Kanji in Motion (KiM) is a program that lets you expand and refresh your kana and kanji skills in a game-like way. In particular, it trains the rapid recognition of characters and promotes reading speed. The data is based on the book Japanese Kanji and Kana. The program is available for Windows and macOS, a version for Android is in preparation. The price for the US version is 6.99 USD. There is a 14-day money-back guarantee, unless played for more than 120 minutes.
For more information please see the following overview or visit the STEAM website.
Kanji in Motion (KiM) is a program for learning to read, in a game-like way, the characters of the two sets of relatively simple Japanese phonetic characters known as hiragana and katakana (together, they are called kana), plus the 2,136 Chinese-like ideographic characters known as the Jōyō Kanji. The goal of the player-learner is to quickly identify and “capture” previously learned characters that move across a playing field.
This learning game can be played either as a game in itself or as learning reinforcement and review with the book Japanese Kanji and Kana (newly revised 2012).
The current version of the program runs under Windows and macOS.
Kanji textbooks do not fully prepare the learner for the many ways in which kanji confront us in today’s media. Why? Because when reviewing characters in a textbook, they always appear in the same sequence in which they were learned, with no variation in presentation.
As a result, it may take a moment of remembering to recognize a previously learned character when it pops up in an unfamiliar context, and sometimes writing disappears before it can be leisurely read: signs seen from a moving vehicle, subtitles in movies, captions and “crawlers” under video images, and karaoke lyrics – they all go by too fast to ponder over, much less look up.
That’s what makes it so valuable today to train yourself not just to grasp the readings and meanings of characters, but to do so with speed and facility.
And this is just the thinking behind Kanji in Motion (KiM): to have the player quickly recognize and “capture” already learned characters as they swirl around, in a playful approximation of the kind of text that flashes by everywhere in Japan.
The idea of the game
Five to ten characters freely chosen by the player or by random selection float around on a playing field, and the player uses the mouse to drag them to their romanization (kana) or their readings and meanings (kanji) along the edge of the field, all within a prescribed time limit. Any of three different time limits can be selected, according to the ability and reaction time of the player.
The data are based upon Japanese Kanji and Kana: A Complete Guide to the Japanese Writing System (newly revised 2012) by Wolfgang Hadamitzky and Mark Spahn. Included are the two phonetic character sets hiragana and katakana, with the pronunciation and romanization of each character, and the 2,136 Jōyō Kanji (Chinese ideographic characters), each given with one or two important readings (displayed in either kana or roman letters, as specified by the player) and meanings.
The selection of characters and how they are to be written is based on the official list of 2,136 kanji known as the Jōyō Kanji (“everyday-use kanji”). The sequence of the kanji is the same as in Japanese Kanji and Kana. The kana are arranged according to the Japanese alphabet Aiueo.
- Selection of five to ten characters per game, taken from one of the hiragana, katakana, or kanji tables.
- Selection of five to ten characters randomly, taken from one of the hiragana, katakana, or kanji tables.
- Selection of any of three time limits
- Automatic upgrading of level of difficulty upon successful repetition of characters selected randomly
- Immediate and automatic display of results for each round of play
- Help texts
- Turning background audio ON/OFF
Who is KiM for?
Beginners, intermediate students, and professionals alike can all benefit from KiM.
The simple rules of the game allow even a beginner to jump right in and get started, without having to read detailed instructions. And if any question arises, answers are offered in the textfiles Help and Glossary.
The characters can be learned and played with in the order in which they are presented: according to Japanese alphabetical order for the kana syllables, and mostly according to frequency and degree of difficulty for the kanji. The number of kanji readings and meanings is limited to two each, for sake of clear presentation and to avoid burdening the user with too much information all at once.
Advanced students and professionals
If you are already familiar with the characters and their most important readings and meanings and want to freshen up, test, and close gaps in your knowledge, or just want to play with the language, you can take a leisurely stroll through the kanji forest, or play through as many kanji as possible at top speed. The program offers almost unlimited possibilities with its settable degrees of difficulty and time limits for racing.