An Introduction to Radicals

In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few.
— Shunryu Suzuki, Japanese Zen Buddhist

A Difficult Study

In your first two years of Japanese at UT, you'll learn about 350 kanji. That may seem like a lot - until you look beyond those to the 1,945 joyo kanji which make up the set of kanji taught throughout primary school and high school in Japan. For those of us who wish to begin our Japanese studies in college and aim to finish the joyo kanji, we have a lot of catch-up work to do!

Kanji radicals offer a new way of understanding kanji systematically. By seeing patterns among a relatively few assortment of kanji radicals, students will be able to:

  • Learn new kanji more easily
  • Better remember kanji already learned
  • Understand what meaning unknown kanji might represent
Continue on for some simple lessons on radicals and find out how to better learn kanji with less effort.

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