Essays and Photos to Help You Learn Joyo Kanji


Hello! My name is Eve Kushner. I'm a writer in Berkeley, California. In a lifelong project, I am writing one essay about each of the 2,136 Joyo kanji, the written characters used in daily life in Japan. 

Each essay explains the etymology of the star kanji and shows how that character pops up in a wide range of words, from the most common to the most unusual and striking. Thanks to a team of insightful native speakers who supply me with fascinating information, I can give readers access to the deepest parts of the language and culture. 

These essays are like personality profiles that bring the characters to life. After all, kanji are as complex as humans! Joy o' Kanji essays reveal the character of the characters and the kanji (感じ) of the kanji (漢字)!

Packed with gorgeous photos of kanji and of the items they represent, each essay immerses you in the world of one kanji. This immersion is essential because when you understand deeply, you can remember much more easily.

The extremely affordable essays are downloadable in PDF format. The zingy magazine-style layout of the PDFs enhances the reading experience. You can download two free essays on our Join Us page (just look to the right!).

You never know where your study of kanji will lead.

This project sprang from my infinite curiosity about the written characters that Japanese people use every day. You may know me from my other kanji writing—my book Crazy for Kanji: A Student's Guide to the Wonderful World of Japanese Characters or my blog Kanji Curiosity, which I published on JapanesePod101.com from 2007 through 2010. To learn more about me and the whole Joy o' Kanji team, see Who We Are.

For a fuller sense of what Joy o' Kanji has to offer, check out the following sections of the site, which are all free except for JOKIA and Kanji Kaimono:

• To understand more about Joy o' Kanji: FAQ About JOK and Guide to the PDFs.

• To learn more about radicals: Radical Terms and Radical Notes.

• To deepen your understanding of kanji in general: Thematic Explorations, Further Resources, Ulrike's Mnemonics, the Games page, and the Glossary.

• To learn kanji through online photos that highlight one character: JOKIA (Joyo Kanji in Action) photo albums. They're quite inexpensive, but there's still a free album!

• To surround yourself with practical and beautiful items with kanji on them: Kanji Kaimono. It's on an auxiliary site where vendors from around the world sell everything from jewelry to art to books. You'll also find eight styles of Joy o' Kanji T-shirts there!