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The Kanji Readings & Meanings
The pronunciations in italics are the ''Chinese'' pronunciations and the boldface are the native Japanese readings. The pronunciations in red are recommended to learn as they are the most useful

1) kai, 2) e - meeting, 3) a(u) - to meet

Think of the kanji as a person sitting at a desk under a roof. Most meetings take place in a house with desks, ne.

英会話 ei kai wa - English conversation [only kai wa means any conversation]
会議 kai gi - meeting, conference
教会 kyou kai - church

1) sei, 2) shou, 3) ao(i) - blue (sometimes green)

Blue moon! You saw me standing alone. I saw you standing at the bottom part of this kanji.

It becomes aoi (add the i) when placed with a noun --> aoi ahiru - a blue duck. (strange example but you get the drift, right?)

青空 ao zora - blue sky
青森県 ao mori ken - Aomori Prefecture
青色 ao iro - blue color

1) seki, 2) shaku, 3) aka(i) - red

This kanji has done something embarrassing and is running away with it's face turned red (see the arms and legs running?)

赤ちゃん aka chan - a child, infant
赤道 seki dou - the equator
赤字 aka ji - red ink, in the red, a deficit

1) mei, 2) myou, 3) aka(rui) - light, bright, to dawn

In the sky the 2 brightest objects are the sun (left) and the moon (right)

明るい akarui - bright, cheerful
発明 hatsu mei - invention
説明 setsu mei - explanation

1) shuu, 2) aki - fall (the season), autumn

In the fall, many people burn leaves and things with fire (right part)

秋分の日 shuu bun no hi - autumn equinox holiday [see more on holidays]
秋風 aki kaze - autumn breeze

1) kuu, 2) kara, 3) sora - sky, air, empty

Think of a karate expert jumping in the air to break a board in two

空手 kara te - karate [lit. empty hand]
空気 kuu ki - air, atmosphere
空港 kuu kou - airport
sora - sky

1) kai, 2) hira(ku), 3) a(keru) - to open

Maybe you will recognize mon (gate) [] I think of a man (in the middle) opening a large gate door by pushing with both arms
Be careful to not confuse open with close [] I think of close as a man kicking the door closed

ドアを開ける doa o akeru - open a door
全開 zen kai - full throttle, fully open

1) aku, 2) waru(i) - bad, evil

It looks like an anvil or some heavy object on top of a heart [] When you do something bad, your conscience (should) weigh heavy on your heart

悪者 warui mono - a bad fellow, someone (something) bad
最悪 sai aku - the worst
悪魔 aku ma - devil, demon

1) chou, 2) asa - morning

朝日新聞 asahi shinbun - Asahi newspaper
今朝 ke sa - this morning [irregular pronunciation]
毎朝 mai asa - every morning
朝御飯 asa go han - breakfast [lit. morning rice]

1) ji, 2) aza - letter (from the alphabet...), character, mark

Think of a young child learning his alphabet under a roof

文字 mo ji - letter
赤十字 aka juu ji - Red Cross [ juu ji is cross]
漢字 kan ji - kanji, [lit. Chinese character]

1) soku, 2) ashi - foot, feet, leg, 3) ta(riru) - to be enough sufficient

A person doing a split with his legs

When you say, 'ashi' it means both leg and foot. Japanese doesn't distinguish where one starts and the other stops

両足 ryou ashi - both legs (both feet)
右足 migi ashi - right foot, leg
満足 man zoku - satisfaction

1) mi, 2) aji - taste, experience

Of course the kanji that deals with tastes has a kuchi (mouth) in it []

味見 aji mi - try the taste, have a taste
意味 i mi - meaning
趣味 shu mi - hobby

1) shin, 2) atara(shii) - new, fresh

Try to begin to look at kanji and get a feel for their meaning. I know it sounds strange, but as you progress you should be able to automatically catch its meaning at a glance. Look at this kanji and think of something new

新しい車 atarashii kuruma - a new car
新聞 shin bun - newspaper
新年 shin nen - new year

1) shuu, 2) atsu(meru) - to collect, gather

This is a collection of lines

編集 hen shuu - editing (newspaper, book...)
集める atsumeru - to collect, to gather something
集会 shuu kai - assembly, group

1) kei, 2) kyou, 3) ani - older brother

Think of a loud older brother with only a big mouth and 2 legs

お兄さん o nii san - big brother (honorific - it changes from 'ani' to 'onii'
兄弟 kyou dai - brothers

1) shi, 2) ane -older sister

This kanji is made of 2 parts: onna (woman) [] and city or market [] - Maybe you can think of a connection, I can't.

お姉さん o nee san - big sister (honorific - changes from 'ane' to 'onee'
姉さん nee san - girl, older girl
姉妹 shi mai - sisters

1) ho, 2) bu, 3) ayu(mu) 4) aru(ku) - to walk, to step

The top part is to stop [] and the bottom means a little [] So when you walk a long distance you have to stop a little too

一歩一歩 ippo ippo - one step at a time, step by step
散歩 san po - a walk, stroll
第一歩 dai ippo - the first step

1) yuu, 2) u, 3) a(ru) - to have, to exist, is

There is a moon

有り難う arigatou - arigatou, thank you [set expression]
公有地 kou yuu chi - public land
有名 yuu mei - famous

1) an - safe, peaceful , 2) yasu(i) - cheap, inexpensive,

Remember this kanji has two different meanings: 1) safe and 2) cheap

安心 an shin - peace of mind
安いもの yasui mono - something cheap
安全 an zen - safe, safety

1) i - to heal, to cure

医者 i sha - doctor
医院 i in - clinic

Back to Level 3 Kanji
Kanji, oh Kanji! 漢字

Clay & Yumi Boutwell

Last updated:
木曜日, 5 31, 2001