Fun with Kanji Fonts

Here are the Kanji I’ve been focusing on this week (level 11). To mix up the presentation, I’m showing off some free kanji fonts I downloaded. Jitai, one of the WaniKani addons, lets me mix up the font so I get used to seeing kanji in various styles and handwriting in my WaniKani drills. Since my goal is to read Japanese fairly well, this addon was a must for me to use. Plus it adds some unexpected fun to my drills, I never know what my kanji are going to look like!

I chose a variety of handwriting and typed fonts that appealed to me, and will showcase a few of my favorites. All are free to use and have links to the download in their titles.

How to Use these Fonts in WaniKani

To add these fonts, just download them, open up the font file, and there’s a button to install them. Then you open up your Jitai script and inside it will tell you where you can add your font names. Some of these are already added in the script, so will show up if you have them installed. Fire up your drills, and you’ll start seeing some fun, new fonts! (If this is too confusing, let me know, I’ll write up a detailed post on how to do it.)

Mushin Font

Below is a very blocky style, I can hardly recognize kanji characters that I’m used to seeing with slides and curves. It’s a handwritten font. I also added some sentence grammar I’ve learned this past week in NihongoMaster to this first image.


Mushin font

  • Hiragana and Katakana
  • Kanji (JIS Level 1 + 2)
  • Numbers
  • Symbols and Punctuation


Mamelon font

Somewhat similar to the above, but a more upright, rounded edge design.


Mamelon font

  • Hiragana and Katakana
  • Kanji (JIS Level 2 + 15 kanji from IBM Extended)
  • Numbers
  • Symbols and Punctuation


Hoso fuwa font

Handwriting font written with a fine tip pen, cheerful style.


Hoso Fuwa font

  • Hiragana and Katakana
  • Kanji (JIS Level 1)
  • Numbers
  • Symbols and Punctuation


KF Himaji font

Super cute, fun handwriting font!  Hima (ひま) means spare time/leisure.

Note: The creator of this font states that you can’t use this font if you don’t know Japanese.

KF Himaji

KF Himaji

  • Hiragana
  • Katakana
  • Alphanumeric
  • JIS first standard kanji
  • JIS second standard kanji
  • Punctuations and symbols
  • and more!


Aoyagi Reisho Font

Japanese calligraphy style font written by a famous calligrapher Aoyagi Kouzan. It may take me some practice figuring some of these out, but it looks pretty awesome.

Aoyagi Reisho font

  • Hiragana and Katakana
  • Alphanumeric
  • Kanji (Level 1)
  • Punctuations and symbols


Armed Banana font

This one is pretty crazy, I can barely recognize any of them! It is a pen writing style font. Very cool, but I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to it, haha.

Armed Banana

Armed Banana

  • Hiragana
  • Katakana
  • Alphanumeric
  • Kanji (JIS Level 2)
  • Punctuations and symbols

The default WaniKani font

Doing this post was more fun than I expected! Maybe I’ll show off other favorites I’ve been using in a later post. But I can’t stop until I’ve shown the default WaniKani font we are all familiar with.

Compare these to the above styles! Can you see the similarities? The differences?

Do you have a favorite font? Let me know!

Checking out

I first looked into iKnow over a month ago, as I’d heard it was a great tool to learn vocabulary. At first glance, the website interface looks great – that is important to me if I’m going to spend any time on it. The soothing sky blue (it literally is a sky background) helps me focus during drills. But it is not a free service. I had to decide if it’s worth it for me. I could, after all, just import these decks into Anki for free.

Interface clean and easy to understand, attractive colors


My current iKnow Courses

This service offers several Japanese courses to get you well on your way to mastering Japanese, up to Japanese Core 6000. Right off the bat, you should take a placement test to determine which course you should take. At my beginner level, I was sent to the very beginning courses – kana and Core 1000.

Highlighted in yellow below are the three courses I’m currently working on. Two courses in Master Hiragana and Katakana (easy review for me), and a more challenging course of Japanese Core 1000 – the top 1,000 most commonly used words in Japanese.

iKnow's Japanese course offerings

iKnow’s Japanese course offerings

Master Hiragana/Katakana

I immediately starting using these to solidify my kana skills. Before using this service, I’d estimate I was instantly accurate with ~97% hiragana, and ~90% katakana. I just needed exposure to the ones I don’t see a lot. My goal is to instantly recognize and be able to type kana accurately, as I do in words in English, so the iKnow! Master Hiragana and Master Katakana courses are just what I needed.

I usually just do the basic iKnow training drills, first one in the option below. They call their drill types “Apps”. In the first drill type (I am not comfortable calling them apps), they show you a character, you hear it, then you type it. You also get a drills where you choose it from a list of answers. Sometimes you don’t get the audio. I do these very fast, as my goal here isn’t learning them, it’s more as a review to improve speed and accuracy.

Drill App choices

Drill App choices

It uses spaced repetition drills, like most of the services I use. I have to admit I am a bit confused when today it said “Course Completed” with my Hiragana course. I haven’t spent enough time to master anything at all, much less move all terms to “Strong”. It was moved to a different “Review” tab, I’m not sure why. My Study Progress in Hiragana is 100% though, so I guess I studied them enough so they assume I know my Hiragana. I’ll soon reach that in Katakana too, I purposely was going a bit slower with that one.

Master Hiragana course going well

Master Hiragana and Katakana courses going well

Japanese Core 1000: Step 1

Out of this Core 1000, they introduce 100 at a time, so I’m on Step 1. My first exposure was over a month ago with these and it was just too overwhelming for me, I couldn’t continue. So much kanji and grammar I just didn’t know, I thought I’d come back when I knew more.

I revisited this week and it is now much more manageable. I’m going to take it very slow though! I’ll do five at a time for now, until my grammar gets more advanced. I am required to be able to put whole sentences together, and there are tenses I’m barely familiar with (haven’t officially learned yet).

At WaniKani Level 10, I do know all the kanji and vocabulary they’ve given me so far, you can see samples below.

Japanese Core 1000 - sampling of some of the first words

Japanese Core 1000 – sampling of some of the first words

As for using them in sentences, I can just barely figure it all out, lol. I know all this will be super easy for me in a few months worth of study, but I’m only on Month 3 of learning Japanese right now.

Here’s some sample sentences I am to put together, thanks to both NihongoMaster and WaniKani, I can tackle these, but it’s all so very new to me! Putting it all together is a little daunting, but I know this is great exposure for me.

わたし は え を みる の が すき です。
I like looking at pictures.

わたし は ともだち の ところ に とまった。
I stayed at my friend’s place for the night.

なつやすみ に おばあちゃん の うち へ いきました。
I went to my grandma’s house during summer vacation.

Sentence Trainer App

When choosing their Sentence Trainer app, they quiz you on various things, listening, reading, and writing sentences. In one example, you hear the entire sentence, then fill in the missing blank. Well that’s easy enough for me!  They offer up to three hints if you have trouble.

Fill in the blank

Fill in the blank

My next drill was a bit more challenging, I hear a sentence and have to type it all out myself!

Listen and type!

Listen and type!

I needed to use one hint – they gave me “まいあさ” – every morning. I should’ve known that, but just haven’t been exposed to the actual word yet in my studies.

I drink coffee every morning.

I drink coffee every morning.

Next drill type, they give me the English translation and I have to sort out the Japanese sentence. This is a simple one!

Translate into Japanese

Translate into Japanese

So for these first five exercises, I got them all right, and used one hint. Time was inflated because I took screenshots and came back here to blog about it!

Yay, I love Sentence Trainer!

Yay, I love Sentence Trainer!

Here are the sentences I worked with for my first attempt with Sentence Trainer app.

Sentences I worked with



Motivating with Progress tracking and achievements!

I am definitely enjoying the service, it’s getting me exposure and practice to so much. I love how it motivates you by keeping a calendar and tracking your “Study Streak”. Right now my Study Streak is 19 days! You also earn Achievements.

I will need more work with the Core courses before I can give a better description on how it’s really working for me, but I signed up for a Pro account and am going to give it a few months.

If you register for a 12 month Pro account and use this link, you’ll get three months free. I’m already on a plan and don’t get any months free, but at least it could help you!

iKnow Referral Link

Are you already using iKnow or have you tried it in the past? What are your experiences?

A Wild Pikachu Appears -To Demonstrate Positions

To express positions in Japanese, we use the particle の to link a noun to a position word. The lovable Pikachu will demonstrate these positional phrases by hiding in various places.

Before we start, let’s familiarize ourselves with the grammar involved.

Post-position Grammar

Japanese is a post-positional language, unlike English, which generally uses prepositions. Both preposition and post-positions combine a noun (noun phrase). As determined by the prefix (pre/post) – the preposition comes before and the post-position comes after the noun phrase. Since Japanese uses post-positions, the noun comes first, and  the position word follows. The particle の connects the two. This is the particle used when describing possession, which makes sense here.

[noun] + + [position word] + (に or で)


Right of the Flowers – 花の右

Here Pikachu is hiding to the right of two pink tulip flowers. Using the formula above, the noun flowers (はな) comes first, then の, and finally the position word, right (みぎ).

Full sentence? ピカチュウは花の右にあります。

To be honest, I’m not sure whether to use いる (animate) or ある (inanimate) for this Pikachu. Since this one is stuffed and doesn’t move, I’ll use ある.

Pikachu is right of the flowers. 花のみぎ

Pikachu is right of the flowers. 花のみぎ

Sound fun? Let’s learn more! Below is a table with the most common positional words. As with most tables on my blog, you can conveniently sort and search. I’m only using the most basic nouns that hopefully you will know if you have a few months of Japanese under your belt.

Position Nouns

うえueabove; over; top
したshitabelow; under; bottom
なかnakamiddle; inside
まえmaefront; before
後ろうしろushirobehind; back
そばsobanext to
へんhenaround here; near
あいだaidain between

Left of the Stone – 石の左

Next up, one of the first kanji I ever learned – 石 – stone. Pikachu is to the left of the stone.


Gawa (側) means “side”, so 左側 means left side.

Left of the stone - 石の左

Left of the stone - 石の左

When taking these pictures, I know now that I should’ve spent the extra time making the noun a different color than the positional nouns, but I had a frantic dog (you will see at the end) going crazy in the backyard wondering what I was up to.

Under the Tree – 木の下

I felt like an idiot scooting around on my belly to get this picture and make sure the lowest swooping branches of the tree were included, just like the kanji character!

Under the tree - 木の下着

Under the tree – 木の下着

In Front of the Gate – ゲートの前に

He’s small, but he’s in the picture, almost buried in leaves!

In Front of the Gate

In Front of the Gate

I had to stop here, this is where my dog was able to get too close to Pikachu… I don’t want this to happen…

Pikachū wa watashi no inu no kuchi no naka ni arimasu.
Pikachu is inside my dog’s mouth!

My dog thinks any stuffed animal is her domain and supposed to be ripped to shreds. 🙁

Not safe around inu!

Not safe around inu!

Inside the Poké Ball  – ポケボールの中

Rather, let’s put him in a place where he’d be more comfortable… Until next time!


I Choose You!

I Choose You!

Thanks to…

Thank you to my assistant, my lovely daughter who went around with Pikachu and a basket to place all the chalkboards while I shot the photos! Everytime I called her “Assistant”, she asked me if I was going to call her Christina next (from Stein’s Gate’s Kurisa).


I Have Reached Enlightenment!

This is a major day in WaniKani for me! I have reached the “Enlightened” level on some of my terms. Just 10 Radicals, but Kanji will be following soon too! It took me exactly 7 weeks and 2 days to reach Enlightened. I also reached my 1000th Guru turtle! Yes, we call them turtles, and we want to burn the kanji on these turtle shells.

WK Enlightened

WK Enlightened

Level 8!

Also tonight I reached Level 8. Don’t worry, I am not going to celebrate every one of my 60 WaniKani levels, it’s just that getting to the next level “Enlightened” is special! And you’ll definitely see me post when I “Burn” my first items as well. 🙂



WaniKani Stats

Below I’m sharing some WaniKani stats from a site called WaniKani Stats, featuring very useful graphs to chart my progress.

SRS is the spaced-repetition system WaniKani uses – the learning technique that increased the intervals of time you review. There are a total of nine levels, split across the five groups below. Starting with Apprentice, your reviews will come within hours or a few days. The highest group, Burn, is when you can recall an item after 4 months.

  • Apprentice (3 intervals)
  • Guru (2 intervals)
  • Master (2 intervals)
  • Enlightened (1 interval)
  • Burned (1 interval)

SRS Total Breakdown

I only have a sliver of Enlightened, tons of Guru and Mastered, a few Apprentice for now, and no Burns yet. But I have only been at it for less then two months, I will get there!

Level Progression Time

This chart shows my average time to complete levels. Level 4-5 was when I was on Spring Break in Mexico for 10 days, I still worked on WK everyday, just not as fast as I do when I’m at home. Looks like my average level takes 8 days. If I keep up this pace, I’ll be done in about one year exactly – to Level 50.  It’s okay if I take longer, I’m not racing for any reason. There are an extra 10 bonus levels, so it’ll definitely take me longer than a year to finish it all.


WaniKani Progress and JLPT Kanji Progress

This handy chart visually shows me my progress through the WaniKani program, as well as the JLPT levels.


More Progress Visuals

As you can see, I’m very far from the JLPT N1! But maybe soon I’ll be ready for N5. This chart can also show Joyo and Frequency charts.


Kanji and Hanzi Writing Practice Day

It’s Hànzì and Kanji Day! You may have remembered that my daughter is in her second year of learning Mandarin Chinese at her school. One of the things that makes it so much fun is that we can study our characters together! They pretty much look exactly the same and even have mostly the same meanings!

So I thought once a week we’d sit down and practice writing together. I know most but not all the hanzi that she writes, and she knows maybe half of my kanji. To make things more fun, I spread out some fun colorful pens and papers; if you haven’t noticed yet, you will soon — I have a serious pen addiction. We gathered in our loft, which is all spacious and bright and set about our work.


Satori’s Mandarin teacher gave her this writing practice book, and so that is what she’s using to write her characters today.

Satori practicing her hanzi character handwriting

Satori practicing her hanzi character handwriting

Look! I see the characters for mouth, eye, ear, hand, and day! Wait… one of these things are not like the others…


Across the table, I start off with some katakana handwriting practice. Although I’m pretty good at writing katakana,  I still have a few characters I forget sometimes or just don’t have the stroke order memorized. So practicing kana once a week or so is very beneficial for me.


Next, I took the time to write down my new Kanji characters I learned this week. With the WaniKani app on my tablet, I do my best to write them down, just guessing at the stroke order. Writing them down helps me remember. I choose some black paper and Uni-ball Signo Angelic Gel Pens to set off the characters.

WaniKani App and writing Level 6 kanji

WaniKani App and writing Level 6 kanji

According to my daughter, I have “rookie” handwriting. She says in her class all her classmates painstakingly write their Mandarin Chinese han zi all neat and precise. Then Miss Yang Lăoshī (her teacher) writes on the board and her characters are written all hasty and well… maybe not quite sloppy, but just not-so-neat. So apparently, anybody who writes all slow and carefully are “rookies”! Which is probably quite true…

WaniKani Level 6 kanji

WaniKani Level 6 kanji

Message for Mom

Before she left, I asked her to write me something in Mandarin. Right now she mostly just knows how to say things and not write whole sentences down, but here she tried her best to write “Mom eat rice.” And I recognize the kanji for woman and rice!

Daughter's message

Daughter’s message

This was our first time practicing together, I hope we make a habit of it, even if it’s just for a few minutes of bonding. Eventually we may get into writing Chinese and Japanese calligraphy together, I know at least I plan to learn shodo and maybe Suibokuga!

gold balls kanji

The things I google – Tanuki

Tanuki By Iwanafish- Cropped.jpg


The Japanese raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides viverrinus), also known as tanuki in Japanese, is a subspecies of the Asian raccoon dog.

Kanji Breakdown

And why did I google this? Let’s just say the Kanji to learn one of my new words is composed of “Ball” and “Gold”. And I feel very sorry for the poor Tanuki!

gold balls kanji

Kanji: Gold, Balls

I’ve been starting to read the example sentences in WaniKani. Some of them are hilarious! These are using my new vocab word, although they don’t translate 100% correctly in a translator.



What I’m Learning this Week

Since I’m using this as a document of my progress in learning, a weekly report on what I’m currently learning would be a great thing to add.  I’d like to settle on a specific day to do this, but since the idea just occurred to me last night, I’ll start today!

Unfortunately my dynamically-pulled Kanji data from WaniKani doesn’t work all the time in the blog, I’m just adding a static table to show the Kanji I’m working on. Oh, how I love technology! I’m working on 42 Kanji characters this week for Level 5 of WaniKani. The table below allows you to view, sort and page through the kanji.

Kanji I’m Learning This Week

From WaniKani

Total since I’ve started:

Radicals 141
Kanji 145
Vocabulary 321
Total 607

Currently starting to learn:

Kanji I'm Working On

西westせい, さいにし
rainあめ, あま
mixこうまじ, ま, か
forest, woodsりんはやし
times, revolveかいまわ.*
goこう, ぎょうい.く, おこな.う, ゆ.く
home village, home town, hometownさと
soundおんおと, ね
color, colourしき, しょくいろ
selfじ, し
diagramず, とえ, はか.る
rice, americaべい, まいこめ
come, nextらいく.る
near, closeきん, こんちか.い
right, success, correctとうあ.たる
many, much, lots ofおお.い
shape, appearance, formけいかた, かたち
grass, weedそうくさ
sayげん, ごんい.う, こと
sunlight, lightこうひかり, ひか.る
feather, feathers, wing, wingsはね, は
makeさく, さつく.る
study, learn, learningがくまな.ぶ
think, considerこうかんが
younger brother, little brotherだい, で, ていおとうと
whatなに, なん
skyくうそら, あ, から
angle, cornerかくかど
blueせい, しょうあお
Kanji I'm Working On - Level 5

I reinforce the Kanji I learn from WaniKani with a supplemental fan site called KaniWani which reverses the drills. Instead of being shown Kanji, I am shown the definition in English, and I write it in Japanese. More about that later. I also use an app called Kanji Drills on my phone a little bit each day.

Grammar (and more) I’m Learning this week

Just an aside, some of the grammar resources I’m using are still simultaneously teaching me hiragana and katakana. NihongoMaster has already taught me all the kana, and now they are slowly easing into Kanji, but most of the lessons are in kana yet.


  • Verbs します (to do), しごとします (to work), べんきょうします (to study), そうじします (to clean)
  • Particles  を, の, に
  • Days of the Weeks

I can read a sentence like this:  私は十二じにごはんをたべます。(I will eat dinner at twelve o’clock.”

From YesJapan books and website

I bought almost all the YesJapan books – Japanese From Zero 1-3, still need to buy 4. I also just started Kanji From Zero 1. I’ll blog about these very soon!

From Japanese From Zero! 1 book and website

  • Possession (かのじょは にじゅうきゅうさい です。)
  • Colors and Adjectives (わたしの くるまは しろと くろと あおです。)
  • Likes and Dislikes (わたしの ともだちは さかなが だいきらいです。)

From Human Japanese App

I’m taking the descriptions of the chapters I’m reading right from their website.

  • Food – Introduces dozens of culinary vocabulary words, allaying any fears the reader might have about Japanese food.
  • Demonstratives – Teaches how to use sets of words like “this,” “that,” “that (over there),” and “which one?”, which always come in convenient four-packs.

Lesson Comparison in learning 久しぶり (Long Time No See)

First, a quick update on what I’ve been learning this week. Lots of new kanji and vocabulary! Thanks to leveling up in WaniKani, a whole slew of new radicals/kanji/vocab to learn. In NihongoMaster I’m learning new verbs (a few weeks ago I knew only desu), as well as getting to understand the various verb endings. I got five new Kanji to learn in NihongoMaster yesterday. The big difference in NihongoMaster is that they use it in sentences and such, so I get experience really reading it and listening to it in action.

Something cool from this week was seeing the same word in both my favorite learning websites! So today I’m going to give a lesson comparison between the two. They tackle two different things, so they shine in different ways. And now, the lessons where I learned LONG TIME NO SEE.

ひさしぶり in NihongoMaster

I first encountered it in NihongoMaster in the form of a manga (Japanese comic). This was presented as a new word, I’d never seen it before.

アマンダさん Runs Into A Friend

Here is the full lesson, I just learned how to do an entire screen capture of a page. I will share the full page here (click to see the original size), so you can see a typical lesson, but I normally won’t do this, as you will want to experience it yourself with your own NihongoMaster account, plus the page was super long!

In reading Japanese comics, you start from the top right, and work your way left, in both the frames and word bubbles.

So here the lesson starts with the manga, then proceeds to explain the new concepts in more detail, which in this lesson are:

  • And You? ~ は?
  • The Invitation: Negative Questions
  • The Vocabulary Section (six new words)
  • And then a detailed explanation, with a complete line-by-line of the comic

All of this includes the audio, stroke order animations, and an option for you to record your pronunciation. NihongoMaster is so awesome in how it gives the lesson in a chunk I can handle, and offers various media as in pictures, comics and sound. Stroke order is handy too. But I love the practice in reading and listening!

Next, 久しぶり in WaniKani

Then I’m on to WaniKani, and I’m sounding out this new Kanji I just learned. And I’m like, Wait, I know that word! Sure enough, eventually I learn the Vocabulary word, and there it is. This is how WaniKani first presents a new Radical, Kanji, or Vocabulary word. Extremely well done user interface.  The use of color, minimal distractions makes the site so easy to use.

WaniKani Vocab page

Here is the page on the Vocabulary word. If you click it, you can see the way they help you set the word in your memory, with vivid verbal imagery mnemonics. In this one, here’s the mnemonic to help you remember the しぶり (shiburi) part.

Just imagine that she buried you alive, then a few days later came back to dig you up. The first thing she says is “LONG TIME NO SEE!

I can’t believe how effect it is to learn new kanji. You can also add your own mnemonic if you think of something you might remember better.

All in all, a great week learning Japanese!

Progress the Day I started

I have so many plans for this self language learning blog! I will discuss the language learning tools that are helping me the most. But I also will cover some that didn’t quite work with my learning style, but might fit yours. I’ll post pictures and screenshots and maybe even short videos of my learning in action. You’ll learn my thoughts on what it’s like to learn the language at various stages. I’ll document my progress. Speaking of progress, I think one of my very first posts here should give you an idea of where I’m currently at. Here are some of the sentences I am able to read and write in hiragana/katakana.


Today is pleasant weather, isn’t it. (great for small talk!)


That is a cake. It is very tasty.


That cat is not my cat. (One of my first Kanji I learned is in there.)

By now you might be wondering what that big black block of weird characters up there might be. I’m not to the point where I can read anything of importance in terms of Kanji, that image shows my progress up to the day I started this blog, which was March 9, 2017.

wallpaper (1)

All the purple are ones I know fairly well, and the pink are characters I’m just beginning to learn. Hopefully next time I post a screenshot like this, I’ll have less grayed-out characters (adding more Kanji to my list) and a bigger array of colors (indicating my level of familiarity).

As for hiragana and katakana, I can read and write them fairly quickly, although every now and then I might mis-read one, especially if it’s a word I’m not familiar with. But of course the more I work with reading Japanese, the more accurate I’ll be.

For those of you also learning Japanese, what level are you at?