December 22


7 of the Best Kanji Apps for Learning Japanese

By Joshua Munoz

December 22, 2020

japanese apps, Kanji, kanji apps, learning japanese

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Why use kanji apps?

Learning kanji is not easy. Even Japanese high school students have to study kanji for 12 years of their life! The good news is that there are plenty of kanji apps in the Play Store (Android) and App Store (iOS) that simplify the learning on Japanese kanji.

Also, you don’t need to learn all the 40,000 kanji to gain fluency. Not even a Japanese person can memorize that much. However, the 2,136 kanji, also known as the jōyō kanji, which is compulsory to learn in Japanese schools, are the ones that learners have to be ready to face.

There are many “kanji apps” out there, and even more apps that claim to help you learn Japanese. They can come with dictionaries, flashcard tools, or games to help improve your skills.

In this post, we will look at the 7 best educational Japanese kanji apps that improve the kanji studying experience. So let’s take a look!

Kanji App #1: AnkiDroid Flashcards by: AnkiDroid Open Source Team

Anki is the gold standard of spaced repetition systems (SRS) tools. This is much more than just a kanji app. It is a text and image flashcard application with highly customizable features. You can use Anki anytime and anywhere – waiting in a queue, commuting, or during idle time. All that at no cost.

You can fully customize it to your liking as it is open-source software. Anki also allows you to download premade decks by other Japanese learners online, making it easier for you to learn on the go. What’s even better is that you can use both your phone and computer to craft decks through their AnkiCloud software.

Anki has helped me memorize over one hundred kanji in one month during daily commutes. It is the absolute best tool for serious learners of Japanese. Even a basic understanding of the features in Anki is enough to improve your kanji skills significantly.

If you want to level up your kanji, install Anki and get some premade decks that suit you. Trust me; logging in to Anki for at least ten minutes a month can double the kanji you learn in no time.

Kanji App #2: Japanese Kanji Study- 漢字学習  by Chase Colburn

With over 1 million downloads on Android, Japanese Kanji Study is a reliable kanji app that can provide loads of content for eager learners. Unlocking everything for JLPT N4 to N1 levels does require a one-time fee, but it is well worth the price. Even the free version is great for beginners.

What makes this app stand out is its customizability for the user’s specific needs. Japanese Kanji Study is convenient since all the study material is already within the app. 

From the beginning, you are coursed through a series of questions to gauge your Japanese level. You can also select whether you want to study the jōyō way or the JLPT way, which is handy.

The main features of the app include flashcards, multiple-choice quizzes, and kanji writing strokes. The full app hosts over 6000 different kanji with their reading, stroke count, and levels: more than enough to keep you occupied. 

Japanese Kanji Study is a great educational app with everything already built inside. It is easy-to-use, customizable, and best of all, complete.

Kanji App #3: Japanese Dictionary Takoboto by Takoboto

For a great kanji dictionary app, I suggest Takoboto.

It is a free Japanese-English and English-Japanese dictionary that has over 200,000 Japanese entries. You can search text in English, romaji, or kana to see a word’s Japanese translation.

Another great feature of Takoboto is its collection of example sentences. Not only do you see how a kanji or word are used in a sentence. You can get a refresher on Japanese grammar structures.

This app is a great tool for translating Japanese text you find in manga volumes, in video games, or on the internet. Takoboto also has an export feature that allows you to move saved words to Anki.

Kanji App #4: Kanji of the Day by Radiant Kit

If you live outside Japan, chances are you won’t have many opportunities to use Japanese organically. You are prone to forget what you don’t use very often, kanji included. Here’s a kanji app to help with that.

Kanji of the Day helps improve your memory by sending a notification with a random kanji each day. You can choose to receive kanji from a pool classified to match your desired kanji reading level.

This means that you can be exposed to kanji just by looking at your notification bar, tapping on it, and reading!

The kanji app also has other great features. All of the kanji can be categorized by the jōyō or the JLPT system as per your preference. Or, put your kanji writing skills to the test with a drawing board complete that is complete with stroke pattern recognition. 

You can sift through their radical list to improve your kanji recognition too. Most kanji are combinations of these radicals, so knowing them can help a ton down the line.

#5 EASY JAPANESE NEWS by Mobile Learning

This app is a phenomenal source for easily understood Japanese news in the real world. You can read, listen, and watch live news from major news outlet companies in easy-to-understand Japanese. 

These are sourced from reputable outlets, too, like NHK News and CNN. It is no doubt a great way to stay informed and on top of your game with Japanese.

If you want to practice your kanji in practical situations, you should highly consider learning Japanese with Easy Japanese News. The app simplifies difficult-to-read text in news articles into something that a beginner/intermediate learner could better understand.

It is a great learning tool since you get to see the kanji you’ve learned in an applied situation. And if you forgot the meaning of a specific word or kanji, you can use the dictionary straight from the app to help you. 

In addition to this, you may also enable furigana to guide you when you encounter a new or forgotten kanji. 

If you already have kanji knowledge up your belt, this app can help your learning journey tremendously.

What’s more, you can also learn more by listening to live news and music videos with Japanese subtitles available in the app. You can also customize and highlight text for studying later on. If you want to learn from the best practical-learning Japanese app, this one is definitely for you.

#6 Naver Papago – AI Translator by Naver Corp.

Papago is one of the award-winning apps on the Android Play Store, and it’s clear to see why. It automatically recognizes and translates kanji in real-time for you. It is an absolute time-saver when you don’t know a kanji and need it translated fast.

With this app, you can take a picture of a Japanese restaurant menu, and it will translate it to English for you in next to no time. The power of technology never ceases to amaze me!

Papago’s features are not merely limited to Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology. Besides the ever-handy text translation tool, Papago also offers translation services that use voice, conversation, and handwriting recognition tools.

When enabled, this app can listen to a complete conversation and then translate it into English (or your preferred language) in less than a moment’s notice. 

Not only is Papago a great kanji recognition tool, but it also has the feature to show the different kanji for words that the device hears.

Papago boasts so many of these great features, including kanji recognition, that can really help your translation needs in a pinch.

Kanji App #7: Hello Talk by Hello Talk Learn Languages App

HelloTalk connects speakers from all over the world to exchange languages and learn cultures as a global community. It is the premier social app for learners who want to be fluent in Japanese conversations.

When you match with a native speaker, you will enter a chatbox. There, you are encouraged to chat in your target language. Talking with your partner(s) in Japanese can drastically improve your skill in the language. Plus, you gain new friends along the way! 

This isn’t really a kanji learning app, but you are exposed to how native Japanese speakers use kanji in everyday life. So it’s a kind of “learn in the wild” style of app.

And, if ever you have questions about kanji or Japanese in general, ask your partner!  They are often more than willing to help. Plus, since many Japanese want to hone their English skills as well, you’re won’t ever be strapped for conversation partners.

Going beyond Kanji apps

One thing you should be mindful about while learning Japanese and kanji is that it requires perseverance. Kanji apps can help, but there is no perfectly structured set of rules on how to learn Japanese the best way, nor are there elusive shortcuts that cut the work in half for you. 

So our recommendation is simple: might as well make learning fun while you’re at it!

Our manga subscription service is available for all learners in the different stages of their Japanese-learning journey. Whether you are just starting, approaching intermediate, or already advanced, we offer you personalized manga volumes that match your Japanese reading level. 

Like manga? Check out our monthly manga subscription box. We hand-pick titles that match your Japanese reading level :)