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Poop-Themed Kanji Study Book a Bestseller in JapanNippon.com Staff

Japan’s latest publishing sensation is a godsend for parents fretting over how to get their children focused on learning kanji. Unko kanji doriru (Poop Kanji Drills) applies a mountain of excrement to the problem with over 3,000 example sentences featuring the word unko (poop). The elementary school student’s fascination with the smelly theme has propelled the six-book series (one for each eleme…
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Another Golden Year for Kanji

The year 2016 was tumultuous and unpredictable by most people’s standards. But the kanji that best represents the year, as chosen by public vote in a keenly followed annual contest, was one that never goes out of style: 金, pronounced kin or kane and meaning “gold” or “money.”
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Free Apps for Studying Japanese

There are many free smartphone apps available for learning Japanese. This article introduces some of the better options.
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Kyoto’s Museum for Kanji Lovers

The Kanji Museum in Kyoto opened on June 29, 2016. The new facility includes many interactive exhibits and displays giving the history of the characters in China and Japan.
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How Japanese Children Learn KanjiRichard Medhurst

During their six years in elementary school, Japanese children learn over 1,000 kanji. In this time, they greatly increase their reading sophistication, moving from picture books to short novels and simple biographies. Characters are all around them and often graded to their level, whether they are taking lessons in social studies or other subjects, practicing calligraphy, or even reading manga …
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2015 Kanji of the Year: “An” Juxtaposes Security and UneaseNippon.com Staff

As the year draws to a close, kanji lovers turn their attention to the famous 13-meter-high wooden platform at Kyoto’s Kiyomizudera for the unveiling of the Kanji of the Year. The annual event, which is sponsored by the Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation, took place on December 15 in 2015. This was three days later than its normal date on “Kanji Day,” chosen for the homophonous wordplay as…
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“Shodō” (Japanese Calligraphy)

Practitioners of the traditional art of shodō use brush and ink to shape Japanese kanji and kana. Recently, the contemporary twist of performance in front of an audience has gained the calligraphic art new fans.
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Making It Memorable: Japanese Mnemonics for Dates and KanjiRichard Medhurst

Sometimes memory needs a helping hand. While English speakers use “Thirty Days Has September” to remember which are the shorter months, the equivalent for young Japanese children is the phrase nishi muku samurai (the samurai looking west). First of all, ni, shi, mu, and ku sound like the numbers two, four, six, and nine, representing nigatsu (February), shigatsu (April), rokugatsu (June), and ku…
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The 2014 Kanji of the Year: “Zei” (Tax)Nippon.com Staff

For lovers of Asian languages, December 12 each year carries a far greater significance than simply the opening of another door on the advent calendar. Since 1995, this has been the date chosen by the Japanese Kanji Proficiency Society for the announcement of the Kanji of the Year, the single character deemed most evocative of the events of the last 12 months. This year’s winning kanji is 税 (ze…
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The Kanji Kentei: Japan’s Test of Characters and the American Who Passed Its Toughest LevelRichard Medhurst

Japan loves tests. It seems that there’s nothing many Japanese like more than filling in answer sheets in a room packed with like-minded individuals. From scenic night views to the culture and history of the Edo period (1603–1868), there’s a kentei shiken, or certification exam, test you can take for almost everything. One of the most popular of these quizzes is the Kanji Kentei, or “Kanken,” whic…
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