The Kanshudo Challenge

The fastest and most effective way to learn kanji and words

The Kanshudo Challenge uses a combination of learning games and tests to help you learn a kanji with associated words and example sentences. It uses a combination of all the learning techniques we've developed as we've watched our users learn Japanese, and it is the most effective way we've found for learning kanji and words. Take a Challenge wherever you see the Challenge icon. Use this guide to learn how the Challenge works.
1. What is the Kanshudo Challenge?
The Kanshudo Challenge brings together all the games and exercises we have developed to create a highly effective learning experience. You can create a Challenge for any kanji (and soon any word) in the Kanshudo system, and Kanshudo will train you on the kanji, along with its most common words, and examples that use the words.
The Challenge is so effective because it combines the core learning principles Kanshudo uses to teach Japanese:
  • Learning in context - a Challenge combines kanji, words that use them, and examples that use the words
  • Multiple learning approaches - a Challenge requires you to exercise different types of recall to ensure you learn the kanji most effectively
  • Active learning - by completing exercises, you are actively using the kanji and words, not just viewing them as with flashcards
2. Choosing your study set
You can do a Challenge for any kanji in the Kanshudo system. However, we recommend setting a study set and systematically working through it. By focusing on a set, you are more likely to learn the material, because the kanji and words are at a similar level. Plus, it is more motivating to work through all kanji in a set.
To set a preference, visit the study set page and choose a set.
  • If you are not sure of your current level, visit your personalized Kanji Wheel and review your study recommendations.
  • If you are just beginning, start with the hiragana - usefulness K, set 1.
  • If you know hiragana and katakana, but are just starting with kanji, start with usefulness 1 - the easiest kanji; work through kanji usefulness 1 by completing the Beginner Lessons and Challenges in parallel.
3. Challenge difficulty level
The difficulty of a Challenge is based on the ring of the main kanji you are studying, or the usefulness of the main word.
The difficulty level of a Challenge affects several things:
  • The complexity of the material (the words, kanji and example sentences)
  • The types of test used - some games and tests are only used for easier Challenges and are replaced by more complex ones as difficulty increases
  • The number of tests in a Challenge
  • The difficulty of each test - for example, the amount of help provided, the number of attempts you are allowed etc.
Challenges range from quite easy for kanji with usefulness K (kana), gradually increasing difficulty for the Jōyō (usefulness 1 to 5), through to quite difficult for usefulness 6 (Jinmeiyo) and higher.
4. How a Challenge affects your Kanji Mastery score
When you successfully complete a Challenge for a kanji, your Kanji Mastery score for that kanji will jump to 2 (assuming it was 0 or 1). When you complete two Challenges at least one month apart for a kanji, your Kanji Mastery score will increase to 3. To fully master a kanji, i.e. to get a mastery score of 4, you must complete 3 Challenges, with the first and last at least three months apart.
The other way to get a mastery score of 4 is by learning a flashcard for the kanji and successfully completing enough reviews that the card is considered 'mature', which takes about six months. In other words, you can achieve full mastery either by learning a flashcard for a kanji (and then correctly reviewing it on schedule for at least a six month period) or by completing three separate Challenges over at least three months.
5. Games and tests used in a Challenge
Challenges include a randomized selection of the following games and tests:
  • Kanji Draw - draw a kanji on a blank canvas
  • Kanji Builder - build a kanji by dragging its components onto marked areas on a grid
  • Kanji Quiz - match a kanji with four possible readings/definitions
  • Kana Spell - drag kana to spell out the reading of a word
  • Sentence Complete - drag kanji to fill the blanks in a sentence
  • Answer Type - write out the reading of a word
  • Kana Search - find words in a grid
  • Sentence Builder - drag words to build a complete sentence
  • Reading Match - choose the correct reading of a highlighted word in a sentence
  • Term Find - choose the correct word for the supplied definition
6. How to take a Challenge
You can start a Challenge in several ways:
  • When you see a kanji in search results, click the kanji for more details. You'll see a Challenge link.
  • Visit your Challenge Status summary and choose a Challenge.
  • More ways are coming as we integrate Challenges into the system
Change component list
By default the component builder shows the most common components (themselves joyo kanji, or used in at least 3 other joyo kanji). Select an alternative set of components below.

Full details of all components and their English names can be found here.
Help with the component builder
For detailed instructions, see the Component builder how to guide.
To find any kanji, first try to identify the components it is made up of.
For any components you recognize, if you know the English meaning or name, start typing it in the text area. Full details of all components and their English names can be found here.
Alternatively, count the strokes of the component, and scan the list to find it visually.
To find the kanji :
  • Notice that it is made of several components: 氵 艹 口 夫.
  • 氵 艹 口 all have three strokes, so you could look in the list in the 3 stroke section. 夫 has four strokes.
  • Alternatively, you could start typing 'water' (氵), 'grass' (艹), 'mouth' (口) or 'husband' (夫) in the search area, and the components will be highlighted in yellow.
  • Keep adding components until you can see your kanji in the list of matches that appears near the top.