About Kanjisense

How is Kanjisense different from ______?

The idea of learning the kanji via mnemonic keywords + component breakdowns is nothing new. Numerous comparable kanji-learning systems have popped up over the years in the form of books like Forster and Tamura's Kanji ABC, De Roo's 2001 Kanji, and, most notably, Heisig's Remembering the Kanji.

Kanjisense was born out of my personal yearning for a similar resource that:

  1. takes advantage of modern technology.
    Seriously, who can be bothered to look up a kanji in a dead-tree book these days?
  2. tells the real story of the characters' ancient origins.
    In particular, Heisig's Remembering the Kanji can get pretty silly in its choices for component keywords. Kanjisense isn't above the occasional silly mnemonic device, but it also makes room for discussions of sound components, and sometimes even ancient character forms.

Besides those key differences, Kanjisense is more of a reference work than a course of study. The authors of Remembering the Kanji and Kanji ABC recommend you power through their books and memorize a list of 2,000 kanji in their proprietary order. I know from experience that I don't have the sheer willpower it takes to memorize 2,000 characters out of context, so I'll hold off from making such recommendations here. 🙂

Instead of a list to memorize, I present you with the same information and tools that have helped me the most on my own continuing kanji journey.


Kanjisense was made possible thanks to the following projects.

The Kanji Database Project

Graphical decomposition data for the kanji and etymological data are based on the Kanji Database Project's ids.txt and ids-analysis.txt respectively. These in turn are based on data from the CHISE IDS project, which is under the GNU General Public License 2.0. The source for Kanjisense's modified version can be found on Github.

Dmitry Shpika's kanji frequency data

Character usage frequency data is taken from Github user scriptin's "kanji-frequency" repository where it is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The frequency data used on Kanjisense is based on the Aozora Bunko library.

The Unihan Database

Character variants data and some character readings data are taken from the Unihan Database, and used in conformance with the Unicode's terms of use.

The KANJIDIC Project

Some character readings data was taken from dictionary files by the KANJIDIC project, which are released under the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution-ShareAlike License.


Some data for Middle Chinese readings was taken from the nk2028 project, in particular their classifications of Middle Chinese syllables according to the traditional categories. That data was released under a CC0 1.0 Universal license.


Kanjisense makes use of the free Hanazono Mincho font from GlyphWiki, in conformance with GlyphWiki's license