My Kanji Studies Right Now

↑ Those are receipts.

I’ve written before (in 2014) about how I started to study kanji regularly when I was working as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) in Waki. This is approximately what my studies look like now, in 2017. I’ll talk a little bit more about it below.

“How many kanji do you study every day?”

My coworker asked me this question before. On an average day, like when I took the screenshot below, my Anki deck for kanji had 90 review cards and 4 new cards. The new cards were problems for the Kanji Kentei, which I’m planning to take this year. I don’t know if 90 reviews sounds like a lot or a little, but it’s not that bad. It depends on the difficulty of the reviews, and they’re just reviews, not new cards. I’m not learning very many brand-new kanji right now, just learning readings for a lot of kanji that I’ve seen or studied before.

My decks are a mix of different ideas I’ve gleaned from Japanese learning blogs over time. I’m learning songs based on the method in this AJATT post, I started an AJATT 10,000 sentences deck (I just checked, and it has around 825 cards right now, including a few things that aren’t full sentences, so obviously I am well on my way to 10,000 hahaha), and the kanji deck includes kanji cards using Heisig (method described on this page from Nihongo Shark) and everything else kanji- and grammar-related. My decks are also influenced by grammar advice that I found on ALTInsider.

I have several Anki decks, but I usually focus on improving one group at a time. When I took the screenshot, that group was the Kanji Kentei, included in deck “c”:


Deck “c” can take around a half hour, or more, if I spend time looking up information about a kanji or thinking about something I saw on a card. The “a” and “b” combined can get finished in 15-20 minutes, depending on if I’m just memorizing the information or taking the time to look things up. Sometimes I finish really fast, and have nothing left to do on my train commute. If I’m sitting or standing on the train, holding a pen trying to balance a notebook is inconvenient, so I followed the advice I found on a website (perhaps this page on and draw the characters with my finger in the air (not way up in the air like they do in Japanese elementary schools, just with my finger hovering over my phone).

In the picture above, I probably finished the day’s kanji on just the front side of that daily calendar page. There are around 80 kanji or Anki cards’ worth of kanji on the page. Sometimes I went onto the back, sometimes not. The key, though, is that I get exposure to these kanji every day, which leads to better reading and understanding ability, and that I write them down, because I need to internalize the differences.

Last year I might have gotten a little carried away with the Anki repetitions, so this year I’m trying flesh out my overall Japanese exposure in the form of books, manga, and listening resources. I want to keep learning kanji, though, so the kanji studies aren’t going to go away anytime soon :)

♪ John Mark Macmillan, “My Heart Runs”

5 thoughts on “My Kanji Studies Right Now

  1. Quite amazing. I’d be trying to remember the picture, like two little ballerina girls in tutus. Which I’m sure means something completely different. Good for you Kanji girl.

  2. Hi Stephanie. The Lord led me to your blog when I was looking for contemporary Japanese worship songs and I found your “5 Great Japanese Worship Songs” post. Thank you for your blog. It’s very helpful, interesting, and inspiring as I’m also trying to work on my Japanese. As I was praying for you, the Lord gave me a question to ask you. Do you know what the Lord has for you to do while you’re in Japan? He’s clearly given you a heart for Japan. If you don’t know, or haven’t thought about it, you should ask Him. He’ll tell you because I know He has something for you in Japan. Go on for God!

    1. Hi, Clayton. Thank you for your message. I will be asking the Lord about what He has in store for me in Japan. I’ve been taking a break lately, partly to ask some of those questions, so your message was really good timing. Thanks for being willing to pray for a complete stranger and put yourself out there by writing a message on my blog. I wish you the best with your Japanese studies and I appreciate the follow :)

  3. Kanji definitely is the biggest grind when learning Japanese (at least for me). Especially writing out the reviews really started to wear me out. Definitely will try the writing in the air method! Might help make me feel more like doing those reviews haha.

    1. Yeah, writing with your finger makes the reviews go faster, too. I do make more mistakes when I do that, and then accidentally press “good” on the app and have to reschedule them for later or mark them as “extra miss-able” with stars and things.

      You probably already know about rescheduling, but if you ever get really behind, you can divide up the remaining cards and reschedule them over a two-week period–like, if you missed a few days and have 500 cards to do, you could reschedule it so you have to review 50 on Monday, 50 on Tuesday, 50 on Wednesday, till you run out (haha).

      By the way, I noticed from your blog that you seem to be in the area around Miyajima. That’s so close to where I used to work, in Yamaguchi-ken! Good luck with the kiddos :)

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