The Japanese Alphabet Study Guide now available in the app store!

View in iTunes

Here's a quick tutorial on how to use it (or you can just look at the screenshots)!

Syllabary Selection

In order to begin, you must select an alphabet/syllabary to learn. If you're new to Japanese, you'll want to start with Hiragana, move on to Katakana, and finally Kanji.

Kana Group Selection

Because Katakana and Hiragana are classified in the same way (Kana), selecting either one (Katakana or Hiragana) will present you with four options: Gojuuon, Dakuten & Handakuten, Youon and All (All three). Beginners will want to start with Gojuuon, because these are the standard characters and are the basis for the other two, Dakuten & Handukten and Youon.

Study Mode Selection

After making your "study set" selection, you will be presented with four more options: "Learn", "Flashcards", "Multiple Choice" and "Browse".

Kana Learning

"Learn" will guide you through the characters in your "study set" selection and show you how to pronounce the various characters you will encounter.

Kana Study Cards

"Flashcards" is a classic flashcard mode in which you will be presented with a character cue and then be expected to test yourself on the answer. Tapping the arrow in the upper right corner of the card will flip it over, displaying the answer. You will be prompted to indicate whether or not you guessed correctly.

As you answer cards correctly (or otherwise), they will be re-organized each time so that cards you already know, will automatically be moved to the back of the "deck". This way, cards you struggle with, will always be the first to be tested.

Multiple Choice Mode

"Multiple Choice" is exactly what it sounds like. You will be presented with a pronunciation cue and will be expected to select the card that matches the cue given.

Retest Missed

Upon completing either "Multiple Choice" or "Flashcards", you will be given the option to do a quick retest of the cards/cues you missed. Flashcards that were "skipped" (i.e. you did not indicate whether or not you answered correctly) will be marked as "correct", but they will not be moved up or down (i.e. re-shuffled) in the deck. So you will see them in the same order on subsequent attempts.

Browse Mode

"Browse" is merely a listing of the characters in the selected "study deck", allowing you to "browse" around. Selecting a character will show you more information about that particular character.

Syllabary Selection

Now, let's look at the alphabet/syllabary selection screen again.

Kanji Group Selection

If you choose "Kanji" from the alphabet/syllabary selection screen, you will be able to choose a kanji ordering (JLPT or Jouyou). You will learn the same characters, but in a different order. Jouyou Kanji is ordered/taught in the same order that one would learn them in the Japanese school system.

JLPT Selection

Selecting JLPT Kanji will present you with a selection ranging from N5 (easy) to N1 (difficult). These sets are a grouping of Kanji that are likely to be tested at each particular level. Please note that these are not official groupings of any kind and are not guaranteed to be present on any test you may be study for.

Jouyou Selection

Selecting Jouyou Kanji will present you with a selection ranging from Grade 1 (easy) to High School (difficult). These sets are a grouping of Kanji that are likely to be taught in each grade, respectively.

Study Mode Selection

As was the case with the Kana study sets, after making your "study set" selection, you will be presented with four more options: "Learn", "Flashcards", "Multiple Choice" and "Browse". These work in exactly the same way as they do with the Kana, but with a fiew differences.

Kanji Learning

"Learn" and "Flashcards" work in the same way, but the character detail "views" are a bit different.

Sample Kanji Usage

When studying Kanji, you have the option to view "sample usage" for any particular kanji by tapping on the blue "detail disclosure" arrow. This will take you to a list showing sample words with the readings in parentheses and the meanings directly beneath each example.

Kanji Learning

Additionally, when studying Kanji you have the option of adding any Kanji to a custom "Favorites" study set. Tapping on the heart icon in the lower right corner will prompt you to create a new "Favorites" list or allow you to add the Kanji to an existing list. There is no limit on lists or list items.

"Favorites" lists are accessed by tapping on the "Favorites" icon at the bottom of the screen. You can study items in your "Favorites" lists in the same way you study any other study set - by selecting "Learn", "Flashcards", "Multiple Choice" or "Browse". You can even add "Favorites" from within a list to "Favorites" in another.

Kanji Learning Mode Selection

"Multiple Choice" also works in the same way as it does with the Kana, but you will need specify whether you would like to concentrate on Kanji readings (onyomi/kunyomi) or Kanji meanings.

Syllabary Selection

Let's take a look at a couple of the other icons on the bottom: "Search" and "Stats".

Kanji Search

"Search" allows you to search through the Kanji in the app by Kanji or meaning (i.e. "fish"). You can add any item in the Kanji search results to "Favorites" lists for later study.

Study Statistics

"Stats" is merely a breakdown of your progress through the various pre-programmed study sets. The stats are synchronized across categories and are updated as you go through study lists (i.e. "real-time"). Keep in mind that accessing this particular screen may be slow due to the fact that the numbers are re-calculated (i.e., "crunched") every time you access it.

It is important to mention that the values can decrease. For example, if you have "mastered" Hiragana (i.e. 100%) and you study it again via "Multiple Choice" or "Flashcards", incorrect answers will lower your percentage and indicate that these cards need to be re-learned. Make sense?

Whew! That's a lot of information! In conclusion, I hope you enjoy using this program as much as I enjoyed putting it together. If it turns out that it isn't what you were expecting it to be, I'm going to apologize up front and say: "I'm sorry to hear that I was unable to meet your needs. Perhaps I can improve your experience in a future update. In any case, thank you very much for at least giving me a chance". Enjoy!

App Features

  • "Learn" mode to study and review the characters you know (or don't)
  • Spaced repetition "Flashcards" and "Multiple Choice" modes for quizzing yourself
  • "Browse" mode, for those times you just want to look around
  • "Stats" section that shows your progress through each study set
  • Custom study sets (Favorites) for creating your own lists
  • Pronunciation audio for ALL hiragana/katakana
  • Stroke order for each individual hiragana/katakana character (gojuuon)
  • Kanji search: search by kanji or meaning, and add them to study lists
  • JLPT and Jouyou Kanji lists
  • Sample words for all kanji
  • Completely offline, no network connection required to study
  • High resolution graphics for iPhone 4 retina display

App Credits

  • All application programming and design provided by Ronald Timoshenko -
Tae Kim's Guide to Learning Japanese App