The Kodansha Kanji Synonyms Guide offers complete guidance on the precise distinctions between characters of similar meaning, referred to as kanji synonyms. Since a proper understanding of the meanings of each character is essential for the effective mastery of the Japanese vocabulary, this is of considerable benefit to the serious student. “Characters” here refers mostly to single characters (one kanji possibly followed by kana) that function mostly as word elements (components of compound words), rather than to independent words.
Based on a systematic approach and a firm theoretical foundation, this work enables users to quickly find characters from their meanings, then study those meanings in contrast to other characters that share the same basic concept but differ, often subtly, in meaning. It thus serves as a powerful learning aid because it clearly shows the differences and similarities between closely related kanji. This is achieved in four ways:
- The alphabetically-arranged group headwords, representing the shared concept for each synonym group, show how the group members resemble each other.
- The synonym keywords show at a glance how the group members differ from each other.
- The character meanings show in greater detail the distinctive features of each group member.
- The many compound words illustrate how each kanji functions (mostly) as a word element.
It is important to note that the core meanings and character meanings serve as a practical guide to kanji usage because they are based on actual occurrences, and because they are illustrated by many compound words. These are drawn from the author’s kanji dictionaries, such as The Kodansha Kanji Dictionary, while avoiding the historical and archaic meanings often found in traditional kanji dictionaries.
The new approach to the study of kanji presented here motivates the learner to explore the nuances
of closely related characters by studying them together, rather than as isolated units. This helps
the learner better understand their distinctive features, while stimulating a desire to learn. It also
provides the educator and scholar with a valuable source of reference data for creating learning
Kanji Integrated Tools
KKUG is the latest addition to Kanji Integrated Tools (KIT), a series of computer-edited dictionaries and software applications for the effective study of kanji. The use of the latest computational
lexicography techniques ensures that all KIT dictionaries and applications are tightly integrated and of consistent quality. To date, the following dictionaries have been published: