Kanji For Kanji - 漢字

Kanji For Kanji - 漢字

Inception time. Which kanji compose the kanji of "kanji"?

The kanji for "kanji" is actually pretty straightforward. It is one of the first aha! moment most learners have when learning kanji. But first, let's look at the kanji for kanji itself:

"Kanji" is written 漢字 in Japanese, and is read... "kanji". So far so good.

Now, let's look at each character. You will see, they make a lot of sense.

Breaking Down the Kanji for "Kanji"

漢字 is made of two kanji: and 漢, and 字:

1. 漢

Meaning: This character refers to the Han dynasty in China, representing China itself. It is used in words related to China.


  • Onyomi (Chinese reading): カン (kan)
  • Kunyomi (Japanese reading): Not commonly used alone in Japanese.

Common words using 漢:

Apart from 漢字 there aren't really any common words with 漢. Here are a few less common words using the character though:

  • 漢文 (kanpun): Chinese classical writing
  • 漢方薬 (kanpouyaku): Chinese herbal medicine​
  • 漢和 (kanwa): China and Japan

2. 字

Meaning: This character means "letter" or "character."


  • Onyomi: ジ (ji)
  • Kunyomi: あざ (aza), あざな (azana), but they're not commonly used and the chracter alone is actually read with its onyomi, じ (ji), and means "letter" or "character"

Common words using 

  • 文字 (moji): letter of the alphabet
  • 太字 (futoji): bold letter
  • 大文字 (oomoji): capital letter
  • 絵文字 (emoji): emoji 😃
  • 誤字 (goji): typo
  • 数字 (suuji): numeral
  • 字幕 (jimaku): subtitles

Kanji are Japanese characters. But as you might know, they originally come from China. The kanji for kanji is 漢字, which first character means "Chinese", and the second "character". So basically "kanji", the word for Japanese characters, literally means "Chinese character". It's confusing and makes a lot of sense at the same time, doesn't it?

Useful Phrases with 漢字 Kanji

Words are always better learned in context. Here are a few simple phrases that will be useful when learning Japanese: 

1. 漢字が読めますか? (Kanji ga yomemasu ka?)

  • Translation: Can you read kanji?
  • Usage: Someone might ask this to gauge your proficiency in Japanese, especially in contexts where reading is necessary (e.g., restaurants, streets, or official documents).

2. この漢字の意味は何ですか? (Kono kanji no imi wa nan desu ka?)

  • Translation: What does this kanji mean?
  • Usage: Useful when you come across a kanji character you don't recognize and need clarification.

3. 漢字で名前を書いてください。 (Kanji de namae wo kaite kudasai.)

  • Translation: Please write your name in kanji.
  • Usage: Common in administrative or formal settings where you need to provide your name as it appears in official documents.

4. 漢字を練習しています。 (Kanji wo renshuu shite imasu.)

  • Translation: I am practicing kanji.
  • Usage: A good way to express your current efforts in learning Japanese, perhaps in a language exchange or study group.

5. 漢字を教えてくれませんか? (Kanji o oshiete kuremasen ka?)

  • Translation: Could you teach me kanji?
  • Usage: When seeking assistance from a friend or tutor to improve your kanji skills.

6. この漢字は難しいです。 (Kono kanji wa muzukashii desu.)

  • Translation: This kanji is difficult.
  • Usage: Expressing difficulty with a specific kanji, possibly during study sessions or classes.

7. 漢字でどうやってこれを言いますか? (Kanji de dou yatte kore wo iimasu ka?)

  • Translation: How do you say this in kanji?
  • Usage: When you know a word verbally but want to learn how to write it in kanji.

8. 漢字のテストがあります。 (Kanji no tesuto ga arimasu.)

  • Translation: There is a kanji test.
  • Usage: Mentioning an upcoming kanji examination, perhaps to a teacher or fellow student.

9. 漢字を忘れました。 (Kanji wo wasuremashita.)

  • Translation: I forgot the kanji.
  • Usage: When you can't recall how to write a specific kanji, possibly while doing homework or writing a message.

10. その漢字の読み方を知っていますか? (Sono kanji no yomikata o shitte imasu ka?)

  • Translation: Do you know how to read that kanji?
  • Usage: Asking for help with the pronunciation of a kanji character, which could be useful in various learning contexts or when encountering new words.

How to Learn Kanji

If you're learning kanji, chances are you're struggling. If not, give us a call because we'd love to know what's your secret. But if you are, we wrote multiple articles to help you learn kanji:

We also make (awesome) products to help you with remembering your kanji. They're designed to integrate easily into your daily life, so that you can learn and review your Japanese without even thinking about it. We're making aour products both practical and design, so that it is both useful and looks good in your home:


Check out the JLPT N5 poster here. We also have a JLPT N4 poster, with the next batch of kanji you need to learn.

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