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Kanji of the Year: “Kita” the Northern Winner for 2017

In a year of political action at home and uncertainty on the international front, the Japanese public decided that 北 (kita or hoku), meaning “north,” was the kanji best expressing what 2017 meant to them. Read on to learn why and to see the top 10 finishers in this year’s Kanji of the Year competition.
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Character Assassination: Successes and Failures of Kanji ReformRichard Medhurst

In 1866, as the Edo period drew to a close, the statesman Maejima Hisoka submitted a proposal suggesting that Japan abolish kanji to the last shōgun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu. Maejima, who had both learned and taught English, bemoaned the amount of time students spent memorizing Chinese characters, which could have been used for other study. He was just one of many would-be reformers and abolitionists…
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Books for Studying Japanese

These courses, reference works, and workbooks offer assistance on the journey to Japanese proficiency.
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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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