Kanjirific Game of the Month (January)

Hello all! On a side note, thank you for all those votes. At the end of the month I will share the results and tell you about the blogs coming up that reflect your votes. Every month I will be introducing a game that I’ve made up that helps me in my learning endeavors. I play lots of games because it makes a lot of fun. While for some the initial start up is a little time consuming, the over all fun in the long run is worth it.

As for this post on this wonderful Friday, its all about a kanji game that I created. Now there is a chance that someone already does this out there and all but as far as I know, I’ve never heard of it outside of my silly brain. So here goes!

Things you need:

  • writing utensil
  • something to write on
  • your brain!


  • graph paper makes it a little easier to write nicer kanji
  • kanji dictionary

I myself personally use graph paper or scrap paper when playing by myself. When my sister was in town we used her fancy Lenovo Thinkpad and OneNote (which has the ability to make the screen look like graph paper for when you write on it). But neither do you need fancy nor graph paper. I’ve played this game on concrete with chalk even so there is no particular do’s and don’t’s when it comes to this game in terms of getting the kanji down. You could even do it in your head or on your hand!

You can play this game as a single person against yourself, or multi-player. There is no limit to the number of people who can play this game.

How to Play! Single Player Mode

  1. Think of a kanji, and write it down.
  2. Say its meaning.
  3. Now you must choose an element. As you can see with the picture to the right of the kanji chant, there are two available elements to use. If you do not follow RTK then it is perfectly fine to think of it in terms of Radicals instead.
  4. Once you have the element of choice, (In this case we choose the element: Mouth) you then form a new kanji you know from that element. In this particular case you can either choose to think of it in three separate elements or just two. Either way is fine as long as you’re not dissecting the kanji down too far.
  5. Simply continue this until you stump yourself and can no longer think of anymore kanji.  Tally your score of kanji written down and pat yourself on the back. Try to break your score next time!

Here is an example of how single player may look when starting out.

As you can see, you simply bring an element over to the next kanji in line, and go forth! Sometimes I’ve had to stop playing before I even get to stump myself. You do not need to worry about writing in super cool fashion but do try your best to follow correct stroke order. I’ll write a post on why I feel this is important for your journey in learning Japanese later.

How to Play! Multi-Player Mode

  1. Decide by whatever method possible, who goes first, second, so forth and so on.
  2. Player One: Think of a kanji, and write it down. Say the meaning.
  3. Player Two: Pick an element from the kanji that player one wrote down. In this case both mouth and sun are acceptable options to choose from.
  4. Player Two: Form a kanji from an element Player One used, write it down, and say its meaning.
  5. Player One/Three: Pick an element from the kanji that Player Two wrote down. In this case there are two elements to choose from: Sun and Moon.
  6. Continue to cycle through players until someone gets stumped. The player who stumps the other gets a point. See who can get the most points!

Here is an example of how multi-player with two players may look like when starting out.

As you can see, simply bringing an element over to the next kanji is all anyone has to worry about. You don’t have to be simple, but you don’t have to be complex either. Again, don’t worry about your handwriting as much as you worry about stroke order. When Pandachan and I play, we often do help each other out if our order or kanji is wrong, rather than being meanies who doesn’t accept the kanji.

I also highlighted the elements each of us used in the first 5 to help you if you’re still not seeing how we used elements. Pandachan has a significantly less amount of knowledge when it comes to kanji, because of that, I tend to make sure there is always an element in my kanji she can use. It doesn’t stop us from having a lot of fun either, so don’t worry if you and your friend aren’t at the same speed of kanji learned.

Dreaded Rules of the Game

  1. No Repeat Kanji! If your game gets long (like mine) its especially important to not repeat. Its all about stretching those brain muscles.
  2. Kanji should be written in correct stroke order if at all possible. (looking up stroke order is fine, since its a learning process, but if you can help it, try not to!)
  3. Modification of elements allow. Here are some examples of what I mean:

There are more modification than this, but its just a handful to think about. Pretty much its a modification as long as the element is used in the story of the next kanji. (Heisig people know what I’m talking about, as for those doing official Radicals, I’m not sure how those are set up, and may be slightly different. Just keep consistent with your mod rules.).

You can also use drops and lines even if they are part of other elements

In the case of One (floor, ceiling) and the vertical line (walking stick) you can carry them across many kanji.

Have fun! And questions or comments about the game, post below!

2 Responses to “Kanjirific Game of the Month (January)”
  1. kanjidaisuki says:

    I really like this idea! I might have to try this Kanji game on myself sometime… lol

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