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Learning the kanji

Learners of Japanese always run into the "learning kanji" wall, and usually that wall has the shape of the jouyou kanji set. There are 1945 jouyou (常用) or "common use" kanji in Japanese, divided in seven sets: six sets which get taught in elementary school, and a general set that you get in junior high school.

In addition to these 1945 kanji there are also 865 jinmei (人名) or "name" kanji that may be used in Japan, which leads to a combined set of 2810 kanji that you should for all intents and purposes know. While it used to be the case that the name kanji were 285 kanji that were essentially "name only", the most recent addition of close to 600 kanji to this group includes many kanji which are considered kanji that any literate person would know and as such it is recommended you learn their normal meaning and readings too.

I'd like to take a slightly different approach. After much considering, I've decided to teach you all the kanji you need to know to read normal printed mass-media material, ordered in such a way that it is reasonably easy for you learn them. These kanji include the jouyou kanji, but also include several kanji not found in the jouyou set, but found in printed media with enough frequency to warrant learning anyway.

The ordering presented is based on several aspects: how essential is the kanji (ie, how early will you be taught it) which is dependent on its place in the jouyou and jlpt lists, how hard is the kanji (which is dependent on how many strokes it has and how many subcomponents it has), and how easy is to remember given the kanji you already learnt (which has to do with which particular subcomponents make up the kanji).

The good news is that this order is almost done. The bad news is it's almost done. The ordering is generated by a computer program which primes the list based on several variables (namely the ones just mentioned) and I'm not sure I've found an "optimal" ordering quite yet (it works for the most part, but there is still a bit of improvement left) so this page will come back up, with a much better ordering than the jouyou kanji for learning all the kanji in less than a year, hopefully pretty soon.

If you're looking for the old daily jouyou pages then click here to continue with that program. Once the new system is up I will keep the old jouyou system alive for about a year, after that it will be removed from the site in favour of the new system.

- Pomax