Saturday, July 2, 2011

New Site

This blog is not maintained - it was only intended as a temporary stop-gap until I set up a proper support forum. I've been giving support via email but I will be phasing that out so that other users can get the explanation, not just the person who asked me the question.

From now on, all support will be at this site:

If you are directed here by old versions of the program, please bookmark the new site. The latest version is 2.912, and you should upgrade if you are using any older release.



Sunday, June 26, 2011

Radicals - Sneak Peek

Hi Beta Testers,

The radical-feature is nearly complete, but has not been tested on a naive computer. It relies on a specific radical-capable font, Code2000, which will need to be installed prior to use. The program should take care of the details, but there are bound to be a couple of problems to sort out when tried on different systems.

If you are prepared to test what might be a rough version, the download link is here. Please report any problems. This is version 2.749, and the debugged version will be 2.75.

If you need the Code2000 font, and cannot get it automatically within the program or manually from the Cerebware site, another link is here.

This version still contains a couple of minor faults that are on my to-do list:
- a couple of kanji need to have their vectors tidied up because of unwanted intersections
- the RTK keyword needs to be added during MCQ testing
- the filename of newly-opened text files in the Text Editor needs to be updated
- the backup of the main vocab file needs to be fine-tuned, which is only a problem if you are changing filenames

One feature, the 'learner profile', has been partially introduced. The GUI features have been created but, in this version, do not yet modify the actual learnng settings. This will be sorted out in version 2.76.

If you find other problems with this version, please report them below.



Saturday, June 25, 2011

Reviewing/Remembering the Kanji (RTK) Links
Some of you are already using this site for extra information about the kanji you are learning. One of the best features of this site is the shared 'stories' or mnemonics, which are ranked by other users of the site so you can quickly find the popular ones. Registration is free, so you might as well join.

Within the Kanji Sketch Pad, the Internet button offers you a chance to get to the stories for your current kanji with a single mouse click. First you need to add the site to your list of sites within the file KanjiWebsites.txt. (In fact, the address is already there - all you have to do is removed the angled brackets to activate the link. The reason I've added this step is that registration at koohii is necessary before using the site.). Then you can cut and paste your favourite stories straight into the Kanji Sketch Pad.

RTK Reviews
While browsing, I have also come across a couple of reviews of the RTK method. These reviews don't refer to the Kanji Sketch Pad, but do describe many of the ideas behind the KSP approach. If you are just starting out, and find the idea of learning 2000 kanji daunting, these reviews might help you decide on the method that suits you...

Review 1
Review 2

5 Biggest Mistakes
You might find this link interesting, too. Are you making any of these mistakes? Does the Kanji Sketch Pad encourage any of these mistakes? Do you even agree with the list?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Last known stable version - 2.742

So far, reports on Version 2.742 indicate that it is stable, with very few stalls or glitches. No doubt it does have some minor problems, but I am going to leave a link to it here in case future versions cause people trouble.

Known Issues:
- a couple of kanji need to have their vectors tidied up because of unwanted intersections
- the RTK keyword needs to be added during MCQ testing
- the filename of newly-opened text files in the Text Editor needs to be updated
- the backup of the main vocab file needs to be fine-tuned, which is only a problem if you are changing filenames

You can get a copy here.


Version 2.75 introduces radicals - when each kanji is introduced, the component radicals will be displayed at the bottom of the mnemonic window. Hovering over those radicals will display their names. Clicking on any of those radicals will cause the browser to open up to this post. If the radicals are also kanji in their own right, then the relevent page from will be loaded as well. Clicking on the radical button will open a small window displaying the kanji, its radicals, and the names of the radicals in Japanese and English.

Please coment below this post to report any mistakes you find in the radical list for any kanji, or to request the addition of new radicals.

Later versions will link each radical to a more specific page dedicated to that radical, as well as to a more general tutorial on radicals and how they can be used, so in many ways this post is a temporary placeholder.

Please send me an email if you would like to test the radical feature before I release it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Version 2.74

This version fixes the known bugs in 2.73 and 2.72, but may still have minor issues.

Download here. (

Please report any new problems.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Version 2.72 available - now 2.73

Version 2.72 is NO LONGER available from the main Cerebware website, but 2.73 is available via Softpedia, and will soon be available Cerebware as well.

Licences for the full version are FREE if you are prepared to be a beta tester - just send me your user number.

Version 2.72 added a new list view, a new usage-preferences dialog, grid-lines on right-clicking a blank page, undo facilities in the text editor (Ctrl-Z or Shift-Ctrl-Z) and a few other minor enhancements. Details to follow.

Version 2.73 added one round of bug fixes, but not enough! Version 2.74 will be a bug-fix release, hopefully in the next couple of days.The only new feature is a modification of the 'Claim' button so that you can declare a known item to be easy, which has the effect of increasing its review interval.

Version 2.75 will start to add radical/primitive information for each kanji.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

List View

Version 2.72 is nearly ready for testing.

It offers a few new features, one of which is an improved List view...

Within this window, it is possible to import individual items to specific locations (above or below the currently selected item, as shown with the horizontal black arrow). Items can be moved up or down the list (curved arrows), or cut and then pasted in a new location (the scissors). Clicking on the left-most button switches to the standard vocab management window where you can import multiple items at once from a .lst file.

The search function (magnifying glass) allows you to find items within your list by typing any part of the item. If the first item found is not the one you want, click it again.

Please report any bugs you find.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bugs in 2.69 - 2.72

 Please report any bugs or feature-requests in versions 2.69 to 2.72 as comments here. You could email me if you prefer, but it could be worth getting the views of other users.

Please note that licences for the full version are still free for beta testers so, if you are prepared to give feedback, just send me your user number for a free licence.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

MCQ Window

There is a feature of the MCQ window that is worth knowing, but is poorly documented, and until I put some context-sensitive tips within the program, I thought I'd spell it out here...

The MCQ window pauses after showing you the answer, so you can study the answer an commit it to memory. It goes away eventually, but it is quite slow.

If you want to get rid of it immediately, just click the answer again.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Version 2.68

Version 2.68 is available for testing, but might be a bit rough. When it is stable and bug-free, I will release it to the public but I would prefer it if a few users tested it out first, if anyone is willing.

Please email me for a download link.

Amongst other improvements, it has two new graphing modes to show you your progress and the state of your memory model. Just click on the main graph to cycle through the other graphs.

If you find any bugs, please just post them here as a comment.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Progress Report

Hi everyone,

There has not been a new release in a little while but that merely reflects the fact that I'm currently going through the Henshall list of 1,945 kanji, making sure that the kanji are in the correct sequence and checking the definitions for duplicates. This work should be finished in a couple of days.

Meanwhile, I have kanji lists for 'Reviewing the Kanji' (RTK) and also the KanjiDamage website, which will be made available for people studying from those sources.

A new feature of the upcoming version is that the RTK keyword will be displayed alongside the current Henshall-supplied or user-supplied definitions, to help disambiguating duplicates. Another new feature is a duplicate-cleanup tool that will flag (and remove if necessary) duplicated kanji and allow modification of duplicate keywords. This is very helpful for cases where the original Henshall definitions have more than one kanji for, say, 'child' or 'village'. One great advantage of learning the RTK keywords is that they are guaranteed to be unique, with exactly one kanji per keyword and vice versa.

Finally, I have added another new feature that makes life a bit easier when you are attempting complex kanji. If you get five strokes in a row correct, then you get an error credit, which shows up as a blue square below the drawing page. Your first error cancels out one credit, and so on. This means you won't be penalised if, in a 19-stroke kanji, your hand slips and you draw one line too short. It does mean that an occasional kanji is marked as known where you didn't quite know all the strokes, but you do still have to redraw wrong strokes so your knowledge will move forward. Your time is better spent learning new kanji than getting every stroke 100% perfect.

I found this last feature very useful when I was trying to catch up from a position that was 80+ kanji behind my target of 50 kanji per week. I'm now at 350+ kanji, ten ahead of target, despite taking a couple of weeks of to program.

There are also some improvements to the beginner-friendly IME, which will be the subject of another post.

Please continue to report any bugs, preferably here but by private email if you prefer.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Kanji Vectors That Need Fixing

The following kanji have issues with unwanted or awkward intersections:

聞 : hear
原 : plain ; field ; origin
弟 : younger brother

They can still be drawn but the second stroke of the 'ear' radical and the second stroke of 'field' have to be started right on the line before; you'll almost certainly pick up an error dot or two. The last stroke of younger brother starts on the line.

These will be fixed in the next version.

Please report any other oddities in the vector data.

PS.原 : plain ; field ; origin  and 弟 : younger brother are actually okay - they were affected by a rounding error, rather than a faulty vector set. The problem with 聞 is that the second last stroke must cross the vertical, not just start near it. This will be fixed in the new vector data set.

Bug Reports 2.6x

Please add a comment here if you find a bug.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Text Editor

The Kanji Sketch Pad now has a built in Text Editor and although it still needs a couple of refinements it is a handy way to write kanji before you know how they are pronounced.

Version 2.62 allows you to specify the font for kanji, kana and English - this is accessible through the Usage Preferences, because it primarily affects the appearance of the Usage pop-ups. The same fonts are used in the Text Editor. The kanji are coloured to make them easier to find when scanning though a long list.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Gotta agree with this

Stumbled across this page, and agree with the sentiment. You should own Japanese books before you can read them. Even though the Sketch Pad is built around memorising kanji in isolation, it should be followed up as soon as possible with actual attempts to decode Japanese text.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Version 2.6 ready

Beta version 2.6 is ready for testing. It works well on my system but it has not been extensively tested so I am not releasing it for general use just yet. Please contact me if you are prepared to put it through its paces looking for problems.

A sneak preview of new features:

  • Comes with a built in text editor for writing your own lists or writing a short note in Japanese using Cerebware's beginner-friendly input method. Type [water] for 水, for instance, as explained here.
  • Allows you to add mnemonic pictures for any kanji, not just when preparing the initial list but at any later time.
  • New start-up screen with the ability to modify your target, resort your vocabulary, or import a number of differently arranged kanji lists.

Note that it is recommended that you make a backup copy of your vocab file (KanjiPad.voc) and put it in a safe place prior to testing any new release.

P.S. After some useful feedback, a few changes have been made. They are incorporated into Version beta 2.61.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Changes to the Joyo Kanji

Many kanji lists in cyberspace still only show the 1,945 kanji that were on the official list for many years. Recently, several new kanji were added and 5 kanji were removed.

The new kanji are listed here. (

 They will be offered as a separate importable list for those who already have their preferred list of the original 1945 and just want to make it complete.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Obento Sequence

A popular Japanese textbook series in Australia is the Obento series. A kanji list can be found in Part D of the following Word Document (Obento Course Summary ) and is reproduced below:

One virtue of this sequence is that it offers a graded increase in number of strokes, and hence difficulty. Version 2.6 will offer this list as a start-up option but if anyone wants this list now, please let me know.

1    一
2    七
3    九
4    二
5    人
6    入
7    八
8    十
9    万
10    三
11    上
12    下
13    千
14    口
15    土
16    夕
17    大
18    女
19    子
20    小
21    山
22    川
23    才
24    々
25    中
26    五
27    今
28    元
29    公
30    六
31    内
32    円
33    分
34    化
35    区
36    午
37    友
38    天
39    少
40    心
41    手
42    文
43    方
44    日
45    月
46    木
47    止
48    水
49    火
50    父
51    牛
52    犬
53    仕
54    兄
55    冬
56    出
57    北
58    半
59    去
60    古
61    右
62    四
63    外
64    左
65    市
66    広
67    本
68    正
69    母
70    生
71    田
72    白
73    目
74    立
75    休
76    会
77    先
78    全
79    同
80    名
81    地
82    多
83    好
84    字
85    安
86    寺
87    州
88    年
89    早
90    有
91    次
92    毎
93    気
94    百
95    耳
96    肉
97    自
98    色
99    行
100    西
101    近
102    住
103    体
104    何
105    作
106    売
107    弟
108    来
109    男
110    町
111    社
112    私
113    花
114    見
115    言
116    赤
117    足
118    車
119    近
120    事
121    京
122    使
123    和
124    国
125    夜
126    妹
127    姉
128    始
129    学
130    店
131    所
132    明
133    東
134    林
135    歩
136    泊
137    物
138    知
139    空
140    英
141    金
142    長
143    雨
144    青
145    乗
146    前
147    南
148    室
149    屋
150    待
151    後
152    思
153    急
154    持
155    春
156    昼
157    洋
158    洗
159    活
160    海
161    発
162    県
163    神
164    秋
165    科
166    茶
167    通
168    食
169    勉
170    員
171    夏
172    家
173    島
174    帰
175    旅
176    時
177    書
178    校
179    病
180    紙
181    通
182    週
183    都
184    院
185    馬
186    高
187    動
188    強
189    教
190    族
191    理
192    終
193    週
194    道
195    達
196    都
197    雪
198    魚
199    黒
200    場
201    晩
202    朝
203    森
204    番
205    着
206    買
207    道
208    達
209    間
210    飯
211    飲
212    働
213    園
214    新
215    楽
216    漢
217    話
218    電
219    様
220    聞
221    語
222    読
223    銀
224    駅
225    曜

Usage Examples

When you first try the Sketch Pad, you may be disappointed not to see usage examples with each kanji. Don't worry, they'll appear at an appropriate time. Users of the full version can see the usage when the kanji first appears by pressing the speech bubble.

There is a reason this information does not pop-up automatically when you first meet the kanji, and that is that the program is waiting for you to become familiar with this kanji before overloading you with extra information. Associating unfamiliar syllables of Japanese with unfamiliar stroke combinations is famously difficult and prone to causing cognitive overload.

As you get to know the kanji better, usage examples will pop-up for you to inspect and, if you want, import to your vocab list. You can also configure the program to show you more usage information earlier. You can even specify whether you want to see compounds of 2, 3 or more kanji, and whether you want to be exposed to compounds that feature unknown kanji, or just ones you already know. This is all covered in more detail in Part 7 of the tutorial.

Version 2.6 will have a nicer welcome screen that lets you specifiy your usage preferences before you even start drawing.

Missing Fonts

Some computers are missing Japanese Fonts, and in that case the Kanji Sketch Pad will be unable to display kanji characters (though it will still be possible to draw them). The result will look somehting like this:

Here is a help file that was originally written for the Cerebware Vocab Trainer, but applies equally well to the Sketch Pad. Please let me know if it works on your system, and whether you know of a better way to install fonts:


If the characters below look like normal Japanese, then you probably already have the right fonts installed in your system, and you can skip down to the input methods. You might need to make the text larger, however, to see the detail of the Kanji (Under Text, choose ''Larger'', or select a font size from the drop-down list in the menu bar).
Kanji - 漢字
Hiragana - ひらがな
Katakana - カタカナ

If the characters appear as rectangles, or as other non-Japanese symbols, it means your operating system is missing the necessary font files. (You might have some Japanese fonts, used in your web browser or word processor, but they are not the modern True-Type fonts required by Java). If you have a copy of Microsoft Office, or many other Windows products, just install Japanese as a new Language under the Windows Control Panel, and the fonts will be made available. Usually the operating system will ask you for the Microsoft Office installation disc.

If you do not have access to Japanese fonts as part of your operating system, you can use the Japanese font file provided with Cerebware. Follow these steps:

Step 1:
Find the file, CODE2000.TTF (look in the JapaneseGrammar folder if you have the Vocab Trainer, or visit the Cerebware website if you have the Sketch Pad).

Step 2:
Open My Computer, or Windows Explorer. Go to: C:\Program Files\Java\

In there, you should see some folders beginning 'jre.' They should all end with an underscore, then a number. Example: jre1.6.0_07 Go into the one that ends with the largest number - this is the most recent copy of Java.

Step 3:
Find the folder named 'lib', enter it and go into the folder named 'fonts'.

Step 4:
Create a folder named 'fallback'. Go into it.

Step 5:
Copy CODE2000.TTF into here. Restart Cerebware or the Sketch Pad to test that the font has been loaded. (For the Sketch Pad, you will need to sut it down completely by right-clicking the Sytem Tray icon, then clicking 'Exit')

Another option is to obtain one of the freeware Japanese input methods, which usually come with their own fonts. For example, google for NJStar.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Henshall Mnemonics

The default sequence for the Kanji Joyo Grade One Kanji in the Sketch Pad is currently equivalent to those in Henshall's book, "A Guide To Remembering Japanese Characters" (Tuttle, 1995). For the Grade One Kanji, some characters carry a tag in the List View that refers to their Henshall number (e.g. 学 [✍8 ❉1 10] : study ; learning ) - note that the tag uses a character that fails to appear in some encodings, so I'll have to change it.  Ultimately this information will be added for all characters.

The Henshall sequence can be found here, along with the mnemonics Henshall recommends. You might find these useful when writing your own mnemonics, though they sometimes rely on the more detailed explanation that is found in the book.

I still like this book, and was initially very pleased to have bought it, though I am now more aware of its limitations. On the upside, it has interesting background on the history of each kanji character, a couple of examples of usage and readings for each character, and it uses an engaging painted version of each main character. It also uses mnemonics, which I think are essental for the quick acquisition of kanji. (Although ultimately the mnemoncs have to be ditched in favour of a true linguistic understanding of the characters, I think they are a very useful bridge).

On the downside, the readings and usage examples use romaji, which I think is an impediment to the comfortable use of kana. Someone whose knowledge of kana is so poor they need readings in romaji should probably spend time learning the hiragana and katakana, rather than tackling the 1945 joyo kanji in Henshall's book. I find it hard to imagine the setting in which there was a valid reason to learn kanji before kana, so I think Henshall should have used kana for readings, although the romaji does probably add to the book's immediate appeal when a beginner is browsing in a bookshop. It certainly seems less intimidating at first.

Another flaw in this book is the sequence of characters, though it shares this flaw with most official lists of kanji. There seems to be no real attempt to present the characters in a logical order. For instance, the kanji for study or learn, 学, comes in before the kanji for child,  子, even though the child radical needs to be understood for efficient learning of the study kanji. Effectively, when using a tool like the Sketch Pad, anyone learning the study kanji has to learn the chld kanji at the same time, so that when the child kanji finally comes up, it can simply be claimed as prior knowledge. Why not put the child kanji first, especially when they are both Grade One Kanji?

Because of these flaws, the final version of the Sketch Pad will offer kanji in other sequences, as well as a tool for resorting the joyo kanji into any preferred sequence. Many people prefer the approach taken in RTK (Reviewing the Kanji), and I was also impressed with the Kanji Damage website (Language Warning!), which shows a good awareness of the importance of the kanji sequence.

If you have a specific sequence you would prefer, please let me know. All I need to create a sorted version of the list is any text document in which the kanji appear in the correct sequence. Non-kanji characters will be ignored by the sorting algorithm.

Friday, April 1, 2011

"Could not load virtual machine"

Thanks to the user who reported a problem with the most recent upload. Attempts to load the program failed after appearance of the Splash screen. The problem was with the final packaging of the program, where I had been overly greedy in asking for memory resources.

I have repackaged it and the new package (Version 2.50  - link -   with a trailing zero) will be available soon is available. It should load satisfactorily in most systems. Please report any problems so that I can fix them as soon as possible.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

System Tray Icon

This is a new feature that will be found in version Beta 2.5. When you close the Kanji Sketch Pad, it will place an icon in your System tray. The colour tells you at a glance if everything is okay (blue brain icon), some items are stale (purple) or you are behind target (red). Hover over the icon to get an actual numerical report. Right-click to restart the program in normal mode or popup mode - where popup mode flashes up a kanji to draw every three minutes, or at whatever inerval you prefer.

Don't worry, if you don't lke this feature, you can turn it off. Click the Information icon on the main window, then System Tray. Choose "No Tray Icon". Or right click the system icon itself and choose Settings. You can also set the icon to flash up a message when you have new stale items. Click the message to launch the program, deal with the stale items, and then get back to work.

Kanji Sketch Pad

Several people have had questions about the Kanji Sketch Pad. ( described herereviewed here and downloadable here (old version) or here (newer version, beta 2.91). (Edit, October 2012: Note that the Kanji Sketch Pad program is now hosted at, which is where the latest versions of the software are released and discussed.) This program is still in beta version, and the help files are not yet complete, so this blog is intended to make up for that. I am also very keen to hear of any problems, in the form of actual bugs or even just points of confusion with the interface.

This blog will provide a venue for providing updates, tips and online help.

Please report any problems you have with the software. I can usually find and fix bugs within 48 hours. It helps if you can tell me exactly what you were doing when the problem occurred.

You may also find kanji where you dispute the drawing information. The kanji vectors are copyright and belong to someone else (see the kanjivg project) but I release a version of them with the program and can make fixes. The managers of the kanjivg project are also happy to update any mistakes found by users, so pass on any issues you find and we can improve the database for everyone.