How to use Kanshudo

Learning Japanese with Kanshudo

Kanshudo is an extremely powerful integrated Japanese teaching system. You can sit back and let Kanshudo drive your studies, or you can take control and choose every detail yourself - or you can combine both approaches.
If you would like to jump in, just visit your Dashboard and follow the study recommendations. Kanshudo will guide you through the process step by step. You can also reach your Dashboard by clicking the logo in the top left of any screen, or the icon in the main menu.
For a quick overview of Kanshudo, check out our Tour. For a more general overview of learning Japanese, see our guide, Getting started learning Japanese. For more detailed instructions, read on!
1. What is Kanshudo?
Kanshudo is a sophisticated AI Japanese tutor, which brings a wealth of study tools together to teach you Japanese in the most effective and efficient way for you personally.
You can use Kanshudo in several different ways:
  • Have Kanshudo teach you Japanese automatically by guiding your study activities and monitoring your progress (sections 2, 3 and 4).
  • Use Kanshudo to monitor and visualize your Japanese knowledge (sections 4 and 5).
  • Use the lessons, Challenges, games, and reading materials whenever you wish, in any order, focusing on whatever you wish to study or play (sections 6, 7 and 8).
  • Use the built-in spaced-repetition flashcards as your Japanese language knowledge base (section 9).
  • Use the powerful built-in dictionaries, grammar library, grammar analysis and translation tools, and collections while you read and learn (sections 10, 11, 12, 13).
2. Your Japanese Mastery Level
Your Japanese mastery level is a number from 1 to 70 which indicates your overall progress with Japanese. Kanshudo tracks your knowledge of Japanese kanji, grammar and words in hundreds of ways as you use the system, and combines all that data into a single number to make it very easy for you to understand your current level and rate of improvement.
The page you'll probably visit most on Kanshudo is your Dashboard, which you can reach by clicking the Kanshudo logo in the top left of any screen, or the icon in the top right. At the top of your dashboard, you'll see a circular display with four 'wedges', which looks something like this:
This display shows your current mastery level, and your progress through each of the requirements for the level. On your Dashboard you can click on each 'wedge' to get specific information.
For detailed information on mastery levels and how they relate to your Japanese knowledge, see our guide, Your Kanshudo Japanese Mastery Level.
3. Study tasks and study sessions
Within your Dashboard, one of the most useful sections is your set of study tasks - the section right below your Japanese Mastery Level display. Your study tasks might look something like this:
My study tasks
Create hiragana flashcards
Read about hiragana
Practice drawing kana
Create hiragana flashcards
As you use Kanshudo, our AI automatically monitors your progress and tracks your knowledge, and then presents you with study tasks best suited to your current level and needs. The easiest way to study with Kanshudo is simply to follow these study recommendations - they will introduce you to different parts of the system, teach you kanji, vocabulary and grammar in a graded steady way, and provide you with a balanced mix of study and fun.
Clicking any task will start a study session. Once started, you can view your progress at any time from your Dashboard or by clicking the icon in the main menu.
You don't have to use the study tasks - they are just there as a recommendation. Kanshudo will track your progress whether you use the tasks or not.
4. Your Dashboard
Your Dashboard is a central resource providing key progress information and links in a single view. You can reach your dashboard from anywhere in the system by clicking the logo in the top left of the screen, or the mastery icon .
5. Your Kanji, Grammar and Word Wheels
Kanshudo enables you to visualize your knowledge of all Japanese kanji, grammar and vocabulary independently. For example, your kanji wheel shows your mastery (knowledge) of every kanji in a single 'wheel', in which each ring corresponds to a different difficulty level. Where your Japanese Mastery level (section 2) shows your current level across all dimensions (kanji/kana, vocabulary, grammar), the wheels show your progress at all levels but for a single dimension.
If you are using Kanshudo to focus on kanji, vocabulary or grammar separately, you will find the appropriate wheel especially useful.
For more information on the kanji wheel, see our separate how to guide, How to use the Kanji Wheel to guide your Japanese studies.
You can access each of the wheels directly from the main MASTERY menu at the top of every page. You can also get to each wheel by visiting your Dashboard and clicking on the relevant 'wedge' in your Japanese mastery level summary.
6. Taking lessons
Kanshudo includes several separate lesson series':
  • Beginner Lessons - designed for the absolute beginner, this lesson series assumes no prior knowledge of Japanese. The 20 lessons are a fun and engaging introduction to the first 100 kanji, along with about 200 words, and about 50 basic grammatical constructions. Example sentences include romaji, although you will need to learn kana to complete the games and exercises. All lessons include flashcards, grammar summaries, games and exercises. Try a lesson, or read our guide, Getting started with Japanese.
  • Intermediate Lessons - the next level up is the Intermediate Lesson series. The 55 lessons in the series take you step-by-step through to about 1000 kanji (including the 20 covered in the Beginner Lessons as a refresher). All lessons include flashcards, games and exercises. Try a lesson now.
  • Textbook Companion - many Kanshudo users are learning Japanese in a classroom environment or with a tutor, and are working through one of the main Japanese textbook series. Kanshudo provides support for all the key textbooks - the Textbook Companion enables you to use Kanshudo flashcards and games with the lesson material, and track your progress using the wheels and mastery levels. Supported textbooks include Japanese for Busy People, Minna no Nihongo, Adventures in Japanese, Genki and the Basic Kanji Book. Check out the Textbook Companion here.
As you study, you will be prompted by the AI study tasks to chanage your lesson series at the appropriate time. However, you can choose a lesson series at any time from your account page.
7. The Reading Corner
Kanshudo's Reading Corner provides a selection of readings based on real world texts. Readings are graded by difficulty, and cover several genres, from fiction to news and more. Additionally, we have partnered with Satori Reader to offer 300+ additional texts, with the ability to sync your progress to/from Kanshudo.
Check out the Reading Corner.
8. Games and Challenges
There is ample evidence that you can learn most effectively when you are having fun, so Kanshudo has designed a series of games and exercises to help you have as much fun as possible while focusing on different aspects of your Japanese.
Some games are available 'standalone' - you can access them directly from the PLAY menu at the top right of every screen. Others are only available within other parts of the system, such as the lessons.
In addition to games, the Kanshudo Challenge is a focused system for studying kanji through games. For any kanji in the system, you can generate a Challenge which combines 4-6 exercises focused on the kanji and its most useful words. The Kanshudo Challenge is an extremely effective way to study kanji. For more information, see Kanshudo Challenge: the most effective way to learn kanji and words.
9. Flashcards
Kanshudo includes an extremely extensive spaced-repetition flashcard system. You can generate flashcards from most items in the system automatically (kanji, words, grammar points, example sentences, lessons, collections), and study them in a variety of ways. You will automatically be notified when it's time to review your cards.
A unique feature of Kanshudo is that you can have multiple flashcards for the same item (kanji, word etc). This enables you to study material grouped in different ways, which can help you remember it more effectively. Your cards can have different learning statistics so you can 'restart' your progress with an item - or you can merge your progress / cards to boil everything down.
Visit your flashcard home, or explore all the various ways to create new flashcards.
Kanshudo also includes a Quick Study mode which enables you to use a flashcard-style learning / testing view with any material. Quick Study is a great way to determine what you know or don't know in a collection of material so you can then create flashcards.
10. Search and favorites
Kanshudo contains the most comprehensive Japanese dictionaries available online:
  • 14,000 kanji (4000 with mnemonics)
  • 260,000 words
  • 800 grammar points
  • 150,000 example sentences
  • 600,000 names
Additionally, all of our material is classifed and organized in ways to make it much more useful. For example, all words in the system have been classified by usefulness, a measure of how important each word is for you to learn. Each of the example sentences has been parsed and analyzed so you can understand the grammar and vocabulary used.
You can access search easily from any page by clicking the icon - typing anything in the search bar will run a 'Quick Search', which will give you the most useful results across each of the different dictionaries (as well as on the Kanshudo site).
Kanshudo provides an extremely quick and easy way to look up kanji you don't know: the Component Builder. You can identify kanji based on their 'components', and you can look up each component either by drawing it, typing its name, or finding it in a list. For more information on the Component Builder, read our blog post as well as our detailed guide.
Whenever you see an item (kanji, word, grammar point, example sentence) in the system, you can click the green star next to it to flag it as a favorite. You can then visit your favorites from the link in the main menu, where you can use them for flashcards or Quick Study.
11. Grammar Library
The Kanshudo grammar reference library is a comprehensive guide to Japanese grammar. It contains roughly 800 articles covering everything from the most basic constructions to the most advanced, with examples and vocabulary. Grammar points are tagged with a 'usefulness' rating which indicates how important it is for you to know, and they are also tagged with the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) level in which they first appear. Each grammar point can be flagged as a favorite, and studied as a flashcard.
12. Grammar analysis and translation
A unique feature of Kanshudo is the system's ability to recognize complex inflections, and to develop inflected forms of words. Inflections are listed on the details pages for all our example sentences. For example, you might see something like this, which appears on the details page for this example:
This analysis shows how a complex construction is actually composed of four separate forms!
Each form used is linked to an article in the Grammar Library so you can learn how it works in detail.
For more information, see our how-to guide, Understanding Inflections and Conjugations.
Additionally, Kanshudo includes sophisticated tools for analyzing entire sentences and paragraphs:
  • Sentence Translate - get an English translation and a word-by-word analysis for any Japanese sentence
  • Multi-word Search - search for multiple words in one go
  • Kanji Search - automatically identify all the kanji in any paragraph of text
13. Kanji, word and name collections
Kanshudo includes hundreds of collections of kanji, words, and Japanese names, organized in different ways, to make it very easy for you to look up or learn material based on your specific focus. For example, we have collected:
  • Kanji by government level (Jōyō, Kyōiku, Jinmeiyō etc) as well as by JLPT
  • Vocabulary by usefulness level as well as by JLPT, and as used in several core vocab collections (iKnow!, Routledge etc)
  • Vocabulary in core textbooks (Genki, Japanese for Busy People)
  • The most useful surnames and male / female given names
For more information, check out the collections index.
14. If you already know some Japanese
One of the most common questions we get is 'I already know some Japanese - what should I do?' For example, you may already know hiragana or katakana, or the first few kanji. You may already be an advanced student - Kanshudo caters to all levels of learner.
The answer is that you have several possible approaches:
  • You don't have to do anything - you can just follow the study recommendations on your Dashboard. Kanshudo will automatically learn what you know and don't know as you perform the study tasks, and will give you the option to jump forward if it thinks you're ready.
  • If you want to accelerate the process, you can show Kanshudo that you know something by testing on it. For example, you could study hiragana or katakana flashcards. Or you could take the Kanji Quiz or a Kanji Challenge. Any time you demonstrate that you know material, Kanshudo will take that into account in assessing your level. If you demonstrate you know more advanced material, Kanshudo will automatically offer you the option to set easier material as already mastered.
  • If you want to just jump right ahead, you can set your 'starting level' in your account page. This will automatically set your mastery level at whatever rank you choose. If you are already an intermediate or advanced student, this is the option for you.
  • Finally, you can also tell Kanshudo that you know specific kanji, kana or grammar points by manually setting your mastery score. However, this is a time-consuming process, and there is generally no need to do it as Kanshudo will learn this automatically - we recommend you use this option when you need to fill in gaps in Kanshudo's knowledge.
For more information on how your Japanese Mastery Level reflects prior knowledge, you can also read the 'Adjusting your mastery level' section in our how-to guide to the Japanese Mastery system.
15. Finding features on Kanshudo
Kanshudo is a complex system, and at first it can seem overwhelming. The important thing to remember is that when you are getting started, you don't need to worry about the complexity - just follow the study recommendations on your Dashboard. The recommendations will gradually introduce you to Kanshudo's features and how to navigate.
If you are looking for a specific feature, there are several ways to find it:
  • You can just type keywords into the Quick Search bar at the top of any page - click on the Quick Search icon. You can also search the site specifically from Site Search, which is one of the search options accessible after you click on the Quick Search icon
  • The top menu contains key features grouped by function (mastery, study, play, search)
  • The bottom menu contains key features grouped by role in Japanese (kanji, kana, grammar, words), as well as general information and account links. Search functions are listed here too
  • The Visual feature index (listed in the information section of the bottom menu) provides a visual summary of key areas of the site
  • The main Site index (listed in the information section of the bottom menu) provides a comprehensive list of all features on Kanshudo
16. And more ...
Kanshudo contains even more tools and features to help you learn Japanese! Here are a few links to explore when you have time:
To track your progress with this guide, please LOG IN.
Kanshudo is your AI Japanese tutor, and your constant companion on the road to mastery of the Japanese language. To get started learning Japanese, just follow the study recommendations on your Dashboard. You can use Quick search (accessible using the icon at the top of every page) to look up any Japanese word, kanji or grammar point, as well as to find anything on Kanshudo quickly. For an overview, take the tour.