Anyone tried Kanken?

one of the curious aspects of the Kanken test
is that many people who pass its highest level
keep taking it again and again even after that, making it their lifelong hobby

for those who are interested in the topic
here is a recent >news article< featuring
one of the currently most famous stars of the Kanken world -
a person called あび

since i personally happen to belong to the same category of “repeaters”,
i touched upon this topic >here<


Congrats on the third pass! What was your score each time? I’m curious if you’ve simply (as if any of this is simple haha) been maintaining your level of knowledge or if you’ve continued to improve it and get better and better scores.


well, on the surface of it,
nominally the last time (in June 2022) i got the highest number of points
i have ever gotten on the test - 171

but i would say that this was to a large extent
due to the fact that the test was somewhat relatively easy
(which was also reflected in the average number of points for it - 98.7;
compare this to 90.7 and 89.1 respectively for the previous two tests)

you can see the statistics >here<

am i getting better?

i wish i were, but on the contrary,
it may be said that my overall level has actually went down
owing to me spending much less time on studying
than i have been before my first pass
(though, i kind of make effort to ‘stay in shape’)

well, there is such thing as “life” (work, family etc.) to which people have to attend to
(and in this sense i am not an exception),
plus, as i said at the end of the video linked above,
memory and attention span are rather limited resources
(especially, for someone who, like myself, has only several months before he hits the 40 yo mark)
so, in this sense i guess that the last time i simply got lucky


Btw. do you use mnemonics for memorization?

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on a general note, the answer would depend on a definition of “mnemonics” wherein, methinks,
everything and anything can be used as a cue for memorization,
and unless one is an outlier with a mechanic ‘photographic’ memory
any memorization by default is reliant on some specific
conditioning / contextualization of the target content

but what i can say absolutely and definitively is that at least for me personally
individual kanji alongside their readings / meanings serve as
an indispensable foundation for learning vocabulary that is based on such kanji:
it is absolutely inconceivable and, for that matter, impossible
for me to try to learn a word unless i have more or less clear knowledge
on how each individual kanji(s) such a word consists of / written by are read, and what they mean

while this approach can be deemed as ‘too incrementalist’ in my case
it makes learning more psychologically comfortable and more long-term efficient
(on the other hand, this may have been one of the reasons why it took me so long to
finally pass the first level - close to 5 years)

as for some specific examples of mnemonic techniques i use (whether intentionally or otherwise),
in case of individual kanjis i break them into constituent parts, and make my own “reading”:
e.g. 彬 = “kikisan” (木+木+三)

in case of yojijukugo
where possible i usually try to “read” them in a kun-like manner:
e.g. 蛙鳴蝉噪 = “kaeru ga naku, semi ga sawagashii

or in case of jukujikun i memorize them by adding an intermediary element to connect their
graphical representation and seemingly arbitrary reading by supplementing them with an on-yomi:
蒲公英 = hokouei



Well, you are one!
The only disappointment in the overall genius impression is, that watching your video I had to realize you don’t have a Russian accent… :innocent:

Same for me, the only words I could ever memorize in Japanese without knowing the Kanji must be less than ten.

That’s pretty cool. Did you invent this? It is like Japanese memorize numbers.
I am wondering what for example 簪 would be with this approach because I memorized it yesterday with a standard mnemonic.
(One needs a HAIRPIN made of “bamboo” because otherwise the hairstyle is reduced to “nothing” two times in the “sun”.

:pray: :pray: :pray:
I think that saved me at least ten years, thank you!

I totally don’t understand a word here :joy: Looks like some research is necessary to know how that works but it is interesting.
My method is also mnemonics but I just started that recently so I don’t know if it works for every Jukugo.

珈琲 (I know this has another meaning, but for now I just need the coffee one)
If the “king” wants to have “power” in his “mouth” he drinks COFFEE,
he doesn’t have other options because he is only
the “king” of the “criminals”
Recently we started to create images with an AI that help to memorize the mnemonics as well.

Two “shellfish” from the “woman” is enough to make this “bird” REPEAT EVERY WORD she says
he is like a “military” (going on the “ground”, suddenly “stopping” and “drinking” booze (ぶ) “bird”, a PARROT, what a fool (ふ)

薔薇 (I memorized this, because a couple of people asked me if I can write it, next time I can say yes :joy:)
It is a “flower” that was picked from the “dirt” to form a “couple” (two persons) many “times”,
a “flower” that is “delicate” (this is from Wanikani and while I can write it I keep forgetting the story)

This was tricky so I made a drawing with the parts which also worked well.

It is totally interesting to hear about others way of memorizing. I think the best thing is to combine all of them.

I read that many people who got high points are using the 音符辞典 which was republished again half a year ago fortunately. Unfortunately I bought it but never really looked inside yet…

As someone who passed that mark already looking at the イケメン Kanken idol you posted earlier I have to admit how surprised I am that young people are studying for it.
Like all my other hobbies I was absolutely sure it is a hobby for the elderly/ uncool, or maybe that is a wrong impression my husband gave me when I first mentioned almost 20 years ago that I want to pass the level 1 :joy:
It is so fascinating to see how all my granny hobbies turned into something the cool kids are doing, what is this? It is so strange to see

  • Knitters
  • Yoginis
  • 書道家
  • Kanken idols

these days on Instagram compared to how the overall look was back in the 80s and 90s :joy:
Even my haircolor is in fashion now, it seems to be so unfair to turn from total outcast to hip without actually changing anything just to realize I am too old now to cash in on the trendiness :rofl:

Sorry for the long post, I think I am getting a bit obsessed with this :sweat_smile:


though i cannot pinpoint a concrete origin of such memorization method, i have zero confidence to say that it was myself who “invented” it (i guess, i must have read it somewhere long time ago)

as for 簪, just like with other kanjis it is deconstructed down to its constituent elements, and memorized by their combined reading following the stroke order which would be something like “take-kiba-kiba-hi” (yes, technically “旡” is not “kiba” (牙) but looks kind of similar)

in this sense, i find mnemonics based on an approach of stitching together not readings but meanings (as translated into some other language) of a kanji’s constituent parts rather tedious and cumbersome (i.e. trying to memorize 簪 as something like “a bamboo with two fangs above the sun”) - that just DOES NOT work for me due to my lack of imagination and an insufficient cognitive bandwidth required to store and process such a heavy information load

蒲公英 stands for “たんぽぽ” (dandelion) = but since, like with other jukujikuns, there is little logical relation between how it is written and how it is pronounced, i connect these two elements through an artificially created (based on the kanjis’ combined on-yomi) “hokouei” serving in this context as an additional buffer element for more… don’t know how to put it… “latency” / “redundancy” of a sort

“鸚鵡” - “kai-kai-onna-tori-mononofu-tori”

“鬱” - “ki-hotogi-ki-wa-nioizake-san”


Wow, that is interesting!
It would work for me but probably only for a couple of items before I would start to mix them up I think. Have to test it

It could be that you are a more an audio type and I am more a visual type of memorizer.


Just saying I just turned 30 and I’m crocheting amigurumi like there is no tomorrow.

(Still no kanken 1 in sight, tho. Maybe for that one I do need to become a grandpa)


Totally, but if I don’t start now it might be too late :sweat_smile:

Crocheting is also very satisfying. I just started my first crocheting project today. It might be another trend …

Definitely. If it took 5 years for efugeni to get there, I’m sure it should take at least 10 for me, so your math does add up.

I’ve just finished this baby yesterday, but I will stop derailing the post.


That’s cute :relaxed: Did you felt the eyes and mouth?

There must be a crochet topic?
It seems to trend right now. My Instagram is suddenly full of granny squares…

The question is also five years from when?
It might have been from passing the pre level 1.
I am still about five years from that point :sweat_smile:

Yes, I like the final effect felting gives. I’ve tried actual crochet eyes a couple of times before but mine always look creepy so I stopped, lol
The plastic ones are ok, but they limit your style to the classic solid eyes look, so I don’t use them for character-inspired pieces like this one.

Oh, indeed there is. I don’t usually adventure myself outside the Japanese Language category so I had no idea. No posts for the last five months tho.

Omg, you are so right. I’ll change my calculation to 15 years, then. Gotta start soon, it seems.

This is my crochet Instagram account btw

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It looks really nice and it is much more creative than the plastic eyes.
There must be a deeper meaning behind the fact that I bought a felting set for my daughter today as well…

Looks a bit dead indeed. BUT worry not, I have an idea. It also somehow connects this discussion back to the topic of the Kanken.

I am going to crochet a granny square blanket with level 1 Kanjis! :rofl:

Cute! :upside_down_face:

Do you know “martin_up_north” on Instagram?
I love his crochet works. Not sure if I would make something like that but I always enjoy the different patterns and color schemes male crafters bring into the pinkish hell of knitting and crocheting :sweat_smile:


Omg, don’t give me ideas for projects I’m gonna regret starting hahahaha
I’m already calculating how many workable stichets I would have for each Kanji if I was to make a Joyo Kanji blanket, lol

Seeing for the first time! Fashion doesn’t really ring my bell (I’ve never crocheted even the simplest beanie or scarf, shame on me) so I don’t think I would make something like that, but his use of colors looks very stylish and it definitely feels very fresh compared to the usual knit/crochet stuff around.


It could be a good idea to start with something small, like a coaster.
Then working up to doormat and toilet carpet size to see how that works out.

I will try to find a Japanese pixel font to find out the correct " dots per granny square" ratio.
This should work for Jouyou Kanji, maybe not for Kanken level 1, but let’s see.
I don’t know how many Kanjis are usually included in a more minor font.

I can picture you in three months with everything (Kanji) granny square, a bag, coat, beanie and maybe gloves :rofl:
It really trends on Insta…

I can recommend the online- shop 糸屋. They sell outlet yarn from fashion factories left overs.
It is a bit difficult in the beginning to understand the thickness of the yarn and sometimes it is necessary to combine a few to get enough thickness, but it is really cheap.

The good thing is, this solves also the pressing decision on what to wear when having a speech after passing the Kanken level 1.
I found the 男 necktie a bit challenging, so I will go for a jumpsuit with crocheted Kanjis to top that :joy:


My 座布団 are conspicuously looking at me. And I don’t even know how to sew or all the other steps clearly needed to make it happen, god.

Wow, the website looks so ghetto! :rofl:
Thank you, it’s very cheap indeed. Amigurumi has the bad habit of just needing a tiny bit of several different colors, but next time I’m buying yarn I’m definitely checking it.

I need to see it happen.


座布団, I need that!
The other steps like crotcheting together seems to be fairly easy and explained in many Instagram videos, I wouldn’t worry about that. My biggest worry is the color scheme :sweat_smile:
I have difficulties deciding between

  • classic off white, black and a bit of 朱
  • granny vibe scrap yarn color insult
  • 70’s LSD trip

It is. There must be an award for this design. Also the yarn category names have a bit of a Foucault dimension…

Here we go.
At least the planning is happening. For the speech I will go for a higher but knitted resolution to keep things reasonable.
There are some Kanji patterns on Ravelry, but I don’t like the brush style. It looks too wonky to me.
So I will go for a 24x 24 jiskan digital pixel font, there might be even one with all Kanjis thinking about station names in Japan.

駅 digital font

Now I will play around for a while with testing the overall look of it.
And after this post I will retreat to the dead crocheting topic with my blanket, because I think here people are not so interested in crocheting .
But something like this:

granny square blanket test 5


Crocheting the squares together is OK, I was more worried about the closure of the cover, if you get what I mean.
If I go for traditional amigurumi sewing approach I will make a sealed thing that can’t be opened anymore unless you cut from it. And as long as I like Kanji, I really don’t plan on making my 座布団 permanently locked in Kanji covers, so I guess I need to attach some sort of zipper? I guess I could achieve the same with buttons but it would look awkward? Gotta search internet for what to do.

Don’t worry, your last post has a lot of Kanji pictures so we should be fine.

I shall do the same.


I replied to you switching to a new “Crocheting Kanjis” topic and don’t know if that worked out.

Any crocheting lurkers are also welcome of course :upside_down_face:
It is fun!