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Issue 3: Kanji Flash Cards

February 16, 2010


Forget your iPhone Anki, White Rabbit Press flashcards are the hot must-have item!

explanation-3awhitek, let’s be honest with eachother, do you like learning kanji? I mean like, really-like-it like? Cus I, for sure as hell DON’T. Learning kanji is a drag and frankly, a royal pain in the おしり (yes, that’s Japanese for B-hind). A real bitch if you ask me, mind you. Learning about 2000-something Chinese characters is gonna require a lot of time and hard work and it ain’t gonna happen overnight (or 3 months for that matter, anyone who claims they can, is just plain ignorant).

There are tons of different ways and tools out there all doing the same thing, to help you remember kanji but there is no golden way since everybody learns and absorbs information in a different way. I’m a firm believer in rotation learning, see one thing often enough and you will remember it. There are fancy kanji apps out there like Anki which employ SRS (Spaced Repetition System) and can run on anything from your lickable-hot-iPhone to my NDS to your mom’s kitchen microwave oven…ok that last one has yet to be invented (although it’b nice idea).


explanation-3aThe Product
Call me old fashioned but I tried those Anki apps and while the fun lasted the first couple of weeks (impressive huh *patting myself on the back), it felt like a boring routine job, opening the app on your computer, staring at your screen trying to guess the meaning of the kanji before hitting the answer-button. For me, it just didn’t work nor stick. I wanted something more substantial, something I could ‘feel and touch’. Having an actual single card in your hand with a kanji on it or staring at your Anki app are two total different learning experiences, at least for me.

White Rabbit Press offers kanji flashcards and are among the crème the la crème when it comes to flashcards, yes there are other brands but supposedly this is the shit. They offer three different sets of flashcards, being, Kanji Flashcards 1 (a set of 284 cards which covers JLPT lv. 4 and 3), Kanji Flashcards 2 (set of 739 cards which corresponds to JLPT lv. 2) and the biggest set Kanji Flashcards 3 (a whopping nine-hundred-o-three-card-biggie for JLPT lv. 1). I don’t know if they’re going to create a new set now with the new JLPT lv. N3 test but I bought set 2 and 3 for levels 2 and 1 respectively, so I’m all set. The box has two colums where the cards snuggly fit in and comes with a manual which also holds a list of all kanji up till that level.


explanation-3aThe Flashcards
The cards are about the size of a standard poker card, have rounded corners and are printed on business-card-thick cardstock with a glossy finish. At first I thought they felt kinda thin to the touch but then again, you don’t want a really big stack of cards if you want to carry them around. The cards have 1 kanji on one side and the general meaning and readings on the back side along with other features such as compound words using the kanji. I particulary like that the back side has a line that tells you how far you are in the set. A nice added touch is that the side of the box of Set 2 has a hiragana & katakana chart, although you would think one would’ve already learned how to read kana by level 2. Funny that Set 3 doesn’t have this.


For me, paper flashcards work. A big clear kanji and lots of added example words (so you can see the kanji usage) are some of the things that make these flashcards great and fun to use. No more boring routine Anki app, just grab a couple of cards when you have some spare time and really learn. And admit it, having a real flashcard in your hand is funner than poking at your iPhone kanji app!

*series 1 (L4-L1) is being followed up by the new series 2 (N5-N1)

Well, that’s all of todays issue of Chokochoko, join us next time for a brand new issue and thank you again for reading!

Product Info
title: Japanese Kanji Flashcards
pages: vol.1: 284 cards • vol.2: 739 cards • vol.3: 903 cards
dimensions: card size 6.5 x 9 cm
extra: manual & kanji list
language: Japanese – English
publisher: White Rabbit Press
ISBN: vol. 2: 0-9748694-1-4 • vol. 3: 978-097486947-6
special Chokochoko rating: 満点 100%

7 Comments leave one →
  1. May 5, 2010 8:57 pm

    Nice review, and as always the visual treatment sublime. I’m interested to know if you are combining the cards from both sets, because your sidebar shows you at 513 for Set2 and 1091 for Set3. Do you use a Leitner box to sort them?

    • May 5, 2010 9:19 pm

      Hey Brett, thanks for the visit! Yes I do use cards from both sets, because most of the kanji of set 2 I more or less already know. So it’s mostly learning the extra readings and the sample words. Most of the kanji in set 3 I don’t know, so I have to actually learn them, hah. Although my focus is still on set 2, I pick up a couple cards from set 3 every now and then so I don’t have so much ahead of me (cus that’s a big set!) after I’m done with set 2.

      Leitner box, interesting method (read the review) but I just use 2 simple card-deck boxes (the ones that get recommended when you order the flashcards off rabbitpress). One box for each set. To tell you the truth, as much as that Leitner box method seems interesting and it probably works great, sometimes studying doesn’t need to be made more complicated that it already is. Keeping things simple so you can focus more on the actual studying than organizing all kinds of ‘complicated’ systems is what I believe in (I know you wrote ‘far simpler Leitner system’, 6 steps is really 5 too many, hehe). That having said, I do have a divider in my little card-deck box, just to separate the ones I know and the ones that still need attention.

      less time organizing intrecate study systems, marking every study achievement, analyzing complicated study methods = more time to study 🙂

  2. Hikaru permalink
    October 11, 2010 9:33 pm

    Hi,I have the first volume of these flash cards,and I wondering how I should use them as to learn the kanji,Should I just keep on writing them until I can recall them by memory? I’m not interested in learning how to write the kanji,rather I’d like to be recognize them on sight and remember the on and kun forms and the compounds.And on an unrelated note,I love this blog and how vivid it is. ^^

    • October 11, 2010 9:52 pm

      Hi Hikaru! For starters, I do recommend learning how to write them because it allows you to learn ‘how’ the specific kanji is written (constructed). This definitely helps you recognize the character easier when encountering it. Learning with flashcards basically goes like this:

      1. take a couple of cards and learn them, then put them aside (these are NEW CARDS)

      2. review the NEW CARDS at a later time (specify for yourself, though usually a day or two is good to start with) and separate the cards you forgot from the ones you remember (REVIEWED CARDS). Treat forgotten cards as NEW CARDS.

      3. Review the REVIEWED CARDS after a week or so to see if you still remember them. The ones you remember go to your LEARNED CARDS stack, the ones you forgot stay in the REVIEWED CARDS stack. Keep adding new cards as your REVIEWED CARDS stack depletes.

      4. From time to time, remember to review the LEARNED CARDS stack and put the cards you totally forgot back in the learning cycle. (hope this made some sense, though there’s really no magic way here, you basically look at the card as many times as you need to get it stored in your brain)

      Thanks for the kind words btw!

  3. Tamm Tamm permalink
    February 12, 2011 5:25 am

    I just got the first set of these this week. I was so thrilled! I was surprised that I already knew about 1/3 of them from just my Japanese 1010 and early parts of 1020. I have to say, they are so much nicer than my hand written cards! I was at first put off by the price tag, but I’m glad I got them. They are probably the nicest language learning tool I own atm.

    • February 12, 2011 12:46 pm

      Hey Tamm Tamm, I agree, I also used to make hand written cards, but these WRP cards are just great. The cards are not the cheapest, but you can’t really put a price on learning a language 🙂 Good luck with learning!


  1. Japanese Learning | Tram's Space

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