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What is K-Flash?

K-Flash is a flashcard program for Windows that teaches anyone from beginners to experienced learners the meanings of kanji—a set of characters used to write Japanese. It does this efficiently by breaking down kanji into discrete elements (building blocks), and providing a mnemonic phrase (memory aid) based on those elements that includes the kanji's meanings. K-Flash's "disciplined" system of mnemonics, focused interface, and speed of control provide a powerful tool for remembering the meanings of the kanji over long periods of time. 


Short, easy-to-remember mnemonic phrases

A mnemonic phrase should never be harder to memorize than the kanji itself! K-Flash's "disciplined" mnemonic phrases were crafted systematically so that the learner can reconstruct them if their memory fails. How?
  • Unless otherwise noted, the words in the phrase always match the stroke order;
  • The meanings are always on the end; and
  • "Filler" words (ones that do not correspond to the kanji's element or meanings) are kept to a strict minimum.

For example, compare the mnemonics for the kanji  'stop.' Which one might you more easily remember three months from now?

Kanji K-Flash Other Method
 'stop' Isami at the pavilion STOPS [He] stops that unreliable guy who, with a Mexican hat, a big mouth, and a tutu, wants to open another bottle to keep the party going.

Unique, cumulative ordering leverages previously-learned kanji

The typical order in which kanji are taught is advantageous because it based on prevalence—the most often used kanji are taught first. However, it is not a cumulative ordering; that is, kanji acting as components of other kanji are not necessarily taught before those other kanji. But why learn the word "abacus" before learning the letters a, b, and c? K-Flash starts with the standard ordering, and makes adjustments where necessary to ensure that it is also cumulative.

Standard order First learn , then learn , and finally learn 
K-Flash order First learn , then learn , and finally learn 

Optimized for learning the meanings, also includes readings

Several methods agree on at least one point: that you should learn the meanings first, before the readings and other information. The meanings are K-Flash's specialty, but when it's time for the readings, K-Flash still has you covered. Just switch to "Big readings" and even shrink the main window (as shown) to maximize focus. 


Learn stroke order almost automatically

Once you learn the basic rules of stroke order (top before bottom, left before right, etc.), it's mostly just a matter of knowing the order of the elements in the kanji. With K-Flash, you learn that automatically when you learn the meanings, because the elements and corresponding words in the mnemonic phrases appear in stroke order (exceptions noted).

stroke_order    The four elements of the kanji 潔 'clean, pure' appear in stroke order from left to right

Uncluttered screen helps you focus on one thing at a time

When it comes to learning the meanings of kanji, some methods offer too much of a good thing. For reference purposes, the more information the better. But for memorization purposes, simplicity is key. K-Flash shows you exactly what you need to know to remember the kanji—nothing more, nothing less. 

Other Methods

Extraneous information can be useful for reference, but distracts from focus on the meanings.


Attention flows naturally from the kanji to its meanings. If desired, any piece of information can be hidden for even greater focus.


Fast controls, fast response—no waiting for slow-flipping cards

With over 2,000 kanji to learn, the last thing you need is a tool that drags you down. K-Flash puts the flash back into flashcards by responding almost instantly to your mouse clicks1. And for super-speed, be sure to try the keyboard shortcuts!

1. Performance varies depending on PC speed.

Includes all of the 2,136 Joyo Kanji

In 2010, the Japanese government updated the list of general-use characters ("Joyo Kanji"), bringing the total number from 1,946 to 2,136. K-Flash gives you all of them, plus extra cards to learn the elements. 
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