KM Scholar N4

JLPT N4 Kanji quick reference

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Parent 親, Younger Sister 妹, Elder Sister 姉, Employee 員, Master, Lord 主, Private, I 私

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Parent 親. Parents suggest, to see further first stand on a tree
Parent uses 見 'see' alongside 亲 which we can think of as combining 立 'stand' and 木 'tree'.
on and kun readings
親 (oya) parent, 親切 (shinsetsu) kind gentle
YouTube link 親

Younger sister 妹. Your younger sister is not yet a woman.
Younger sister naturally has 女 'woman' then combines it with 未 'not yet'.
on and kun readings
妹 (imouto) younger sister, 妹背 (imose) man and wife
YouTube link 妹

Elder sister 姉. The elder sister is the woman who goes to the market.
Elder sister has 女 'woman' combined with 市 'market'.
on and kun readings
姉 (ane) older sister, 姉妹 (shimai) sisters
YouTube link 姉

Employee 員. Employees have to 'clam up' about company secrets!
Employee gives 口 'mouth' along with 貝 'shellfish'.
on and kun readings
員数 (inzuu) quota, 会社員 (kaishain) employee
YouTube link 員

Master of the house or Lord 主. The master of the house is a king with just a drop of power.
Master of the house or Lord comes from 王 'King' just with an extra 丶 'dot' or 'drop'.
on and kun readings
主人 (shujin) house head, 主食 (shushoku) staple food
YouTube link 主

Private, I or Me 私. I keep my private wheat to myself.
I or Private uses 禾 'grain' or 'wheat' with ム 'myself' as 'an arm bent at the elbow'.
on and kun readings
私鉄 (shitetsu) private railway, 私用 (shiyou) personal use
YouTube link 私


Say 言, Think 思, Meeting 会, Wear, Arrive 着, Answer 答, Dwell 住, Pour, Concentrate 注, Drink 飲, Build 建, Question 問, Open 開, Power 力, Hold 持, Wait 待, Buy 買, Sell 売, Serve 仕, Stand up 立, Noise 音, Idea 意, Allowed 可, Cut 切, Research 究, Consider 考, Flavor 味, Borrow 借, Move 動, Rotate 転, Begin 始, Carry 運, Stop 止, Measure 計

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Say 言. As you say, your mouth sends out (3) sound waves.
Say which is very simple. It is like 舌 'tongue' which itself uses 口 'mouth'.
on and kun readings
言う (iu, itte ) to say
YouTube link 言

Think 思. I think my heart belongs in the rice fields.
Think uses 田 'rice field' and 心 'heart'.
on and kun readings
思う (omou, omotte) to think
YouTube link 思

Meeting 会. A meeting is two people gathering to introduce themselves.
Meeting uses 亼 for 'gather' or 'assemble' with two and 厶 'myself.
on and kun readings
会する (kaisuru, kaishite) to meet
YouTube link 会

Wear or Arrive 着. Pulling the wool over your eyes.
Wear is simply made from 羊 'sheep' with a displaced tail, and 目 'eye'.
on and kun readings
着る (kiru, kite) to wear
YouTube link 着

Answer, Reply or Solution 答. Bamboo that fits together gives the answer.
Answer uses a shortened form of 竹 'bamboo' with 合 'join'.
on and kun readings
答える (kotaeru, kotaete) to reply
YouTube link 答

Dwell or Reside 住. Who dwells here? The person who is master of the house.
Dwell appropriately combines the lefthand side version of 人'person' and 主 'master of the house'.
on and kun readings
住む (sumu, sunde) to dwell
YouTube link 住

Pour or Concentrate on 注. The lord and master of the house pours water from a candlestick.
Pour uses the left side version of 水 'water' with 主 'master of the house', looks like a 'candlestick'.
on and kun readings
注ぐ (sosogu, sosoide) to pour into
YouTube link 注

Drink 飲. When we lack food, we turn to drink.
Drink combines 食 'eat' with 欠 'lack' or 'yawn'.
on and kun readings
飲む (nomu, nonde) to drink
YouTube link 飲

Build 建. Brushes write plans which stretch into buildings.
Build combines the element 廴 'stretching' with 聿 'brush'.
on and kun readings
建つ (tatsu, tatte) to be built
YouTube link 建

Question 問. The gatekeeper opens his mouth to ask questions.
Question uses the 門 'gate' symbol along with 口 'mouth'.
on and kun readings
問い合わせる (toiawaseru, toiawasete) to inquire
YouTube link 問

Open 開. Use both hands to open a barred gate.
Open again uses 門 'gate' but this time with 廾 in its interpretation as 'two hands'.
on and kun readings
開ける (akeru, akete) to open (a door)
YouTube link 開

Power 力. A powerful plough with two sharp blades and a handle.
Power meanwhile is very simple, with some similarity to 刀 'sword'.
on and kun readings
力説 (rikisetsu - suru verb) to insist
YouTube link 力

Hold 持. Hold the temple with your left hand.
Hold uses 寺 'temple' (made from 土 'soil' and 寸 'measurement') with a form of 手 'hand'.
on and kun readings
持つ (motsu, motte) to hold
YouTube link 持

Wait 待. The best place to stop and wait is at the temple.
Wait uses 寺 'temple' with 彳 which we take using its meaning of 'stop and wait' as at a road junction.
on and kun readings
待つ (matsu, matte) to wait
YouTube link 待

Buy 買. Buy nothing from a shellfish with a funny eye.
Buy combines the symbol 貝 'shellfish' with a sideways 目 'eye'.
on and kun readings
買う (kau, katte) to buy
YouTube link 買

Sell 売. Samurai can sell to anybody, even a princess (a crown with human legs).
Sell has 士 'samurai' with 冖 crown and 儿 'human legs'.
on and kun readings
売る (uru, utte) to sell
YouTube link 売

Serve or Attend 仕. A person who is a samurai serves here.
Serve again uses 士 'samurai' along with ⺅ the lefthand side version of 人 'person'.
on and kun readings
仕える (tsukaeru, tsukaete) to serve
YouTube link 仕

Stand up or Erect 立. Standing up on both legs makes you appear large.
Stand up references 人 'person' and 大 'large', with a flat line at the base as 'ground'.
on and kun readings
立つ (tatsu, tatte) to stand up
YouTube link 立

Noise (sound)音. Try to stand on the sun - the noise is you screaming.
Noise is made from 立 'stand up' and 日 'sun'.
on and kun readings
音読 (ondoku - suru verb) to read aloud
YouTube link 音

Idea 意. For sound ideas, always listen to your heart.
Idea starts with 音 'noise' or 'sound' and adds the form of 心 'heart' that goes at the bottom.
on and kun readings
意気込む (ikigomu, ikigonde) to be eager
YouTube link 意

Allowed, Permitted or Can 可. They allow mouths to be nailed on this street.
Allowed combines 口 'mouth' and what we take as a variant of 丁 'street' or 'nail'.
on and kun readings
可決 (kaketsu - suru verb) to approve
YouTube link 可

Cut 切. Seven swords make for clean cuts.
Cut uses 刀 'sword' with a form of 七 'seven'.
on and kun readings
切る (kiru,kitte) to cut
YouTube link 切

Research 究. Do research by poking (nine) fingers into holes.
Research starts with 穴 'hole' or 'cave' combined with 九 'nine'.
on and kun readings
究明 (kyuumei - suru verb) to do investigation
YouTube link 究

Consider, Think 考. Old man leans on bent stick and considers his future.
Consider which has 耂 from 老 'old man' combined with 丂 'bent' (one of several meanings).
on and kun readings
考える (kangaeru, kangaete) to consider or think about
YouTube link 考

Flavor or Taste 味. It has not reached your mouth, but you can taste the flavor.
Flavor or Taste is a simple pairing of 口 'mouth' with the element 未 which means 'not yet'.
on and kun readings
味わう (ajiwau, ajiwatte) to taste
YouTube link 味

Borrow 借. A person in olden times had to borrow.
Borrow combines 人 'person' with 昔 'olden times' from 日 'sun' and a form of 廿 'twenty'.
on and kun readings
借りる (kariru, karite) to borrow
YouTube link 借

Move 動. To move something heavy needs power.
Move contains two others, 重 'heavy' and 力 'power'.
on and kun readings
動く (ugoku, ugoite) to move
YouTube link 動

Rotate or Revolve 転. Rotation comes when two cars mostly meet.
Rotate or Revolve contains 車 'car' while on the right we suggest the lower part of 会 'meeting'.
on and kun readings
転がる (korogaru, korogatte) to roll over
YouTube link 転

Begin or Start 始. A woman needs a platform to begin.
Begin or Start uses 女 'woman' along with the symbol that is 台 'platform'.
on and kun readings
始める (hajimeru, hajimete) to start
YouTube link 転

Carry 運. Carry everything like an army on the move.
Carry uses the 辶 'movement' element wrapped around 軍 'army' which is itself made up of a 'covered vehicle'.
on and kun readings
運ぶ (hakobu, hakonde) to carry, to transport
YouTube link 運

Stop 止. A stop sign has two posts with one pointing out.
Stop is a simple symbol which was once probably a drawing of a foot with one big toe and two small ones.
on and kun readings
止まる (tomaru, tomatte) to stop moving
YouTube link 止

Measure 計. Say it ten times to get the measure.
Measure uses the symbol 言 'say' with its 口 'mouth' and rising sound waves, along with a simple 十 'ten'.
on and kun readings
計る (hakaru, hakatte) to measure
YouTube link 計


These are just N4 but for fuller treatment see dedicated site

Bright 明, Heavy 重, Early 早, Near 近, New 新, Old 古, Bad 悪, Cheap 安, Peaceful 安, Empty 空, Blue 青, Special 特, Many 多, Pleasurable (Music) 楽, Wide 広, Correct 正

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Bright 明. Why is it so bright? Because you can see both the sun and the moon.
Bright contains 日 'sun' and 月 'moon'.
on and kun readings
明朗 meirou (na adj) cheerful, 明らか akiraka (na) bright
YouTube link 明

Heavy or Pile up 重. A double wheeled vehicle can carry heavy loads.
Heavy is remembered by reference to similar symbol 車 'car'.
on and kun readings
重い omoi (i adj) heavy, 重力 (juuryoku) gravity
YouTube link 重

Early 早. Set an early trend, pin a sunflower to your top.
Early we have 日 'sun', this time with 十 read as a 'needle'.
on and kun readings
早い hayai (i adj) early, 早速 (sassoku) at once
YouTube link 早

Near 近. Near enough to be hit by an axe.
Near wraps 斤 'axe' with the symbol for ⻌ 'movement'.
on and kun readings
近い chikai (i adj) near, 近代 (kindai) present day
YouTube link 近

New 新. To start a new cabin, stand by a tree with an axe.
New we see as 斤 'axe' with 立 'stand' over a form of 木 'tree'.
on and kun readings
新しい atarashii (i adj) new, 新聞 (shinbun) newspaper
YouTube link 新

Old 古. Ten mouths to feed would make you feel old
Old combines 十 'ten' with 口 'mouth'.
on and kun readings
古い furui (i adj) - old, 古風 kofuu (na adj) old-fashioned
YouTube link 古

Bad 悪. It is bad for your heart to be under Asia.
Bad is made from 心 'heart' with a symbol which is most often seen being used for 亜 'Asia'.
on and kun readings
悪い warui (i adj) bad, poor, evil
YouTube link 悪

Cheap or Peaceful 安. A cheap crown does not make a woman a queen.
Cheap combines 女 'woman' with 宀 which can be 'shaped crown' or 'roof'.
on and kun readings
安い yasui (i adj) cheap, peaceful
YouTube link 安

Empty, Sky 空. All craftspeople love an empty cave.
Empty is made from 穴 'hole' or 'cave' above 工 'craft' as in 'craftsperson' or 'construction'.
on and kun readings
真空 shinkuu (na adj) empty
YouTube link 空

Blue 青. Once in a blue moon, the barley shoots appear.
Blue has 月 'moon' with 龶 that extends 土 'soil' to give us what we call 'barley shoots'.
on and kun readings
青い aoi (i adj)
YouTube link 青

Special 特. They are special cows at the temple.
Special combines the 寺 'temple' symbol with the one for 牛 'cow'.
on and kun readings
特別 tokubetsu (na adj) special
YouTube link 特

Many 多. Double evenings make many moons.
Many is simply two 夕 'evening' symbols, a form of 月 'moon'.
on and kun readings
多い ooi (i adj) many, 多岐 taki (na adj) diverse
YouTube link 多

Pleasurable or Music 楽. Four sparks of white above a tree inspire music.
Pleasurable or Music has a 木 'tree' underneath the colour 白 'white' with four added sparks.
on and kun readings
楽しい tanoshii (i adj) fun, 楽 raku (na adj) comfortable
YouTube link 楽

Wide 広. This cliff is where I have to spread myself wide.
Wide has 广 'stony cliff' (stony because of the dot on top) with ム which we call 'myself'.
on and kun readings
広い hiroi (i adj) wide, 広大 koudai (na adj) vast
YouTube link 広

Correct 正. It is correct to stop below the line.
Correct can be thought of as combining 止 'stop' with a line as in the symbol for 一 'one'.
on and kun readings
正しい tadashii (i adj) correct, 正 masa (na adj) exact
YouTube link 正


Ocean 洋, Road 道, Platform 台, House 家, Town 町, Substance 質, World 界, Generation 世, Character 字, Company 社, Ground 地, Thing 物, Eye 目

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Ocean 洋 [N4]. Sheep love water, particularly the ocean
Ocean has 氵the abbreviated symbol for 水 'water' combined with 羊 'sheep'.
on and kun readings
洋 (you) ocean, 洋服 (youfuku) western clothes
YouTube link 洋

Road 道. Roads are where you put your neck on the line
Road uses the ⻌ 'movement' element along with 首 'neck'.
on and kun readings
道 (michi) road, 道路 (douro) road
YouTube link 道

Platform or Pedestal 台. Bend my arm on a platform for a mouth
Platform has 口 'mouth' and 厶 'myself' which here is thought of as an arm bent at the elbow.
on and kun readings
台所 (daidokoro) kitchen, 台風 (taifuu) typhoon
YouTube link 台

House 家. You can feel at home with a pig.
House is where you keep a 豕 'pig' under a 宀 'roof', sometimes called a 'shaped crown'.
on and kun readings
家族 (kazoku) family, 家事 (kaji) housework
YouTube link 家

Town 町. A town has a rice field and a sign nailed to a post.
Town has a simple 田 'rice field' alongside the element we call here a 丁 'nail'.
on and kun readings
町 (machi) town, 町民 (choumin) townspeople
YouTube link 町

Substance 質. It takes two sharp blades to open shellfish.
Substance starts with 貝 'shellfish' that are then opened with a pair of 斤 'axes'.
on and kun readings
質問 (shitsumon) question, 実質 (jisshitsu) substance
YouTube link 質

World 界. As the person responsible for a rice field, it becomes your world.
World combines the familiar 田 'rice field' with the more difficult 介 which we term 'person involved'.
on and kun readings
世界 (sekai) world, 界隈 (kaiwai) vicinity
YouTube link 界

Generation 世. Each generation pushes the swing for the next.
Generation was once made from three 十 'tens' to signify thirty years, but looks like a swing.
on and kun readings
世界 (sekai) world, 世代 (sedai) generation
YouTube link 世

Character 字. You name your newborn child under your own roof using Japanese characters.
Character is made simply from 子 'child' and 宀 'roof', which we also call a 'shaped crown'.
on and kun readings
字引 (jibiki) dictionary, 字幕 (jimaku) subtitles
YouTube link 字

Company 社. Gather at the mound of soil to worship at the company altar.
Company has 土 'earth' or 'pile of soil' alongside 礻 which we take as 'altar'.
on and kun readings
会社 (kaisha) company, 社会 (shakai) society
YouTube link 社

Ground 地. This ground is the very soil where Shakespeare walked.
Ground uses 土 'earth' or 'pile of soil' with 也 with a 'to be' Shakespeare reference phrase.
on and kun readings
地 (tsuchi) ground or earth, 地図 (chizu) map
YouTube link 地

Thing 物. That thing must not be a cow!
Thing combines 牛 'cow' with a symbol we know as 'must not' 勿.
on and kun readings
YouTube link 物

Eye 目. Eye see three areas - eyelid, pupil, eyelid.
Eye is simple if you remember there are three divisions.
on and kun readings
YouTube link 目

Time and Place

Spring 春, Morning 朝, Evening 夕, Week 週

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Springtime or Spring 春. Three people enjoy the sun in Spring.
Springtime has 日 'sun' with 𡗗 which we call 'three people' as being 三 'three' and 人 'person'.
on and kun readings
春秋 (shunjuu) spring & autumn, 春休み (haruyasumi) spring break
YouTube link 春

Morning 朝. As the moon fades, needles of rain fall early in the morning.
Morning has 月 'moon' with 早 'early' and 十 'needle' (or 'ten').
on and kun readings
朝 (asa) morning, 朝食 (choushoku) breakfast
YouTube link 朝

Evening 夕. In the evening the lower part of the moon is invisible.
Evening is related to 月 'moon' but part of it is missing!
on and kun readings
夕方 (yuugata) evening, 夕飯 (yuuhan) evening meal
YouTube link 夕

Week 週. Each week is a movement along the perimeter of the race track of life.
Week combines ⻌ 'movement' with 周 'perimeter' or 'circumference'.
on and kun readings
週間 (shuukan) week, 週末 (shuumatsu) weekend
YouTube link 週

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[1] Kanji have evolved over a long period. Their original forms are usually very different from their modern ones, and the original meanings are often based on aspects of culture that nowadays have little relevance. This means that almost every aspect of a Kanji invites argument among experts.

[2] The Kanji Memories descriptions above and elsewhere are therefore entirely aimed at aiding recognition of Kanji for students. They are not intended for use for any other purpose, and students are recommended to study more scholarly works to gain a fuller understanding of Kanji origin and evolution.

Comments to: info (at) please.

Above N4: 言思会着答住 注飲建問開力 持待買売音意 仕味借考

Reference N4: 使, 動, 去, 始, 帰, 急, 教, 死, 習, 赤, 走, 起, 転, 集, 飯

N4. to do
事, 仕, 使, 代, 写, 公, 写, 別, 力, 勉,
動, 医, 去, 同, 味, 品, 員, 問, 場, 工,
度, 建, 手, 教, 旅, 族, 昼, 歌, 歩
海, 漢, 犬, 理, 用, 田, 町, 知, 秋, 紙, 終,
者, 肉, 自, 色, 花, 英, 走, 足, 黒.

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