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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) san, 2) yama - mountain

Think of it as a range of 3 mountains, the tallest being in the center

火山 ka zan - a volcano [lit. fire mountain]
fu ji san - Mt. fuji [contrary to popular belief the 'san' in 'fujisan' is not 'Mr.' 'Fujisan' does not mean, "Mr. Fuji" :)]
ごみの山 gomi no yama - a mountain of garbage
yama - a mountain

1) sen, 2) kawa - a river, stream

This is a picture of water flowing down a stream

kawa - a river
ishi kawa ken - Ishikawa prefecture (on Honshu)
小川 o gawa - a stream [lit. small river]

1) haku, 2) byaku, 3) shira, 4) shiro(i) - white

Don't confuse this with () which means self: white has one line and () has two lines

白い shiroi - the color white
shiro ari - termite [lit. white ant]
白鳥 haku chou - swan [lit. white bird]

1) ten, 2) ama, 3) ame - heaven, the sky

Heaven is BIGGER than the kanji for big (), therefore there is a line above it

天井 ten jou - ceiling
ten ki - weather
天国 ten goku - heaven, paradise
天才 ten sai - genius

1) u, 2) ama, 3) ame - rain

Think of the top part as the sky opening to release the rain

ame - rain
ama mizu - rain water
大雨 oo ame - heavy rain

1) den - electricity, electric powered

Notice the top part is rain, so think of electric lightning

電車 den sha - (electric) train
den chi - a battery
電話 den wa - a telephone
電気 den ki - electricity, light (from light bulb...)

1) ki, 2) ke, 3) iki - spirit, intention, mind, power, energy [just look at the examples, this kanji has many meanings]

This is a fun kanji to draw. Sometimes the best way to learn to read a kanji is by drawing it many times

空気 kuu ki - air, atmosphere
gen ki - genki, healthy, full of spirit
電気 den ki - electricity, light (from light bulb...)
人気 nin ki - popular

1) sha, 2) kuruma - car, vehicle

Using your imagination (to the limits of your ability), you may see a car with 4 wheels

電車 den sha - train
ji ten sha - bicycle
救急車 kyuu kyuu sha - ambulance

1) koku, 2) kuni - country, a nation

This is a combination of kuchi () [mouth] & tama () [ball]. Sometimes if the parts that make a kanji are strange it becomes actually easier to remember! So get a ball stick it in your mouth and think of your country!

韓国 kan koku - Korea
gai koku - foreign country
中国 chuu goku - China

1) en, 2) maru(i) - a circle, yen (money

This is often used instead of the Yen symbol

千円 sen en - 1000 yen
en daka - a high yen rate
円をかく en o kaku - draw a circle

1) wa, 2) hanashi, 3) hana(su) - a talk, a topic, a story

Most kanji are made of parts. The left side means 'a word' and the right side means 'tongue'

英会話 ei kai wa - English conversation (class)
mukashi banashi - an old tale, legend [note how the 'hanashi' becomes 'banashi'
手話 shu wa - sign language [lit. hand talk]

1) bun, 2) ki(ku) - to hear, listen, ask

This is a combination of gate () and ear (). People go to the gate to hear news

新聞 shin bun - newspaper
kiite kudasai - please listen
朝日新聞 asa hi shin bun - the Asahi newspaper

1) jiki, 2) shoku, 3) ku(u) 4) ta(beru) - eating, a meal, food

It looks like a person reclining under his roof eating something

食べ物 tabe mono - food [lit. eating thing]
tabetai - (I) want to eat
食事 shoku ji - a meal

1) doku, 2) yo(mu) - to read

The left part means 'a word' and the right part means 'to sell.' So a book is a bought word

読みやすい yomi yasui - easy to read
doku sho - reading
読んで下さい yonde kudasai - please read

1) rai, 2) ku(ru) - to come

This is one of the very few irregular verbs: kuru becomes 'kimasu' in the -masu form!

未来 mi rai - the future [lit. not yet come]
rai getsu - next month
出来る de ki ru - able to do something, ready for

1) sho, 2) ka(ku) - book, document

Remember this one as the one with a lot of horizontal lines. Also remember there is a sun at the bottom; after all, you must have light to read!

図書館 to sho kan - library
sei sho - the Bible [lit. holy book]
辞書 ji sho - dictionary

1) ken, 2) mi(ru) - to see, 3) mi(seru) - to show

The top part is me (eye) and think of the bottom as legs. Therefore actively using your eyes means to see

見せて misete - show me!
hana mi - flower viewing, watching cherry blossoms in April
見える mieru - be able to see, visible

1) gyou, 2) kou, 3) i(ku) - to go

It looks like a side view of a dog (with no tail) ready to go

行きましょう ikimashou - Let's go!
gin kou - bank
旅行 ryo kou - a trip, travel

1) shutsu, 2) da(su), 3) de(ru) - to go out, leave

This looks like a mountain on a mountain [actually it is not] So think of going out to the mountains

出口 de guchi - exit
shuppatsu - to go, departure
思い出す omoi dasu - to remember, to recollect

1) nyuu, 2) i(ru), 3) hai(ru) - enter, to go in, to insert

It looks very much like the kanji for a person () but with a little hat on.

中入り naka iri - intermission (of a play)
iri guchi - an entrance
手に入る te ni iru - to obtain, to get your hands on ...

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By Clay & Yumi