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Welcome to the Kanshudo blog! The most recent entries are displayed here; click on any headline to read the full post. Older posts are linked from the bottom of the page.

New vocab collections: Routledge 5000

Posted: 2017-05-02 | Tags: vocabulary collections
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Use Kanshudo to study and track your progress with the Routledge 5000 list! The Routledge frequency list of Japanese words is a set of 5000 of the most commonly used words in Japanese curated by Routledge, a respected British academic publisher.
If you are studying Japanese with any of the Routledge textbooks, you can now use Kanshudo alongside. As with all our kanji and vocab collections, you can quickly create flashcards, use quick study, tag favorites or download the data.
Access the 50 Routledge collections here: Routledge 5000.

Our comprehensive new guide to writing Japanese

Posted: 2017-04-19 | Tags: Hiragana Katakana Strokes Stroke_order
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We are delighted to introduce our new 'how to' guide to writing Japanese, which introduces you to the standard strokes used to draw all kanji, provides simple rules to help you determine kanji stroke order, and introduces the differences between different styles of writing. It's also available as a PDF! Check out our new guide here: The Kanshudo complete guide to writing Japanese.
Additionally, we have added a great new feature: you can now practice drawing any kanji (as well as hiragana and katakana). Access the new drawing practice tool with one click from any kanji. Our new drawing practice tool lets you overlay your drawing on a reference model, check your stroke counts, and lets you step back and delete strokes you need to fix.
We've also added drawing practice to our popular hiragana and katakana guides, to complement the free flashcards. Now you can practice both writing and recognizing hiragana and katakana.
You can access the drawing practice tool easily in two ways:
  • From the 'cascading kanji' view - whenever you see a kanji in cascading kanji format (the form that shows a kanji summary, with its components in rows below it), just click on the kanji. This will display some additional details without taking you to a new page, and you will see a Draw link.
  • From the kanji details view - you will see a new 'Draw' link in the top right, just next to the Favorites star.
Here are some direct links to kanji drawing pages to get you started:

Study the most important Japanese words first!

Posted: 2017-03-17 | Tags:
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Continuing our theme of making it easier to learn Japanese vocabulary, we've made several great improvements to Search and Flashcards. It's now even easier to use Kanshudo as your primary Japanese/English English/Japanese dictionary, your primary Japanese flashcard program, or both!
  • One of the hardest challenges for Japanese learners is knowing which form of a word to learn. Some Japanese words can be written in as many as ten different forms, and the same form can often be read in different ways. Ordinarily when you look them up in a dictionary, you are just shown them all in a list. Not Kanshudo!
Kanshudo now includes frequency data on every form of each word, and frequency data for each reading. We prioritize the order of the forms and readings we show you based on frequency, and give you information on relative importance of each form. Now you can focus on learning the most useful forms of words!
  • You can tag any form of a word as a Favorite, enabling you to learn that specific form. If a word is commonly encountered in kana only, you can tag the kana form as a favorite.
A major problem with most Japanese dictionaries is that they force you to learn kanji you're not ready for, or all forms of a word at once. Kanshudo makes it much easier for you to learn words by letting you study the form you actually encountered!
  • Word definitions are now displayed in a much more dictionary-like form, with part of speech information, and different senses clearly separated.
  • Now when you click on a word, you see additional information and example sentences without leaving the search screen.
  • Search with romaji!
  • Results in Quick Search are now much better prioritized.
Check out these great new features in Quick search - run the examples provided, or try your own search.
In Flashcards, we've added a new option (on by default) to enable you to study flashcards in order of 'usefulnesss'. In other words, if you have a set of kanji, vocab or grammar flashcards, or any mix, Kanshudo will automatically choose the most important cards for you to study first.
This is an incredibly valuable feature if you are picking up words to study from things you read. It's not uncommon as a Japanese learner to have to look up tens or hundreds of words in a newspaper or magazine article - even thousands of words for a novel. How do you decide which of those words to learn? If you learn the less common ones, you're much more likely to forget them. Kanshudo now handles this automatically for you - enabling you to study the right words for your level of Japanese.
Plus, creating flashcards from your Favorites has been improved greatly, with a new wizard which lets you choose what type of favorites to import, select a set to import to, and automatically clear your favorites once the import has finished.

New scientific study shows superiority of mnemonics for memorization

Posted: 2017-03-10 | Tags: mnemonics memory
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A new scientific study1 showed that using mnemonics, the main memory technique underlying Kanshudo's approach to teaching the kanji, a group of ordinary people became as skilled at remembering information as competitive "memory athletes". The study, published in Neuron by scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Germany, analyzed the brains of competitive memory athletes using fMRI brain imaging, and then compared the brains of a group of 'normal' individuals before and after training with mnemonic memory techniques. After six weeks of training, their test results were dramatically improved (in some cases almost doubled2), and their fMRI results showed distributed organizational changes in their brains matching the memory athletes. It's official: mnemonics not only improve memory; they can literally improve your brain!

Mnemonics - one of the oldest memory tools known

Mnemonic imagery as a learning aid was in use as far back as Ancient Greece3. Cicero wrote of a legend in which the poet and wise man Simonides was fortunate enough to step out of a banquet hall just before the roof collapsed, and was afterwards able to identify those who were not so lucky by consulting a mental map he had made of their faces. In Roman times, the technique evolved into the 'method of loci' 4, in which objects to be remembered are placed at loci (places) in a mental map of a physical location. In modern times this technique is often referred to as the 'memory palace' 5.
For most people, mnemonics are more familiar in the form of simple acronyms to help remember commonplace sequences, such as Every Good Boy Deserves Favor to illustrate the notes of the lines of the treble clef, E-G-B-D-F. More generally, a mnemonic is a means of encoding information to be remembered within something - an image, a phrase, an existing memory - that can be more easily remembered.

Using mnemonics to learn kanji

In Kanshudo, we apply this technique to learning the kanji. One of the hardest aspects of the kanji for learners who grew up with an alphabetical native language is the sheer number of symbols to be memorized - the Jōyō kanji ('daily use kanji') is a list of 2136; most Japanese adults know 3000 or more. This is a daunting task! But mnemonics make the task much simpler.
Most kanji are formed from a combination of simpler elements ('components'). Many of these components are very simple, very common, and very easy to learn - for example, 一 ('one'), 丨('stick'), or 口 ('mouth'). As you study, you will rapidly get to the point where you know many components, simply because they come up so frequently.
Kanshudo takes these simpler elements and combines them into a mnemonic - a simple, easy-to-remember phrase that ties together the meanings of the components with the meaning of the more complex kanji. So now when you learn a new kanji, you get a double benefit: you know the new kanji, and you have also refreshed your memory of the components that form it. This technique is extremely powerful, because the more you know, the easier it becomes to learn more.

Get started!

To read more about the use of mnemonics in Kanshudo, see our system overview, or read our detailed guide How to learn the kanji. When you are ready, take a Beginner Lesson, or if you already know some kanji, try the Quiz. You can also study kanji components directly using Kanshudo - see our collection of the 50 most common or our comprehensive collection of all components used in the Jōyō kanji.

Japan's annual doll festival - hinamatsuri(雛祭り)

Posted: 2017-03-01 | Tags: feature articles points of interest customs
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Read our new feature article on the forthcoming 雛祭り, one of Japan's great annual festivals.
As with all our feature articles, you can see vocabulary and kanji listed so you can quickly and easily tag any you need as favorites to study.

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