How to master Kanji

How to master Kanji

Hi, I heard from many non-Japanese that Kanji is difficult to study.

Yes, it’s correct.

In this post, I wanna introduce the efficient way to master Kanji by showing how we Japanese study Kanji.


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Studying Kanji at school in Japan

Do you know how many Kanji in this world??

The number is about 50,000!!

Can’t believe!

Kanji is made in China and they say Chinese use 8,000 Kanji in daily life.

In Japan, we use about 4,000.

Actually, we study 2,136 Kanji at school, from elementary school to high school, which is regulated by Ministry of Education in Japan.

That means we Japanese study 2,136 Kanjis in 12 years.


“In 12 years” is important.

Even Japanese study 2,136 Kanjis in 12 years.

I think it is very hard for non-Japanese to master many Kanjis in a few years.


Kanji in JLPT and in Japanese school

Ministry of Education in Japan sets course which kanji should be studied at each grade in school. Although it is not clearly stated, the number of Kanji you should master in JLPT is generally presented.


This is the chart for Kanji in JLPT and in Japanese school.

Grade shows grade in elementary school.


Grade                     Level
1st (80 kanjis) N5
2nd (160 kanjis) N4
3rd (200 kanjis) N3
4th (200 kanjis) N3 & N2
5th (185 kanjis) N2
貿 綿
6th (181 kanjis) 沿 N2

Based on this chart, you should master about 1,000 Kanjis for N2 level, which is equivalent to grade 6th in elementary school in Japan. For N1 level, you should learn about 1,200 kanjis more…..

Is it interesting, right??


How many months or years have you studied Japanese so far?

If just for 6 months, grade 1 level in Japanese educational system and you should be studying 80 Kanjis. In other words, you do not need to be so pessimistic if you can not master many Kanjis.


How to master Kanji

There are some tips how to master kanji.

Some of these tips are practically used in Japanese school. It is very useful for you to study Kanji.


Some says writing Kanji on paper repeatedly is the best way. But I think it is boring and you may be fed up with that. Though writing is important, you can try these tips to be more efficient and suitable for your style.


① Learning meaning of Kanji

Each Kanji has its main meaning. If you master meaning of kanji, you can more easily understand the meaning of words and sentences. Learning meaning of that kanji is important.


② Reading

Kanji is used in words or phrases or sentences. If you master Kanji itself but you can not use it in words or phrase or sentences, it is actually useless and just time wasting. It is very important to learn in practical way and real situation.  To do so, you should read more example in words and sentences.


③  Writing by hand

These days we use PC or mobile phone to write reports or messages.

So chance to write by hand is getting less and less.

But I can say that in order to master Kanji, handwriting on paper (or in the air) is very useful.

Each kanji has order stroke rule  and it’s useful to understand and memorize format.

Writing kanji in correct order stroke is important.


④ Review in short time

Do you know “Forgetting Curve”?


The forgetting curve hypothesizes the decline of memory retention in time. This curve shows how information is lost over time when there is no attempt to retain it



Surprisingly, if you do not review something you studied within one day, 74% of that will be lost from your memory.

This theory implies that you should review within one day to retain in your memory.

For example, if you study in morning, you should review night.

Only 40 seconds per kanji is enough.

Reviewing by reading, explaining to others or writing. Any ways are ok!


How was this post about mastering Kanji?


If you like this or feel this is useful, please share on Facebook and retweet on Twitter!

This is more informative post about useful information about Kanji.

Useful information about Kanji

This is more informative post about grammar for N5 level.

50 ponts to be mastered in grammar for N5 in JLPT

If you wanna join Leo Sensei’s group on Facebook, click Facebook mark on top or bottom and send friend request to me. You can get updated information and ask me freely about Japanese language and culture and so on.

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4 Responses

  1. sally says:

    Thanks to this, i realize i ain’t as stupid as i thought, but, i’ve still got many things to learn
    Thanks for the knowledge! Keep posting! ✨

  2. Brett says:

    This is one of the best blogs I’ve seen to master Kanji. Truthful and informative. I like the chart of all the Kanji that is studied from elementary to high school. I liked the part where you said it takes Japanese 12 years to master 2136 Kanjis. Kanji is not something for the faint hearted. It takes a very long time to master. It can be done of course if you are disciplined and motivated.

  3. Bhaskaran C.A says:

    Quite useful and encouraging. Will follow your posts regularly. Thanks a lot.

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