Study the origins of kanji with animation and illustrations!

Do you like studying kanji?
Have you ever struggled to memorise the individual characters?
If you aren't from a country that uses kanji, learning the meanings, readings and vocabulary must be far from easy! Why not try remembering them in a fun and interesting way, through animations and illustrations showing how they came about?

Here we'll introduce some sites where beginner-level learners who are just starting to tackle the kanji can learn about the characters' origins in a fun way. Why not give them a visit?

1. Quick Kanji (Kids Web Japan: Introduction article)

Here you'll find the origins of the kanji introduced using animations. Only around 20 beginner-level kanji are looked at here, but this is probably enough to make people who are just starting out with their studies think "Kanji look fun!" We think it's quite useful to know how the kanji came about in the first place, and can help learners to get interested in them.

For example, try clicking on '焚き火' (bonfire) from amongst the pictures...

You'll see that, like this, there is an animation explaining clearly how the shape of the kanji came into being. It's definitely quicker and easier to understand if you can watch an animation showing the transitions the shape of the kanji went through, rather than reading a long written explanation, don't you think?

This site's introduction article can be found here. Kids Web Japan's introduction article is here.

2. GCSE Picture Kanji Cards

On this site you can download PDF files which you can print out and use as picture cards. For each kanji there is also a short hint written in English to help you remember how it is written.
This site's introduction article can be found here.

3. Kanji-origin Maze (1)

This is aimed at native Japanese speakers. Questions about different kanji are shown and you have to choose the correct answer.
The Japanese used in the questions is not too difficult, but how about the questions themselves?! Take a chance, and try seeing if you can escape from the maze to the world outside!

You'll find that there are lots of sites and publications like this out there, aimed at teaching native speakers about the make-up and history of kanji characters. In short, kanji study causes native speakers a few problems too! The most important thing is to find a way to get yourself interested in the characters, through things like these animations and pictures, then carry on practising reading and writing every day! Perseverance is the key!

Last update 2010.05.07


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