Using Anki to Master Japanese – Kanji King — 202 Comments

  1. Sorry to bother you all the time but…
    I’m unsure about one thing.
    Basically in the question field you enter the kanji alone yes?
    And then in the answer field you put the on or kun reading?
    And you tag along the “actual” kanji? Where do you find the “real” kanji meaning?
    Pls explain the Answer field pls.

  2. No worries, I probably didn’t make it clear enough so I edited it above. Also because I’m guessing you are using basic anki cards with only question and answer format, and not the specially made kanji cards.

    Question field: English keyword + Japanese keyword
    Answer field: the kanji itself

    Not on or kun readings. Your Japanese keyword is any Japanese word that has the kanji in it. For example if the kanji is 朝 you might choose the Japanese keyword word あさ which means morning.

    • I see, if I follow your method, from the very beggining, would it be a good idea to get rid of the Heisig mnenomic system all together?

  3. Edited above. I recommend using the mnemonics in conjunction with the Japanese keyword because the mnemonics are very beneficial for memory in the short term (~1-2 years).

    • Wouldn’t that “kind of” be time consuming and even might be confusing if you unintentionally mix up all radicals and primitives with your Kanji reading and compound and what not?
      With ALOT of drilling and using just the plain method you use without mnemomics might be more suitable for me, but as of yet I do not know…
      Im waiting for my copy of RTK to arrive and while it slowly gets to me, I’m trying find out the BEST methods so that I can kind of get a heads up on the Kanji + Sentence thing.
      And again, thks for the tips and advice!~

      • I like to think of it as an extra hint. Kind of like the way some people will actually write the mnemonic into the card in addition to the keyword.

        But it’s worth trying it the way you are saying. It definitely might work for you. I’ve never done it that way, so can’t give you any real insight.

        Good luck with starting RTK!

        • Is there any chance you could upload your deck onto the Ankiweb site so I could check out what you have done on it? I studied 20 years ago and am just getting back into Japanese and have basically everything organized except a good deck so am interested in seeing exactly what you have done with yours. I have downloaded quite a few decks from Anki but none of them are quite what I think I would like. thanks very much.

          • No two decks are alike, since decks progress based on a person’s individual knowledge of Japanese. I also started Anki when I already had a good background of Japanese and went straight to Japanese.

            I have samples of my sentences scattered throughout the Anki posts on this site, so I think it is better to use those for reference then see the whole thing. To really make Anki work to its fullest, creating your own deck is most effective.

  4. Hello I am also doing RTK as well I am around 400 kanji. Should I be doing anything else to help my Japanese learning I am listing to Japanese on my ipod I have been watching anime without subtitles and i have been watching the news and podcasts in Japanese I wanted to know how exactly do i learn the Japanese meaning of the Kanji am learning lots of people said that i did not need RTK 2. Did you use it? If not how I learn the meaning and also could you explain the sentence method I do not fully understand. Thank you in advance.

    P.S. o also know hiragana and katakana

    • You learn one Japanese keyword with each kanji. Since RTK 2 provides keywords, it wouldn’t hurt to use. Check out parts 2-4 of the “Using Anki to Master Japanese” posts to learn how to do the sentences.

  5. I’m actually back to this stage, sentences are still going okay but due to health reasons I could only manage reviewing them and Kanji just got left to one side, I deleted my deck which felt incredibly motivating!

    I was well into Kanji before I discovered your site though, so i’ll take this info in mind this time round. Although I was thinking of applying it to RTK Lite to make it more manageable and compliment sentences more, filling in the gaps later and being in less of a rush to finish because sentences are on the go.

    I’ve only lost a months progress, but then most of it is hard to forget. I think I was relying on stories too much too since I had them in the card.

    I understand everything you’ve typed here so i’ve no questions, i’m not sure how far RTK Lite goes but do you have any opinions on it? I’ll give it a try anyway!

    • You should easily be able to catch up with your month’s absence. Japanese doesn’t leave your head that quickly.

      I didn’t know anything about RTK Lite, but it looks like it is the 1000 kanji for the JLPT 2? I don’t see anything wrong starting with that, but you’ll eventually need to know the others as well.

      However, even the full RTK has a lot unnecessary kanji that you do not need to know. Unfortunately, you don’t know which ones you don’t need to know until you get to a pretty far level. But that is when you can start deleting kanji. I plan on making a list soon of all the unnecessary kanji found in RTK to save people all the wasted time from learning kanji that you will rarely ever see. For example, 旭 is number 27 in Heisig, yet I have 0 anki cards that use it.

  6. Why do you skip on and kun readings? Or more specifically how do you deal with learning on and kun readings for kanji? I have RTK but haven’t really used it, instead using more rote methods for learning kanji initially. Lately I haven’t concerned myself with writing kanji and focused more on just reading kanji. I also haven’t used Anki before, I have been using iFlash, which is has been pretty good for cramming for tests, but I don’t think the interval memorization system is as good as Anki’s, or at least that is my impression. I am also looking forward to doing sentence flash cards, something I’ve never tried but makes a lot of sense. You also mentioned that you keep all of your decks together? So J-J vocab, kanji, and sentences? Anyway I was looking to power up my Japanese and ran across your website a few weeks ago, so it has been helping to motivate me to jump start my studies and hopefully make them more effective.

    • You skip the on and kun readings because they aren’t necessary. The point of having one Japanese keyword is so that the English keywords don’t mess you up later down the road with their similarities. You learn the readings of a kanji naturally through sentences (and all other immersion sources). As you progress there is no need to think “this is the on reading so it has this pronunciation”. It will naturally become “this is the kanji reading because it is in this word”

      I don’t use J-J vocab, but the kanji and sentences (J-E + J-J) are together in one deck

      Good luck with your studies.

      • So, basically, you are suggesting that we just remember the meaning of each kanji and not bother with the readings? How exactly do you develop the ability to read/ pronounce kanji once you know all of them? I mean, what exactly goes through your mind when you read kanjis in sentences – do you associate the kanjis with the meaning or the pronunciation? Or both?

  7. Ok so I’ve downloaded Anki and I’ve started reviewing my Kanji for two hours a day. However, I cant help but feel I’m doing something wrong. I only downloaded the RTK and ended up with over 3000 Kanji but no sentences. I feel like you said I should be making sentences as well but no matter how many Kanji I go through there are no sentences. In my Elementary Japanese 1 class, we are using the book Japanese for Busy People I and I noticed that our lesseons are focuing heavily on Hiragana right now not Kanji…I always liked to do what I had to so I could progress quicker so I was wondering should I try and balance learning Kanji and Hiragana at the same time? I’m working hard because I’m eager to get to the stage to where I can understand a little of the Japanese televison I’m lucky to have here in Okinawa. Please I hope you can give me a little guidance.

    • You downloaded the Full RTK 1 + 3 pack. You want to either download the RTK1 only, or just delete the kanji over 2042 (I’ve mentioned that there are some benefits to doing the last 1000 kanji, but they are minimal).

      Yes, you do sentences at the same time as you do the kanji, but they don’t come with the deck you download. You have to create/insert them yourself. See part 2 of this post for details.

      You should learn Hiragana/Katakana first as soon as possible. It shouldn’t take more than a week or so.

  8. Hey I like the way you interact with everyone who comments on your blog. I’m at the stage where i am trying to sharpen my anki approach. Pretty much every blog speaks about hitting 1000 or 2000 sentences before going J-J, and I’m doing the Core 2000 right now, then will do the Core 6000. I see you mentioned Genki 1 and 2, but I dont’ have those books, and i’d rather use pre-packaged sentences that build on each other than have to manually add the sentences each day. Just wanted to know your thoughts on Core 2000.


    • I’ve never personally used Core 2000, but if it contains 2000 J-E sentences than I see nothing wrong with it. But if Core 6000 contains another 6000 J-E sentences I’d say that is kind of excessive.

      While the J-E sentences are less important, which is why using a textbook with preset sentences is recommended , I fully believe the J-J sentences need to be from your own input. Since Japanese is meant to be used for your own enjoyment, you need to be learning what will be most helpful to you in enjoying Japanese.

      For example, I guarantee you the 1000 sentences on legal subjects in my Anki deck wouldn’t be very helpful to you.

  9. Great read. I started learning Japanese 2 weeks ago, and I’m just finishing up Katakana. After that I’ll get into grammar and then kanji using this guide. I have some questions though. Can you give an example of how I would find a Japanese keyword for each kanji? I tried searching some at but I got multiple Japanese words corresponding to one kanji. How do I know which one to use? This method is actually time consuming though. What was your method? Also, if I’m not using on yomi or kun yomi, how will I know how to pronounce the kanji? Finally, you said one should start adding sentences as soon as possible while simultaneously studying the kanji. By adding do you mean making an anki deck or actually studying the sentences on anki? I don’t see how I’m supposed to do the latter if I’m only just beginning kanji.


    • Just pick one word from the dictionary. It doesn’t matter what it is. While I originally didn’t use this method the first time I went through RTK, I slowly edited my Anki cards to add keywords, since I noticed I kept getting Kanji cards wrong solely due to the English keywords. So if I had to do it again, I would fix this problem straight from the beginning.

      See above comments for discussion of on/kun readings + how you learn to pronounce Kanji. And I mean both making an anki deck + studying the sentences on Anki. See the continuation posts to this series to find out more info. Since all you are doing is taking sentences from a beginner textbook, you don’t have to master the Kanji before you start it.

      • Thank you, I understand now. I found a fast way to get keywords. I use Rikaikun on Heisig’s Kanji Index here.
        The popular keyword is the one that shows up first when I hover over a kanji, so I use that. Feel free to share this method.

        I have a question regarding making one deck for both sentences + kanji. How did you do this? Did you add separate tags such as “sentence” and “kanji”? Do the cards pop up in alternation (kanji, sentence, kanji, sentence, etc)? If so, how do you do this?

        Thanks again,

        • They were originally separate but I merged them together a long time ago. The kanji cards have all the fields that are given in the default RTK deck, and the sentence cards have the 3 standard fields. They don’t pop up in any kind of order, but just when they are due.

  10. Hello!
    I recently started reading this blog and decided do try your methods. So far it’s been going great! The only thing I felt like it didn’t work out is putting the japanese readings in my anki RTK deck. I can see how it will help me in the long run, but writing a reading for every kanji has been a pain and really demotivating. Lately, I even put on hold my kanji reviews because I was too lazy to go put in the readings for new kanji. Sometimes i feel bad enough about not reviewing kanji that i go write the readings of 20 kanji, review them, and the next day stop reviewing again, until i fell really bad about it again. Can you help a lazy person like me? Should i just give up on writing the readings until I can actually use them? What should i do?
    Thanks in advance~

    • I personally didn’t add the readings as I went through in the beginning. It was something that I discovered I wish I did, and eventually starting adding them a few years later. So if it really discourages you that much, then you can wait.

      However, you gave me a really good idea which will probably help out your situation. I’m going to offer my Heisig deck for download on Japanese Level Up, which includes readings for most of the kanji already included. It also has the kanji from RTK3, and already has all the unnecessary kanji deleted (which I discuss in another post). I’ll be posting this deck probably this upcoming weekend, so if you can wait, you might want to use that.

      • Oh my god~! You’re the best! I knew it was a good decision to ask here for help. If I ever see you I’m treating you at least a lunch.
        Thanks again ^^

  11. I love you Anki setup series!

    I’ve read this post and the comments a few times, trying to figure out how to set up an Anki deck with example words, and how to remove the “useless” kanji more efficiently. And now I read that you’re going to offer your own deck! What a delightful surprise :D.

    I can’t wait until it’s available for download! Thanks for your generosity!

  12. Great idea with the japanese keywords! I’ve been wanting to add Japanese keywords for a while but wasn’t sure how to implement it since I wouldn’t necessarily understand the Japanese keyword. What would you do in this case? Add the reading for the other kanji in the keyword and translation for the keyword?

      • I did check it out. The problem is I don’t know most of the Japanese keyword’s meanings. Nor the reading of the other kanji in the keywords.

        • Sorry I wasn’t clear. The point is not to learn the Japanese keyword as you go through the kanji for the first time. Its benefit really comes later when you approach those keywords in other sources, and prevents you from mixing up kanji when you do reviews. Think of it as more of a hint when you first start.

          But I guess if you really want to know it, you can use something like the yahoo online dictionary to look it up.

  13. Hm, the idea itself sounds great.

    There is just one part that I still don’t get .The example uses “topic”, that consists of 2 Kanji. When the first part is written as Kanji and the one that is supposed to be learned in Hiragana, would’ that mean you would make 2 cards for “topic”? One two learn the first Kanji (written in Hiragana with the 2nd part written as Kanji) and one for the second Kanji (written in Hiragana with the 1st part written in Kanji)?

    • You don’t make 2 cards for “topic”, only the one. The second kanji for 話 is on a different card, with a different keyword, that is already one of the cards of RTK. For that 話 card you could use 話題 written as わ題 for this other card, or you could pick another different compound (ex. 手わ、はなし, etc).

      • Understood, thank you for the quick reply.

        I was going to insert RTK1 into Anki by using RTK2 as the source for Japanese keywords, only to find out that the cross-references between RTK1Ver6 and RTK2Ver3 are incorrect in a lot of cases.

        Since I intendet to create the Anki deck myself (gives me a better feeeling inserting them on a day to day basis) what other source for Japanese keywords would you recommend?

          • Ok, thanks again. After way too much thinking and preparing, I finally started with RTK1 (Ver. 6) and Anki, following your method.

            What can I say, it works favorably, so again, many thanks for sharing your methods.

            I will in Japan again next summer and am excited to see how much I will be able to read/understand until then.

  14. Sorry to bother you with another question.

    I am using your RTK as a reference for my own deck. I stumbled over the Kanji 世 for generation. You used englisch keyword “generation” but the compound for “world” (世界).

    Wouldn’t that lead to confusing the words and think that 世界 actually means “generation”when it really means “world”?

    • The Japanese keywords are not the Japanese version of the English keywords. The English keywords were created by Heisig in RTK. The Japanese keywords I added (or that you will add) are common Japanese words that have the specific kanji in them.

      So the reason why the setup of the card “Question (Generation せ界) and Answer (世)” is done this way is because one of the most common words that uses 世 is 世界 (which as a fully word combined with the other kanji, means world).

      Some of the words I use in my RTK happen to be exact translations. Others are just part of common kanji compounds.

      Remember, the Japanese keywords are there not as much to teach you the Japanese meaning at the same time, but to show you a common example where it used, and to prevent you from getting the English keywords mixed up later on.

      Similar to the examples I gave in the post, problems result with the English keywords, including 世 for generation. On a later kanji review, you may see generation, and think to 代(だい), as in 八代目組長(はちだいめくみちょう, 8th generation Yakuza leader). You would then be getting the kanji card wrong, even though this kanji also clearly can mean generation. But according to the original English keywords, 代 is “substitute”.

      Hope this clears it up.

  15. Hi PecoTheGreat- Allow me to chime in. I have recently started to use his RTK deck also. When I first started using it, I had the same thought and it did bother me. Over time, I’ve learned to really just concentrate on just the hirgana portion of the example word. Additionally, it have lots of “ah-ha” moments when I can see the kanji being studied in context. I think that adshap is on to something with this condensed nice deck.

    Full disclosure, I’ve been studying Japanese for much longer than I’d like to admit and it may be more difficult for true beginners. Good Luck!!

    • Thank you Charles.

      I still tend to use the Englisch translation of the used Japanese keyword in the answer, but I see the general idea.

      With this, I am trying to learn both, the Kanji for “generation” and also get a quick view of a possible compound, in this case “world”.

      So my question is:
      generation せ界

      and my answer is:
      世界 (world)

      But it is possible that I will one day find this slightly changed method less useful than the one from adshap.

  16. Well, first of all, I must thank you kindly for organizing this guide and such for everyone :)
    But then again, I’m sure that you’re aware by now how helpful your work has been.
    So, I’ll just get on with my question regarding Anki: Would you happen to recommend a specific amount of time for the Session Limit (minutes)? Both for the RTK and the J-E Sentences?

    My apologies if I happen to have missed a similar comment to mine
    and my best wishes for the new year :)

    • I know you asked adshap, but I’ve put some thought into session limits:

      Time boxing works because the way we remember an experience is overly affected by the end of the experience. So if you always do something until you get tired of it and then stop, you’ll remember it as it feels when you’re tired of doing it and be less inclined to do it again. Therefore:

      ・If you’re someone like me who finds interruptions unpleasant even if you aren’t sure you wanted to be doing the thing in the first place, session limits are counterproductive. I don’t use them.

      ・Otherwise, they should be set to any number that is low enough that you aren’t yet tired of doing cards and high enough that you finish reviews in a manageable number of sessions per day; the higher end of this range is probably better. This number is different for different people and different subjects. You could turn session limits off and pay attention to when you particularly feel like quitting and set it for something less than that, you could try different numbers and see how they feel, or you could just leave it at 10 if that’s working for you.

      • Phew, and here I was feeling that something was wrong when I felt inclined to do multiple 10 minute sessions in a row :) How reassuring
        Thank you very much for the response!

    • I think カイエン gave a really good, full answer. Just to chime in, I have never used time boxing/timed sessions. When I study, if I want to study a lot, that’s what I do. If I don’t want to study long, I don’t. To me, time boxing would get in the way. Time boxing works well for some people and badly for others. You have to decide which type of person you are.

  17. First off, I want to say thank you so much for this site! I studied Japanese for two years in university, and I have now been living in Japan for almost 2 years, but I just discovered your site the past week and it has given renewed vigor in my studies.

    When I first came, it was my goal to become proficiently conversational in Japanese, which I have for the most part. But, my kanji skills are greatly lacking. On that night, do you suggest actually going through the RTK as well as doing the anki review afterwards? Also, I was considering just starting with book 2 and skipping the english part since I already have a pretty decent foundation. What do you think? Thanks for the help.

    • Yes, you should go back and go through RTK with Anki, continually doing the reviews when they become due (eventually they will become very minimal). I actually did this about 2 years into my studies when I first discovered Anki. While it feels like you may be taking a step backward, it will result in many steps forward.

      Book 2 teaches you the readings, which are what your self-input J/E and J-J sentences will do, so I’d skip it. I recommend either my RTK mod deck, or RTK1+3 with the deletions I suggest.

  18. I have downloaded your customized RTK deck, but I don’t quite understand how to use it. On the front card it shows the keyword and either Hiragana, another kanji, or a combination of both. But I don’t know all the Kanji yet! How do I use it then? It’s ok if it shows the pronunciation in Hiragana but I lack the Kanji skills (険 for example didn’t even come up for me yet but it already showed with “risk”!)

    I’m sorry if you answered this question already, but I still don’t get it. Any answer would be so much appreciated!

    • The Japanese keywords are in the deck mainly for 2 reasons: 1) To aid your kanji reviews further in your studies since you will eventually come across these words in many other contexts, and 2) to prevent you from mixing up English keywords. When you are first going through RTK, you do not learn the Japanese keywords with the kanji you learn. This would make things way too complex. So with your example with the Japanese keyword ぼう険 and kanji 冒 (English keyword: risk), you aren’t learning the word 冒険 (adventure) now. You won’t know what the pronunciation or meaning of 険 (けん) is at this point since you haven’t come across 険 yet. However, at some point in the near future though, this information will become invaluable to you.

    • one other bonus: when you have the hiragana there it’s easier to look up the word on a website to make sure you have the stroke order correct.

  19. I have a questions about the sentence adding method. I’m going to try it with the textbooks I have as well but I’m also reading a book in japanese (aka translating all the kanji I can’t read) I’ve read in english and was wondering if you think it’d be helpful to put those sentences in as well. If so any modifications I should make to the input method?

    • For your 1,000 J-E sentences, I’m still going to have to recommend any beginner Japanese textbook over other Japanese books. 1,000 is a lot less than you think, and when you make the switch to J-J, you want to make sure you have a good foundation set. While regular books also contain important vocabulary and grammar, nothing matches the order and clarity of a beginner textbook. So save those sentences for when you reach J-J.

  20. oh man. I had been using anki regular deck (just english keywords) on my phone with RTK. my retention was good in the last few days as i plowed through the remaining kanji. a few days after i finished the book, i sync’d anki on my phone with anki on my computer so i could add a new deck, but the direction of the sync was such that it wiped my phone anki progress and set me back to the last time i’d reviewed on the computer–about 200 frames or so into the book. i’m not sure what to do other than start over with a deck that has the japanese keyword and maybe click 4 instead of 3 to try to recreate what i had. i’m worried about what will happen when i get to the kanji from the end of the book where i left off. i guess all i can do though is quite obvious: 頑張ります

    • Sorry to hear your progress loss. I know the pain, and have been there. It made me kind of paranoid in the past so I usually try to create extra backups in different places. Since you have to go back to #200 anyway, I’d take a look at my RTK Mod deck since it already has all the Japanese keywords. As you said, just plow through with 4s for all the easy ones towards the beginning, and then work your way towards slowing down the numbers. You’ll catch up to it in no time.

      Remember, you only lost the program progress (which can be made up with some time and effort). You didn’t lose your Japanese progress.

  21. Thanks. I already began using your deck a few days ago and it’s been very helpful. The inclusion of jukugo and exclusion of less necessary kanji has made it more useful and engaging than repeating the same plain deck again. I also changed my sentence deck to have navy blue background and yellow text since seeing the difference between it’s glaring white light on my iphone and eye pain and your RTK mod deck.

    • just wanted to post a little update: i was quite frustrated with myself for being technologically incompetent and erasing my anki progress just after finishing RTK. i’ve now gone through most of RTK1 again in anki, albeit with the JLUp mod deck, and I just wanted to report that no real tragedy took place. As long as I have kept working at the things I am learning in one way or another, they stick and form as mental building blocks.
      I felt my progress when I browsed the japanese section of Book Off yesterday in NYC, and could pick up books and kinda read and not feel daunted.
      I compare it to those cheesy movies where, for example, the protagonist makes all this progress in basketball because they have magic shoes or something and then the shoes go missing right before the last quarter of the most important game. then a supporting character says, “don’t you see?! it wasn’t the shoes, it was you, all along!” so it’s kinda for me like, “see, anki helps, but your brain is learning the kanji and the language, and anki is just a (very) helpful accessory.” So don’t forget to just enjoy the process and thank your brain for being such a biological miracle.

      • “Remember, you only lost the program progress (which can be made up with some time and effort). You didn’t lose your Japanese progress.” -Adshap

  22. Heya,
    First of all BIG THX for all the information.
    I am currently living in Tokyo and attending japanese classes. Before moving here start of the year I did two classes last year at uni while finishing my degree. I wanted to rapidly increase my japanese and as I love japan and want to spend more time here I decided to move.
    I do enjoy class but since about 2 weeks back the class has increased in size quite a bit (about 15 people total now) compared to 4 before that.
    We have separate classes for japanese (5 days a week) and kanji (2 days a week) which works well. We use the みんなの日本語2 right now for japanese and some kanji book with 300 (I’m just about to finish it) kanji in them. I studied using Genki I at uni and like the book as well as the genki kanji extra book which I use now for the mnemonics and I feel they help.
    But,after stumbling onto to this page and finding out about Heisig I want to try and use that method to supercharge my kanji powers :D
    So, correct me if I’m wrong but this would be a good setup to use:
    1. Buy RTK (going to kinokuniya today)
    2. start reading it (i looked through the sample pdf and I like the way he starts with “parts” and using them to build “building blocks” which then combine into “structures” to finally be used in the most complex kanjis to form a complete ” building”.. all other kanji books Ive looked at (genki,the one I use now etc) usually dont have a very sensible ordering in they way they are presented..I’ve learned parts of harder kanji AFTER I learned the hard one..stupid)
    3. Here is where I am not sure, should I start using your modified RTK deck with anki while reading RTK? Or finish reading it and then? I’m guessing simultaneously as I read a previous poster had a similar question.
    Should I skip the kanji (how?) that I do not know yet or what?
    4.Start pulling together sentences from my old genki I,minna no nihongo 1+2 books following the idea of adding 1-3 new words each sentence with the kanji I know so far?

    I am looking forward to see how this study will go together will my classroom studies… As you have experience with the minna series you’ll know the grammar stuff we are learning and while I understand most of it I feel as if much of it is seldom used in every day speech and harder to practice. My short-form/casual speaking is def. improving quite well and I try to speak and text as much in japanese with my girlfriend and friends as I can.

    This weekend I decided to start really immersing myself and stocked up on japanesepod101 podcasts again on my iphone so I can always listen to new stuff in the background. When I used these years ago before I came to japan they were really good at giving me a kind of small base and now with over 100 hrs of beginner/lower intermediate podcasts to listen to should be good.

    Oh and last thing (long post so far haha)
    Last night I tried the webanki on my iphone and it works good..use that or try n setup iAnki/buy mobile version?your thoughts would be appreciated
    thx again n look forward to your comments

    • well,I actually started to listen to the japanesepod101 pc’s..and at least the beginner ones are painfully slow at instead I followed your advice to start listening more passively to REAL japanese podcasts such as the doraemon radio show/a football cast/the iknow “learn english” for japanese ones and I was suprised how much I still picked up :)

    • 1) Correct, physically buy the book RTK 1
      2/3) Simultaneous read it while going through my modified RTK deck. Learn all (not just what your class is up to) the kanji using both the book for the initial stories and techniques. You will blow everyone else in your class away. Note: My deck is based on the older versions of RTK, and I’m not exactly sure how the newest version is changed.
      4) Correct, pull sentences with a goal of 1 unknown word, but in the beginning sometimes having to add 2 new words (try to avoid 3). This can be with kanji you currently know or don’t know (you will all the ones you need for the sentences once you finish RTK 1)
      5) Profit
      6) Win

      I’ve never used the the Anki App, so you’re better off asking someone that has. However, I use Ankiweb when I’m away from home, and while it does most everything that you could want on the go, it lacks a lot of the interface that the regular Anki program (and I’m sure the App) does.

      Good luck!

      • Thx so much for the of my friends here actually told me how he used this combo of rtk and anki to grey success..started studying rtk yesterday and got through about 50 in quite short time and gonna start using the deck today for a while. Your deck,I should use it in order right?say I set it to 50 new a day then it will show those I’ve read in rtk?so I don’t get lots I haven’t read yet right?

        • Already figured it out :) working good..ESP with golden week coming up I can rly focus on the book.told my girlfriend about it and she was pretty amazed by the concept and keen to see how I do :)

        • Yes, it’s very important to use the deck in order as the cards build on each other. If you set it to 50 new a day, it will introduce you the new ones in order, and you will be reviewing the older ones daily.

      • just a quick update,
        I thought I’d notify the changes to the 6th editions as I go along.
        Here are the “new” numbers so far:
        elbow (46)
        derision (54)
        pop song (57)
        post a bill (60)
        sniff (129)
        gland (141)
        pan- (147)
        cleanse (149)
        grains of sand (151)
        inlay (166)
        chair (206)
        obscure (231)
        bullying (240)
        spinal column (268)
        toy (276)
        effulgent (278)
        metaphor (308)
        roast (310)
        graft (313)
        Hades (322)
        elucidate (360)
        relatives (385)
        revile (392)
        key (418)

        • Thanks Patrick! Really appreciate that as I know a few other people have asked me the same thing when going through the new edition.

        • bewitched (458)
          irrigate (459)
          renunciation (467)
          aroma (478)
          about that time (479)
          block letters (485)
          orderliness (486)

          btw, for now I am skipping these until they either show up in your deck or until I’m finished/ they occur as a primitive of a another later one.. at which point i’ll make a card

    • I do recommend AnkiMobile (the dedicated anki iPhone app.) The biggest advantage is that it still works when you don’t have cell service. It also includes better media support and displays furigana correctly, and in general has more features and is a little faster. It’s great that AnkiWeb is available to everyone, but the better the anki in your pocket is, the more reviews you’ll get done in random moments when you don’t have computer access.

      Personally, if I was only allowed to spend money on one thing to learn Japanese, this would be it. Though this is partly because I have a lot of time when my iPhone is available and my computer isn’t.

  23. just a quick question to check that I’m doing it right and not kind of “memorizing photographically” .. now when I’m doing the review (ive been doing a lot of review early :P) when I see the keyword I “know” what kanji it should be without thinking much really..I try to recall the story and I usually either remember something from the book or one I write on the koohii page but sometimes only words/part description or the part keywords. Is this a good thing or am I only learning it short term like this?

    • It’s fine if you can’t remember the whole story. As long as you can write the kanji when you see the keyword, you are fine. RTK stories are short term. You definitely will forget the stories eventually, which is a good thing. What will remain long term is your ability to write and understand the kanji.

  24. Mm, I’ve been wondering about one thing for some time now… I actually did RTK last year, but due to my computer breaking down and me going on vacation, by the end of it I had well over 1000 reviews piled up and doing them got so boring I just deleted the deck. Now I’m just going through J-E sentences as I mentioned before, soon to hit the 1000 mark, but I’m wondering if redoing RTK at this point would be beneficial in any way, seeing as I’d already forgotten most of what I had learned from it.

    (I should really… get off your blog and do something Japanese instead. But it’s just too much fun to read. Still, I’m not doing more in Japanese than ever before, so I suppose it’s alright)

  25. Sorry to ask a stuid question, but because you have now uploaded your RTK deck, is it still a requirement to purchase the actual RTK books? From what Ive gathered the only reason to buy the books was to enter then into anki, but now thats no longer required? Or have I missed something? Also how do I setup anki to anly show me the first 950 kanji from your deck? Love this blog btw, its great!!

    • The book is helpful mainly for the stories and a deeper background on what the RTK method is trying to do for you.

      Not sure exactly how to set it up to only show 950, but you could do up to that number on the kanji deck, then start your sentence deck, then merge the 2 together. Or maybe tag the remaining group of kanji so they don’t come up? Can anyone give a better description than the failed attempt I am doing here?

      Good luck with your studies!

      • What I did was go as far as 950 and then when you open the deck in “study options” click on the “new cards” tab and where it says “new cards/day” change the number to zero. This allows you to review the 950 without adding any more (and also without deleting the rest of them). Then do the same thing and change the number to however much you review per day when you are ready to go beyond that.

        I think this is what you were asking? I hope that helps :)

  26. Thanks so much for the RTK deck on Anki. I have been using it for a couple of months and now have 400+ cards I am working on (though not necessarily in my memory). I also stumbled upon a new memory program – “memrise” – that also has an iPad version. It is mostly designed for learning vocabulary, but there is a Remember the Kanji deck. For those starting out, it might be a good addition in that it has the story of each Kanji on the card. It also has multiple choice questions, which I know you don’t like, but that help me review. When I forget the story of the Heisig for a Kanji in Anki, I have to go back to the book index to find the number, then consult my notes, and frequently return to Heisig to figure out what my shortcut actually meant. If you do use memrise, be a little cautious as the Remember the Kanji deck does not always use the same keyword as Heisig. Also the mnemonics are contributed by users, some of whom do not understand the principle of using the meaning of primitives to build the meaning (through vivid images) of the Kanji keyword. Has anyone else tried the memrise program?

  27. How long does it usually take to memorise the first 950 kanji? I initially started adding 20 cards per day and then upped it to 50 for a few days. Im at about 500 now after 4 weeks. But my brain could not handle adding 50 cards per day. And I found whilst I was adding more and more, I wasnt remembering them. I spent the last week just reviewing the 500 and adding 0 new cards. I can now say I feel comfortable saying I know 500. Once I see the keyword, I can write the kanji without even thinking of the story that goes with it 80% of the time. I am interested to know other people experiences with RTK in anki. Maybe my brain just inst as good at remembring as some of you guys who seem to remember them all relitivly quickly. I have been putting all my effort into RTK and sentence mining the genki books, but I keep getting a quilty feeling that im not really studing Japanese or something. Before I found this website I was practising sentences by writing them out, practising vocab, etc. It almost feels like im going backwards in my Japanese studies. Of course I’m not going to give up, and I keep telling my self that this is only a temporary feeling, and soon the fact that I know all the kanji will propell me forward way past were I would have been using conventional methods; but yeah, these are the things running through my head at the moment.

    • It’s part of the Heisig method and what he found to be more effective. Not really sure the reasoning behind it (I think he gives an explanation in his book), but it works better than the other way around.

      • Well, I’m no expert, but I actually put a bit of thought on this over my learning period, and I think there are some pretty clear reasons why you don’t want it the other way around:
        – You would merely be training how to recognize the Kanji, and would probably end up not able to produce them,
        – You would be facto be spending your energy memorizing the keywords themselves, which are ultimately just a temporary crutch (and note that while it might seem at first sight that you would then at least know a “meaning” of the Kanji, the keywords only correspond to meanings in lots of cases, not always).

        Besides, I don’t think there would be much gained by the reverse direction that isn’t already gained by the sentence method anyway…

      • Regarding this …
        Once you have learnt the Kanji from the keyword (as in you are able to write the 2000+ Kanji) can you change the order they are shown in Anki such as to show back (keyword) and front (kanji) alternatively?

        I am having trouble remembering the Kanji from the visuals.
        I know that eventually I will want the Japanese on and kun yomi readings but whilst starting out is there a benefit to learning how to remember the english meaning from the Kanji in Anki?

    • It wouldn’t hurt, but I think it would make things a lot more complicated, and it is probably better to focus your attention on just the kanji for RTK cards.

  28. Hi. Just wanted to say thanks for the Keyword tip. I’ve been doing keyword -> kanji for quite a while now, and since mixing it in with sentences have started to get quite a bit of confusion regarding the keywords, to the point of thinking of switching to kanji -> meaning. Anyway I like your idea and I’m going to give it a try. Problem is I have more than 1,400 cards already done, so I’m going to have to add them as I review.

    One thing I did which I found really useful was to put dynamic links to and on each card too, so if I need to remind myself of anything it’s only a click away.

  29. Hi,
    Could I ask for a clarification of the order? We start with only RTK, and once we’re done with that, or a good way through we start on J-E ? Also, as to learning the RTK itself, do we use some support material which explains the roots, or its built into the deck ? And last, all we really do is click review in anki?
    Thank You

    • “Could I ask for a clarification of the order? We start with only RTK, and once we’re done with that, or a good way through we start on J-E ?”

      It’s not really fixed. You should do what works best for you in terms of balancing speed vs motivation.
      The thing is that RTK is probably overall the most boring stage, since you are putting all this work into learning these characters, but you don’t really know any “real” Japanese yet. In other words, even though RTK will eventually pay for itself, in the beginning it is dull and for really not much return. So what I would suggest is that you do only RTK for as long as you feel fine with that, and then maybe start doing some E-J when you feel the need for some variety.

      “Also, as to learning the RTK itself, do we use some support material which explains the roots, or its built into the deck ? ”

      For support material you should either use RTK itself (it is a book, after all, and it explains the method itself) or, which is a very valuable resource because it has a vast amount of stories posted by users for each kanji. The website does however have the minor drawback of not offering stories for the “pure primitives” (i.e., those that are not Kanji themselves). Also, don’t even consider doing your reviews on that website (they offer a SRS of their own). The reason is that eventually you will want to start J-E & J-J, and having all your cards in one place is a must.
      None of this is included in the deck on this website (not that it should).

      “And last, all we really do is click review in anki?”
      No. Before you even review each Kanji, you should create/find (possibly aided by the resources above) a story that works for you. After THAT all you do is indeed review them, but you should always write the kanji when doing so, either by pen, finger or mind.

  30. It seems like it would be easier to have it show the Kanji then meaning instead of meaning then Kanji. Should I do it this way? I did this for Hiragana and it seems so much easier to me.

  31. Do you plan or have added to the deck the ‘196 kanji approved in 2010 for general use’ included in newer RTK1/2 editions?

  32. I have the sixth edition of RTK1, which isn’t compatible with your kanji deck. Should I use yours anyway, or try to create my own? I checked the Reviewing The Kanji site mentioned above, which does have the same order as my book, but it doesn’t contain the Japanese keyword. What would my senpai recommend?

    • I personally don’t think the new edition is that big a difference although I know it uses whatever they consider the new common kanji to be. I think having the Japanese keyword in addition is extremely important so I would say either use the deck here or if you want to use the new edition, add in the Japanese keywords to that yourself.

  33. Very useful little guide, thanks a lot. I need to switch to Anki; my flashcard decks are getting way too big. And yeah, RTK does get a lot of reviews. People think “you have to learn them twice, this is stupid”, but they don’t consider the fact you can still go through the entire series in a matter of months rather than several years. Yes, you have to go through them twice (and sometimes more for the readings) and it does require a lot of discipline to properly do it, but it’s much better than mindless grinding.

  34. I literally just finished RTK just then. Took me two attempts but nailed it on my second attempt in around 2 months. Just stick to it, make it a habit and get it done. Feels so good once its out of the way.

    • Good job!
      And now you can finally start reaping the benefits from it! No doubt one of the hardest things about doing RTK is that you don’t get to see much in the way of (practical) results while you are doing it. Keep it up!

  35. I know this post has been there for a while, but I have a question. Do I really have to divide my RTK learning? I mean, in the Strategy Guide you say the best thing is to divide it, doing the first half, some sentences and then finish it. Why can’t I just go through it thoroughly? I pefer to go from top to bottom in RTK 1 and 3, and then start with sentences, already knowing all the Kanji I need.

    • The reason why it is divided in the walkthrough is because most people don’t like (or have trouble) going through all rtk first, and waiting months to finally start sentences. So combining them prevents burnout and failure.

      But if you are the type of person who wants to finish all the rtk first, that is completely fine, and the end results will be fairly similar.

      • Thank ya.
        When I’m getting bored of RTK, I open the Japanese for Everyone and read some sentences. Or better, I open my Fruits Basket manga and notice I can recognize more Kanjis throughout the reading. Doing this motivates me to go further and learn the ones I don’t know yet.

        • I was thinking about it and I’m going to start the J->E sentences together with RTK. I’m currently at 450 Kanjis (2 months studying it) and according to the Walkthrough, I’ll be able to go through them together and in 8-10 months (MAX), I’ll be finished with this part and be able to go to J-J. And I’ll also buy XPNavi and the Branch Annihilator this month. I know I won’t use the second one before this period, but the offer is to good to let it pass.

          Thanks, Adshap, for all the attention. It’s really good to see someone taking care of a blog/site for learning that really pays attention and answer to everything people say.

          • “I was thinking about it and I’m going to start the J->E sentences together with RTK.”
            You seem to be suggesting trying to do RTK and JE in parallel, but I don’t know if I’d recommend this, the reason being that RTK is structured in such a way that many “basic” kanji are only found at the end of the book, and you’ll find yourself needing these during JE, and while it’s fine to see a few Kanji in sentences before you learn them in RTK, doing them in complete parallel might be a bit overwhelming.
            My suggestion, and what I did, is to keep RTK as the main focus, and do a small amount of JE sentences “on the side” (I think at the beginning I was adding something like only 2-3 sentences a day). Here are what I think are the benefits of this:
            – I makes things fell more interesting (since RTK alone is probably the least satisfying thing there is) while not sacrificing efficiency too much (as pure RTK would probably be the most efficient way to go at the beggining).
            – It smooths the otherwise abrupt transition from RTK to JE. I found that having your JE cards looking exactly like you want takes time to figure out(for instance, you might want to figure out how to use the furigana and text to speech plugins, or how to go about adding pictures), and this kind of thing is better handled before you are going all out on the sentences.

            Also, I’d extend my second remark above to the transition from JE to JJ. If your experience is anything like mine you’ll find that changing to JJ is very hard (pretty much the hardest thing there is in the whole method), and by starting JJ (at a very slow pace) a little before you finish JE you somewhat avoid suddenly going from “today I’m chugging along at full speed” to “today I’ve hit a brick wall”.

            • My idea is not to add massive quantities of sentences, just a little of them that I take from my Textbooks and Manga.

              At first, I’ll use Hiragana for the words that I don’t know the Kanjis, and, when they are due again in a time that I already know the Kanjis for them, I’ll edit them including the Kanjis.

              My current pace is of 15 to 25 new Kanjis a day, as I commute to work everyday, almost 4 hours of public transport, I need to fill my time with more active learning, and since doing more Kanji is out of hand (I’ve tried, my maximum was of 45 Kanjis in one day) but the retention is smaller, so I prefer to start doing sentences, in the way they are in the books (in the beginning they don’t have Kanjis) or in the Mangas (only the ones in which the Kanjis I know appear).

            • “At first, I’ll use Hiragana for the words that I don’t know the Kanjis, and, when they are due again in a time that I already know the Kanjis for them, I’ll edit them including the Kanjis.”

              A problem with this is that you’ll probably not remember whether you already know the kanji from looking at the word written in kana. And another problem is that when you have kana forests it’s hard to tell where one word begins and the other ends (and much more so for the beginner).

              I’d suggest instead adding those words in kanji+furigana on the question side too (on the answer you’d always want kanji+furigana anyway, of course), and then just remove the furigana when you become able to recognize the kanji composing the word.

              15 to 25 Kanji/day is just about right. I did something like a fixed 26/27 a day until somewhere around two thirds in or so, when I found the amount of reviews a little overwhelming, and hence dropped those to around 23/24, I think. So do keep in mind that your daily reviews will climb noticeably before you are done with RTK.

            • You’re right. I’ve started with the sentences and using the Kanjis. When A Kani that I don’t know appears, I’ll use the furigana. Thanks.

          • Sounds good and like you are on the right track and you are preparing yourself for a good pace. I’m glad this site has been able to help you out.

  36. Hey, I’m going to start Heisig’s remembering the kanji (just finished the kana edition). Am I supposed to do the entire heisig RTK book and then start reviewing the kanji on Anki afterwards? Or do I get the modified kanji deck from here, learn them in order as on the deck (using RTK), and skipping the ones in RTK that you have deleted from the deck?

    Basically, should I use anki to review kanji before I’ve finished Heisig, or use the heisig guide on its lonesome until I’ve finished 2000 in there, and then review them on the modified deck?

    I’m guessing you want us to follow your deck with the heisig guide in hand and learn them as we go? But I just want to double check what you think cause I have terrible comprehension haha.

    EDIT: I know this is probably the wrong place to ask… but if I use your japanese to english deck after I finish the Kanji… am I better off having two separate decks or should I combine them into one deck?? Thanks so much for your time.

    • That’s an interesting question. I use Reviewing the Kanji, adding things as I learn’em. Just that.

      And I’ve started with the JALUP deck after the Kanji 400, adding 20 a day, it’ll probably help me.

      But maybe someone can help both of us to get more effective.

  37. Can anyone help? Not only did I blaze through RTK, but I think I may have reviewed them incorrectly. I reviewed a large majority of my cards by having the story on the front. As a result, I really, really struggle to remember the meaning from kanji “in the wild”, and when going only from keyword to kanji alone – I often feel stumped. It’s not like I don’t know ANY kanji, I’ve got a good grasp of primitives, and there are some that are easy… I’m just not sure what to do… Would it be ridiculous to start over again?

    • “Would it be ridiculous to start over again?”

      Not ridiculous, no.
      Reviewing Kanji from stories is a bad idea for a couple of reasons:
      – Writing Kanji when you already have the story is actually testing very little, since the story tells you all the parts of the Kanji.
      – Stories are meant to fade away eventually. They will have little to no place in your Japanese knowledge once you reach higher levels.

      And you really should be using Adshap’s deck linked above, which includes both Heisig’s keywords and Japanese keywords on the front side. This is because many times the Heisig keywords don’t capture meanings perfectly(and sometimes not at all…), so as you start learning actual words it becomes better to use those to remember the Kanji.

      Additionally, I’ll point out that even when you are doing Heisig properly it can be hard to remember keywords just from Kanji seen “in the wild”. It’s counter intuitive, but I don’t even think that that is the main benefit the Heisig method actually achieves… Rather, I’d say that the main benefit of the method is to allow you to learn how to WRITE the kanji in a systematic and relatively painless manner (compared to just repeating each one dozens of times). Occasionally recalling keywords from the Kanji is actually a less systematic benefit, though after going through the method I did find myself able to occasionally recall the general meaning (but not always the keyword specifically) of a Kanji (though this works a LOT better when you also understand some of the context surrounding the word).

      Ultimately you’re the one who has to judge how bad your RTK is (for instance, what does a large majority mean? More like 60% or more like 95%?). Just keep in mind that since you already have stories anyway you should be able to keep a brisk pace if you decide to go through it again.

      • Thanks for the response! I agree about recalling the meaning when seeing them in the wild. When I say the majority, I reckon around 85% of my cards were done this way. As I said… I can fairly easily recall the primitives that make up kanji, but struggle to remember the kanji itself. It would feel a little weird going through it all again, as I have all my kanji in box 5 on the reviewing the kanji website, plus around 700 sentence cards – but I’ll give it a shot anyway. Also, how many should you be able to write from memory after RTK? (I know this is a pretty vague question).

      • One more thing, when reviewing RTK again, should I blitz through the one’s I can instantly write upon seeing the keyword – i.e. give it an “easy” or should I go back through the stories regardless, as a lot of them are linked together.

        • “as I have all my kanji in box 5 on the reviewing the kanji website,”

          Going forward you’re definitely better of reviewing all your cards in the same place, I’d say, and I really recommend Adshap’s deck. As you start changing your mental processes from keyword->story->kanji to keyword->meaning->kanji it just makes all the difference to have Japanese keywords to clear up ambiguities.

          “Also, how many should you be able to write from memory after RTK? (I know this is a pretty vague question).”

          It’s a pretty hard question too. What does “writing from memory” mean? It’s been awhile, but my correct percentage on Anki after finishing RTK would have been somewhere in the 80-90% range, though it also gets better after that as some of the rougher stories take time to settle in.

          “should I blitz through the one’s I can instantly write upon seeing the keyword – i.e. give it an “easy” or should I go back through the stories regardless,”

          I don’t know. I think this MIGHT be okay, because if you already a firm direct keyword -> kanji connection then you are probably just skipping the natural process of forgetting the associated story as you stop needing it. The main price I would expect someone to have to pay for this is that the stories would have a little more trouble setting in (since like you said, they are linked), but you’ve already been repeating your stories for a while now anyway, so that should help with that…

          • Yes, I’ve started doing adshaps deck now – I’m up to 160 kanji. Should I be worried about the fact that I’ll know less than the required number of the “general use” kanji? By write from memory, I meant could you sit down and write off random Kanji by thinking of the keyword – but that was a silly question anyway.

            • “Should I be worried about the fact that I’ll know less than the required number of the “general use” kanji?”
              Not really, no. I don’t know if maybe Adshap’s deck as been adapted to include some RTK3 Kanji or not (it hadn’t them when I used it), but I found no significant problem from having Jouyou Kanji missing.

              Basically nowadays if I find a word I want to learn with a Kanji I don’t know (and if I feel it is worth the trouble) I’ll just make a new Kanji card using that word as the Japanese keyword, and I’ll check the Reviewing the Kanji website for Heisig keyword and stories. One of the biggest upshots of Heisig which people often seem to forget is that it doesn’t just teach you Kanji, it also teaches you how to learn them. Furthermore, by the time you finish RTK1 there just aren’t enough useful (on a daily basis) kanji left out to require systematization, because unknown Kanji will tend to come at you one by one, or sometimes in pairs. For instance, my current rate for learning Kanji is well bellow one a day (also, when you are down to such a rate you get to be a bit sloppier with your stories and still have them work because there’s a lot less going on with which to confuse them).

              “By write from memory, I meant could you sit down and write off random Kanji by thinking of the keyword – but that was a silly question anyway.”
              Yeah. I actually did consider that you might mean that, but I didn’t think that interpretation was very sensible, so I dismissed it as a misinterpretation.
              The short answer is: no idea, never tried doing it.
              As you move on you will want to be able to write words (rather than keywords) you know, but even this is hard to gauge. You should find as you fully transition into sentences (and particularly J-J) that words can be in all states of learning. When learning a Japanese word you are trying to merge all three of writing, reading and meaning, which all feel very distinct initially, and at first you’ll find yourself being able to move in some directions in that writing, reading and meaning triangle but not others. Which directions depend on the word and also on how you actually tackle them. It can feel a bit strange knowing a word but not being able to write it, but in most cases it tends to sort itself out.

          • Thanks again for being so helpful – I should have replied sooner, but I’ve been really busy. So, regarding the JLUP mod deck, it seems as though the only the only way you review cards is in the exact order they appear in the book – should that be a cause for concern? I remember seeing on the revtk website that they deliberately mixed up the cards when reviewing, otherwise it would be too predictable. I CAN make the cards show up in a random order when reviewing, but then I’d end up reviewing cards I haven’t actually “studied” yet. Does this make sense?

            • I didn’t notice much of a problem from reviewing cards in order.

              Simply having the new cards appear spread out through the review session is enough to keep you on your toes, and even cards that started together will spread out a bit after a few reviews.

  38. Btw there’s a site based on Heisig’s rtk which also helps to review rtk1 & rtk3 kanji :

    I wanted to ask whether I should use anki or make an account on that site cause they are basically the same thing?

    • You should use anki for your reviews. One good reason is that you’ll eventually have sentence cards too, and it’s a lot more convenient having everything in the same place. Also, I strongly recommend adshap’s kanji deck linked in the post, because its cards have both Heisig and Japanese keywords, and the latter will make all the difference as you move on.

      But you should ALSO make an account at anyway, because that website has many stories from which to choose from for each Kanji.

      • I do both. Honestly, I tried to stick only with the RTK deck, but I’d started with Remembering twenty days before I met JALUP, and was kind of way ahead. As I’m not going to do 50 new cards a day until reach the point, there’ll be a point when they’ll eventually be together, as I add more cards a day at Anki than new kanjis I learn, and from there on, I’ll keep with both things. It’s being really helpful for me to do it, ’cause I can do more and more reviews every day.

        • “It’s being really helpful for me to do it, ’cause I can do more and more reviews every day.”

          But if you are reviewing everything in two places you are also making the SRS algorithms less efficient (since the point of those algorithms is precisely to need as few reviews as possible…). And you could obtain virtually the same effect by just decreasing the intervals on Anki by half if you so wished…

          I mean, if you like it like this go ahead, as feeling comfortable with the way you do things is important, but I think that if I was doing RTK again and had both the time and energy to review Kanji twice I’d be investing that time and energy elsewhere, such as getting a head start on sentences…

          • Probably, when my Jalup RTK deck reach the same level as “Remembering”, I’ll stop doing it and keep up only with Anki. But for now, this is being good.

            And I’ve started with the sentences, but I preferred to keep up only with RTK. My time is limited, and I’m going to use the pre-made deck of Core. I started and it’s really helpful, but I prefer to keep only with the sentences I’m understanding reading the mangas, without an organized order for now. And then, after I finish with RTK, I’ll bulrush the sentences, adding 30 to 50 a day.

            • Indeed, I was thinking about it, and I’ll do things differently.

              When I have the time for that, I’ll increase the quantity of new Anki cards a day to 50 and keep using Reviewing until my Anki cards match the Kanjis I already know. I’m currently 300 behind, learning from 18 to 25 new Kanjis everyday, so I figure It’ll take me at least more one month (I said that it’s when I have the time to start that, and it’ll be after the middle of next week, and not everyday), but when my Anki deck reaches my Kanjis, I’ll drop Reviewing, using it only to get ideas for stories I face difficulties.

  39. the JALUP RTK MOD deck is awesome. Although, im confused on some of the japanese translations.

    for example: the kanji 日 = day, the japanese translations are 月曜び…..i dont understand this? the first one is month, then a kanji I havent even seen yet and the third is “bi”….

    since “day” translates to ひ what is this stuff above for?

    I am just confused because some kanji have direct kana translations and others have stuff like this. I dont understand/wakarimasen

    • The “び” in “月曜び” stands for 日, which happens to be read as “び” in that particular compound (by the way, the compound is 月曜日(げつようび), which means Monday (the day of the moon)).

      You need to keep in mind that the same Kanji can have multiple readings.

      But by and large you shouldn’t be bothered by the Japanese keywords you don’t understand yet. At first it’s best to rely on the English ones, and to gradually shift to the Japanese ones as they start becoming known. In fact, when a card comes up and I realize I now understand the Japanese keyword what I do is to edit the card to have the Japanese keyword appear first and the English one after (though one probably needs to have already finished RTK before this process can start in earnest).

  40. I’d just like to share with you, guys, I’ve surpassed the 1000 Kanjis count yesterday. I’m not going to move on to sentences right now, since I’ll finish RTK before moving to sentences. So, Moving on!

  41. Hi there, my anki prog cant read the kanji characters and instead it shows boxes. What is wrong with that? l installed the program like 1000 times in different versions but nothing happened, boxes everywhere instead of kana or kanji… :(

    • You probably don’t have East Asian Language support on your OS. A google search should remedy that. Just type in “East Asian language support + Your OS”

  42. Started doing kanji a couple days ago with the RTK deck and there is one thing I really don’t understand. The English keyword and the Japanese keyword seem to not be the same. Also the Japanese keyword sometimes isn’t the kanji. Example for both of this is 願. The English keyword is Petition and the japanese keyword is おねがいします. I may be new at japanese, but i’m pretty sure those aren’t the same. Also when I try to make the kanji out of おねがいします only ね is made into kanji. I really don’t understand this at all. Can someone please explain this to me?

  43. If you with “the Japanese keyword” mean the closest/most frequent Japanese word, they are not supposed to match. The English keywords are only approximations by Heisig made to fit in -as much as possible- with as many words that contain that kanji as possible.
    For example keyword “petition”, someone wants someone else to do something, kanji 願.
    The kanji is used in words that range from wish 願い, to prayer 願, to application 出願, to the actual petition 請願.
    “Petition” can fit somewhat into all of them but is not an exact match, much like most of the keywords.
    Regarding the kana to kanji ratio: this is what it’s like in Japanese. Some words are written (or CAN be written) with kanji only but not all.
    Japanese writing is made up of ひらがな、カタカナ AND 漢字。
    Hope this helped, otherwise ask again!

    • Thanks for explaining the first part, I understand that now. “Regarding the kana to kanji ratio” I understand that, but that’s not what I meant. I had thought that the japanese keyword was the kun reading of it, But sometimes when I type the japanese keyword to try to make the kanji it sometimes doesn’t make it, or it will make only one character the kanji and keep the rest hiragana like in お願いします.

      • With it not all converting to kanji or such, it’s just that the IME creators didn’t want to add it. If you want to make it all Kanji, you can type it in multiple parts, or just add it to the IME dictionary. For example, if you type お願いします it will be 1 Kanji and rest Kana, but if you type the おねがい part separately you will end up with 御願い and then you can do the rest after.

  44. I just wanted to ask one more question about RTK. I didn’t realise before that The review cap was set at default to 100, but someone said that this could start a nasty trend of forgetting. I just looked at my mature card retention rate, and it isn’t very good, so that person may be right. Should I up the review count? If so, what should it be upped to. I don’t want my RTK experience to be inefficient again… But I don’t wan’t to burn out either.

    • Just use custom study increase review count whenever you see you have a 100 card reviews a day. I like to do that. It allows me to divide the work load up if it’s over 100 cards instead of one sitting.

      • My Anki experience is being quite efficient. I’m having a retention rate of about 70%, that’s ok for me, since I’m kind of power-leveling (for me, it is power-leveling, because I’m doing double the number of new Kanji a day I used to), and my daily limit is still 100. I tried to make do with 250, then 150, then 125, but I found out that 100 is the limit to which I’m not discouraged to do the reviews. More than that, and unless I have nothing else to do, I’ll look for other things.

  45. Another question, When do I start learning the kun reading of Kanji? I’ve been doing Kanji for a week, I know around 300, but I only know them from the English keyword I know none of the kun readings. This is because most of them have kanji in them and since I don’t know the Kanji I don’t bother reading it. Today I thought about it, if I never learn any of the kun readings then learning all of the kanji is going to be pointless, because by the end of it I’ll know 1900 kanji, but won’t be able to actually read any of them, which will make it so I can’t move onto sentences. Should I be trying to figure out the kun readings as I learn them, or is there some method to this I don’t know?

      • Hello again, wanted to ask another question specifically to you. The past couple lessons I’ve been having trouble remembering Kanji which is been making really frustrated/demotivated. I remember today that you said “when it is repeated again in a few minutes, even if you get it wrong again hit space or 3”. I had been doing it over and over again until I got it right, which I guess is the cause behind me getting frustrated, But it seems like that’s the best way to remember it, but obviously it’s not working for me. I know you said to only review it twice so I’m probably going to start doing that instead, but before I did I just wanted to know your reasoning behind it.

        • The reasoning is that doing it multiple times in a row is trying to remember something when you are frustrated. Annoyance and frustration block efficiency and memory.

          Yeah, you can’t seem to remember it now. Let it go. You’ve looked at it enough today. Look at it tomorrow with fresh eyes and a relaxed mindset. Still can’t remember it tomorrow? You reviewed it twice already, try again the next day.

          You will get it. Forcing immediate memorization now is bad. Some kanji are stubborn, and you just have to accept that. Give them time.

          • Another question, How many should I be learning a day? I have all day to learn Japanese, and since I only review each new Kanji twice I can do around 25 in 30min. I’m currently doing around 50-60 a day. Is that fine? I mean I’m not in school, or anything so I have the time to learn a lot more.

            • It’s always best to go as slow or fast as you feel comfortable with. If you can do 60 a day, I say go for it. It will probably slow down a bit once your reviews start to rise but it is fine for now.

    • To prevent burnout. If you can do all the kanji first, great. If you can’t, and need variation, splitting them up is better for you. I find more people fall into the latter, which is why that is the method listed in the walkthrough.

      • What point of your “journey” did you start to speak “naturally”? After the J-E cards? Right now I am blowing through the RTK and about to start inputting my J-E cards in. I am listening to Japanese media 16 hours on a good day. Reading a few chapters of manga, watching a few j-dramas a day(without eng-subs ofcourse)… I pick up languages easily, english is my native tounge and I speak fluent mandarin and somali, both are self taught. For mandarin and somali I didnt use this method of learning but I still am fluent… When I start the J-E sentences and the J-J sentences is that when I will start to speak naturally? Sorry I have so many questions, and im sure you answer the same questions daily…. oh and also I have relatives and other close family friends that speak japanese and I have buddies in Japan who are willing to speak to me. i am 17 btw turning 18. cheers.

  46. I’m really stuck right now.Do I need to finish rtk 2(on and kun reading) before starting your method?or should i just ignore rtk 2 after I’m done with rtk 1 since its better to learn how to read from sentences?But I can’t really read the word “topic” without knowing first the on or kun reading.Eg. from your post topic=話dai and since I don’t know the reading for the word 話,should I learn the reading first?I’m stuck after first few cards in the your anki deck.Should I learn vocabulary as well separately or its fine with the vocab in your anki deck?Thx

    • 1. Skip Rtk2
      2. The Japanese keywords (vocabulary) are hints to answering the card, and aren’t really used till much later in your studying. You don’t learn the vocabulary as you go through Rtk. They are there for when the English keywords and stories start to fade and be replaced by Japanese knowledge.

      • thx for replying
        sorry if it sounds rude but i’m confused what’s the purpose of part 1(reviewing the modified deck) if its not for the pronunciation since you’ve mentioned part 1 is not for learning pronunciation.
        And assuming i’m new to japanese and know nothing of the grammar and vocabulary and i’m having problem with the meaning of kanji even with english translation provided,is it possible for me to do part 2(J>E)

        is my sequence right or i’m doing it wrong?
        1)rtk 1 and anki simultaneously or finish half of rtk 1 before reviewing it with anki using your deck?
        2)construct my own sentences from genki(at the same time i’m doing step 1 or after i’m done with step 1?)

        sorry for all the trouble and terrible english,thx again

        • 1. It’s to learn the meaning of the kanji? And how to write them.
          2. Not sure why you wouldn’t understand the kanji with the keywords in English.
          3. Yes, Rtk for kanji meanings, JE for basic understanding of Japanese + increasing pronunciations.
          4. Your sequence is correct

  47. When I start the sentences and learning the reading of the kanji do I still keep reviewing my RTK deck with the english and japanese keywords? or do I abandon the RTK deck and just to the sentences? How long after the sentences did you start to speak?

  48. Why learn the kanji from keyword to kanji? why not kanji to keyword? like have the kanji on the front and then the keyword on the back?

    • Heisig gives a good explanation in his book. But the idea is you want to be able to recall the kanji from memory (and subsequently write it). Not recall the English.

      So keep the English on paper, and the kanji in your head.

  49. I am having trouble recognizing kanji keywords… But when I am doing my RTK deck I can write the kanji easily but recognizing them is harder. I used to do kanji to keyword and I could recognize them fine if I came across them in text but the keyword to kanji is good for writing stroke order but like I said the keyword doesn’t pop right into my head like it did with the other way of doing kanji… any advice?

    • The keyword shouldn’t pop in your head when you see the kanji. The opposite, the kanji should pop in your head when you see the keyword. The goal is to remember the Japanese, not the English.

      • I might be mistaken, but I think what he means is when encountering them in the wilds outside the Anki deck. I know I have this problem where I’ll be reading manga and will encounter a kanji that I know I’ve covered in my RTK deck…but can’t for the life of me recall the meaning. I would be able to reproduce it from memory if I saw the keyword in my RTK deck…but seeing it out there on its lonesome (or with a friend in a compound), it’s like meeting someone from high school that you sort of remember…but I can’t remember his name.

        I sort of have the same problem with the J-E sentences…I recognize those Kanji only when they’re on the specific card that I study, making me feel like I’m studying the card rather than the contents.

        • That is exactly what I was trying to say! Thanks for rephrasing it for me! Sometimes I don’t phrase things as well as they should be.

        • Ahh okay. I got what you are asking now.

          Yes, you will not be as good at recognition as you see kanji in the wild. Same goes for when you see a sentence or word in an Anki card, but have trouble once you see it in a different context.

          Knowing it in Anki does not instantly translate to knowing it in the wild. This comes with time. The more you start to see it in the wild in different ways. The more you start to see it in Anki in different ways. The stronger your brain creates a full understanding and mastery of the word or kanji or sentence.

  50. Thanks for your posts, they are so helpful! I’m in the middle of studying with your RTK Anki deck and my own Anki sentences, but I was wondering: How do you remember how to write actual words? Do you have an Anki deck for that was well? Even though I’m doing fine with reading the words I’ve already learned, I keep mixing up Kanji with similar keywords/reading when I try to write something by hand in Japanese.

    • Start adding in writing to your sentence review sessions. Every review you do, write the sentence out.

      Don’t go too overboard with this though as it can slow down your reviews significantly.

  51. So, just to make sure, the japanese keywords don’t need to be learnt when first coming across the kanji in RTK, but in the future, when I have completed RTK, the Jap Keyword is what I should use in my reviews. Does this mean, I should beasically ignore the J Keywords from the start and just learn them naturally afterwards?

    Tanks Adshap

    • Yup, that sums it up well. As you review in the future, use the English keyword until you’ve learned the Japanese keyword naturally from other sources.

  52. I might have missed the answer to this question but, do I have to learn the kun and on readings? I started to do that but it seemed like I was taking forever to progress through the Kanji. Many people say that the readings are very important while other say it will come over time. I am kind of stuck in the middle here. I mean the on and kun readings seem too important to just “leave it until later on” or to wait until “it will eventually come to you”

    Which is the best option? Should I just ditch the readings and learn the meanings as soon a possible? How much would I be missing out on? Which method did you take to become fluent in Japanese? Thanks, and sorry if this post seems like a handful. =P

    • In RTK focus on the kanji, not the readings. The readings will come with the next phase (whether you use Anki or a textbook of anything else.) Don’t do them together. It is a recipe for burnout.

  53. Quick question – I’m trying to understand the full benefit of going through RTK. I’m working with this method and I’m about 1000 RTK in and 700 J-E sentences. However I’ve noticed that many of the Kanji, especially when two or more make up a single vocabulary word, don’t stay very true to the RTK keywords.

    When they are by themselves they seem fairly helpful, however I wonder about the effectiveness of dedicating time to RTK if I’m going to be relearning the meaning of vocab words anyways once I get into sentences?

    Thanks for your wonderful study methods and continued assistance!

    • I personally don’t use RTK (我慢できなかった), but I’ll speak in its defense. The point of RTK is that it very rapidly allows you to write, and more or less recognize, all of the jouyou kanji.

      What RTK won’t give to you:

      – The ability to pronounce kanji.
      – Any Japanese vocabulary.

      What RTK gives:

      – An expedient ability to write kanji.
      – An ability to guesstimate the meaning of any Japanese word written in kanji. Some people like the idea of this.
      – Time.

      In the beginning RTK feels like a time sink since you don’t learn any vocabulary, but after you learn to write you’re able to devote more time to every other aspect of Japanese (and you escape the hand cramps).

      There’s a thread about this on Reviewing the Kanji:

    • RTK is all about building in meanings to kanji. By isolating this element, and doing it in a storytelling aspect, it makes the whole kanji acquisition process leagues easier. You can see people throughout this site who have used it to massive success.

      However not everyone likes it, and it isn’t for everyone. Wataru Ford makes some good points above and shows the other perspective.

  54. I read the post about WaniKani, and decided to try it for awhile to see how it is. Have you tried it before, and if so, what’s your opinion on it?

    • I haven’t personally used it, but it looks promising based on what I’ve seen, and the people that like it.

  55. Hello, I’m new to learning Japanese. Wouldn’t it be better in Anki if the kanji showed up, and you had to guess what it means? Instead of the other way around?

    • If you reverse it you end up testing your English (you are internalizing the English meaning). You also want to be able to get the writing practice, and really recall the kanji visual easily in your mind.

      • I have carpal tunnel so I don’t think I’ll be able to write.. until it gets better. What would you recommend me to do?

        • Can you trace them out with your finger? If even that hurts, at the very least, visualize writing out the strokes in your head.

  56. Hello again
    the studies go very well I only sometimes have problems with the keywords since they are not explained anymore (like handle… does he mean to handle? or the handle of a cup for example) luckily often you can just look at the Kanji to get claritiy (I guessed it was handling people) but now I came to a keyword I really can’t grasp what he means although he explains it:
    grow late 更
    it’s not a real English expression as far as I can tell and the explanation is “the implication behind the meaning of grow late is that things are changing in the same way that the day turns into night”
    so… is the meaning change?
    I looked for that kanji and get stuff like nightwatch which doesn’t really help and since I don’t get what he specifically means it’s hard to construct a story or set it apart from other Kanji which might have a similar meaning to it (or not depending on whether my understanding is correct) Could someone pleas explain this keyword to me? Thanks ^^

    had a similar problem with nightbreak… I hate it when he doesn’t stick to actual words but invents new ones… and I wish he’d at least put a “to” in front of verbs -.- *sigh* other then that I get along great though ^^

    • I don’t think there’s any ever hidden meanings behind the keywords, they always mean it exactly what they are. Grow late means exactly as it says, as in to grow late in the day. Also you don’t really need to spend the time to think of your own stories for each of the kanji. You can just go to (Creator of RTK made it) and look at the top rated stories other people made, It’s just a lot easier. Here’s an example story from the site for the kanji you were having trouble with:

      “It’s starting to GROW LATE, so God will take the SUN, and TUCK IT UNDER HIS ARM, and walk away. In the morning, he’ll bring it back, so don’t worry.”

    • Dominic’s advice is good in using reviewing the kanji. See this review here: It helps clarify also when an English keyword can mean multiple things.

      I don’t know if you are using the RTK mod deck here on Jalup, but I personally added in hints in the deck for most of these types of keywords where it can be multiple meanings depending on if you interpret the word as a verb or noun.

      • I do use your deck, sometimes it’s true there are hints but in this case there isn’t ^^* also I’m not english native and translate the stuff into my language for learing (though I’m rather fluent in English it still doesn’t help if it’s always a three way complex + there are keywords I didn’t know before ^^*) so especially when he just invents words, such as nightbreak or growing late I really don’t know how to translate it for me…
        Oh well.
        but thanks, for the link, cause some kanji it’s really hard to find a decent story for ^^*

        • oh, I know what you mean since I’m also not English native. (though, I think my English is no where near fluent and I’m still working on it,too :( ) That fact does slow me down a lot because all of my materials are written in English. It’s quite frustrated sometime. So it’s good to know that I’m not alone. Let’s work hard together ! ^^

          • There is always more in English than any other language, also when I was in Japan for a while doing a Japanese language course, if something was not in Japanese it would be English XD But yeah some keywords, especially when they are close in meaning are hard to translate properly, sometimes I’ll forget I already used a word in my language like occupation and employment, I accidental used the same word and ended up always confusing the two until I realised my mistake and changed the word ^^*

  57. This is an incredible resource. I recently purchased the Jalup Beginner 1000 decks you made. I was happy to do this because I believe you definitely deserve some rewards for the work you’ve done for the community.
    I am a complete beginner, but I’ve had a serious drive to move to Japan for the last decade, and never could figure out how. I wasn’t even sure how I could learn the language without finding some expensive school to attend. Finding your resource was a miracle.
    Being a beginner though, I dove right in and realized there are some very basic things that are not automatically understood. I’m a few chapters into Genki, and I’ve purchased all recommended books, I’ve watched ~40 anime series and listen to japanese music, my pronunciation is great and I’ve learned all the kana, and I started using the RTK mod deck and realized -woah- there’s no pronunciation guide. From a newbie’s standpoint, I don’t understand. I just memorize the way the kanji is written and its intrinsic meaning, but how do I know how to pronounce it? Isn’t that important? I gather from my studies that kanji can be pronounced different ways in different situations, is that correct? And if so, could you expound on that for the sake of us total beginners, or offer a link that explains the concept of kanji pronunciation in more detail? Thanks! :D

  58. Hi everyone–I’ve seen a couple questions about how to work through the RTK book in tandem with the Anki deck, and I also was a little confused at first, so I wanted to share a method that’s been working really well for me. The steps I take are:

    1) Create a new empty Anki deck called “RTK review” (you could also use your integrated deck, but it needs to be separate from the JALUP RTK deck).
    2) Read one lesson in RTK, with the JALUP RTK Anki deck open in browse mode at the same time (from the menu, go to “Change Display Order” and select “No sorting” so they’ll match the order in the book).
    3) For each kanji in the lesson, open the card in the JALUP Anki deck and enter the story (or a one-sentence version of the story) in the field provided. Then, while still editing the card, change the card’s deck to the new “RTK review” deck you created in step 1. Don’t forget to hit Save! (Of course you can skip the deleted kanji which aren’t in Anki.)
    4) When you finish the lesson, you can now review your new deck while only having to deal with the kanji you’ve already been introduced to in the book.
    5) Repeat steps 2-4 for each lesson at your own pace. The RTK Review deck will gradually get bigger and the JALUP deck smaller until you’ve got them all!

    Hope this is helpful for somebody.

    それに、アダムさん, ほんとうにありがとうございます for making these great resources available!

  59. This might sound like a silly (and basic) question, but are you able to review your Anki deck multiple times per day? Currently I can only seem to use it once per day.

    Cheers :)

    • Not a silly question at all! Anki’s got a TON of bells and whistles.

      Anyway, Anki handles the review intervals for you, and automagically figures out what you should review on any given day. If you want to override it, I believe you can do so with the Custom Study option, which can be found by clicking on the name of the deck, beneath the “grats, you’re done for today” message.

      However, you may find that once you’ve finished your Anki-prescribed reviews, your remaining time is best used toward other forms of study. Making time for native media is particularly valuable, as encountering the words and kanji you’re studying “in the wild” really helps solidify them in your memory.

      Hope that helps :)

      (PS: Don’t stress if you forget a few kanji between reviews. Just keep at it and even the tough ones will eventually stick.)

      • Thank you so much for your reply :) My plan of attack is to focus on RTK and blaze through it in a month and a bit (50 new kanji/day) before I start learning vocab, grammar etc. My memory is abysmal (too many years of wild partying haha), so I need to review things multiple times per day. I still can’t figure it out (I really don’t find Anki user-friendly at all) but the website ‘Reviewing The Kanji’ ( lets you review cards multiple times.

        Thanks again :)

  60. Hi there,
    Reviving an old post here! Hope you see it!

    I was using your JALUP deck and had got up to about 1000 kanji and it was all going well. I changed job and just didn’t have time to study but things have settled down so I want to restart my kanji studies again.

    The only problem is that when I try to click on the kanji to go to the kanji.koohai site to check my story the link is broken.

    Do you know why that happened or how I can fix it?

    Thanks again!


    • Hi there!
      You have to adjust your anki deck a bit since koohii changed the links. If you want to access “community stories”, copy “” over anything behind the {Heisig Number} field. Just ask if you want a more detailed explanation.

      • Posted this but then thought I should do it as a reply :D

        Hi there Manan,

        Thanks so much for the reply. That’s exactly what i was talking about. Is there any way of doing it in one batch or do i have to adjust each card individually? I just want it to link to the ‘my stories’ part as i haven’t filled in a story for every kanji and have been using kanji.koohai as the place where i save all my stories. I’ll have a go with what you said but if you could do a more detailed explanation i would really appreciate it. I’m not the worst at the techy side of things but sometimes i do get stumped by anki! Thanks again.

        • You could insert something like this on the card template:
          [a href=”{{text:Heisig Number}}” rel=”nofollow” ]{{Keyword}}[/a]

          (change the square brackets to angle brackets – if I type it here, the forum software treats it as html, not sure how to stop that)

          I am using a different deck so the field names might be different. The URL may also have changed. But this is the idea.

  61. Hi there Manan,

    Thanks so much for the reply. That’s exactly what i was talking about. Is there any way of doing it in one batch or do i have to adjust each card individually? I just want it to link to the ‘my stories’ part as i haven’t filled in a story for every kanji and have been using kanji.koohai as the place where i save all my stories. I’ll have a go with what you said but if you could do a more detailed explanation i would really appreciate it. I’m not the worst at the techy side of things but sometimes i do get stumped by anki! Thanks again.

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