The Kodansha Kanji Learner’s Course (KLC)


Available on Amazon

  • As a kanji learning tool, this book has no peer… Absolutely essential for all students of Japanese! – R. Nagell
  • I am convinced that there is not another book on the market to beat it for teaching non-native speakers kanji quickly and effectively – C. Cameron
  • I’m pretty sure I looked through 90% of all the available resources on learning kanji and this is, without a doubt, the best one I’ve come across yet. – Jomteon


Cover image 528 

Kodansha’s widely acclaimed Kanji Learner’s Course (KLC) is a step-by-step guide to mastering all the kanji needed for genuine literacy in Japanese. It anchors a comprehensive kanji learning system, supported by the KLC Graded Reading Sets, the KLC Green Book, the KLC Wall Chart. This self-guiding, self-reinforcing course teaches non-native learners to read and write kanji, gain a native-like understanding of kanji meanings, and acquire a rich kanji-based vocabulary.

The 2,300 entries adeptly integrate the four essential elements for mastering kanji meanings:
1.  Accurate keywords. Each character’s core meaning is encapsulated in a concise, easily memorized keyword. The keywords for all 2,300 entries have been carefully chosen to be semantically accurate and to integrate the character’s various senses into a core idea.
2.  Key vocabulary to illustrate meaning and usage. The concept captured in each keyword is illustrated with up to five usage examples, carefully selected to clarify how the kanji is used in building typical words and phrases.
3.  An unparalleled system of mnemonic aids. Each entry contains an original mnemonic aid that is carefully designed to help learners remember the character’s core meanings. Mnemonic aids pay special attention to helping learners immediately recognize each kanji and distinguish it from similar ones.
4.  A rational learning sequence. The course’s widely praised sequence represents a breakthrough in kanji pedagogy. It aids learning by introducing kanji components step by step, grouping related kanji together, and building vocabulary progressively – all while teaching the kanji in rough order of importance.

Sample entry-maku

A self-guiding, self-reinforcing curriculum
The course arranges all the information needed to master 2,300 characters into a streamlined, self-guiding, and mnemonically self-reinforcing curriculum. Sample compounds include only such kanji as have previously been learned, ensuring that learners are able to understand and use each compound, and providing a built-in review of all the kanji already studied. The goal throughout is to offer pragmatic, timesaving solutions, and to remove every barrier that stands between the user and the unique pleasure of reading authentic Japanese.

The ultimate kanji learning resource
• Provides a sophisticated, pedagogically sound method for remembering the core meaning of each kanji, conveniently summarized in concise keywords to facilitate memorization.
• Introduces the meaning and usage of each grapheme the first time it appears, helping learners seamlessly learn new kanji based on a sound understanding of their component parts.
• Innovatively uses concrete imagery to simplify complex characters and make their meanings immediately recognizable in their graphical forms.
• Teaches characters in a pedagogically effective sequence, presenting graphically related characters together to help learners give significance to their contrastive features as they learn them, and thereby avoid having to re-learn them later.
• Helps learners actively apply each character’s principal meanings and readings using key vocabulary words, carefully chosen to illustrate the character’s uses and to help learners employ it in everyday reading and written communication.
• Helps learners differentiate among graphically similar kanji by showing how to remember the characters in a mutually contrastive manner that connects their graphical distinctions to their underlying semantic differences. Along the way, the course introduces nearly 800 pairs of easily confused kanji.
• Helps students learn to write kanji accurately, by indicating each kanji’s stroke order and placing careful emphasis on distinctions among graphically similar characters.
• Includes all the kanji needed for genuine literacy in Japanese, including all 196 characters added to the official Joyo Kanji List in 2010.
• Includes convenient indexes that allow learners to find a kanji with minimum effort, using its reading, radical, or stroke count. Extensive cross-referencing allows learners to easily find the entries of lookalike kanji, as well as all kanji appearing in the sample compounds.

Recommended companion resource (unaffiliated with this site):

The Kodansha Kanji Learner’s Dictionary

Available on Amazon ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

KKLD image