Japanese Kanji Downloads
Japanese Days of the Week
PDF with Kanji and stroke orders (3.2 MB)
This Japanese vocabulary and Kanji sheet is available for free download.
The Japanese Days of the Week Vocabulary + Kanji sheet is also available as PNG image here
Other Japanese language study PDFs for free download:Vocabulary sheets
Hiragana and Katakana
Kanji or Chinese characters are one of the main scripts used to write Japanese. Japanese used to be written only using Chinese characters but as these characters were designed or evolved if you want specifically for the needs of writing down Chinese, it was bringing some complications, for instance, in Japanese verbs and adjectives are conjugated and need the grammatical suffixes and endings written down, and so during the years, syllabic alphabets Hiragana and Katakana evolved from Kanji (Actually, first some of the Kanji used to be written only to represent their sounds and from these, using two different styles, Hiragana and Katakana were created).
You might think: If I can write everything just using the syllabic alphabets, why do we need Kanji? As you learn elementary Japanese you will realize that sometimes it is actually much easier to read the same text with Kanji used in it rather than without them. One reason is that in Japanese there are no spaces between words and when you see a Kanji character after a Hiragana syllable, it's most likely to be a new word. Another reason is that there are a lot of homophones in Japanese (words that sound the same but are different words, such as heir and air, I and eye in English). Words that are homophones are usually written differently. Sometimes it's two different Kanji, sometimes one word is more commonly written in Kanji and the other one in Hiragana and Katakana.
When to start learning Kanji?
I personally recommend, start with Hiragana and Katakana and when you start being a little sure in them, go on to your first Kanji. They don't need to be too many or too complicated for the beginning but they are many and you might want to start as soon as possible.
How many Kanji are there? And most importantly, how many Kanji characters do I need to learn?There are thousands of Kanji. You will need about two thousand for everyday life in Japan (at least to be able to read them), to be able to read a Japanese newspaper, you might need even more but if other than Joyo Kanji are used, the pronunciation should be marked by Furigana (small hiragana above or next to Kanji that marks its pronunciation).
There is an official set of characters most used in Japanese, the so called Joyo Kanji (meaning common or everyday chinese characters), which defines 2136 Kanji that are the standard you want to learn (this number was increased last time in 2010, before that there were 1945 Joyo Kani). It sounds a lot but in fact, Japanese is today mostly written on computers and other appliances that allow for simple and fast input of written Japanese and even Japanese kids aren't required to know how to write ALL of the Joyo Knaji by hand. But don't think they can escape with just a few. Only in 1st grade elementary, they need to learn Hiragana, Katakana AND about 100 Kanji!
We will be bringing you Kanji in portions, always with numbers and arrows so you can always have a peak how exactly you need to write the Kanji.
Kanji stroke order
The stroke order is very important when writing Japanese (not just Kanji). Not just because it might look a little different but learnign how to strokes go will also help you to remember how to write it. Yes, you will probably write most of your Japanes eon your computer or a post-PC device but it's highly recommended that you learn how to write as much of the most used Kanji as you can so you can write something down if needed.
I'm ready to start, which characters should I learn first?
There are many systems already out there and the simplest might be either start exactly like kids at school do , ie, start with Kanji that's meant for grade one, then grade two, etc. Another option, which I personally prefer, is to start learning Kanji htat's required for the lowest level of the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test, which is the official and most recognized international exam in the Japanese language). There's about 100 kanji to start with with either of these options (there's about 100 characters required for JLPT level N5 or old level 4 and a similar amount required for children to learn in their first year elementary.