The 10 Most Important Kanji All Japanese Learners Should Know

Not loving all of the kanji you have to memorize? Want to know the most important kanji first, so that you can avoid spending unnecessary time in brutal struggle, and more time watching your favorite anime?

The 10 Most Important Kanji All Japanese Learners Should Know


I want to help you out. The following 10 kanji (technically 20, as I wanted to give you the simple compound words they are found in) are the most important and versatile in the Japanese language. Most of the language is built off of them. For anyone not a beginner, you’ve probably seen these already, but it’s always good to get a refresher.


10. 鞦韆
9. 螇蚸
8. 鸛鵲
7. 踆鴟
6. 吩咐
5. 盈虧
4. 躑躅
3. 髑髏
2. 螺鈿
1. 鳳凰

I would include their readings and meanings, but I assume you already know them, so I won’t waste your time with that.

Master these and you master all!

Add to the list?

What are some other super easy and important kanji you think every learner of Japanese should know?

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Founder of Jalup. Spends most of his time absorbing and spreading thrilling information about learning Japanese.


The 10 Most Important Kanji All Japanese Learners Should Know — 27 Comments

  1. I definitely agree, it would be difficult even to have a basic text conversation without these. Everyone has to start from somewhere, but this is a great place to start.

  2. i can’t recognise a single one of these from rtk? I’m so confused lol. Am I the only one that doesn’t know any of these?

  3. Good one! It’s funny that I ran into 鞦韆 today for the first time on a blog. But then again, it wasn’t written with the kanji! Number 11 maybe 蜻蛉? hehe

  4. Serious moment of panic there before I remembered what day this was posted. Whew!

    Nice one :) Just subtle enough that I didn’t even think twice about it at first.

  5. I was seriously questioning the quality of my years of study until I looked at the posting date. This is the second best prank that has ever been played on me. The first was a couple of years ago, when I pulled a $400 parking ticket off the windshield of my car in the parking lot of my college campus. I had forgotten that a friend of mine worked at that campus, and was so panicked at first that I didn’t notice her obvious typo on the “Notice of Parking Volation.” That “ticket” earned a permanent place on my fridge, but I think I’ll skip memorializing this prank in my Anki! :D

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