Language Lab – Japanese Class Week 20: Introduction to Kanji

こんにちは!This week, we will begin learning kanji. As I mentioned in our first hiragana lesson, kanji are Chinese characters. Some of them are written in a more simplified fashion than in the Chinese language, but many of them are written exactly as they are in Chinese. As ideograms, kanji do not represent sounds, but instead represent objects, types of people, or ideas. As such, there is no established alphabetical order for kanji. However, kanji can be organized into tiers based on their perceived difficulty and how fundamental they are as building blocks of the Japanese written language. One such set of tiers is the one used by the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, or JLPT. Currently, the test is offered at five different proficiency levels, but until recently, it was offered at four: levels N4, N3, N2, and N1. Over the course of these lessons, we will cover all of the kanji included in the two most basic levels--N4 and N3--and a few kanji from the N2 level.

Today's lesson will introduce our first ten kanji: 人、日、月、火、水、木、金、土、今、and 何. After you finish the lesson, print out and complete our first kanji writing practice sheet, opens a new window from, and download our Kanji Lesson 1 Vocabulary List.

References (2018). Kanji master drill: Part 1. Retrieved from, opens a new window (2021, May 15). [Untitled image of kanji]. Retrieved from, opens a new window