Kanji Kingdom — 129 Comments

  1. To someone who’s halfway thru the Mod RTK deck, would you suggest switching over to this at a later stage?

    • There will be be some similar keywords, as RTK often just takes the most common word the kanji appears in (as this deck tries to do), but there are quite a few differences as well.

      However, this should give you a different experience, and may work out really well for people who have also used RTK.

  2. I already finished RTK, but I seriously consider buying this, just because it sounds so awesome and much more fun than boring RTK reviews… Since I already know the kanji from the RTK mod deck I’m thinking of doing it at whatever pace I can find time for. And also keep up the RTK reviews, but as I come across the same kanji in the Kanji Kingdom deck I can suspend the RTK deck kanji, which will eventually put me completely reviewing kanji from Kanji Kingdom instead of boring RTK reviews \o/

    • I say go for it (of course I would haha)! It could instill some freshness and fun into your kanji studying.

    • Just wanted to say that I was probably the first to buy stage 3, haha :D

      I’m not sure I can keep up with the pace much longer though (you are putting these stages out at quite a nice pace!), since I’m a few days away from finishing stage 2, and will take March mostly off from adding new cards for getting reviews down to a manageable amount again.. But having the next stage already will make sure I get going again as soon as possible.

  3. I am really excited to see this, as I have been wanting to reboot my RTK studies and have been thinking about the best way to do that. This looks very promising!

    One question: This sounds focused on strokes and there is no mention of primitives in the description. When I did RTK I found primitives to be one of the core strengths of the method and very useful for telling similar kanji apart. Will primitives be used in a similar way in the Kanji Kingdom stories/chains to let the user build an understanding of how kanji are decomposed into simpler kanji and primitives?

    • Thanks!

      It’s focused on strokes to determine the difficulty/simplicity as they fairly often go hand and hand (not 100% as I mentioned).

      I spent a lot of time deciding if primitives would make the deck better or harder. I even had primitives in some of the earliest chains before deciding that I didn’t like them and got rid of them. It came down to 2 lines of reasoning.

      1. There are are over 200 kanji primitives, but a large percentage of them are actually kanji themselves, so separating them as something different just felt more confusing. And if a primitive is a kanji itself, it will always appear first by itself without any additions to it due to stroke order. Grouping them together in chains is to show that it is found in other similar kanji, and is what I hope will act as a substitute.

      2. Creating separate primitive cards (as if they were kanji) creates not only more to learn, but there are no Japanese keywords for them, and they won’t be reinforced anywhere else outside of Kanji Kingdom.

      So in creating this I was trying to balance it out.

      • Awesome, that was actually exactly the answer I was hoping for.

        I think you made the right choice in not having separate primitive cards. No point in learning cards with no direct use in vocabulary.

        It makes good sense to try and deal with this through the chains having similar kanji in chains to show their connection. I think you have a winner with the chain concept as it also reduces the number of stories to learn compared with RTK.

  4. This sounds really cool. I love the idea of adapting the things that work well in JALUP Beginner to Kanji learning, and avoiding many of the downsides of RTK in the process.


    • I’m going to answer this in English so lower levels can also benefit from the answer.

      Matt points out that there are kanji that have higher stroke orders, but aren’t necessarily more difficult. For example the kanji 愛 which at first seems very hard to remember, but upon breaking down the elements, wasn’t so bad.

      I mentioned this a bit above to Jesper, but the idea behind Kanji Kingdom is to try to pull this off naturally with the chain concept, and get the learner to make the associations. When shown a chain link that has 3-4 kanji with some of the exact same elements, you start to pick up patterns. It’s also a bit of a trade-off to lower confusion and workload, many primitives are just kanji by themselves anyway, and I think this easy kanji with higher stroke order is more of an exception to the easy kanji with lower stroke order.

      But yes, this is a different approach, so it isn’t doing it the same way RTK does it (so it doesn’t include the detailed breakdowns of every element of a specific kanji)

      • Ahh ok. It seems like you’ve put a lot of thought into it and I like a lot of the goals you’re going for, so hopefully it ends up working out as an RTK replacement =)

  5. Wow, that’s clever. Kudos.

    How are primitives/radicals used here?

    I assume that these kanji chains are completely different from the ones in RTK 2 (I’ve never read it). Is that correct?

    • Answered about the radicals in the above comments.

      I’ve also never read RTK2, so I’m not really sure what that book has.

  6. This sounded good, and my son was eager to try more after the first five, so I just bought the first stage. Looks like another great product from JALUP!

    • Thanks Daniel! I hope your son’s Japanese progress is going smoothly. I’m looking forward to hearing a detailed updated on how everything has been going.

  7. Since this is going to be a replacement for RTK and Kanji Assist will this be supplied in the Battle Equipment Package? I was contemplating buying the package in the next month or so, should I wait? Thanks.

    • Since this is still brand new nothing yet has really been decided yet. But if you buy the battle package, and stages start coming out after that, e-mail me and we can work something out.

  8. This is awesome! this really feels like next level stuff :D I’ve just restarted my studies and was about to restart RTK but it just feels like a grind, so this couldn’t have came at a better time! I’ve bought it and I’m gonna go at a modest 10 cards per day and hopefully each stage will be out just as I’m finishing up or shortly after :) I really hope this continues!

  9. This looks very promising to me! I really like the sentences as a quick and easy way to test the keywords.

    This led to an idea I had which may or may not be viable or particularly useful, but I thought I’d share it just in case. I wonder if to go along with the Japanese keyword, it’d be good to have a Japanese sentence option as well. This may work best for the kanji that have a one kanji word like 力, but it could be worth looking into.

    One example from a given sentence could be something like:

    This may not be worth the extra effort it’d take to create the sentences, but then again maybe it would be?

    • Thanks for the feedback. I’ll look into this possibility. It may be a little hard to do because the way the English used doesn’t necessarily translate to the same type of Japanese sentences, but it’s definitely worth seeing if I can figure something out with it.

  10. Bought it a few Days ago, and I have to say I am always impressed
    by the quality of your Decks. Keep up the good work, looking forward to Stage 2.

  11. Alright, I’ve been wanting to write a review of this product for a while now, but wanted to get fairly deep into the deck before actually digging into it. I feel like now, at 190 cards in, I can give a decently thorough review of Kanji Kingdom as it is now.

    First, a bit of context. I’ve been a terribly rough start and stop learner for about 6 years now. I studied for 3 years in college before quitting and had a few kanji (maybe 150?) memorized purely by rote. I then did nothing substantial with Japanese or kanji until finding JALUP. I’m now 300 cards into the J-J phase of learning. Just before starting Kanji Kingdom, I finished the RTK Memrise deck on that site, so I had exposure (not memorization by any means, I crammed that in hard just before the new year out of a sense of pride) to all of the RTK kanji before starting KK.

    With all of that in mind, WOW. KK is fun, I’ll give it that. Some of the little sentences and phrases get me to chuckle in the morning as I try to bust out my kanji before work in the mornings. For example, “My big fat deceased husband has been up in dog heaven for 10,000 years.” I’m sensing some animosity coming from my phone as I flip to that card!

    KK also has the benefit, for me, of giving me a more natural way to practice kanji. Even if it’s jumping in between English words and kanji, and even if I’m reading the kanji off as English themselves, the act of scanning a sentence and instantly recognizing the meaning of the kanji is more beneficial, to me, than completely isolated cards. The constant reinforcement is useful, too, as keywords from 10, 15, 20 cards back will show up in new cards as a way to reinforce what I’m learning.

    I will say that compared to learning using RTK, actual acquisition of new words is taking me a bit longer. Going through the stories for RTK is very helpful when picking up a new character, and I can only assume that this continues to be the case for the more complex kanji. That being said, with how often kanji pop back up in new cards, I think KK may mitigate this issue in the long run, and it eliminates the need to recall 2,000 little stories for every character in a piece of writing. I think that RTK is good in the short term, but KK will aid recall for me for a much longer time period.

    Overall, I’m pleased with my purchase of the first stage of Kanji Kingdom. It shines with the quality of all of the other JALUP products I’ve used thus far (and I’m assuming the ones I’ll get to by year’s end, I’m coming for you, Expert stages!) and builds on the puzzle solving strategies inherent in the JALUP philosophy of making learning a game instead of a chore. With only 6 days left in my studies, all I can do now is hope that stage 2 is released soon so I don’t need to miss any days of adding new cards!

    • Thanks Richard for the detailed review. I’m really happy to hear you are enjoying it, and some of my more colorful stories are bringing some smiles.

      I’m hoping to have Stage 2 finished by the end of this upcoming weekend.

  12. It’s great to see stage 2 released already. No risk of running out of cards this month for me now :)

  13. I have to say this has been absolutely great for me. I’m gonna finish with stage 1 by tomorrow so I’m already getting stage 2.

    Kanji has been troublesome for me simply because I get frustrated very easily even after going through RTK a couple of years back. Some of those keywords gave me headaches and just the thought of doing RTK again after being burnt out and leaving kanji reviews behind for a long time was so frustrating. So I must say this chain arrangement has been amazing for me as it works quite like JALUP beginner is working for me as well.

    Thanks for the great work, this is definitely the best tool for studying kanji that I’ve come across so far.

    • Thanks for the review, and I’m really happy to hear Kanji Kingdom is working to get rid of kanji studying frustration for good.

  14. This is probably the best tool I’ve ever come across for remembering Kanji. I’m going pretty slow at 5 per day, but I’m grading my answers strictly (no mercy on my memory) and the Kanji are really sticking in my mind. It’s actually helped me parse new vocabulary in the intermediate deck and also helped me with figuring out stuff that was way above my level.

    Not ready for stage 2 yet but still bought it immediately.

    • Thanks Kevin for the kind words.

      All the silly stories sticking in your mind too? Slow and steady can still kick plenty of ass.

  15. I just want to say thank you so much for busting out Level 2 already. I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of work that goes into creating this system, but it’s oh so worth it. I really do think this could be a valid replacement in its entirety for RTK, which is absolutely amazing.

    • The further I go, the more work it becomes, but the reward of seeing you guys really gaining from this makes it all worthwhile. I have even more motivation now to make it as amazing as possible.

  16. I’ve already worked through RTK and I’m fairly happy with it. I’m interested in KK as further reinforcement. However I am concerned that it will interfere with RTK and I’ll get muddled between the different mnemonics to the detriment of both.
    For those who have already done RTK, do you find that KK is complementing or competing with it? Is it useful?

    • I find that KK reviews are both easier and more fun to do. The larger context gives more hints as to what kanji you are supposed to remember and makes me mix up kanji way less (I have had a lot of trouble with mixing up similar keywords in RTK).

      I do think however that it is important to choose one or the other. Reviewing the same kanji in both systems will confuse you since a lot of kanji do not have the exact same keyword in KK.

      I haven chosen to suspend cards in my RTK deck when I see a card that I have done in KK. That way I will keep reviewing all of the kanji while getting through all of the KK stages. When all of the KK stages have come out and I have gotten through them all I will then end up with all of my RTK cards suspended and only KK cards left.

    • I’m going to be 100% honest, I simply think that based on what I’ve seen so far, KK is a better setup for cementing kanji into your brain. You can check my review above on the situation, because like you I did RTK to completion before starting KK.

    • Kanji kingdom is great method, especially if you have completed RTK.
      For a complete Beginner, the only downside is that it’s not too power leveler friendly. If you want to to 5-10 cards a day, it’s great (even better than RTK, because you don’t need the “hook”), but if you are thinking of going with 25+ cards, it’s gonna give you trouble (there is no hook available). I am planning to write a small review in the comments after a few stages have been released, and how to make it power leveler friendly.

      • I was just curious to why you think 25 cards a day would be slightly overwhelming when so many people do more cards than that in RTK? I was planning on powerleveling but life hit and I have had to reorganize my priorities so I will no longer be doing that but I feel KK isn’t for me if its recommended at such a slow pace.

        I was planning on doing KK in conjunction with Jalup Beginner and was going to do 20 cards a day in each.

        I feel this pace would be a solid pace but to be honest as I have never done Kanji Kingdom or the Beginner deck yet I don’t know if this is tough goal?

        Btw I read your response to my post in the April goals and I wanted to thank you for the tips. Forgot to respond there so I’m doing it here.

        • The short answer is RTK places focus on stories. If you are familiar with memory techniques, you know what I am talking about. Another factor is that KK is incomplete, so you if you move too fast, you might find yourself in a situation in which you’ve just completed a stage, and the next stage hasnt been release yet (this is unlikely as Adam is making these pretty fast).

          Anyways, it is upto the individual. I persoanlly think it’s a fantastic method to learn Japaneae, so you should be fine.

          If you ask me, I’d recommend finishing off atleast ~500 Kanji before starting Beginner. Starting both at the same time would be overwhelming. The best place to start Beginner is at 1200 Kanji, although if you are impatient 500 would also work. In the mean time, do some grammar (ideally whole basic section of Tae Kim) before starting beginner.

          No matter which path you choose, keep in mind that the initial months would be tough and filled with confusion, so be prepared.

        • To add to what Manan said, another reason it’s hard to power through many cards in a day is that each sentence in Kanji Kingdom can have 5 or 6 different Kanji plus the one you are trying to learn. So it forces you to re-enforce what you have previously learned each sentence. This takes additional time and forces you to put in more effort for each sentence because you are trying to learn one Kanji plus re-enforce other Kanji that you might have just learned the previous day. Given enough time and effort I bet 25 is possible, good luck.

        • I would agree that RTK is more powerleveling friendly than KK. If you are doing 50+ new cards a day, which some people do with RTK, you need some kind of memory technique to help you remember. Otherwise you will spend a ton of time on reviews because the retention rate isn’t good enough. I wouldn’t think that 20 new cards a day is impossible with KK. But it will take more than a few hours a day, especially as soon as the reviews starts piling up. The time you spend with each card to reinforce multiple kanji besides the one you are trying to learn with that card will hopefully impact the amount of reviews.

          Another thing is that KK is very new. Only few people have experience with it and not much of it. If you decide to go through with 20-20 ratio of Beginner/KK cards per day I’m sure a lot of other would benefit from you sharing your experiences afterwards.
          Doing KK and Beginner side by side is what Adam recommends, so I don’t think it would be a bad thing to try out. You should probably keep in mind though, that there will be some kanji in the Beginner deck that you won’t know yet and you have to accept that. However since the Jalup decks are recognition only it shouldn’t be that much of a problem. Recognizing is far easier than producing.

        • I would also like to add that I never really felt like I had a good grasp on Kanji from RTK. When things become difficult my mind usually finds a way to cheat to make it easier. I’ve found Kanji Kingdom is extremely difficult to cheat on. The only way I’ve found is to ignore all the Kanji except the one I’m specifically trying to learn, and that is so obviously cheating I’m pretty good at realizing it. So, while it takes more effot, I think you are going to have a firmer grasp on Kanji from KK.

          Also, I never believed this before but I am becoming a believer now. I think ideally it’s better to learn all the Kanji before you start sentences. Practically however, I think most people burnout before they finish :(

          • I have actually put a lot of thought into this whole “learn kanji before anything” debate… What I think is that the value of anything you do in your quest to Japanese depends on what your goals are and your difficulty setting (like Adam talked about in the newest post). If speed is your priority in mastering Japanese you will have to sacrifice fun and also need to put in a LOT of discipline. Some people absolutely can do this, but it is not at all for everyone. Even if you can pour every waking hour of your day into Japanese that is still a limited time. So to get speed you also want efficiency. If this is your game then I think doing RTK (maybe KK is also possible for this, but I’m unsure) in a few months (maybe even less) is absolutely the only viable first step. Knowing kanji gives you such a huge boost that it would be insane to do anything else. If you pour every possible time you have into doing kanji you will finish pretty quickly and you will be able to do sentences a lot more efficiently. But this route will sacrifice fun and will require hard work.

            I’m guessing that most people setting out to learn a new language does not have the needed motivation to keep up the discipline to finish kanji in a month or two. On the other hand a lot of people don’t really prioritize speed that much. Most people probably want to sacrifice efficiency for more fun since fun is one of the motivational boosters and prevent burn-out. If that is the case you will want to do sentences and kanji alongside each other. Sentences will mean you can start understanding at least a small amount and then begin enjoying immersion. In the end you will have to pour more time into studying to get to the same level as the speed-leveler because you sacrificed some efficiency in the process. But since you are having more fun times in the beginning the extra time will not feel that bad.

            • Thanks everyone for the comments and feedback. About the kanji I have decided to do at least 1200 before I go into the beginner deck. Hopefully I can do all 2000 but to be honest if I feel I’m starting to burn out I will add just a few sentences a day to feel like I am making more progress.

              In the mean time while working on Kanji I will go through the JapanesePod Nihongo dojo series and the michel thomas series. As well as work my way through Tae Kim’s guide and Japanese the manga way. I feel this will get me ready to nail out those sentence decks in a pretty timely and efficient manner as well as allow me to keep learning new things to keep my interest level high instead of just chugging away at Kanji.

              Of course I will add about 4 hours of immersion a day.

  17. Hi. First of all I would like to say I find your articles very insightful and motivating. Moreover you keep putting things in perspective and listening to your community for corrections and suggestions, which makes for better material over time. Thank you for that.

    I am a second time learner and I decided I would try again and succeed. This time I decided to keep things simple and straightforward, since last time I got lost in too much material. Since I really liked your approach for Kana Conqueror and Jalup Beginner I am really interested in trying Kanji Kingdom, so I bought it as well so I can use only one type of material, with only one approach.

    One thing that is not self-evident with your anki decks is what I would call their “natural order” of study. Obviously we have to start with the kana (I just finished hiragana and will start katakana). After that it seems we can start Jalup Beginner and Kanji Kingdoms at the same time. Can you confirm that? Is there a “preferred” or “ideal” order of study between decks? Should I advance in Kanji Kingdom before attempting Jalup Beginner?

    Again, thank you for your efforts. Keep at it ;-)

    • Since kanji kingdom isn’t finished yet, I haven’t updated the walkthrough yet, but I plan on making the new order:

      1. Kana Conqueror
      2. Beginner Stages 1-4 + Kanji Kingdom 1-4
      3. Jalup Intermediate 1-4 + Kanji Kingdom 5-8

      This recommendation is based on experience of the value of doing kanji first outweighed by the risk of burnout and boredom that often comes.

      I will probably make a note that the other alternative is:

      2. Jalup Beginner stages 1-2 + Kanji Kingdom 1-4
      3. Jalup Beginner stages 3-4 + Kanji Kingdom 5-8

      for those should would rather knock out all the kanji before intermediate. Both ways are perfectly viable and it becomes a major personal choice.

      • Thank you for your answer. I will probably stick to the first recommendation.

        I have a follow-up question for you and people out there: how do you recommend organizing your decks in Anki? Do you keep them separate or do you merge them? I read somewhere (probably on this site) that it was better to have a big deck to rule them all. I tried an hybrid approach with one master deck and sub-decks that goes this way:
        |- Beginner
        ||- Stage 1
        |- Kana Conqueror
        ||- Hiragana
        ||- Katakana
        |- Kanji Kingdom
        ||- Stage 1
        I activate or pause cards as needed and work with the master deck. However when I activated Beginner 1 and Kingdom 1 I expected them to be presented as if they were part of the same deck (ie. one card from beginner, one from kingdom, an so on). But instead it seems anki won’t go through Kingdom before finishing Beginner because of the order in which these sub decks are organized.

        Do you guys have some tricks to share?

        • Yeah I’m not sure if you can mix the reviews directly. You might want to just have your master deck, and then add a batch of Beginner followed by a batch of Kanji Kingdom (Example 100 each, or 1 stage each). They don’t need to be done exactly simultaneously (as in alternating cards), so I think it is fine to do a little of one, than a little of the other.

          • Hi. Actually we can mix them. Let’s say that we want to learn 30 new cards a day and we have a master deck with two sub decks. In the master deck’s parameters we have to put 30 as the number of new cards per day, and in each of the sub decks we put 15. This way anki will try to fill the 30 with the maximum of the first (15) and complete with the second sub-deck (here 15 cards).

            Obviously if we want to concentrate on sub-deck 1 we can put 20 or 25 and 5 or 10 for the second sub-deck. You understand the principle. Certainly we can do the same for the number of revisions.

            • That’s an excellent solution. I actually wasn’t even familiar with how to use sub-decks, but that works perfectly. Thanks for sharing!

  18. With this you’re also practicing the english keywords on the kanji, while also doing that backwards (writing or visualization). Is that better than only writing down the kanji? (rtk mod deck for example).

    • I have attempted RTK multiple times and finally finished it last year. My experience is that I often have a very hard time recalling the keyword when I see a kanji in the wild. So for me I’m really happy with the recall practice Kanji Kingdom gives me.

      • But is it good for j-j? I can imagine it making the process easier (you’ll get lots of hints). Plus it has the advantage of kanji being constantly reinforced. It’s pretty good and I might buy all the stages. I wonder how he even came up with this though lmao, the sentences are so crazy.

        • I don’t think it is any different from RTK with respect to J-J. Using an i+1 system like the Jalup decks you might not really need the English help that the RTK (or KK) keywords give you, since all of the definitions should consist only of words you already know. However when doing reading immersion or when creating your own sentences and doing branching RTK/KK keywords will probably help a lot in making the Japanese definitions manageable.

  19. Hi Adam,

    I’ve been considering to get the Jalup Maximum because I want to take my Japanese learning seriously until what I consider as fluency. I’m currently in intermediate level, and I thought Jalup Max is a good package even though I probably don’t really need the beginner step. (It’s cheaper than buying intermediate to expert package anyway).

    So my questions are:
    1. You mentioned at the store that Kanji Kingdom is not included in Jalup Max. Is it going to be included in the future?

    2. I only learn using tablet / mobile phone rather than computer. I’ve been using Flashcards Deluxe app rather than Anki mobile app. Do you advice me to use Anki mobile app to learn your decks? (I’ve never tried Anki app before).

    Thanks for your time.

    • Even though I am not Adam, I can provide some answers:
      -The decks Adam sells only work with Anki
      -I am 99% sure Adam will add kanji kingdom to the maximum package after he finishes all stages of kanji kingdom
      -You might not need the beginner package but I recommend browsing through the deck and seeing how much you know in each stage and do the stages that you don’t know from the beginner deck check out this article to get started

    • Hello Cassle,

      In answer to your questions.

      1. It will, but probably not until I finish it (which won’t be for several more months). However, if you want to get the Max now and also want Kanji Kingdom, e-mail me and we can work something out.

      2. I do advise you to use Anki, as it’ll make your life 1000x times easier. Technically, you could add all the material to your own flashcard app. I provide either the PDF/excel for every stage, so you could manually add it. But I think that would be a lot of work.

      Also a lot of intermediate learners find the Jalup Beginner a good refresher, and useful to fill in any gaps they may have missed (it also makes it easier to do internal searches when later cards use earlier cards). Even if you breeze through it, you are doing a level check for yourself.

    • If you have Android, USE ANKIDROID (Anki for Android). I personally use it and I find it much more convenient than desktop version. Anki is 1000x better than Flashcard deleuxe, so I’ll highly advise making the switch.

    • If you happen to use an Apple device, I use the ios version of Anki, and while it definitely does not have all the features of the desktop version, it still does the job. Like Manan said, Anki mobile is much more convenient than desktop.

      The one downside to using the ios version is how expensive it is, but it’s still worth it. If you’re willing to pay the $299 for JALUP Maximum, what’s an extra $20, y’know? In the end, it’s probably going to end up being more worth it to you than the app that you’re using right now.

      • This^ Anki IOS is one of the best investments I’ve ever made in my life. Anki isn’t only for Japanese, it can be used to remember anything, I personally used it for recording a whole school year worth of information and I still remember every single thing since then due to the amazing powers of anki.

        • Thanks a lot guys! I’ll definitely get Anki iOS then!

          Thanks for your reply, Adam. I’ll e-mail you after I buy the package, hopefully this week.

        • I was thinking the same thing the other day. I spent $20 on Anki iOS and currently have over 900 hours logged in it. That’s just after one year. Best $20 I ever spent :)

  20. Just wanted to say thanks for these… I’ve been using your beginner pack for a while, and these decks are a wonderful addition. I really hope you keep making them!!

  21. Hi. As I progress (slowly) into Kanji Kingdom, I find myself having some remarks. I post them here with hope that some of them will be seen as relevant and will help Adam to refine his decks. For readability and ease of discussion, I will split this comment into sub-comments.

    • First. In the sixth section of this page (Unlocking Puzzles) it is said: “[…] not having everything given to you is another popular theme of Jalup Beginner. You often have to look up old cards to fully grasp new cards.”.

      One of my problems is precisely the impracticality of this point. I use Anki on my android phone and looking for previous cards while doing the reviews kind of “breaks the flow”. Would you suggest to compile a glossary alongside the reviews for this use? Do you have better tips for a beginner?

      • I have the same issue, just on iOS devices. I have purchased the Daijirin J-J dictionary app and this allows me to very quickly look up words (it scans the clipboard for words when tabbed into). The definitions are often different, but for many cards this is not a problem – for me at least.

    • Second. Just a tip I find useful while doing the reviews: when I read the answer for a kanji, not only do I check the current one, I also draw all the chain. I find it easier to reinforce the chain this way. However, as Adam suggested in hist first important note, I do not try to recall everything while doing the card’s review. I only reinforce all the chain after the actual review.

    • Third. As a follow-up to the last point, I wonder if it would be useful to give the keyword for all kanjis of the current chain in the answer side. This way my little hack would be more efficient. I wouldn’t have to see all the chain’s cards to start memorizing it.

    • Fourth. Curiously, the stories don’t seem to work as intended with me. The first time I tried learning the kanjis with RTK, the stories actually helped me to remember them. In KK, the stories do not seem to help me that much and almost seem useless. Maybe I misuse them. I don’t know. I will continue to give it a try though.

      • I just wanted to share my feeling about the stories in case it might help you. What makes me like the stories is that they consist of more kanji than just the chain ones. Both RTK and KK is focused around producing the kanji, which is good since that is really the more difficult part. However with RTK I had a really hard time recognizing the kanji I had learned already. That meant that trying to read Japanese I really did not get much help from RTK. I only recognized kanji I already knew as Japanese words whereas the point of learning kanji separately first is that it gives you a hint for what unknown words might mean. That did not work at all for me with RTK.

        With KK the sentence contain multiple kanji that I need to recognize to make sense of the sentence, so it adds the recognize practice I sorely missed in RTK.

    • Fifth. As a strong believer of RTK I understand the need to start the study of kanji with its core sense and without its pronunciations. Therefore it is important to link the kanji with its core sense in plain english (equivalent to the japanese-english phase in Jalup). However, since I don’t seem to wrap my head around the correct use of the stories, I wonder if it would not be better to craft japanese sentences with the kanjis already learned and the new ones.

      More clearly. It would work the way you intended: start a new chain with a new sentence. For a given chain, known kanjis would appear normally. The one we have to learn would be replaced with plain english and its pronunciation (not important to remember at this stage) in parenthesis. The other words of the chain would appear in plain english. However, and contrary to KK, the sentence would be a correct one (grammatically speaking) in japanese. In other words it would both act like Jalup Beginner AND KK to learn kanjis. With time, as we review KK, the sentence would still be relevant. Moreover the sentence would both be funny and reinforce kanas and grammar.

      What do you think of it? Maybe there is some complications I do not anticipate, since hey, I’m a beginner.

    • Thanks for the feedback.

      In response:

      1. It’s just an extra click (the find button), and I don’t think it breaks up the study flow that much. Using something outside or separate seems like it would interrupt the flow even more.

      2. More writing practice is fine, but some people hate even writing the one kanji, so it becomes a balance as to how motivated you are.

      3. I like the focus on one English keyword at a time, as seeing all three can make you feel like you need to remember all three. Less is more on Anki cards, and I’ve tried to maintain that balance.

      4. Sorry to hear that. Other people seem to be enjoying the stories, as it keeps reviews fresh and provides more impact than just having one word.

      5. The stories themselves don’t explain the kanji like RTK does. As discussed in this article, this is a fade-away feature that I felt troubled people often more than helped. The stories are meant to pull the kanji chains together in an easy to connect way. They become more valuable as kanji chains start to share more of the same components.

      I attempted to try to create Japanese sentences with it at first, but it seemed to just confuse things more due to the way the keywords work.

      • Thanks for the quick response.

        1. So it seems I just need more practice. That’s good news :-)

        2-3. I see. My idea was to reinforce the feeling of working on a chain, rather than a lone kanji, as I feel more efficient this way. But I understand that in general it can add unnecessary pressure. I think we’re flirting with the limits of anki there, the line between your intents and what works or not in anki.

        4. I didn’t meant to be rude in any way. English is not my mother tongue so I may make mistakes when I write and sound a little harsh, sorry for that, it’s involuntary. Now that I think about it it may well be the reason why I have a hard time with the stories, even though I understand them.

        5. I understand. It’s interesting to have this kind of insights. Thank you for that :-)

  22. I’m really impressed your system and going to buy beginner package, but can I take KANJI KINGDOM to replace for KANJI ASSIST, of course I will pay a little bit more because kanji assist is only $12.99 :)

      • Oh I forgot to ask, does Kanji Kingdom cover all the kanji in your sentences decks, like Kanji Kingdom stage 1 cover all kanji in beginner sentences deck ?

        • It doesn’t. Kanji Assist did that, but was really just a general review of the kanji in the Beginner deck.

          For Kanji Kingdom to work the way it does, it has to go in the order of kanji ease. The problem with matching it up to Jalup Beginner is that there are very complex kanji that make up easy words.

        • I did jalup beginner before finishing RTK and came across some unknown kanji. However since Jalup decks are recognition only it shouldn’t be too difficult to learn those words without knowing the kanji yet. Then when you get to learning the kanji in kanji kingdom you’ll learn to produce it much faster since you already recognize it from a word you know.

  23. Just a small comment… Early up in the post you use the term “Phase” for a group of Kanji with the same amount of strokes. So Phase 1 would be all kanji with 1 stroke, Phase 6 kanji with 6 strokes etc. But later down in the article you have collected Stages 1-4 and called that Phase 1. It may confuse some people to use the same term for two different things :)

    • Good point. I was trying to make it less confusing but realized it had the opposite effect. I changed it to just Kanji Kingdom Package (Stages 1-4). Thanks!

  24. Quick question. Do we really need to learn the writing for the kanji? I will most likely never need to really be able to write the kanji so it seems like a waste of energy to try to recall how to write. It didn’t bother me at first but as I get further in the kanji have more strokes and its getting harder to recall and its frustrating me. I don’t have a problem recognizing them when I see them in Kanji chains later (I love the constant reinforcement) but actively recalling some of the kanji with more strokes is getting on my nerves. Maybe I just need to keep pushing through but it has begun to make reviews feel more like a chore.

    • you dont need to know the stroke order,in fact learning how to write them take less than an hour,isnt this for those who hate RTK or something? if you dont like it then i guess u should stop it(but still reviewing them) then replace the time you spend on learning new cards in this deck on something else.

      • also writing out kanji helps with remembering and recognizing them plus the kanji’s meaning,one thing that’s really underestimated by those who use Anki,because its so easy to just add them and you’re so eager to reach 10k thing,i quit RTK 8 months ago and i regretted it,i’m restarting it now and it feels a lot better,at least for me

    • Personally, whenever actively recalling a kanji while doing reviews, I write it out once. This is easier than visualizing it in my head, and really helps me get a feel for individual kanji—the subtle differences between similar kanji like 綱 and 網 or 微 and 徴 end up presenting little trouble because I’ve tangibly interacted with them through writing. I don’t recommend paying too much attention to official stroke order because frankly it’s more trouble than it’s worth, but sometimes writing out a kanji once or twice can give your memory the little boost that it needs.

      • Completely agree with this. Learning “how” to write the Kanji is bare minimum. You’re not practicing penmanship – just making sure you have a clear handle on the subtle differences between characters. It might same like a pain now, but it’ll save you a *lot* of grief later on.

    • I don’t know about anyone else but just the act of writing them helps me to remember them. I try to get the stroke order correct but I don’t grade the card on it. I sometimes have to write Kanji dozens of times before it ever sticks. I can’t imagine trying to memorize without writing them down, but that is just me.

    • I think from now on I will judge myself on just reading the kanji in the chain and then I will hit show answer and grade myself. After that I will write the kanji I was supposed to actively recall in order to help understand the nuance. I now understand the point of writing the kanji but since its not really want I want to focus on I believe this should be able to get me good results.

  25. It is my first day. I have only gotten through 15 of these cards. I absolutely love it. It is so cool. I love how every sentence reinforces previous vocabulary/kanji. Super cool. 超すごい!

    • Right now I am customizing the cards to include hints. Specifically, the components of the cards. I happen to have learned all of the components before starting this deck so it comes in handy when I need hints. What I do is, when I cannot remember how the kanji is drawn I highlight the hidden hint that contains the components. I also have been developing my own notation that gives further hints as to how the components are arranged to form the kanji. After I look at the components, if I am able to reconstruct the kanji I press a button that lets me set the card aside until the end of my study session. At the end of the session, if I am able to reconstruct the kanji without looking at the hints then I give it a hard and move on, otherwise I hit again. Anytime I am unable to reconstruct the kanji after looking at the hint, I press again. I find that I am memorizing the components of the kanji I am having the hardest time with and this helps me remember the hardest ones in the future.

  26. I’ve made it to over 600 of these cards now. I can say for sure that if you use this deck you will learn the kanji well. I have it on my Ipad Pro with an apple pen and Notability app in split screen where I draw each kanji when they come up. It is actually fun. Time consuming but it is getting the job done. I like how it makes you learn both by recognition and production. I also like the way it is presented with low stroke order first. Now that I know how to draw the basic patterns, when I’m out and about on the weekend (living in Tokyo) and see a kanji that looks familiar but I can’t recall, I’ll draw it into JiShop and have the english meaning. Bottom line—-5 star review for Kanji Kingdom from me.

  27. So after several months of being a bit stalled with my progress, got into the JALUP advanced deck and found new vocab was getting harder to retain, so I decided to finally deal with kanji in a systematic way and picked up the first stage of this deck. I’ve made multiple attempts in the past at doing RTK in various ways (lazy kanji kendo mod, for instance) and never kept reviews up or even made it all the way through all 2000+ (Usually stalled out in the 1500’s).

    Anyways, I’m liking this approach so far but I’m wondering if there are any success stories yet. Has anyone finished all 9 stages? How long did it take you? What have the results been like?

    Also, would love to hear from anyone, who, like me, has some experience with RTK and has now completed kanji kingdom. Can you compare your experiences.

    • I know there are people who have made it to the end, so I also would really appreciate anyone who has finished it to leave a short story of their experience. It would be useful to anyone interested in trying out.


    • I’ll wrap up stage 1 in the morning and wanted to come back with some initial thoughts:

      So far I really enjoy this deck. While a lot of these simpler kanji were review for me, there were a surprising number I couldn’t write or didn’t remember. I’ve been able to go at quite a quick pace through the first 250 (20 a day with a couple days break from adding when I had my children last weekend). I don’t know if I’ll be able to maintain this pace. I’ve found that completely new kanji take learning, forgetting, and relearning a few times over four or five days before the memory starts getting very solid, so I envision reviews getting burdensome as I continue at this pace.

      My only real concern with the deck is that as the kanji grow increasingly complex, learning them will get harder and harder without the benefit of mnemonics that break them down by primitive. I hope to find I am wrong. Again, I’d really love to hear from someone whose made it through all 9 stages. If you encountered what I described, how did you cope with it?

  28. I’m at 1400 cards now. I personally think this deck is awesome. It forces you to use several memory pathways in your brain which really solidifies the learning. Should be done by the end of January.

  29. adam,

    i have to commend your work again. never thought learning kanji could be fun but that’s exactly what it is for me right now through kanji kingdom. it has become my new favorite thing to learn! i love how the characters are repeated every time i see the sentences they are included in, and the way the characters are grouped together in stroke order and similarity. it’s constant reinforcement and it’s making learning the subtle differences between them very easy. this is wayyy easier than rtk, which felt like a grind. having only one sentence as the mnemonic for multiple characters is brilliantly efficient, as well. can’t say enough good things about this, man.

    • Thanks Michael for the kind words and the review! I hope things continue going great for you all the way to the finish.

  30. Hoping maybe someone will give me some advice. I’m at ~1700 kanji kingdom cards now. I add 10 per day and feel as if I’m learning well. However, the reviews are really piling up. I’m also well into the J-j intermediate deck (about 250) but because kanji kingdom takes so much time, it has had to take a back seat and some days I do not add new cards or if I do, only a few. Basically, I feel as f I’m learning to recognize kanji and know what they mean in English but my speaking and listening skills are not progressing as much as I would like.

    I’m sure any of you that have ever lived in Tokyo realize that it is easy to live in a bubble of English. I speak English mostly at work. My Japanese coworkers speak English better than I speak Japanese so English wins. Other than the KK & sentence deck reviews, my Japanese consists of small talk, listening to the radio in the car and reading kanji that is written everywhere. Maybe one episode of a drama at night.

    My question is do you think it would be better to stop adding kanji cards at this point and instead spend more time with j-j sentences and immersion? Or would it be better to just finish KK and put more effort into the others later? Unfortunately, with work and life obligations there is no time for all right now.

    Will appreciate any advice. —Arthur

    • As with any kanji studying, it starts to slow down at the very end (due to the buildup). However, once you finish it, and get into nothing but reviews mode, I guarantee that your review time will start to decrease dramatically. And since you won’t be adding new cards, you’ll have that additional time too.

      If you are pressed for time, you can skip stage 9 (remember, that is the bonus stage really). I think it’s worth it to just get to the end since you are so close. At 10 new a day, you have about a month to go. You’ll thank yourself later. I promise.

  31. Oh my goodness. I’ve tried and tried to get through rtk but I’m a “fits and starts” kind of learner and rtk just fades immediately for me if I take a few days off. This, though, looka like something that is gonna stick! I’ll report back when I’ve got further in, but thank you so much for making this!

    Actually I’m glad I did a bit of rtk, because as the kanji get more complicated I probably will try to look at the component parts of new kanji and rtk has showed me how to do that very handily.

  32. Finally finished Kanji Kingdom 2050! 10 new cards a day for the past 7 months. Great deck. I highly recommend it. Thank you Adam for making it.
    Time to continue pressing with Jalup Intermediate and immersion. And of course review mode for KK (hopefully the review quantity will drop soon). -Arthur

    • Congrats on finishing it! Best of luck as you progress through Jalup Intermediate.

      And I promise you that your reviews will drop down soon now that you’ve stopped adding new cards.

  33. so before my break I finished all of RTK and then after that I quit it because I couldn’t stand to do reviews.

    now I am halfway through the first stage of Kanji kingdom and I got to say this is 100x better than rtk. Reviews are more enjoyable it’s like unlocking hieroglyphics in the sentences. Reviews are easier because the Kanji isn’t isolated in that one card it is reused. Overall I don’t think I’ll quit Kanji kingdom like I did RTK and I really love the i+1 since it makes reviews much less painful.

  34. I just started Kanji Kingdom about a week or so. I absolutely love it!

    However, I do have a bit of a problem. When I study, using the above example;

    又 the 子 of the 士 made a 才 measurement (すん) of the 刀

    I say to myself: ??? the child of the gentleman made a ??? 寸 of the katana.

    So I get it that the card is testing the 寸 kanji, but I love the fact that I can retest myself on the rest on the card and feel that I am cheating myself on the review. Do you all have this type of problem? I thought of making an index card with problematic kanji listed to help with reviews.
    Or am I just making too big of a deal with this?

    • Youngenstein,

      The struggle is real. It is easy to cheat the review of the card that is actually testing those kanji but you have to remember that Anki is just a tool to help you study. Don’t worry about it during the first week of learning a card if you feel like you wouldn’t have gotten a card correct if you hadn’t seen the card earlier choose a good or hard instead of easy. Another option that you have is to bury the card until the next day that way the word is not as fresh in your mind.

      I think this problem is apparent when studying similar cards but you wouldn’t feel like you were cheating if you saw any of these words in your favorite manga or or any other reading material. Remember that reading is reading no matter what its form is and there is nothing wrong with being exposed to things that you know before Anki tells you it’s time to review them.

      Keep up those reviews and keep on leveling.

      • I totally was having the exact same thoughts recently and last night (while afflicted with insomnia, which led to a lot of thinking about Japanese and studying) I had the same kind of revelation: it doesn’t matter. Eventually, Anki/JalupNEXT will eventually correct it. Those cards are always going to come back, and not necessarily in the order you originally saw them, so eventually those “cheats” won’t be there. Like Ian Malcolm said: “Life, uh, finds a way.”

    • I’m slightly confused about what you mean.

      Do you mean that you know the new target keyword, and out of the older kanji, you can’t remember 2 of the older kanji? In this case, you are supposed to mark the card wrong. As you need to understand the full card.

      Or do you mean that you were learning the card in a chain, and the previous card was the same as this card except a different kanji tested, so this made it feel like you were cheating? Card reviews only appear in order at the very beginning (because you are learning 3 in a row, so the time frame will be fairly similar. They will soon be separated as you learn/review more cards, so this should go away.

      • Adam,

        Your first example is what I was saying. I think I’m going to have to *slow* down my new cards. I usually get all the Kanji, including the new target keyword, except one. Will mark wrong accordingly. I will say this will force complete understanding. Awesome!

        Thank you all for the quick responses. I’m just getting back in the swing of things after a long hiatus…

  35. Hello, I’ve studied japanese for 2.5 years now, but in a course made for people without much time, classes are only 4h per week, and we go half the phase of a normal student. Now I have more time, I just passed the N5, have like 1500 vocabulary (or thats what memrise[my SRS] tell me) but only know about 100 kanjis, we are currently about to finish the first Genki book.
    So going to the point, I want to try to follow this method now that I have plenty of time, but I don’t know how are you supposed to do the steps, for example, I’m beggining with 30 kanjis per day with RTK and Anki, but should I wait untill finish the kanji before going for the next step? the “1000 sentence” one? or should I do them at the same time?
    I’m not dropping school, I just want to boost my learning and use school to check grammar, any other recommendation?

  36. Hi, I just started working on KK and wanted to clarify something. In the third section of this article, it says “For beginners, the Japanese keywords are not intended to be learned at the same time as the kanji”. As a beginner, should I just be focusing on Kanji to English Keyword translation with the KK cards?

    • NM I found the tutorial for KK on jalupnext, which confirms this. Just wanted to make sure as it seemed like a 180 from the kana sets and all of the J-E discussion I’ve read so far. I’m guessing this is more to preemptively familiarize me with the kanji than to try to teach them in isolation from actual practice.

  37. I’ve been using Kanji Kingdom for a while, and at 500 cards, I feel like a can give a fair review. A bit of background: a few years ago I tried RTK and burned out after 300 or so characters, so I can compare the two methods. A couple of months ago restarted Japanese but still firmly in the beginner J-E sentence phase.

    First, the good: much more practice in kanji recognition in the context of a sentence, especially with kanji reinforced in later cards. I often find myself recognizing the kanji I learned in other Japanese material. I also mix them up less, because of the context of the sentence.

    Neutral: my low level of Japanese does not allow me to comment on keyword choice, or if the use of a Japanese keyword will lessen confusion in the long run.

    The bad: much less efficient memorization compared to RTK (not power-leveling friendly, as previously stated). The lack of mnemonics baked into the system may lead to rote learning of the characters, even if the chains have a common theme. Also, cards test a lot of knowledge simultaneously, which is usually something to avoid in flashcards. Minor points: I miss the whiteboard function from AnkiDroid, and I would like to know how the kanji were selected (what am I learning? Are the 2300 kanji the 2136 jouyou kanji plus…something?).

    I ended up using a hybrid approach: as I learn each card in Kanji Kingdom I look it up in RTK and use the primitives to create a mnemonic (or use one from Kanji Koohii if the meaning is the same). It is a less efficient than pure RTK (because the order is not optimized for learning the primitives) but I get to practice recognition and still benefit from the mnemonics (which do fade away with time but are critical for memorizing a large amount of information quickly). I feel like the rate at which I am going (75/week) is sustainable, and have not had problems with burnout yet. Overall a positive experience.

    • @Sara,

      After being away from Japanese for way too long, I’ve resurrected my studies and, like you, was having trouble with Kanji Kingdom. I noticed that I still remembered many of the Kanji from my RTK days, but had trouble learning new Kanji as presented in Kanji Kingdom.

      I dusted off my old, tattered copy of RTK and ended up doing the same thing you are doing. I only started doing it the other day, so I don’t have any data on it’s efficiency, but I’m confident it’ll work out.

      The big take away, is there is rarely a one size fits all approach. It often takes a little trial and error combined with observation on what works.

    • Dear Sara,

      would you mind sharing with us how long are you doing reviews at your current speed (75/week)?

      thank you,

  38. Adam,

    I wondering if years later you still think handwriting Kanji is the way to go, or, that recognition is better.

    I apologize in advance if you have answered this question already

    • I still think keyword to kanji is king (because you get recognition of kanji indirectly through regular sentences). Handwriting the kanji out is useful early on for additional practice, but should definitely phased out for a mental drawing of the kanji later on.

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