Japanese 2 - Kanji 1

Kanji are characters imported from China that have meaning. There are 2,136 kanji that all Japanese citizens learn in primary and secondary school. Understanding these will bring you a long way, but the average Japanese person knows more than 3,000 kanji. In this lesson you will learn your first kanji, which you will use in the next lesson to make sentences.

tree; wood
丿 componentbend

Mnemonic: the grain is so heavy that it bends the tree it grows on.


Mnemonic: this grain is for private consumption. Only I can eat it.


The characters with the word component behind them are actually not kanji at all. Components are symbols that can be found inside kanji, for example is composed of and . Components by themselves don't have any meaning, but we give them names such that we can talk about them.

Components make memorizing kanji easier, because they allow us to see kanji as a collection of a few components instead of as a lot of random strokes. Kanji themselves can also serve as components in other kanji.

We won't teach the pronunciation of the kanji in the kanji lessons, as most kanji have multiple pronunciations. The ways in which the kanji can be pronounced will become clear once they are used inside words.


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