Kanji are chinese characters that are one part of the Japanese writing system along with Hiragana, Katakana and Romaji (the latin representation of hiragana and katakana).
Kanji characters are ideograms, where a kanji character represents a word or meaning which can be combined with other kanji or hiragana to create a more complex word.
There is no definitive count of kanji characters, with some dictionaries containing more than 50,000 entries, however there are 2,136 kanji in regular use, another 1,000 commonly used and a few thousand more which have usage but are obscure or used in specialized fields only.
We have tagged all jouyou kanji (the 2,136 kanji that are considered in regular use), as well as various other tags for which year-level a kanji is taught.
Kanji are made of one or more radicals (or components). We provide a radical search to find a kanji by it's radicals.
Over time, some Kanji characters and their and meanings and pronounciations diverged from the original Chinese.
There are a number of different readings (or categories of pronounciation), but this website focuses on on-yomi, kun-yomi and nanori.
On-yomi (Sino-Japanese reading)
On-yomi (or sound-based reading, or translation reading) is the modern approximation of the Chinese pronunciation of the character at the time it was introduced.
On-yomi primarily occur in compound words and generally are based on Chinese words for concepts that either did not exist in Japanese or could be expressed as well using native words. A kanji have have multiple on-yomi and potentially different meanings based on when they were introduced to Japan and from which part of China.
Kun-yomi (Native reading)
Kun-yomi is the native reading and is based on the pronunciation of a native Japanese word. Each kanji can have multiple kun-yomi, and some have no kun-yomi at all. Kun-yomi were added to the Kanji where these was already a Japanese word for what the chinese character represented.
Kun-yomi is generally used for words that only use one character.
Nanori (Name reading)
Nanori (or name reading) are pronunciations that are used almost exclusively in Japanese names.
Studying kanji can be intimidating, however there are many successful methods people use (including mnemonics).
As a beginner, you may benefit from focusing on the readings for common-words of the kanji; Memorizing all the individual readings can be overwhelming and many may be obscure.