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Learning 2042 Kanji in just 58 Days

Posted by on November 5, 2012 in Japanese Study Methods, Japanese Study Tools, Learn Japanese, read japanese | 8 comments

Is it possible? Many of you are probably thinking no! However, there are others who have done it. I won’t be the first. I should point out that I wouldn’t recommend this method for everyone. I have a lot of experience with kanji, I studied Japanese in the US, attended Waseda University in Tokyo, and currently live in Japan. Unfortunately, I haven’t taken the time to learn all 2042 kanji and make sure that I can recall and write them whenever I want.

I’ve decided that NOW is that time!

I calculated that to reach my goal of 2042 kanji in 58 57 days that I need to study at least 36 kanji per day. I actually started yesterday, and studied 52 yesterday and 52 today. So two days and I am now at 104 Kanji. For the first couple hundred I will probable keep this pace to give myself a little leeway at the end.

So what better time than to learn the kanji than to study along with me!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Remembering the Kanji 1: I did a full review on this book and was really impressed with the method it uses to teach kanji. You can get it here. (Purchasing using this link helps support this site.
  • Anki: We will be using this to review the kanji and make sure we are remembering them correctly. The full set of RTK cards can be downloaded from their site.
  • Reviewing the Kanji: I recommend an account here so that you can check out different stories for help (This will make more sense to you once you start). The downloadable card set in Anki already contains the links.
  • Kanji Poster: Recommended if you want to see the kanji all in one place. Cool to have, but not really necessary to reach our goal. (Link also helps support this site).
How to Study Kanji for this project
  1. Choose your finish date, and then divide the number of kanji by the number of days you have left. In my case 2042 kanji/58 days=36 kanji per day.
  2. Study the Kanji using the Remembering the Kanji book.
  3. Review the kanji you have learned in Anki. I usually wait at least a couple of hours before reviewing.
  4. Mark off or highlight kanji you know on the kanji poster (not necessary, but will help give me a visual of my progress)
  5. Rinse and repeat, until you have conquered all the kanji.
  6. Make sure you continue to study Anki and also use your learned kanji to read Japanese.
So, in order to stay motivated, lets do it together! I will be posting about my progress, and please feel free to leave comments or questions about yours.





  1. avatar

    Hi, i like very much your post….. well 52 days eh? …. i think is possible …at least people that dont have responsabilitys like , jobs, family etc….. surely this apply more for students in high school or less…

    i´m studing serious about kanji… i´m 26 age old…. since 2 years ago i´m learning 10 kanjis per week.. now im about 900 kanjis (5 th grade shougaku)

    do you think that is slow?


  2. avatar

    Hi Marco,

    56 Days left now. I don’t think that 10 kanji a week is slow. It takes a lot of time to learn Kanji the normal way ( I certainly spent a lot of time learning them myself).

    The method that I am using with Remember the Kanji and Anki is about learning smarter. The reason that I can learn 104 kanji in 2 days is because the system works. Once I learn a kanji, it is not necessary to keep writing it to memorize it. I learn it once and then I can recall it anytime. Anki allows you to review the kanji at the best intervals to maximize your study time.

    I guess I should also mention that I am not a student. I have a business to run, in addition to a number of other things. The reason I can study at this rate is because I only need about an hour a day. This will slightly increase as the number of reviews increase in Anki.

  3. avatar

    The system does work if you are the sort of learner who likes lists. I’ve started Heisig several times and gave up after about 300 because I was completely bored. Bored to the point of hating the book. I was also frustrated that I was not learning any Japanese. All I learnt was 300 or so “meanings”, some of which even Heisig admitted were not entirely acurate (hence the inverted commas) and would need to be relearned later. I didn’t learn any compounds (and many if not most Japanese words are written as compunds) and didn’t learn how to pronounce the kanji.

    If you’re a person that learns well from lists then you may fare better. However I have found that I remember kanji better, when I learn them in context. I am finding Assimil’s “Japanese with Ease” books 1 and 2 much better. Over the 100 leasons you learn to sight read about 1,000 of the most commonest kanjis (I think they are the Kyoiku set) plus the common compounds they make up (which Heisig doesn’t teach). At the same time, you are also learning how to communicate using conversational Japanese and should have a vocab of around 3,000 words (active+passive) when finished. The course takes about three months to complete and if you want to know how to write the kanji, there is a third book in the series for teaching that along with extra compounds and example sentences. This last book also explains the theory and lists all the radicals so you could use those to make up your own mnuemonics, alla Heisig.

    To me this course adds more value than spending a similar amount of time just learning the meanings (some of which are wrong) of single kanjis without being able to acutally read any Japanese let alone speak any Japanese.

    I’m not panning the method, in fact I’ve used the radicals in a similar way to Heisig’s primitives, I’m just saying that for my style of learning there is a better way to learn the kanji – Assimil. However if others learn well from just reviewing lists in Anki or from the book, and are not too impatient to begin learning how to speak and read Japanese, then it may work better for them.

  4. avatar

    Andrew, thanks for your comment. I agree that learning Heisig can get boring at times. I also agree that learning in context in a great idea. However, I think the system is unique in the fact that you can learn to recognize and write many kanji at one time. Using the normal method takes much more time. I learned a lot of kanji when I was a student, only to find that I forgot them shortly after if I didn’t use them. Part of this goes to the fact that we comunicate via computer and keitai, not by writing.

    Some of the meanings are not 100 percent, but most of them are close enough that after finishing the program you would be able to mostly understand what you read. learning compounds is much easier if you already know the kanji that they are made of. It’s true that you aren’t learning Japanese, but with this method, you can get kanji out of the way in just a few months for not that much time a day. I’m not saying that is the best method, but imagine if you started leaning Japanese and already knew how to recognize and write all the kanji.

    At any rate, speaking isn’t my concern. I mentioned in the first post that I already speak Japanese on a daily basis.

    I haven’t heard of your book before. I may have to take a look at it to review for the site.

  5. avatar

    I started the book and I stopped in the # 600 Kanji, I will restart as well, this time reviewing with ANKI.

  6. avatar

    Hi Juan,

    Glad to hear you are gonna give it another go!

  7. avatar

    the kanji words is too small…

  8. avatar

    Sorry, the poster is pretty big and it’s hard to get a clear picture. You can check out the latest update here though: Japanese Words