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Most of the examples include kanji not learned yet (probably), but I think it is good for you to be exposed to kanji that you will later study. My suggestion is to look carefully at each kanji spending time reading the pronunciations and then carefully copying the examples to paper. Think of it as art and it can be fun, really!
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.
Click here for the graphics version of this page

The Kanji Readings & Meanings

1) jou, 2) ue - top, above, on 3) a(geru) - to raise a(garu) - to rise 4) nobo(ru) - to go up

Don't be shocked at the number of pronunciations (actually there are more!), the best one to remember is ue. That is the most commonly used.

机の上 tsukue no ue - on (the) desk [lit. desk's above]
上手 jou zu - to be good at something [lit upper hand]
年上 toshi ue - older, old (in years)

1) ka, 2) ge, 3) shita - bottom, under, down

This one also has several more readings, but shita is the most useful for now

靴下 kutsu shita - socks [lit. shoes under]
地下 chi ka - underground, basement
年下 toshi shita - junior, younger, young

1) sa, 2) hidari - left

Both left () and right () are very similar. Left has a capital I and right has a mouth

左手 hidari te - left hand
左足 hidari ashi - left leg
机の左 tsukue no hidari - to the left of the desk

1) yuu, 2) u, 3) migi - right

Both left () and right () are very similar. Left has a capital I and right has a mouth

右目 migi me - right eye
右ページ migi pe-ji - right page (of a book)
右手 migi te - right hand

1) tou, 2) higashi - east

Somewhere in the east there is a rice field () with a tree () in the middle of it

中東 chuu tou - the Middle East
東アジア higashi ajia - East Asia
東京 tou kyou - Tokyo

1) sei, 2) sai, 3) nishi - west

"Go west!", said the mouth with legs dangling inside

西口 nishi guchi - west entrance
関西 kan sai - Osaka and surrounding area, Kansai
西ドイツ nishi doitsu - West Germany
大西洋 tai sei you - the Atlantic

1) nan, 2) minami - south

Remember: there is money (yen) in the south

東南アジア tou nan ajia - Southeast Asia
南極 nan kyoku - the South Pole, Antarctic
南米 nan bei - South America

1) hoku, 2) kita - north

It looks like 2 people sitting with their backs against the north pole

北海道 hokkai dou - Hokkaido (most northern part of Japan)
北アメリカ kita amerika - North America
北京 pekin - Bei jin (In China)
南北戦争 nan boku sen sou - the (US) Civil War

1) gai, 2) ge - outside, foreign 3) hoka - other, 4) soto - outside

This is a useful kanji if you are a foreigner

外国人 gai koku jin - foreigner [often abbreviated to gaijin but can be considered an insult]
外国語 gai koku go - foreign language
外で遊ぼう soto de asobou - Let's play outside!

1) mei - name, fame, famous, 2) myou, 3) na - name

By word of mouth () fame and name spread

名前 na mae - name
私の名前は。。。です。 watashi no namae wa ... desu. - My name is ...
有名 yuu mei - famous
平仮名 hiragana - Hiragana [a Japanese writing system]

1) kou, 2) taka(i) - high, costly, tall

Think of this as a picture of a tall and costly Japanese building

最高 sai kou - the highest, the best, supreme [not to be confused with 'Psycho'
高校生 kou kou sei - a high school student
高いビル takai biru - a tall building [note: 'biru' is taken from the English, 'buiding']

1) shou, 2) ko, 3) o, 4) chii(sai) - small, little

Only 3 small strokes make this kanji

小学校 shou gakkou - elementary school
小さい家 chiisai ie - a small house
小説 shou setsu - a novel, a story (fiction)

1) chuu, 2) naka - middle, center, within, inside

It's a line inside a box!

一日中 ichi nichi juu - all day long
家の中 ie no naka - inside the house
勉強中 ben kyou chuu - while studying, in the midst of studying

1) dai, 2) tai, 3) ou(kii) - big, large, great

This is a big person () with his great arms spread wide

大学 dai gaku - university, college
大きい心 ookii kokoro - a big heart
大会 tai kai - big meet, convention, rally

1) chou - head of an organization, leader, 2) naga(i) - long

There are several long strokes to make nagai

校長先生 kou chou sensei - principal (of school)
社長 sha chou - a company president
長い道 nagai michi - a long road

1) han - half

The two top half lines were cut in half

半ヶ月 han ka getsu - half a month
半月 han getsu - a half moon
半島 han tou - peninsula [lit. half island]

1) fun, 2) bun - a part, share, 3) wa(keru) - to divide, separate 4) waka(ru) - to understand

The bottom part is a sword () and think of the sword dividing the top part into two parts

半分 han bun - half
部分 bu bun - a part
気分 ki bun - feeling, mood
分かりました wakarimashita - I understand

1) gaku - learning, science, 2) mana(bu) - to learn

The bottom is a child () and think of the top as his brain waves learning

科学 ka gaku - science
中学校 chuu gakkou - middle school, JHS
数学 suu gaku - math, arithmetic

1) kou - school

Remember: many schools buildings are made of trees ()

学校 gakkou - school
高校 kou kou - senior high school
校内 kou nai - within the school, on school grounds

1) sei, 2) shou - birth, life, 3) u(mu) - to give birth, 4) i(kiru) - to live

学生 kaku sei - a student
一生 isshou - all life, a lifetime
人生 jin sei - life (human)
先生 sen sei - teacher, master, doctor...

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By Clay & Yumi