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A Fun Way to Remember Kanji Characters with Free Flashcards!

written by: Makoto • edited by: Tricia Goss • updated: 1/17/2012

Do you find learning Japanese Kanji a difficult task? In this article, I will introduce a fun method I've been using for a while now to easily remember some Kanji. You will use Kanji Flashcards to learn Kanji, but not ordinary Kanji flashcards. Find out how to make your own free Kanji flashcards.

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    Accelerate Japanese Language Learning

    So you have mastered the Japanese Kana (hiragana and katakana) and are ready to move on to the next level: learn Kanji (the Chinese characters). You might feel excitement as remembering both hiragana and katakana is not as difficult as you had imagined.

    Learning Kanjis, however, are a completely different story. With over a thousand official Kanjis to read even the most basic text, you’re in for a ride. Besides, learning the Kanjis and recognizing them short term is only half the battle won. Actually remembering them for an extended period requires plenty of hard work reviewing them.

    From my personal experience, Flashcards remain the most effective (if time consuming) method to memorize and learn Kanji. I have tried numerous other ways, and repeatedly writing down the same character dozens of times but nothing work as well as Kanji Flashcards.

    Now, it does involve a steadfast commitment and plenty of patience, but does it have to be boring? Not exactly. These are special Kanji Flashcards.

    While you will probably be remembering most of your Kanji through repetition, a very potent way to remember some of them is to use your imagination to associate them with actual pictures.

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    Kanji Character Flashcards

    I would like to share with you some examples of what I mean by associating a Kanji to actual pictures. Although it would be daunting and not necessarily recommended to associate each and every Kanji to an actual picture, this method certainly helped me to instantly remember some of them.

    Let’s begin with 早 which signifies early, as in the adjective 早い :early.

    See how that square on top of the crossed lines looks like a head, with that single horizontal line running through its center representing a mouth? The crossed lines stand for both arms and legs. It looks like someone stretching early in the morning. I drew a little sketch so that you better understand what I’m referring to.

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    Kanji Character Flashcard: early

    Someone stretching, early in the morning... 

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    Kanji Character Flashcard: to slip

    Another good one is the kanji representing “to slip", 滑 as in 滑る (すべる) , to slip or slide. In fact, this Kanji looks exactly like someone who just slipped on something! It’s all there, the mouth wide open, with the arms on both sides and one foot actually tripping. Take a look at my little sketch to get a better idea of what I’m talking about.

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    Watch out! This little dude is going down! 

    I have hundreds of examples like these and it has helped me memorize some characters straightaway, without even repeating once.

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    Download example Kanji flashcards

    I have uploaded a file containing a few more sketches to help you remember some more Kanjis. kanji flashcards 1 

    Download the file here: Examples of more Kanji Flashcards

    Everyone has their own way of studying Japanese, but having struggled with the Kanji for years, I can tell you this method is certainly worth a try; all you need is just a little imagination and you will start to learn Kanji quickly.

Learning the Japanese Kanji

This series of articles provide different approaches to learning the Japanese Kanji. Those approaches provide fun and practical tips to easily learn and remember the Japanese Kanji. Also included are articles explaining the different readings of the Kanji and other useful information.
  1. A Fun Way to Remember Kanji Characters with Free Flashcards!
  2. A Fun and Easy Way to Learn the Japanese Kanji
  3. A Fun and Intuitive Way to Learn the Japanese Kanji
  4. The Different Meanings of a Kanji: A Step Further into Understanding the Japanese Writing System