Results of last month’s user survey

Last month we ran a survey on our website to learn more about our users and gather your views on how to improve Kanji alive. We ran the survey for three weeks until we collected 100 anonymous responses.

Below are the full responses to each question. We’ll follow-up with a summary and discussion in a future post.


Q1. How long have you been studying Japanese?

how long studying japanese

Q2. If you are studying kanji using the kyōiku (“educational kanji”) lists, please indicate your approximate highest achieved grade level:

grade level

Q3. If you are preparing for the JLPT (“Japanese Language Proficiency Test”) exams, please indicate your approximate highest achieved grade level:


Study Methods

Q1. If you *regularly* use a Japanese textbook for studying kanji, please select it here (more than one selection is possible):


Under “Other” textbooks, the following answers were recorded:

  • Kodansha’s furigana /The Kanji Dictionary (Spahn, Hadamitzky)
  • Boku watashi no nihingo kyooshitsu (our university’s own textbook)
  • Kanji Kakitai
  • Assimil “Nihongo”
  • The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Conversational Japanese
  • Bunka shokyuu
  • Tobira
  • Only Kanji Alive
  • Michi (in Finnish)
  • A Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters
  • None in the meantime
  • Japanese in 90 days
  • A guide to remembering japanese characters
  • Kanji Look and Learn
  • Kanji Pictorial
  • “Mitamura: Let’s Learn Kanji” and “Kurosawa Williams: The Key to Kanji”

Q2. Please list any websites or online resources you *regularly* visit to help you study kanji (more than one selection is possible):


Under “Other” online resources, the following answers were recorded:

  • kanji+
  • Memrise
  • skritter readthekanji
  • Duke kanji
  • Jim Breen’s WWWJDIC
  • LANG-8
  • Finnish websites,
  • Kanji Damage
  • Kanji alive
  • Real Kana
  • kanji kreativ
  • Denshi jisho (
  • Kanji alive
  • tangorin
  • Japanese My Way (iPhone App), Kanji Renshuu (iPhone App)
  • Japandict
  • denshi jisho,

Q3. What is the *most valuable* feature of your preferred online resource?

  • simple, easy, understandable access for learners of japanese
  • It contains specific information and is easy to use.
  • none
  • fluent speakers to recommend materials and correct my mistakes.
  • Easy to use
  • Examples
  • Jukugo/ Compound words
  • I am still looking for one to help with readings, not just defin itions but onyomi and kunyomi
  • easy training
  • I really like that Denshi jisho provides stroke order within a grid/square so you know how to centre the kanji and where to place each stroke relative to the centre.
  • Spaced repetition
  • Kanji Alive’s “search by stroke #” feature – this helps me find kanji quicker and is pretty awesome.
  • jukugo
  • It offers more than one way to study a subject.
  • Free Downloadable PDF Documents so i can keep and review without always having to be online Free because, learning japanese (conversational) can be quite expensive and the added cost in learning kanji is just annoying
  • I can watch them writing it most of the time.
  • easy look up and referencing
  • Vocabulary words that include connotative meanings and similes
  • inclusive simple layout of the relevant information.
  • Having example sentences for kanji-compound words. This really helps you understand not just what the words mean, but also how they are used in specific situations and settings.
  • I like good reference materials, especially with solid scholarship behind the data. WWWJDIC is a great resource in terms of scope and searchability, but sometimes the data (some of which is user-contributed, I believe) seems a bit sketchy. For actually studying kanji, I am making my own Heisig-like dataset, plus I use Flashcards Deluxe on iOS. So, I use kanjialive as another resource to check some facts when working on my data. I especially like the hand-drawn character animations — I think they are some of the best available. Finally, for not-online kanji resources, I use Halpern’s NJECD and my trusty old Nelson (Classic), plus Heisig (sometimes, but again, I am making my own comparable dataset to replace it).
  • personalized study list
  • Denshi jisho – all information in one place, easy search Lang – 8 – actual use of kanji and language
  • Ease of use and reliability
  • stroke order videos
  • Kanji context exercises
  • Learning kanji by radical.
  • Memrise.
  • It contains all that I need
  • Easy to use, large database.
  • Multiple readings available
  • etymological explanations and mnemonic hints
  • able to recognise romaji
  • I can add Kanji compound words, which I want to study. During the study I have to write the word and the app tells me if it was correct (stroke recognition).
  • stroke order
  • Understanding kanji from understanding radicals as building blocks. As I use letters to build words in English. It may not be the best way but it does built on something I understand,
  • Audio pronunciations of words and step by step brush strokes.
  • Android app that allows it to be easily transported.
  • I find the instruction on the stroke order and direction of the strokes of Kanji on KanjiAlive very valuable.
  • What the kanji reads and the steps to write it.
  • kanjialive
  • Repetition
  • denshi jisho gives many readings, verb groups, and transitive/ intransitive distinction. sljfaq gives the ability to write kanji
  • Free for all
  • There are both desktop and mobile (iPhone, iPad) apps available that sync with the web app.
  • They are constantly introducing new interesting material in their podcasts, making it easier to listen, and motivating me to learn the underlying kanji. But they are weak on stroke order and any methodical mastering of kanji. The IOS app Kanji LS is better for this.

Kanji alive

Q1. How often have you used Kanji alive (

KA how often

Q2. What about Kanji alive do you find *most* useful? (more than one selection is possible):

KA most useful

Under “Other” useful features, the following answers were recorded:

  • None
  • Meanings in other languages than English ;-)
  • font style of kanji
  • It shows how kanji are written with a ballpoint pen or pencil.
  • Search by english meaning

Q3. What do you find least useful / most annoying about Kanji alive?

  • switching between onyomi and kunyomi requires typing again the word looked up
  • It takes a while to find what im looking for
  • The interface- last time I used it- it was a trail. There better resources out there that are free, like Memrise.
  • note enough Kanji listed
  • So far I haven’t found anything for readings rather than it just being listed.
  • no automatic switch from on yomi to kun yomi and vice versa for instance
  • I don’t find anything annoying about this site, but sometimes I prefer to use to see the kanji placed within a grid to get a better idea where each stroke is placed.
  • The load time, but considering the amount of kanji it searches through the load time is understandable.
  • Takes a while to load
  • Nothing found so far.
  • Most Useful – Specified Above Least Useful- The need to always be online to use the materials
  • You don’t have all of them :(.
  • I would like to be able to enter a kanji (copy paste) and look it up that way I would like to be able to save the kanji I am studying somewhere, so that I do not have to search for them all the time. It would be great If I could organize the kanji into groups, e.g. learning, learnt etc.
  • Most annoying = The Nelson numbers don’t correlate with certain editions of the Nelson Kanji Dictionary so I have to find them on my own Most Useful: Ability to look up kanji based on stroke order and pronunciation
  • That we do not have it yet for iPhone or iPad (yet)
  • slowness sometimes
  • Even though I have quicktime and flash installed, sometimes the animations do not work properly. Perhaps this is more of a problem with my computer. I do not really know to be honest.
  • In the latest interface, at least viewed with Safari 6.0 on Mac OS X 10.7, the search results are tiny.
  • i want to do about 20 kanji in grade 2 at a time
  • Cannot input non-hepburn reading for search (e.g. tuusin instead of tsuushin) Cannot search actual kanji.
  • If refreshed, the page loses selected features (how to search for the kanji). Also the mnemonic hints are often of no use.
  • That its iPad version is not already ready :(
  • Have to download it!
  • If you compare it to denshi jisho, the look-up by radical is pretty bad.
  • sometimes it is hard to find a kanji
  • A little clunky when first learning how to use it.
  • The hiragana for the kanji does not match the okurigana shown in the textbook from time to time, which I find confusing.
  • Sometimes the word that I am searching for is not there.
  • How it is slow with some computers.
  • It doesn’t give a full etymology of each word.
  • Inability to show translations of all examples together with the kanji and readings.
  • I have to be online to use it.

Q4. If you could add *any new feature you desired* to Kanji alive, what would it be?

  • more kanjis
  • Kanji alive is really helpful and interactive, but a quiz application should be a real benefit.
  • better graphics for typed/listed kanji because some of them come up in the search but look different when they are shown in the hand-stroke writing order
  • If anything, readings. If it is already there then I’m not seeing it. (No, not just listing it, but quizzes s:)
  • extend the number of kanji Many thanks to you. It’s a super learning tool.
  • Ability to type in hiragana/katakana when using the search by pronunciation feature.
  • Maybe example sentences? I’m not sure.
  • on readings in katakana and kun readings in hiragana eg. 毎朝 マイあさ
  • Adding the Kanjis for JLP tests. Adding to the books also the chapters to pick from or the free search would be neat.
  • Free PDF
  • Draw the kanji to search it, or add more kanji (like by adding higher grade levels).
  • Searching for Kanji directly Download it for online use (on a smartphone or a laptop) The saving mechanism described in question 9
  • A completre specifications of all the (sound, per Hiragana) readings of a given Kanji.
  • kanjis combination
  • Korean pronunciations for kanji. That way, I would be able to study in both English and Korean. This is quite a daunting task, but I feel it would be nice as it would make kanjialive a useful tool for not just English speakers.
  • Two, actually: (1) Please cover all Jouyou kanji!, and (2) Allow a search for a literal kanji (i.e., typed or pasted in). And thank you so much for continuing to work on this service!!! 本当にありがとうございます!
  • personal study list
  • Possibility to study the kanji in a spesific order (by grade or JLPT level).
  • My drawing the kanji synbols
  • I can’t really think of anything. It’s already great for learning stroke order and compounds, which is what I use it for.
  • Radical catalogue
  • To be able to draw the unknown kanji and have the program recognize and locate it.
  • I would like to be able to use it offline or at least to be able to access it with my smartphone
  • Random sorting, so you don’t always have to study the kanji in the same order
  • iPhone support
  • An English dictionary look up option of kanji for the times when I know the meaning of the word, but I just can’t place the kanji or I want to find alternate words I can use.
  • Show stroke order for compound words made of more than one Kanji instead of having to look each one up individually.
  • It may be interesting if the kanji could be displayed in several different types of handwriting so I could more easily recognize it in everyday usage.
  • Make it more of a denshi jisho.
  • Expanded definitions
  • full etymology of each word, plus verb group and transitivity
  • More search options: (1) Search by character (i.e. by typing the character using an input method available on my computer or by copying and pasting the character from elsewhere). (2) Multi-radical search (composing the character from “radicals”, i.e. components, not bushu in the traditional sense). (3) Combined kunyomi/onyomi search.
  • IOS app I can use while commuting via trains.

Please feel to use the comments section below if you didn’t have a chance to fill out the survey.

5 thoughts on “Results of last month’s user survey

  1. Ms Japanese

    There’s a big movement into language study lately. That’s why you get people trying to understand Japanese from watching Japanese videos. Thus there’s time spent on study methods. These are good times to be picking up languages.

  2. Yuki

    It would be great if you had all the Joyo Kanji and Kanji required to pass JLPT N1.
    Also, another good feature would be an example sentence with the compound words, since it’s hard to understand the context of each word or how and when it’s used (newspaper, conversation, literary etc.)

    1. Harumi Lory

      Hi Yuki,

      Thank you for your note and suggestions for improving Kanji alive.

      We recognize that with more kanji Kanji alive could become more useful to general users. However, we also recognize that there is a limit to the usefulness of a tool such as Kanji alive. For example, very advanced learners who have already mastered 1000 or more kanji no longer need to view kanji written stroke by stroke. It is beginners and intermediate level learners who will benefit most from Kanji alive. In large part for this reason, we decided to focus on supporting all of the “educational kanji” and all those used for the second level of the Japanese Proficiency Test. This represents 1235 kanji in all. You can read more about this decision in section 3 of Notes for Instructors.

      Concerning your wish for example sentences (others have requested this too), I’m happy to report that the next version of Kanji alive for the web (which will be ready this autumn) will include links from kanji in our app to Kenkyusha’s respected Luminous J-E dictionary. This will provide a direct link to further context and example sentences for all of the kanji in Kanji alive.

  3. DEi

    Too late to take the survey so I hope it’s OK to post my opinions/request here.

    Studying for N3.
    The mnemonic hints part of this website has been CRUCIAL for keeping the kanji in my head.
    The stroke order is also very useful.
    I wish the search textbox wasn’t so picky with the input. I find it only gives me a result when I have ONE kanji in there. Also, I can’t move the cursor with the keyboard. Ex. Say I’m typing in a compound word, like 実際, and I want to search for the second kanji. To do this, I need to re-position the cursor with the mouse and delete 実. A minor inconvenience but compounded at least 30 times a day, become a nuisance.
    Lastly, but I think MOST YEARNING is for a mobile version of this. I WOULD LOVE (and pay a reasonable amount) to have a version of this on my android phone for on-the-go- studying. Please please please do android before iphone. Everyone always takes so long to make a version for android.

    1. Arno Bosse Post author

      We’re aware that editing text in the search field is clumsy. It is possible to allow one to use the arrow/cursor keys in the search field but then these keys can’t also be used to scroll the sorted search results. But we plan to revisit this issue soon and may change the current behaviour. We’re also actively working on a mobile friendly version of the web app. When this is done, it should be possible to use Kanji alive on a large Android (or iPhone or Windows) smartphone or tablet. It’s not a perfect solution (a real mobile app would be much better) but it’s a first step. Thank you for your comments and feedback!


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