Example kana: あなたのうえです。
Translation: It is above you. (Semi-polite)
You = 貴方(あなた)(It is better to use person’s name than say “you” in Japanese unless you are in a position of authority)

The next kanji is just as simple. Just as above, the tree roots grow below. Imagine roots grown into the ground.

English: Down, below
Hiragana: した
Radical: This is not a radical.
Strokes: 3
Add 下 to your vocabulary list

Example: それは階にあるよ。
Example with learned kanji: それはいっかいにあるよ。
Example kana: それはしたいっかいにあるよ。
Example in English: That is at the first basement level.

New word: First basement level = 下一階(したいっかい)

Bonus #1: The kanji for first basement level is a compoud of 下一階. You have just learned 下 and already know 一. However, in Japanese, connecting words together like this will give a new meaning. In an upcoming lesson, we will learn the Kanji 階 and discuss this in more detail. This kanji which means floor is used commonly around Japan.

Bonus #2: Here is a bonus example upon learning the kanji 入 which is learned in a few examples below. Please return to this once you have learned it.
Example 2: この高さ以なれば、れません。
Example 2 with learned Kanji: このたかさいなれば、れません。
Example 2 kana: このたかさいかなれば、はいれません。
Example 2 in English: You cannot enter if you are below this height. (Polite)

New word: Height = 高さ(たかさ) New word: Below = 以下(いか)

The fourth Kanji to be learned is Hand, the kind of hand on the human body. The common trick to learn this is imagining the kanji overlaying a hand where the sideways strokes are the tendons in the hand.

English: Hand
Radical: This is not a radical.
Strokes: 4
Add 手 to your vocabulary list

Notice: This kanji contains the radical 一

Example: 聡君くんのが柔らかいね!
Example with learned kanji: さとしくんのはやわらかいね!
Example kana: さとしくんのてはやわらかいね!
Example in English: Satoshi’s hands are soft eh! (friendly)

New word: Soft = 柔らかい(やわらかい)

Let’s move to an amazing kanji, Mountain. This kanji is beautiful and is very commonly used even in names. The kanji is very easy to remember as it is usually taught by remembering the shape as-if it is a mountain.

English: Mountain
Hiragana: やま
Radical: This is a radical.
Strokes: 3
Add 山 to your vocabulary list

Example: 富士は高いです。
Example with learned kanji: ふじはたかいです。
Example kana: ふじさんはたかいです。
Example in English: Mount fuji is tall.

New word: tall = 高い(たかい)

Take this moment to review
You have reached the end of this part of the lesson. Please take a moment to review what you have learned and then proceed to the next part of the lesson. When you are done reviewing, click "complete lesson" and go to the next lesson here.
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