kanji kentei – level 10

The kanji kentei is the official test for native Japanese speakers; the level 10 is for 1st graders (6-year olds).


いち – 1 に – 2 さん – 3
し – 4 ご – 5 ろく – 6
しち – 7 はち – 8 きゅう – 9
じゅう – 10 ひゃく – 100 せん – 1,000

the pen is 200 yens.
pen wa ni-hyaku en desu.
ペンは にひゃく えん です。

give me 15 dollars, please.
juu-go doru kudasai.
じゅうご ドル ください。

八百屋 (yao-ya, vegetable shop)

The suffix 屋 (や – ya) indicates a store of some kind, or a person that works at that store. For example, 魚屋 (sakana-ya) is either a store that sells fish, or the person that works at that store. The same goes for パン屋 (pan-ya – bread store, a.k.a. bakery), 本屋 (hon-ya – book store), 肉屋 (niku-ya – meat shop), 花屋 (hana-ya – flower shop), and many others. Well… with this background we would be at a loss with a store called 八百屋 (the 800-store) that is pronounced, of all things, やおや (yao-ya). What does it sell? It turns out that in English we use the word ‘zillion’ to describe a large number, while Japanese used to use the number ‘800’, so the 800-store is a store that sells a large number of ‘things’, and it turns out to be… a produce shop; yeap… a place that sells vegetables. Go figure. And this comes up in the JLPT N5 test from time to time.


しろい – white あかい – red あおい – blue, green

The American flag is red, white and blue.
amerika no hata wa aka, shiro, ao desu.
アメリカの かたは あか、 しろ、 あお です。

aka (red), ki (yellow), and ao (blue)

Japanese people are not color-blind and can tell perfectly well green from blue. The reason ‘ao’ can be either red or blue is because in Japan the traffic lights are red, yellow, and either green or blue, but regardless of whether it is green or blue, Japanese refer to it as ‘blue’. The name for the color green is ‘midori’, though, a frog would be ‘midori, not ‘ao’, but a green traffic light would be ‘ao’, not ‘midori’.

The ‘Rising Sun” flag

On the token of colors, in many countries we draw the Sun yellow, but in Japan the Sun is drawn red, e.g., the red circle in the Japanese flag is the Sun; well… it is the ‘Rising Sun’ flag, after all. In reality, we are all off because sunlight is white; ‘daylight’ and ‘full-spectrum’ lightbulbs that mimic sunlight, used in places where we need to be alert – kitchens, reading rooms, and garages – produce a white light, different from the yellow light of ‘soft-white’ lightbulbs, used in places where we relax – living rooms and dormitories.


おとこ – man, male おんな – woman, female こ – child
ひと – person, man おう – king, rule な – name, noted

The girl’s name is Hanako.
onna no ko no namae wa hana-ko desu.
おんなの この なまえうは はなこ です。

That man is the king.
ano otoko no hito wa ou desu.
あの おとこの ひとは おう です。

黒沼 爽子 – Kuronuma Sawako, from ‘Kimi ni todoke’

‘ko’ (child) is a common ending for female names; although commonly a name has several possible spellings (discussed here), the following are ‘-ko’ names that we can spell with kanjis from Kentei 9 and 10:

  • 花子 (Hana-ko): flower child
  • 星子 (Hoshi-ko): star child
  • 森子 (Mori-ko): forest child
  • 友子 (Tomo-ko): friendly child
  • 春子 (Haru-ko): spring child
  • 夏子 (Natsu-ko): summer child
  • 冬子 (Fuyu-ko): winter child
  • 秋子 (Aki-ko): autumn child
  • 明子 (Aki-ko): bright child (a diff. spelling)

and here are a few more from pop culture:

  • 真理子 (Mari-ko): from James Clavell’s ‘Shogun’
  • 貞子 (Sada-ko): child with integrity, from ‘Ringu’
  • 爽子 (Sawa-ko): refresing child, from ‘Kimi ni todoke’

parts of the body

め – eye, look, insight みみ – ear くち – mouth
て – hand あし – foot, leg, be sufficient

My eyes are black.
watashi no me wa kuro desu.
わたしの めは くろ です。

Your hands and feet are big.
anata no te to ashi wa ooki desu.
あなたの てと あしは おおきい です。


こう – school; correction がく – study, learning ほん – book; main, true
ぷん – sentence, literature じ – character, word

My book is at school. (‘exists’ at school)
watashi no hon wa gakkou ni arimasu.
わたしの ほんは がっこうに あります。

I’m a student at Tokyo University
touyou daigaku no gakusei desu.
とうきょう がいがくの がくせい です。

‘Student’ is 学生 (gaku-sei) which means ‘learning life’; this 生 (sei) is the same as in 先生 (sen-sei – teacher), which means ‘before in life’.


いぬ – dog むし – insect; temper かい – shellfish, shell

My dog eats bugs.
watashi no inu wa mushi wo tabemasu.
わたしの いぬは むしを たべます。

There are shellfish in the river.
kawa ni kai ga imasu.
かわに かいが います。

Hachikou was an Akita owned by Hidesaburou Ueno, a university professor. Every day, Hachikou used to wait at the train station for his return home. One day, in 1925, the professor died while giving a lecture and didn’t return. Hachikou continued going daily to the station to wait for his return, for nine years, until it died in 1935. Since then, Hachiko has been considered an example of loyalty and fidelity, and his memory has been kept in monuments and movies, e.g., there is a popular statue of Hachiko at Shibuya station, and recently a new one at the University of Tokyo, and the movie ‘Hachi: a Dog’s tale‘ is a recent drama about Hachiko’s life.


き – tree, wood はやし – grove, forest もり – forest, woods
たけ – bamboo はな – flower くさ – grass, weed, herb

In this forest there is only bamboo. There is no grass, flowers or trees.
kono mori ni wa dake take ga arimasu. kusa ya hana ya ki wa arimasen.
この もりには だけ たけ が あります。くさや はなや きは ありません。


はやい – early; fast しい ただしい – correct; justice
きい おおきい – big さい ちいさい – small

This car is fast, right?
kono kuruma wa hayai desu ne.
この くるまは はやい ですね。

A large cake and a small fork.
ookii keiki to chiisai fouku.
おおきい  ケーキ と ちいさい フォーク。


ゆう – evening とし – year さき – before, ahead, previous

This year there are three teachers.
kotoshi sensei ga san nin imasu.
ことし せんせいが さんにん います。

Last night I saw the moon.
yuube ni tsuki wo mimashita.
ゆうべに つきを みました。

‘sensei’ (teacher) is written ‘先生’, meaning ‘before in life’. This is the same 先 of 先週 (sen-shuu – week before), 先月 (sen-getsu – month before), and the ubiquitous 先輩 (sen-pai – someone older or with a higher rank than me) that shows up in every anime that takes place at a school.


はいる – enter, insert でる – exit, leave やすむ – rest, sleep
たつ – stand up みる – see まれる うまれれ – be born

I was born in this village.
watashi wa kono mura de umaremashita.
わたしは この むらで うまれました。

This is the entrance; that is the exit.
kore wa iriguchi desu; sore wa deguchi desu.
これは いりぐちです。それは でぐちです。
これは入口です。 それは出口です。


つち – Earth, ground, soil; Turkey やま – mountain いし – stone

This stone is from that mountain.
kono ishi wa ano yama kara desu.
この いしは あの やまから です。

In Japanese, Mt. Fuji is called ‘fuji-san’: 富士山. The kanji of mountain, 山, is read as ‘yama’ when it’s by itself (kun-yomi, or ‘Japanese reading’), and as ‘san’ when it’s compounded with other kanjis (on-yomi, or ‘Chinese reading’). Thus, the ‘san’ of ‘fuji-san’ is not the honorific, but instead it’s just the Chinese reading.


そら – empty; sky; vacuum き – spirit, mind; air, mood てん – heaven, sky
ひ – Sun; day; Japan つき – Moon; month

Look at the sky; the weather is bad.
sora wo mite kudasai. tenki wa iya desu.
そらを みてください。てんきは いやです。

On Monday the moon is red.
getsu-youbi wa tsuki ga akai desu.
げつようびは つきが あかい です。

The names of the days in a Japanese calendar are fairly unusual. They use the counter 日. The ‘rules’ are the following:

  • 1日 is an exception pronunced ‘tsuitachi’
  • 2日-10日, 14日, 20日, and 24日 end in ‘ka’
  • otherwise, the name ends in ‘nichi’

From 2 to 10, the numbers follow the Japanese reading (i.e., hitotsu, futatsu, mitsu, …) while the rest follow the Chinese reading (i.e., ichi, ni, san, …).

1日 – tsuitachi
2日 – futsuka
3日 – mikka
4日 – yokka
5日 – itsuka
6日 – muika
7日 – nanoka
8日 – youka
9日 – kokonoka
10日 – tooka

11日 – juu-ichi-nichi
12日 – juu-ni-nichi
13日 – juu-san-nichi
14日 – juu-yokka
15日 – juu-go-nichi
16日 – juu-roku-nichi
17日 – juu-shichi-nichi
18日 – juu-hachi-nichi
19日 – juu-ku-nichi
20日 – hatsuka

21日 – ni-juu-ichi-nichi
22日 – ni-juu-ni-nichi
23日 – ni-juu-san-nichi
24日 – ni-juu-yokka
25日 – ni-juu-go-nichi
26日 – ni-juu-roku-nichi
27日 – ni-juu-shichi-nichi
28日 – ni-juu-hachi-nichi
29日 – ni-juu-ku-nichi
30日 – san-juu-nichi
31日 – san-juu-ichi-nichi


みず – water かわ – stream, river あめ – rain

There is water in the rain and in the river.
ame to kawa ni mizu ga arimasu.
あめと かわに みずが あります。

ringo ame – りんごあめ

In general, Japanese is a language that does not have much pitch. However, there are certain words that absolutely have a pitch. One of those words is ‘ame’. ame, with a pitch on the first syllable (i.e., on the ‘a’), means ‘rain’ and its kanji is 雨; ame, with a pitch on the second syllable (i.e., on the ‘me’), means ‘hard candy’ and its kanji is 飴. For example, candied apples, tangerines, and strawberries on a stick are ‘ringo ame’, ‘mikan ame’ and ‘ichigo ame’. Hence, the hiragana for both rain and hard-candy is あめ, but we can tell them apart with their kanjis.


うえ – above, up した – below, down なか – inside, middle, center
ひだり – left みぎ – right

There money on the table.
teeburu no ue ni okane ga arimasu.
テーブルの うえに おかねが あります。

The dog is in the car.
inu wa kuruma no naka ni imasu.
いぬは くるまの なかに います。


た, だ – rice paddy, field まち – city, town, block むら – town, village

Tokyo is a big city.
toukyou wa ookii machi desu.
とうきょうは おおきい まち です。

Rice terraces in Kumamoto

Japan’s culture is intertwined with rice – gohan – so much that the name for breakfast, lunch, and dinner became the ‘morning-rice’ (asa-gohan), ‘noon rice’ (hiru-gohan) and ‘evening rice’ (ban-gohan). The kanji for a rice paddy, 田, shows up in many common Japanese last names, as either ‘ta’, or ‘da’. For example, 山田 (Yamada, or ‘paddy in the mountain’), 中田 (Nakada, or ‘middle of the rice paddy), 田中 (Tanaka, also ‘middle of the rice paddy’), as well as 前田 (Maeda), 田村 (Tamura), 石田 (Ishida), 上田 (Ueda), 森田 (Morita), 村田 (Murata), 本田 (Honda), 西田 (Nishida), 金田 (kaneda), 内田 (Uchida), and tons more.


かね – gold; money えん – Yen; circle, round くるま – car, cart
たま – ball; jewel, jade いと – silk, thread

That ball is 800 yen.
sono tama wa happyaku en desu.
その たまは はっぴゃく えん です。

百 is usually ‘hyaku’ but it changes for 300 (sanbyaku), 600 (roppyaku), and 800 (happyaku).


ちから – force, strength, power
ひ – fire おん – sound, noise