The Ultimate Japanese Kanji Flashcards to Kick Your Kanji Up a Notch
Unlike written English, which uses a mere 24 letters, kanji is made up of 2,000 commonly used characters.
While many Japanese language learners opt to focus on speaking skills, eventually you’re going to have to master kanji to claim complete Japanese fluency.
So, how do you learn all of those characters?
The most efficient method is with kanji flashcards. I’ll take you through the best kanji flashcards around–both digital and physical–so you’ll be a major step closer to being able to read Japanese!
- Digital Kanji Flashcards
- Physical Kanji Flashcards
- Effective Ways to Use Kanji Flashcards
Digital Kanji Flashcards
Kanji Cards offers you several free-to-download PDFs of kanji flashcards. You have the option to download the PDF with or without stroke order diagrams.
You can easily download and study these cards straight from your phone or computer.
This site also gives a nice introduction to learning kanji and breaks down all the kanji characters covered here based on JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) level.
The flashcards contain stroke order, example sentences and meanings.
If you’re looking for something simple and straightforward, Kanji Cards is definitely worth bookmarking!
Study Kanji is another website that offers pre-made flashcards arranged by JLPT difficulty.
With this site, you can change the settings to test your knowledge from Japanese to English or vice versa. Going from Japanese to English is easier, especially if your native language is English; the other way around can prove to be quite the challenge.
And, don’t let Study Kanji’s minimalist design trick you—this resource has hundreds of kanji for you to memorize. Unfortunately, there’s no way to track your progress within the site, but you’ll be able to save your preferred settings.
Skritter is a sleek app designed for powerful kanji memorizing. It puts great emphasis on being able to write kanji, so get ready to put your hand to some serious use.
The app takes some of the most common kanji from frequently used Japanese textbooks. Over a short period of time, you can get familiar with stroke order and radicals.
It’s important to mention that input equals output when it comes to practicing your writing. The more you write, the better you’ll get.
Skritter makes motivating yourself to practice writing kanji a lot easier than getting out pen and paper.
Kanji Koohii is one of the most useful sites for studying kanji.
After you register for a free account, you’re free to explore all the eye-catching flashcards available. Kanji Koohii incorporates all the elements needed to help you remember kanji.
The program comes with concrete examples and creative ways to memorize hundreds of useful kanji.
The design and color scheme alone is enough to get you hooked on learning kanji in style.
Memrise doesn’t limit you to the flashcards that are already created. This site takes flashcards to another level by allowing users to share flashcards that they’ve created,
You’re no longer limited to what’s on the JLPT exam. Instead, you can choose topics like anime and manga from which to study new vocabulary.
Drops Kanji isn’t your average flashcard app. It’s designed to feel immersive and challenging.
You’ll get repeated exposure to words based on the topic of your choice. Plus, the graphics offer a very visual context of the new words you’ll learn.
Drops Kanji is based on the freemium model, so some of its features will be restricted if you continue to use the free version. However, the free version offers great study material.
This app can also help you with pronunciation.
The only downside is that Kanji Drops only focuses on the meaning of the kanji and not so much on the part of speech or conjugation.
Chegg is a free online hub of kanji knowledge.
This high-quality digital studying tool gives you access to hundreds of different kanji flashcard sets and lists. Many of the kanji flashcard sets are based on textbooks commonly used in Japanese classrooms.
You also have the option to create your own set of kanji flashcards.
You’ll be able to continually test yourself with Chegg’s built-in quizzes and see how much your kanji skills are improving over time.
Brainscape has an adaptive system of flashcards that’ll keep you on your toes with learning kanji. This site also lets you study kanji flashcards generated by other users. You can also create your own kanji flashcards.
Some of the kanji flashcard sets available on Brainscape are divided into different levels, which is very helpful when searching for a set to study.
Physical Kanji Flashcards
Tuttle’s physical kanji flashcards are probably the most popular around. They offer two decks: one for the first 200 kanji based on the JLPT, and another for the next 200, covering up to the N3 level.
Each card comes with plenty of useful info, including example words and phrases, stroke order and mnemonics.
If you’re worried about physical flashcards being hard to handle, Tuttle’s kanji cards come with a ring binder so you can organize or group them however you want.
Dr. Moku’s kanji flashcards are far from traditional. They put a playful spin on learning kanji, with vivid images, bright colors and mnemonic sentences to help you remember each word better.
For example, 雨 is illustrated with raindrops, and it comes with the mnemonic “Rain makes you look like an amateur American” since the kun reading for 雨 is ame or ama.
It’s fun to flip through them, and there’s even a specific order for learning them, starting with the simplest characters.
White Rabbit’s kanji flashcards are a top recommendation for intermediate learners because they cover more than 1000 of the Joyo kanji.
They actually have beginner and intermediate flashcard decks, with an advanced deck in the making.
The cards are well-thought-out, with example words that are actually pretty common. You can even see look-alike characters (to avoid mixing them up!).
Each card also breaks down the radicals for the character, which helps with remembering it.
Effective Ways to Use Kanji Flashcards
Spaced Repetition System (SRS) combines memory and repetition into one effective learning method. Instead of bombarding your brain with flashcards, with this approach, you’ll space out your studying sessions for better results.
The key to spaced repetition is setting a spaced repetition schedule. This will include studying specific kanji flashcards at various time intervals that become more spaced out over time.
Anki is an excellent tool for implementing this method.
There’s also FluentU for creating multimedia flashcards. You can look up kanji or Japanese words in its dictionary, and it can generate flashcards with audio and even example sentences and video clips.
Kanji are ideograms, which means that each one tells a story.
Embrace your creative side and create some fun mnemonic devices to help you remember the kanji you’re learning!
Here are a couple of examples:
- 困 (こん) means trouble. It’s represented by 木 (a tree) in 囗 (a closed border or box). Putting it together, a tree closed in a box is in trouble because it can’t grow.
- 美 (び) means beauty. It’s represented by 大 (big) and 羊 (sheep). Here’s a sentence mnemonic for that: big sheep certainly are beautiful!
It’s a good idea to try to combine memory devices for both pronunciation and meaning.
Kanji Damage is a great resource to get some ideas flowing.
Reading and Writing Daily
Actively using kanji will create a sort of muscle memory effect in your brain.
To do this you can take advantage of some of the wonderful apps available for kanji learners or even get active on Japanese social media!
The most important takeaway here is that you expose yourself to kanji and consistently practice reading and writing it.
Remember, learning kanji is challenging, but with persistence and consistency, you can do it one flashcard at a time!