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Part 3: Kanji (漢字)

こんいちわ みんなーさん (konnichiwa minna san) and welcome to the third part of lesson 3. I'm really sorry that this lesson was delayed, and I will update them more regularly now, but the page needed a lot of updates, and the latest section will be up soon. (and Spyder got a new computer, so he was without net access for a few weeks >_<) And besides I'm sure you all needed that extra time to practice Katakana and Hiragana ^_^. So lets jump right into the lesson. Now before I even begin, let me say that Kanji is hard to learn, and there are a lot of them, so the best way to do this is to try and learn one kanji a day for a start and once you learn the basic kanji, it will become easier, trust me ^_^. Also if you want me to feature 7 kanji a week, in addition to the lessons, just email me telling that. If I get enough email I'll do it (hey I just want to know if anyone is reading these lessons ^_^). Learning Kanji is essentially the hardest part of learning Japanese due to the sheer number of kanji out there so if you find it hard, don't despair, you are not alone ^_^  If you still can't get your browser to support kanji click here

Kaitou Ace


 You will not learn how to read kanji from this one lesson. All this lesson will do is familiarize you with Kanji and help you get started


Now that that is out of the way, lets start the lesson ^_^

About Kanji

Kanji are for the most part Chinese characters that were adapted into the Japanese language. In the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, immigrating Chinese and Koreans brought the written characters known as Kanji, to Japan. These characters actually originated in Hwang Ho region of China around 2000 BC, of which some 3,000 from this era have been discovered. The Japanese language at that time appears to have existed in spoken form only, hence Chinese characters were borrowed over a 400 year period to express the Japanese oral language in writing.  

There are 1,850 Kanji called Ty Kanji, which are considered appropriate for common use and an additional 284 Kanji called Jinmei-y that can be found in personal nouns and family names

Each Kanji has at a minimum of two readings, a On-yomi, and a Kun-yomi reading (usually the -yomi is omitted when referring to them)

On-yomi (音読み)

The On reading of a kanji is the original Chinese reading, this reading is usually used when a Kanji is found next to other kanji.


A Kun reading of a kanji is the Japanese reading, and is often the Japanese word that is closest to the Kanji's original meaning. When a kanji is written alone, followed only by hiragana or katakana, the Kun reading is usually used. (there are exceptions of course)

In general a Kanji has 2-3 Kun readings, and 2-3 On readings

Here are some examples:


Look at the use of the mountain kanji in the following two sentences:

1.にのぼります。yama ni noborimasu                       (Kun reading)

 I will climb a mountain

2. 富士にのぼります。FUJI-SAN ni noborimasu   (On reading)

                      I will climb Mt. Fuji

This combination that multiple Kanji-On reading, one Kanji-Kun  is the most most common way of reading Kanji, but there are exceptions [Kun-Kun, On-Kun, and Kun-On] (As there always are). I'm not going to go into them here, but I will mark them if we encounter them in the future.

Types of Kanji

You don't need to memorize this, I'm just putting it here as reference only. You just need to know that they exist that's all. ^_^

Shkei Moji

Simple pictographs of objects like a tree.

Shiji Moji

Simple symbols representing abstract concepts like below or above
Kaii Moji
An ideograph, combining pictographs and symbols to express a complex idea.
Keisei Moji
A category of phonetic-ideographs, which contains 85% of all Kanji, combining elements of semantic meaning with elements of phonetic meaning. (one part represents the sound, one the meaning) 
Tench Moji
Characters whose meaning or pronunciation have been changed by borrowing of the character to represent other sounds and ideas
Kasha Moji

Pure phonetic characters, established as a sort of Kanji syllabary.

The Kokuji are just a small number of Kanji that have originated from within Japan. Kokuji always have Kun-yomi readings, and never have On-Yomi readings.

To look up a kanji in a dictionary, you need to know a few things about it, mainly (if you don't know the pronunciation of it) you need to know how many strokes it has, or which radicals is it composed of. these radicals are either standalone kanji, or only parts of kanji organized by stroke count, and each dictionary will  have it's own radical table. Here's an example of one

There isn't much more for me to say about kanji so if you use the link below, you will be taken to a page that has 7 Kanji for you to start learning with. And as I stated earlier, to see this type of list added weekly, just email me and ask for it. 

7 simple kanji

 でわ また! (see you later)

As always, if you have any questions or comments feel free to write to me at the address below ^_^.

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Kaitou Ace Princess Minako