Asahi Kanji

Asahi Kanji (English) application for iOS (iPhone / iPod Touch / iPad)
and Asahi JLPT-N5
Japanese Kanji Radicals (bushu 部首) and elements

This document only describes the part of the application dedicated to radicals.
For a presentation of the whole application please see:

   Radicals and elements,
   the building blocks of kanji

A kanji can be very simple like 一 meaning 1 (one), but most of them consist of a combination of elements or components.

Knowing these basic elements will help you memorize complex kanji and distinguish visually similar ones by providing useful mnemonics.
How can you memorize a complex 18 stroke kanji like this one 繭 ?

Take it apart. It is made up of the basic components meaning “grass”, an “enclosure”, “thread” and “insect”.  The combination means a (silk) cocoon.
In the best cases, being able to recognize its basic elements can help you guess the meaning of a kanji you have never seen before.

Unfortunately kanji have evolved over time and for most of them there is no obvious relation between these building blocks and their meaning.
Sometimes only one element carries the meaning, another is a pronunciation clue and a third has been added for some obscure reason.

However you can always use these elements as mnemonics, especially when you have to distinguish similar looking characters like the following:
牲, 性, 姓
The element on the right 生 gives a clue on the on-yomi (Chinese reading), SEI or SHOU セイ、 ショウ
To distinguish these characters you will have to remember which element is associated with 生.

   What is the difference between « radicals » and « elements »?

« Radical » is usually used as a translation for 部首 (bushu), which are the 214 elements under which characters are traditionally listed in dictionaries.

In the Asahi Kanji application « elements » are other basic or primitive components which are not used for this purpose.
As they are very common, it is useful to know them too.
Here are a few examples:
マ ユ 乃 及 九 久 也 亡 五 井 元 品

Some radicals also have variants which can look like a « squeezed » version ( 金 → 釒) or be quite different ( 刀 →刂 ).

The list of 259 items titled « Radicals and elements » comprises all 214 radicals or bushu, 22 variants and 23 extra elements.
Variants and extra elements have been included in the drills.

12 complex bushu that never appear in the jōyō kanji have been rejected at the end of the list and are not included in the drills.

   About "Japanese names" and "meanings"

Please do not take these terms literally.


  • A scrolling list of 259 radicals, variants and elements.
    A tap on an item opens the corresponding flashcard.
    This list is used for navigation through the stack of cards.
  • A typical stack of flashcards .
  • Display can be toggled on and off for all panels (radical, variants if any, meaning, Japanese name, English name or mnemonics and sample kanji.
  • Four multiple choice drills radicals >> elements and elements >> radicals.
  • Possibility to mark known radicals in order to exclude them from the tests.
  • Encore!/Repeat (a stack of cards populated with the wrong answers from the tests)
  • Report displaying your score for each drill.

   The Radicals Flashcards / Review mode

Suggestion on how to use the flashcards:

Navigate through the stack with the scrolling list.
In the Flashcards panel hide the meanings and names and flip through the cards.
If you think you know the displayed radical, mark it as "known" with a touch on the +/- icon (toggle).
Radicals marked as "known" will be excluded from the drills, until you reset them to the "unknown" state, either individually or in a batch in the Settings panel.

Your choices will be saved in the database and you can safely turn off your device.

There are 259 cards in the database but some complex bushu which never appear in Jōyō kanji are not included in the tests.

Each card displays a radical, its variant(s) if any, its meaning or mnemonics, its Japanese name and Jōyō kanji examples.

You can toggle the visibility of items on the cards with a touch on the various panels.

   The drills or practice tests

There are two types of multiple choice questions or tests (MCQ).
2) The Radical >> Meaning MQC displays 1 radical and 4 sets of meanings from which to choose from.
3) The Meaning >> Radical MQC displays 1 meaning and ask you to choose the corresponding radical.

Whenever you make a mistake, you can have a look at the corresponding card with a touch on the eye icon.
You can do the same with the correct answer, display the corresponding card and mark the kanji as known if you wish to exclude it from future exercises.
You will be able to resume any interrupted exercise where you left it, even if it is killed by the system when it needs more memory.

   Encore! / Repeat

In the "Encore!/Repeat" stack, you will find radicals and elements you should concentrate on.

As you go through the drills, the program memorizes the wrong choices you made, together with the radicals you should have chosen.

The behavior of the cards is the same as in the Flashcards / Review stack : you will be able to hide or display the meanings and examples with a touch on the panels (toggle).

You can also mark radicals as "known" in order to exclude them from future drills, until you reset them to the "unknown" state.

The cards in the Encore stack are displayed in an endless loop, whether you use the Next or Previous buttons. Their order is randomized each time you open this activity.
The Reset button enables you to empty the Encore! stack of cards.


The Report screen is common to the kanji and radical drills. It is accessible from the top menu.

The Report screen displays the results of completed drills only.

In this version your scores are not saved automatically. If the application is killed by the system when it needs more memory for another task, the displayed data will be erased.
Therefore, if you wish to keep track of your progress, you must save your scores as an email message. Asahi Kanji will launch your default mail program and populate a message with your results.
You can save this message as a draft on your device or send it to yourself.

This application has no access to your address book and you will have to fill in the mailing address yourself.


In the Radicals Flashcards and Repeat drills you can mark or unmark cards as "known" with a tap on the +/- icon.
Cards marked as known are then excluded from future drills.

In this version "settings" are limited to resetting "known" radicals to the "unknown" state and emptying the Encore!/Repeat stack of cards.

After you reset the whole stack of cards to the "unknown" state, all radicals will again be included in the drills.

   iPad (all models)

The interface is more adapted to small devices like the iPhone and iPod Touch, as you can go through the exercises using only one hand.
On the other hand, tablets like the iPad offer the possibility to run the app in full-screen mode, which improves both legibility and readability.

    Memory management

You can leave an uncompleted drill and switch to another application. When you reopen Asahi Kanji you will be able to resume any unfinished drill where you have left it.

When a drill is completed it is automatically reinitialized when you return to the Top menu.

Please note that when cards are marked or unmarked as "known", unfinished drills are automatically reset, since the number of cards affects the scores and progress.

For a presentation of the whole application please see:

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