Flash Cards for Japanese

I must confess that the first time that I formally encountered flash cards as a formal mechanism for learning is when I came across Kanji or the pictorial characters in Japanese.

The Kanjis are formed of many strokes and each Kanji has more than one possible reading (based on the Japanese reading and or borrowed Chinese reading as Kanjis were derived from the Chinese writing system). This makes for a lot of confusion in trying to identify the word or its reading.

So we were encouraged to use flashcards with the kanji on the one side and the reading and meaning on the other side. I even tried making my own cards on paper but my efforts fizzled out. I remember cramming about 100 kanjis on the evening before my N4 exam last year.

And then I found the Kanji flashcard sets on sale at White Rabbit Press- an online website from where you can order a lot of Japan related stuff- from food to manga to flash cards. And that’s what I did – I bought the beginner set of flash cards (thanks to my sister who actually ordered this as a birthday gift!). Delivery was fairly quick in about a week and a half.

Flash Cards Set 1
Flash Cards Set 1

The flash cards were really as good as they were advertised. Made out of firm glossy plastic, they are easy to read. The way the content is organised is also quite good- on one side you have the Kanji, the stroke order and a few words using the Kanji. On the other side you have the readings.

Explanation on the various elements of the Flash cards
Explanation on the various elements of the Flash cards

I even bought a small holder so that I can carry a bunch of these cards in my handbag wherever I go. I haven’t been using them as much as I’d wanted to but I feel that I’m making slow progress.

The Pink Holder
The Pink Holder

They ask you not to be ambitious- they ask you to only focus on one aspect of the card- either just learn only one reading or just the stroke order. However the sky is really the limit.

The readings on the reverse
The readings on the reverse

One thing that is surprising is that the kanjis are not arranged in order of perceived simplicity- so the deck doesn’t start with the Kanji for 1 (as all other textbooks normally do)- a single horizontal stroke. This makes for an interesting combination- rather than having to slough it through the numbers before having to move on to other words.

Here’s the link for White Rabbit Press

And the Kanji Flash Cards

Have you ever tried learning with flashcards? How did you like it? Did you find them effective? Do share your thoughts.


6 Comments Add yours

  1. lav says:

    Nice review! Makes me want to learn!!

    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      🙂 There are so many online flashcard apps its mind boggling

    2. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      You can try flashcards for German with the word on one side, the meaning and maybe the conjugation on the other side or something…

  2. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

    Very interesting. We could use flash cards for every language. Reminds me of the Doman method for kid that I experimented with for my child using cards!

  3. akaimiko says:

    Great review! I have been studying Japanese for years, good flash cards are sooo key to successfully learning the vocab!

    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      Really? Have you written the jlpt exams? I’m thinking ill attempt n3 in December

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