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漢字 — 2000+

99 kanji, 575 words, 489 days; Anki stats, kanji so far.

Whew... Haven't done one of these in a loong time. Who would've tought I'd actually reach 2000 ... In my first kanji progress post, 100+, I wrote “there will — hopefully — be a total of 21 of these in the end” — I'm really not sure I'll ever get to 2100. Since realizing at 1800+ that new kanji as a main focus isn't worth it anymore, it took me 115 days to get the first 100 on top of that and now 489 days for the second. If factor of increase in time stayed the same I'd reach 2100 in August 2022. ^_^
Quite the deviation from my extrapolations at 1000+, where I took a closer look at what I had leared so far. Here's the same thing for the present situation:

Additional data:   [values from 1000+]


  • Grade 1: 80 of 80 (100.0%)   [100.0%]
  • Grade 2: 160 of 160 (100.0%)   [100.0%]
  • Grade 3: 200 of 200 (100.0%)   [88.0%]
  • Grade 4: 200 of 200 (100.0%)   [64.0%]
  • Grade 5: 185 of 185 (100.0%)   [55.1%]
  • Grade 6: 178 of 181 (98.3%)   [51.4%]
  • JuniorHS: 775 of 934 (83.0%)   [21.6%]


  • 2000 total unique kanji   [1002]
  • Jōyō: 1910 of 2136 (89.4%)   [45.7%]
  • Jinmeiyō (regular): 66 of 641 (10.3%)   [3.1%]
  • Jinmeiyō (variant): 1 of 145 (0.7%)   [0%]
  • 23 non-jōyō kanji   [5]


漢字 — 1900+

100 kanji, 420 words, 115 days; Anki stats, kanji so far.

Final spurt? Not really. Apart from the last two weeks — where I actively searched for new kanji to get from 1880 to 1900 — considerations of previous checkpoint were put into practice. I got most of my newly acquired vocab from ドラマ, manga and interaction with Japanese people.

If I kept my current kanji pace I'd reach full Jōyō somewhere in the second quarter of next year. :D We'll see ... kanji isn't the main focus of active progression anymore.


漢字 — 1800+

101 kanji, 231 words, 36 days; Anki stats, kanji so far.

Less than 45 days was doable. :)

I'm considering to stop seaching for new kanji/vocab each day and repurpose that time for focussed reading practice, collecting new kanji/vocab on the way. This would, I expect, slow down my kanji progress significantly. But I feel that I've reached a point where the hassle of blindly seaching for new words to learn, solely for the purpose of getting those damn 常用漢字 done isn't really worth it anymore.

When reading Japanese it isn't the kanji that hold me back, it's grammar, phrases, compounds, etc. I presume simply reading a lot while looking up the stuff I don't understand will benefit my reading comprehension way better than continuing what I've done up until now. Everything new I come across this way will have the huge benefit of being learned with a context — which is kind of taking my 'learn kanji in the context of words' approach one step further: 'learn vocab and grammar in the context of continuous text'.


漢字 — 1700+

100 kanji, 261 words, 45 days; Anki stats, kanji so far.

As I predicted, exams caused a noticable slowdown. Which would've even been more severe had I not tweaked my learning routine a bit.

To save time I decided to stop writing out readings for recognition cards while continuing to write kanji + furigana for recall cards. Curious side effect: I have the feeling this helps me paying more attention to the correct pronunciation of words, since I have to verbalize the word in my head precisely in order to be able to compare my answer to the written solution in Anki. I guess coming up with an answer in a "verbalizing context" is somehow different to writing it down.

As for recall cards I started trying to always think of the pronunciation of a word first instead of the kanji. Reason: in conversations I need the pronunciation of a word immediately. When writing it is no problem to halt for a few seconds.

Two more weeks of exams to go. Won't manage to get to 1800 in 30 days I guess, but less than 45 should be doable. :)


Radical overhead

Pun intended. Semi interesting kanji related observation:

I learn kanji by breaking them down into their parts and building mnemonics out of those. Since not all kanji are either simple — in which case it's reasonable to remember the single strokes — or composed only of other kanji, I necessarily have to carry some additional baggage along the way.

I wondered how this turned out for me up until now and created a plot. For learning my first 800 kanji I memorized 97 additional non-kanji characters (12% overhead). For the next 800 it was only 13 (1.6% overhead, 6.8% overall).


漢字 — 1600+

99 kanji, 232 words, 35 days; Anki stats, kanji so far.

A minor slowdown. And exams are coming up, so I guess the next 100 will take a bit longer again.

It appears to be getting harder to find kanji that seem definitively rewarding to learn (i.e. are part of a lot of useful/frequently used words), but I've had such phases a few times before and my feeling always turned out to be incorrect. Given that there are sill 500+ 常用漢字 ahead I really hope there's still a bunch of non-obscure ones awaiting me.


漢字 — 1500+

99 kanji, 240 words, 33 days; Anki stats[1], kanji so far.

Exactly hit the 3 kanji/day average this time. In other words: almost keeping pace. :)

Tandem is still great. Furthermore I have to say that socializing with the local community of Japanese and Japanese learners turned out to be super beneficial on several occasions — apart from the obvious benefit of getting to know interesting people and having a good time. Networking is the buzzword to apply here I guess.

[1] From the 24th, prior to adding new cards ... forgot to save a screenshot yesterday. :/


漢字 — 1400+

99 kanji, 256 words, 36 days; Anki stats, kanji so far.

Almost keeping pace during lectures and stuff seems to work out so far.

Apart from vocabulary and more interesting at that: living in a larger city now, I'm surrounded with plenty of opportunity for tandem language learning and socializing with Japanese people in general. At the moment I go with two weekly tandem sessions — each of which with a Japanese exchange student.
Given that I hardly spoke any Japanese for about a year and only had very simple conversations in class before that I struggle a lot. On the other hand, since I have quite a large vocabulary to draw on it's mostly constructing sentences spontaneously which holds me back and I'm making recognizable progress in that regard. Pronunciation causes no problems, nontrivial grammar slowly finds its way into my sentence patterns, listening comprehension is still tough. In any case it's really fun to be able to apply what I've learned so far in real conversations with natives. And getting more and more comfortable with verbally expressing thoughts in a new language is awesome. :3


漢字 — 1300+

101 kanji, 286 words, 34 days; Anki stats, kanji so far.

Keeping the pace for now. Moving and stuff was not really time consuming. Lectures will start next week, we'll see how that'll influence my progress.


漢字 — 1200+

98 kanji, 301 words, 34 days; Anki stats, kanji so far.

Close to 100/30 and a nice word/kanji ratio — I'm fine with that. Maybe I'll get to 1300 before Oct 13th, which is when my master's starts. In any case I'll have to deal with moving and stuff before that. Hopefully that won't slow me down a lot. We'll see. :)


漢字 — 1100+

100 kanji, 285 words, 41 days. Finally gaining some speed again.

As always: Anki stats and kanji so far.

Correct answers on mature cards sub 90% today, which happens from time to time lately — 集中、集中!

/edit: okay, if I really focus ... (the single one I got wrong was mixing up the meanings of 予定 and 仮定)


漢字 — 1000+

100 kanji, 284 words — almost keeping pace with the last 100. 52 days this time. Which means I'll most likely be at 11xx when finishing my thesis. Unless I'm super busy because of moving after that I'll aim for 30 days per 100 again.

The usual stuff: Anki stats and kanji so far.

Additional data:


  • Grade 1: 80 of 80 (100.0%)
  • Grade 2: 160 of 160 (100.0%)
  • Grade 3: 176 of 200 (88.0%)
  • Grade 4: 128 of 200 (64.0%)
  • Grade 5: 102 of 185 (55.1%)
  • Grade 6: 93 of 181 (51.4%)
  • JuniorHS: 202 of 934 (21.6%)


  • 1002 total unique kanji
  • Jōyō: 977 of 2136 (45.7%)
  • Jinmeiyō (regular): 20 of 641 (3.1%)
  • 5 non-Jōyō kanji

Extrapolating these numbers: when I reach the point of knowing all 2136 Jōyō kanji I'll presumably know 2191 in total, 44 of which will be Jinmeiyō, leaving 11 for non-Jōyō. And if I keep my kanji to vocab ratio at a constant level I'll be at 5671 words.
Ignoring the fact that I had a really slow start, I'll reach full Jōyō by the end of October 2015. Counting 100 per month beginning in September this year, starting at 11xx, I'd reach 2191 in July 2015. So ... I guess full Jōyō between July and October 2015 is a good guess.

Since my kanji are distributed between grades/levels to a fair degree, their count is no good indicator for JLPT level. I could imagine taking the N3 in December this year. But I think I'd have to work on a few grammar points for that and I'd definitely have to increase my reading speed. — well, time will tell how I decide. In the end I learn for being able to communicate with Japanese people and read/write, not for a piece of paper. Yet, an official confirmation of "proficiency" has something to it.


漢字 — 900+

100 kanji, 253 words — which took 50 days, meh. But I built a new interactive graph for the projects page.
Aaand I got a "Kenkyūsha's New English-Japanese Dictionary" (5th edition)! — awesome parents be awesome. :3

Anki stats.

Kanji so far.


漢字 — 800+

100 kanji, 283 words — writing thesis, Anki on the train while commuting to and from work, not much time in the evening to add new vocab, a bit of reading and writing on LINE but no time for grammar, Lang-8, etc.

Anki stats.

Kanji so far.


漢字 — 700+

100 kanji and 270 words, again in one month and one day — we'll see how that develops once I start writing my thesis in March. :D

Anyway: Anki stats for the last 30 days, imabi_stroll is still going although I got a bit lazy and missed a lot of days.

A new thing I gave shot is reading manga collaboratively (taking turns) in hangouts. It's really fun but the events are at 4 AM for me (GMT+1), which is pretty awful. D: But I will try to continue attending from time to time.

As always, for the sake of documentation, these are the kanji I know so far.


漢字 — 600+

Aaand again it's been one month and one day — during which I somehow pumped 98 kanji and 317 words into my brain.

Here's a screenshot of my Anki stats for the last 30 days.

Grammar: "re rush" is completed and helped a lot, now I try to focus on free writing of continuous text instead of single example sentences and only take a look at new grammar topics every 4th day. Since I'm through Tae Kim's Grammar Guide completely I pick interesting topics on IMABI. Schedule: "imabi_stroll".

Misc: had a Skype conversation in Japanese in December which was a nice experience. But I definitely should speak more Japanese.

As always, for the sake of documentation, these are the kanji I know so far.


漢字 — 500+

On and on it goes ... 97 kanji and 253 words since the last post.

I was quite surprised that I missed the '100 kanji per month' mark by just one day (and just one kanji, acutally — I was at 499 yesterday). Anyway, everything good, no changes as for how I learn and here are my Anki stats.

Gammar! After I finished my "grammar rush" I stated a "re rush". Turned out to be a good strategy so far. No idea what I will do after that though. Maybe start with writing full texts instead of single sentences. Maybe focus on speaking and reduce the time I spent on writing for a while ... we'll see.

Oh and the guys from Lang-8 (where I'll write my 100th entry today) are super nice! I found a vulnerability on their site, reported it and they gave me one year premium for my account. :3

As always, for the sake of documentation, these are the kanji I know so far.


漢字 — 400+

Soo ... 37 days, 104 kanji and 291 words later:

Not much to say about kanji learning itself. One thing would be, that due to an Anki update that changed the handling of sibling cards my second daily Anki session now includes a bit more cards than before and the first session a bit less. Not much of a change.
I still try to keep the number of reviews due on one day between 80 and 100 but ... as my Anki stats reveal, not always manage to do that.

Since there's nothing more to say about kanji learning, a quick note on grammar:
As opposed to vocab, grammar isn't super easily quantified. No numbers, no charts ... Because of that I had a little bit of a problem to continue practicing and learning new grammar for a while.
To deal with that I stated a "grammar rush" (inspired by this YesJapan video). Instead of really just flipping through a workbook and taking notes I read one chapter of Tae Kim's Grammar Guide a day and post some example sentences using the new grammar on Lang-8. So far this works really well for me.

As always, for the sake of documentation, these are the kanji I know so far.


漢字 — 300+

God mode activated. :)
Exactly one month ago I wrote 「漢字 — 200+」 and since then addded 280 new words using 100 new kanji to my Anki deck. That means I learned more than nine words per day — which is pretty awesome compared to what I did before.
Looking at my Anki stats: I learned every day and added new vocab on 25 of 30 days. On average I review 115 cards in 52 minutes. I require additional time to find new kanji, create mnemonics, find useful new vocab using those kanji, etc. So I guess it's reasonable to assume that I spend about 1.5 hours a day on Japanese vocab. Doesn't sound like an awful lot of time and yet the benefit is quite awesome. :)

The most important thing to note is, that I really made it a habit to go through all due Anki cards in the morning/early afternoon, add new kanji in the evening and go through these a bit later. If you're used to it, it's no burden.
Further changes in my learning approach: I use Tagaini Jisho a lot more than before. And I more often use word frequency lists to find new useful vocab. Apart from that ... I sometimes find it useful to not sit in from of my computer with all its distractions when learning, so I use AnkiWeb on my Kindle which works fine.

As always, for the sake of documentation, these are the kanji I know so far.


漢字 — 200+

Whew ... at last. Turns out a lot of free time doesn't seem to be the best thing for my learning efforts. I tend to approach other time consuming stuff that wouldn't be possible alongside lectures and end up having a hard time keeping up with making progress with my Japanese. D:

Looking at my Anki stats for the last month: the mostly hidden larger gap responsible for that first huge bar was a 5 day trip to Munic for a parkour jam, next gap was a spontaneous programming project iirc (something that doesn't show up in my Google calendar at least) and the third gap was Ludum Dare 27, a video game development competition.

Anyway: what I'm experimenting with right now is different methods for choosing which kanji to learn next. For some time I sticked with the JLPT kanji listed here, but it seems to take me longer and longer to find good candidates. I consider switching to going through easy reading material online and adding stuff I don't know yet. Another option would be using some frequency list.

Apart from that everything's going well. Creating mnemonics is still fun. :) Oh and when learning with Anki I now write out readings in katakana instead of hiragana from time to time — helps preventing that I forget those bastards. :D

Again, for the sake of documentation, these are the kanji I know so far.


漢字 — 100+

So, a mere 5% of Jōyō kanji made their way into my head — and it's been fun so far, A LOT actually! :O

I can't really say why exactly, but I guess first off because as I continue learning kanji I'm able to read more and more Japanese stuff and also because I can play around with mnemonics. :3
When I wrote about taking Japanese courses in my last post I was totally hyped. But in no way was I ready to get into kanji. I did a lot of preparation because the task seemed (and still seems) huge and I wanted to approach it in the best way possible.
I thought about learning the 214 radicals before looking at a single kanji, I looked at guides like TextFugu and WaniKani and started hoarding useful resources like Jim Breen's Multi-Radical Selection ...

... after about a month I knew how I would do it: TextFugu and the like present a great method for learning kanji effectively, but there are two problems. Frist they focus on kanji only and don't present them in context, as compounds (afaik). Second and most imporantly, they use given mnemonics. No way in hell does it make sense to use other people's associations to remember stuff. If 肉 for me consists of a large gripper and two people which reminds me of Soylent Green and makes it super easy to remember then why should I try to remember it any other way?
The thing with the official radicals is that sometimes they don't make sense to me, and for a lot of graphemes of given kanji there are no radicals. I cannot remember 刂 as a mere variation of — they need very distinct mnemonic names/meanings or I'll mix them up.

So ... learning kanji for me works like this: I search for kanji made up of parts I already introduced to my mnemonic system that I'll use in sentences a lot. If I find no good candidates, I search for new graphemes/parts that will "enable" useful new kanji. As a new useful kanji is found I try to find at least two ways to use it in sentences — one where a kun reading is used and one where an on reading is used. Super easy example: I know and , now I find , super easy to remember and with 男の子 and 男子 I already have two readings involved. 男 with it's readings, meanings and a mnemonic wind up in a json file from which I generate a web page displaying all my kanji with memonics and their parts/graphemes linked for ease of use. 男の子 and 男子 are fresh input for my kanji deck in Anki. In the following days I then try to use 男の子 and 男子 in homework for my Japanese courses and in journals on Lang-8. And that's how it goes. :) Works really well so far and is a lot of fun. Coming up with good memonics and the populating of previously mentioned json file can be a bit tedious though. ^^

For the sake of documentation, these are the kanji I know so far.

And here are my current Anki stats (deck created 2013-05-21).

I plan to do this kind of review every 100 kanji, so there will — hopefully — be a total of 21 of these in the end. Beginning with the second one they'll very likely be notably shorter. ^^

And that's it. Learning kanji is now part of my [ladder to the sun][triceratops with a cap cleaning his mouth with a napkin] life. :3