The Kodansha Kanji Learner’s Dictionary


Recommended companion resource for the KLC
(unaffiliated with this website)

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KKLD image

This is a portable version of the Kodansha Kanji Dictionary,
and contains a subset of its data.

By combining the KLC with The Kodansha Kanji Learner’s Dictionary (KLD), learners have access to an ideally matched pair of kanji study resources: a step-by-step learner’s course with the kanji arranged for sequential study, and a conveniently sized learner’s dictionary with in-depth character meanings that clarify how each character is used in forming compound words.

Among the features that make the KLD an ideal companion resource to the KLC are the following:

  1. In-depth character meanings. The KLC provides the core meaning of each kanji, including one or more keywords for memorization and, where necessary, enough additional senses to clarify the character’s usage. For the more important characters, however, there are significantly more senses and uses than the KLC’s scope permits. The KLD provides thorough illustration of the many ways in which these important kanji are used, and is the superlative source for this purpose among portable volumes. For those interested in a comprehensive reference volume, the Kodansha Kanji Dictionary is recommended.
  1. Cross-referencing of kun-yomi homophones. These cross-references identify characters that are related but usually not identical in meaning, such as those having the kun reading おさ(める): 収める (take in), 納める (put away, put in place), 治める (govern), and 修める (master). Comparing these related words and characters helps learners develop a deeper and more precise understanding of their meanings, and overcome one of the trickier challenges of the written language.
  1. Jinmeiyo kanji and name readings. The KLD includes the full set of Jinmeiyo kanji, as well as special name readings for Joyo kanji. 
  1. Full English equivalents for uses of characters as independent on-yomi words. These allow learners to begin making use of a kanji’s on reading even without knowing any of its compounds. The independent on-reading words receive less attention than they deserve in most Japanese language learning materials, and offer the opportunity to master a character’s on reading through communicative usage rather than memorization.
  1. Full English equivalents for uses of characters as kun-yomi words or word elements. These also allow learners to make immediate use of a kanji before knowing any of its compounds, and to master a character’s readings through communicative usage. 
  1. Functional labels. These clarify, among other things, how a kanji is used differently as a prefix, as a suffix, as a component of compounds, or as an independent word.
  2. Explanatory and supplementary glosses. These clarify the specific sense, range of usage, and syntactical function of kanji-based words. is not affiliated with Kodansha USA, Inc. or the Kodansha Kanji Learner’s Dictionary.