Kanji Stories…

After keeping it on the back burner for way too long, I felt I should finally make this project public, no matter how unpolished:

KanjiStory.com is a website geared towards people studying Japanese kanji (and, I guess, to a lesser extent, Chinese… but it probably needs some tuning for that). It provides a simple yet powerful interface for people to write kanji mnemonics in the form of a simple story.

The best way to see what I mean is to go register (10 seconds, one click), read a few stories and finally: take a stab at writing your own. Allowing users to contribute stories is at least 90% of the point of this website at this stage, so please do not just go, check out the dozen sample stories and call it a day without trying the editor.

The current version of the website, although quite spiffy code-wise, needs a huge amount of work to be called a proper beta. And then, there are two million cool features just waiting to be added. However, given my very limited time resources, I figured I would first check to see how much interest (and active participation) in the project I can raise, before committing any more time working on it.

Do not hesitate to post your comments and suggestions below, but keep in mind that this is all very early-stage development and that many new features will come, once (if) this ever takes off the ground as a community project.

As an aside, if you are a reasonably experienced PHP dev with an interest in contributing to this project: get in touch (use the address: “zedrdave” at Google’s mail).

If you want to be kept informed of future KanjiStory-related news, easiest way for now is to sign-up as a fan on the facebook page (until I set up a proper forum and RSS feed on the website).


  1. Registered, and uploaded one.

    Yet, I don’t like the idea.
    Well, actually, I do like the idea, but what I don’t is you (me, him) offering the solution. I believe that stories are to be created by oneself, using whatever mnemotechnic tool you are aware of…

    The best mnemotechnicians will all tell you that in order to remember, you must use your own images (have I told you I’ve been into memory training for a couple of months?).

    So, I am afraid I see your site as a low quality substitute for reflexion, mauger the good intentions at its base.


  2. Pied: Thanks for your comments.

    While I of course agree with the basic idea that one’s own tricks will always be best (that’s quite obvious), there are a couple things to note here:

    1. The fact that sometimes, your own “stories” will be easier to remember, doesn’t mean you won’t remember other people’s. If anything, the wild success of dozens methods based 100% on providing such stories (not always very good), should be an indication that people find a use for it. Lots of people share the same cultural background on many things: each story might not resonate with everybody, but chances are, it will make good sense to a subgroup of like-minded people if it’s well written (that’s what the voting is for).

    2. Even assuming there is no substitute for your own stories, not everybody has the time, the imagination or even the para-etymological knowledge to write stories on all kanji. That’s the whole point of collaboration.

    3. There is absolutely nothing in the way the site works, that prevent people to use it as a repository of their own stories. While the UI is still embryonic, it already allows you to get a quick view of your own stories (and will certainly give you more options in the future). Another soon-to-come feature, is an option to clone-and-improve stories… which, in many cases, might help moving promising stories from personal toward more universal narratives.

    Anyway, let’s see how it goes and hopefully this can be useful to a few…

  3. Also, all instances of one of your radicals are wrong.

    The one in question is the radical for people (人偏、人部).
    You wrote 化 while it’s 人 (as 亻 when it is a key)


    Still, you gave me the idea to make some flash cards for that. I still need to find a proper mapping to remember both meaning *and* pronounciation.


  4. Pied: no, it’s not… It’s just Jim Breen’s kanji rad’s peculiar notation. They use 「化」to indicate 「人」as a left-radical. More generally, they do not use the “standalone” kanji to indicate a given radical form (check wwwjdic’s website for more details).
    I might change that in the future (it’s not a very big change in the database), but for now, it’s not a big priority…

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