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Lesson Transcript

Welcome to the Japanese Kanji video series.
My name is Alisha and I'm joined by...
Hi everyone.
I'm Risa!
In this series, we'll teach you the best method for learning Japanese kanji and teach you some of the most useful kanji characters along the way!
That's right!
And we're here to help guide you through your journey.
In this first episode, you'll learn exactly what kanji is and why you need it, the best method of learning kanji, and about the building blocks that make up a kanji character.
Okay Risa, let's get right into it.
First, let's explain what kanji is exactly.
What is kanji?
It's quite simple actually.
Kanji is the use of Chinese characters, in Japanese writing.
So, Japanese actually uses Chinese characters in part of its writing.
That's because Japanese writing actually originated from China right?
A long time ago Japan only used Chinese characters.
Today, we use three different scripts together to write Japanese.
Those three scripts are: hiragana, katakana, and kanji.
So for comparison English only uses one script, the 'English alphabet', but Japanese uses three different ones.
Kanji is the interpretation of Chinese characters into Japanese.
And hiragana and katakana are scripts created after by Japanese people; you can kind of think of the latter two as the "Japanese alphabet". We refer to them as...
Learning kana is easy, it's just like learning the alphabet.
You learn a limited number of letters and using those letters, you can put them together to form words.
On their own though, they don't really hold any meaning.
Kanji however, is different.
There are thousands of them.
And hidden beneath each one lies a secret message.
One kanji character can say more than a hundred of these letters because it represents an idea.
A wealth of meaning can be uncovered from this single character.
The concept and meaning however, will only reveal itself if you know where to look.
And this is the true power of kanji.
Okay, now that we know what kanji is, how do we actually start learning kanji?
How to learn kanji?
There are many ways to start learning kanji.
The most obvious way, although not the most effective, is to simply memorize them.
Like learning the alphabet, or learning new words, you can start learning kanji by memorizing a few each day, every day, until you've memorized them all.
Unlike learning the alphabet however, which consists of only a small set of letters, there are thousands and thousands of kanji characters, each with their own unique concept and meaning.
And let's pray that you don't forget a few along the way.
Memorizing each individual kanji one by one just isn't practical.
There's simply too many of them.
You can memorize the alphabet in a few days, but memorizing every kanji there is?
Let's just say that you'll be at it for a very, very long time.
Thankfully, there's a more effective way to learn kanji.
And that's by learning the "radicals."
What are radicals?
A kanji character can be broken down into smaller components.
These smaller components are called 'radicals'.
You can think of radicals simply as "the building blocks of kanji."
Every kanji character has at least one radical.
Sometimes, the radical itself can be a kanji on its own.
And several radicals put together could be another kanji.
By learning radicals, the building blocks of kanji, you can understand the general meaning of kanji characters you've yet to learn.
Instead of learning individual kanji characters one at a time, we essentially learn the building blocks instead. You only have to learn a few radicals to be able to read some of the most common kanji characters out there.
In this series, we'll teach you 10 useful radicals that'll get you started learning kanji quickly and easily.
We've covered quite a lot of things already, so why don't we wrap up the first lesson and recap on what we've learned.
In this lesson, you learned that Kanji is the interpretation of Chinese characters into Japanese writing.
Kanji are characters that represent an idea, and therefore contain a wealth of meaning.
And the quickest and most effective way to learn Kanji is by watching this series at JapanesePod101.com, where we teach the building blocks of kanji - radicals.
In the next lesson, we'll teach you one of the most common, useful, and basic radicals used in kanji - the person radical.
See you in the next lesson. Bye!


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Friday at 6:30 pm
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Do you know the true power of kanji?
Click here to download the FREE Kanji e-book
Click here to buy the Full Version Kanji e-book

user profile picture
July 21st, 2019 at 3:14 am
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The link for the free e-book is only for Apple products? What about Google Play (Android)?


user profile picture
June 28th, 2019 at 8:20 pm
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Hi Jo,

Thank you for posting.

Please check out our FREE PDF book to easily master 1500 Kanji here:


In case of any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.


Cristiane (クリスチアネ)

Team JapanesePod101.com

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June 27th, 2019 at 6:03 am
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I do not get it. How do I download the FREE KANJI E-BOOK? I clicked on the link but I don't see any download button anywhere.

user profile picture
April 2nd, 2019 at 7:56 pm
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HI Sylum,

Thank you for posting.

The links are in our pinned comments, so you can click on them in that section.

Alternatlvely, here they are for direct access:

FREE Kanji e-book


Full Version Kanji e-book


Please let us know if you have any questions.


Cristiane (クリスチアネ)

Team JapanesePod101.com

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April 1st, 2019 at 12:34 pm
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Hi Mark,

Thanks for the question. I'd suggest memorizing the symbol itself ALONG WITH both on-reading and kun-reading. It may seem overwhelming, but memorizing all at the same time as a SET will save your time later on.


Miki H

Team JapanesePod101.com

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March 30th, 2019 at 2:35 am
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Where can I get free ebook??someone please email me link.

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February 3rd, 2019 at 6:39 pm
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Sorry if this has been asked already, but is it efficient to learn what the Kanji symbol is first (in English) and learning how to say it in Japanese (on and kun reading) later? Or is it better to memorize both at the same time? I kind of find it overwhelming to learn not only what the kanji character means, but also how to say it in Japanese due to my limited vocabulary. Thank you!

user profile picture
January 26th, 2019 at 6:24 pm
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Hi Ker,

Thank you for your message.

At the moment we only offer these options:

Click here to download FREE Kanji e-book: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1119424354

Click here to download Full Version Kanji e-book: http://store.innovativelanguage.com/A-Radical-Approach-to-Mastering-Kanji_p_742.html

Thank you for your kind understanding. We'll consider your feedback for our further development.


Cristiane (クリスチアネ)

Team JapanesePod101.com

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January 24th, 2019 at 1:40 am
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How Come the mentioned Ebook at the start isn't on the Google Play Store?

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December 21st, 2018 at 7:10 am
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Hi Anthony,

Thank you for the question.

Japanese kanji came from Chinese language and there are many common kanji between the two languages. However, many of them are pronounced very differently and sometimes a kanji could mean X in Japanese while means Y in Chinese. So just because you know kanji, that doesn't mean you already know a bit of Chinese. A Japanese person might be able to guess what it says in written Chinese, but not fully. Also Chinese pronunciation is VERY different from Japanese language.

Thank you for studying Japanese with us!


Miki H

Team JapanesePod101.com