Learning Japanese Kanji: My Journey to 1000 Kanji (10/09/2010)


Why did devote a section of my blog to Japanese kanji? Simply put, I want to learn more about this fascinating language around me. I want to be able to understand everything around me: on a train, on a bus, at a doctor’s office, at the grocery store, in a newspaper…EVERYTHING!

No, I’m not a Japanese specialist, nor I am I a Japanese teacher, not even in the slightest. I hope I don’t come across that way. I DO however enjoy learning new things about language. Two things I have going for me right now, are an extreme desire to learn, and a wonderful opportunity to live in Japan.

As far as writing goes, learning hiragana and katakana was the initial challenge for me. I can confidently say that I do know all of them, and I can read, write, and recognize them. However, I don’t have a native speaker’s reading speed or comprehension. Becoming quicker at employing them is constant work in progress. As I continue to increase my katakana and hiragana speed, I don’t want my Japanese to plateau…therefore, I have set a goal to learn more kanji…1000 kanji to be exact. I want to learn them systematically, and really know them. My idea is to create an area of my blog just to posting the kanji that I learn every week. This number may be small some weeks, and may be larger in others…but posting this area for all of the Internet world to see, gives me no means of escape, nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. It’s like a cage match…me against these 1000 kanji. I WILL BE VICTORIOUS!!

When I post videos for this blog area, they will be done in a teaching style. But why teach if you don’t know all the kanji you’re teaching, Donald? Two main reason: Number one- if I go through these kanji as if I had to teach them to someone, I’ll be sure to focus more on the details, I won’t just gloss over the steps. Number two- it’s really hard to teach a subject without picking up some of what you’re learning (even something as obscure as Japanese kanji).

As I go through these kanji, I hope that maybe someone out there will learn something, too. Maybe you’re struggling to learn kanji, too. Let’s learn them together!! I’m not trying to come across as some Japanese language know-it-all, because the fact is…I don’t know everything about the Japanese language! but I REALLY want to learn. So on those days I get tired (I know they will happen) please leave me some encouraging comments, advice (if you have Japanese skills already) to help me reach my goal.

Striving for success,

Donald Ash

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Donald Ash is an ATLien expat who has been living in a Japanese time warp for the last six years. While in aforesaid time warp, he discovered that he absolutely loves writing, blogging, and sharing. Donald is the creator, writer, designer, editor, programmer, and occasional bad artist of thejapanguy.com blog (that's just way too many hats, dude). Wanna know more about this guy? Check out his "What's Your Story" page.
  • Mehrdad

    よくやった. 私も日本語を勉強しています.

  • Greetings Donald. It’s awesome that you are living in Japan; having kanji everywhere you look is a sure-fire way of eventually getting so used to them, that you will eventually use and read them like a native!

    If it helps, I would recommend you check out the book “Remembering the Kanji”: While the method outlined in there may seem a bit weird, it makes a lot of sense once one starts applying it:


    • Donald Ash

      WHOA! Thanks alot. I appreciate the hot tip. I’ll have to check it out. In the mean time, I’m trying to learn kanji at the elementary school that I’m working for. Thanks for your comment.

  • furry worm

    great idea, I’ll learn with you cause I don’t know kanji at all :(
    long way to go…

    • Donald Ash

      Sounds good! Don’t feel bad about not knowing any I’ve been here for a while now and stilll don’t know nearly as much as I should :(

  • Abby R. (sozecat)

    Haha, sounds a lot like how I’m doing, only I’m learning the grammar at the current moment. Kanji is an important skill but I still have yet to learn more than 3 or possibly 4… SO I’ll join your journey, senpai! :D

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