Before Installing...

What do I need to use KanjiBox?

All you need is an iPhone, iPad or an iPod Touch: any model with Apple iOS OS 6.0 or later installed.

Does KanjiBox work on the iPod Touch? on older iPhones?

KanjiBox works on most recent iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch models. As long as they have iOS 6 (and up) running (this unfortunately excludes older iPod Touch, iPad 1 and iPhone 3G, but everything else is fine).

Does KanjiBox work natively on the iPad? on Retina devices?

Yes. Both iPad and iPhone versions of KanjiBox are merged in the same app. This means that, when you start KanjiBox on an iPad, you will be getting native full-screen resolution and all the enhanced features of the iPad version. When started on iPhones or iPods, you will automatically get the version optimised for smaller screen sizes.
KanjiBox is also optimised for Retina screens (both iPhone and iPad) and 4-inch screens.

Do I need an internet connection to use KanjiBox?

No. KanjiBox is mostly offline: it does not require any sort of network access (wifi, 3G, EDGE or otherwise) to work properly. Certain features, such as posting and comparing online scores & achievements online (using Apple's Game Center) or syncing your stats with the online version, naturally require a connection, but these features are entirely optional.

After Installing...

Below is a full copy of KanjiBox's in-app User Guide, for your reading convenience: you can access it directly from the iPhone app by browsing to the Help section, under the Settings & Help menu.
  1. What is KanjiBox?
  2. KanjiBox Basics
  3. Setting your Level
  4. Playing
    1. Drill Mode
    2. Quiz Mode
    3. Study Mode
  5. Settings
  6. Statistics
  7. Scores & Achievements
  8. Sync Panel
  9. KanjiDraw & KanaDraw (new)
  10. MultiPlayer (new)
  11. Study Sets (new)
  12. VoiceOver (new)
  13. Contact
  14. Extra
    1. Other Languages
    2. Imiwa Integration
    3. Online Version
    4. About the Adaptive Learning Algorithm
    5. More on Quiz Mode

Important message: If you encounter any bug or unexpected crashes while using KanjiBox, please, please, contact me first by email: it is impossible for me to address bug complaints that are posted in App Store reviews, as those do not provide a way to contact you in order to obtain crucial details on the problem.

What is KanjiBox?

KanjiBox is a Japanese studying tool, geared at helping you memorise sets of vocabulary words, kanji and/or kana, through intelligent drilling and quizzing.
KanjiBox is particularly well suited for test preparation (JLPT, Kentei, Ninja Academy etc.) but also works great as a personal study tool.

KanjiBox Basics

To start using KanjiBox, simply:

  1. Pick a level in the settings.
  2. Choose the area you want to study: Kana, Kanji, Vocabulary or Reading.
  3. Choose either Drill or Quiz mode.
  4. Play!
  5. When you just want to study with classic flashcards, choose Study mode.
  6. Occasionally follow your progress by taking a look at the Statistics and High Scores
  7. Lather, rinse, repeat...
Click on items in the list above to get more details.

Setting your Level

Before playing, make sure to set your training level by going to: Settings » Level.

KanjiBox levels are modelled after official Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) levels: each set of kanji or vocabulary should closely match those required to pass the exam. Many online resources exist to help you figure out what your level might be, but if you are unsure, you can also simply go through each level until you find one that fits you.
If you are a complete beginner, you should be selecting N5 (the lowest level).
If you want to train above JLPT level (if you consider yourself perfectly fluent), you can pick level 先生 (Sensei), which will drill you on the entire JIS kanji set (6355 kanji) and a vocabulary set of about 18,000 words.

Note 1: KanjiBox now uses the revised (2010) JLPT scale: N5 to N1. Please read this note for more info about the revised scale, particularly if you are planning to study at N3 level.

Note 2: level settings do not affect Kana mode (but if you are still learning Kana, you should be selecting N5).

Note 3: In Quiz mode, you will sometimes notice questions slightly below or above your level: this is normal behaviour (see Quiz mode description).

Note 4: In addition to the Level setting, also check the Cumulative Level setting.


All of KanjiBox's playing screens work on the same simple model:

Note 1: KanjiBox's main purpose is to help you memorise sets of kanji, words and kana. To do so, it uses a special adaptive algorithm that remembers each of your answers and can then use the data to decide which questions to ask next. See the full description of the Adaptive Learning Algorithm for more gory details.

Note 2: KanjiBox puts special care in selecting three "convincing" decoys along with the correct answer. For example, kanji choices always come in two pairs of closely resembling kanji (e.g. '友' will often be paired up with '左'). This is no coincidence at all: KanjiBox is a mean machine out to get you.

Drill Mode

Drill mode is the main way to improve your general level: it helps you quickly survey what you already know and focusses on your weak points. There is no particular goal nor time constraint in Drill mode: questions will keep coming forever until you get tired and use the back button.

Note: Because of Adaptive Learning, some questions (the ones you keep getting wrong) will start reoccurring more and more often: this is perfectly normal behaviour, not a flaw in the program! Think of it as KanjiBox's way of telling you to stop making the same mistakes already...

Quiz Mode

Quiz mode adds a competitive edge to Drill Mode by timing your answers, asking questions in "waves" of increasing difficulty and giving you a score at the end.

An essential difference with Drill mode, is that questions in Quiz mode are picked randomly and unaffected by your previous answers (otherwise put, it does not use the Adaptive Learning Algorithm). This is because Quiz mode is meant to give an unbiased assessment of your performance for a given level that you can compare with other KanjiBox users throughout the world (see Scores section.

Note 1: The points you get for each question depend on how fast you answer (the coloured progress bar at the top). There is always a minimum amount of points awarded for an answer, even after the clock has stopped running.

Note 2: Beware! Choosing the wrong answer will remove points from your score. The only way to leave your score unaffected when you are not sure of the proper answer is to use the '?' button.

Note 3: Questions in Quiz mode are offered in a steady upward progression. You will always start with a few questions below your level and end on questions slightly above it.

Note 4: Drill options, such as «Show/Hide Translation», will not affect Quiz Mode.

Note 5: Although Quiz mode does not use the Adaptive Learning Algorithm to pick questions, it still stores your answers. This means a question you failed in Quiz mode is more likely to pop again when you switch to Drill mode. Alternating sessions of Quiz and Drill mode is always a good strategy to get both the fun of competitive playing and the efficiency of targeted drilling.

Additional details on Quiz mode are available in the extra info section.

Study Mode

Study mode is a simple flashcard system that lets you go over a selected set of entries that need your attention. Simple, yes, but far from basic:

To skip to the next card, either use a vertical sliding motion or tap once.

To see a card's “flip side”: double-tap (double-tapping again will bring you back to “front side” mode).

To customise the set of flashcards, click on the small 'Cog' icon in the top-right corner. This will let you select the range of JLPT levels as well as the total number of cards in your set. KanjiBox automatically selects and order cards, according to how well your know them: entries you know least (the red-orange bars in your Stats) go first, entries you already know well appear last (or not at all, depending on how many cards are in your set).

Note 1: Instead of double-tapping to flip a card, you can optionally use the following gesture: quickly turn your iPhone face down and back up.


By clicking on the Settings tab, you can change the following options:

Note: "Drill Options" only affect Drill mode: information display in Quiz mode is directly controlled by KanjiBox, regardless of these options, so as to ensure that every quiz taker competes in the exact same conditions.


The stats page gives you a screenshot of your current level. Each entry you have been drilled/quizzed on (kanji, word, kana...) is given a colour, depending on how well you have mastered it, and presented in bar charts broken down by sections (Kanji, Vocab and Kana) and JLPT levels.

The colour scheme should be rather self-explanatory: light and dark green mean "good" (consistently answered correctly), while orange and red show entries you still do not seem to know well. White is entries that haven't appeared in either quiz or drill yet.

When you first open the application, all your stats will be empty, but as soon as you start playing (in either Drill or Quiz mode), they will fill up quickly. The more you play, the greener they will become (assuming you make any progress at all, obviously).

Note 1: You can see the detailed stats per-entry for an entire level, by clicking on a row in the Stats screen.

Scores & Achievements

The Scores section lists the highscores you have obtained so far while playing in Quiz Mode. Scores are sorted by modes (Kanji, Vocab etc.) and only your currently-selected level is displayed.

Global Scores display scores for all KanjiBox users, through Apple's Game Center system. In order to post or view scores to the global leaderboard, you must have (or create) a Game Center account and be logged-in. Additionally, make sure that you haven't disabled the Use Game Center option in the Settings.

Achievements are earned for completing certain goals within KanjiBox (e.g. 'learn all kanji at level N5' or 'complete Vocab Quiz level N3' etc). Once an achievement is unlocked, its icon will appear on the Achievements tab of the Scores section. This feature also requires you to be logged-into Game Center.

Sync Panel New!

KanjiBox lets you sync your learning data (compiled through your use of drills and quizzes and used to display stats bar and optimise your questions in Drill mode) with an online server. This sync feature allows you to share the same data between multiple devices (e.g. an iPhone and an iPad), the online version of KanjiBox, as well as retrieve them, if you are forced to erase them from your device for any reason.

In order to sync your data, you first need to create a KB Sync account (or enter existing info, if you already have one) in the Sync Panel (under the Help & Settings section):

Once your KB Sync info are properly filled, you can manually sync your data (by clicking on Sync Now) or set-up KanjiBox to automatically sync at regular intervals ('Auto-sync regularly' option).

If you enabled Auto-sync (with proper account information filled-in), KanjiBox will automatically attempt to sync, upon startup or exiting a playing mode, assuming that 1) there is an internet connection available and 2) the app's learning data have changed since the last sync (by using Drill or Quiz mode).

Note 1: If you create your KB Sync account without Facebook, you might not be able to tie to an online account later on.

Note 2: You can update your password by using the 'Create Account' panel and entering your current email login with a new password (twice).

Note 3: In case of sync conflict (where data has been updated from two separate devices before being sync'ed), you will be presented with a Sync Conflict panel, which lets you decide which data to use (your device's or the server's): you generally want to use Merge mode, which is the safest option and will attempt to pick the more recent out of both. Use Device and Use Server will discard all the data previously stored on your server or device, respectively.

Fixing sync'ing issues:

If you encounter difficulties synching between devices, first make sure you are using the very latest version of KanjiBox (many sync-related bugs have been fixed over successive releases). If updating does not solve the problems, attempt a Manual Sync:

KanjiDraw & KanaDraw

Located under the 'More...' menu, the new KanaDraw and KanjiDraw add-ons teach you kana and kanji writing with an emphasis on proper stroke order, direction and positioning. Both modules work identically (except for the material they cover, of course).

Despite their deceptively simple interface, KanjiDraw & KanaDraw use all the same advanced techniques to optimise your learning curve and adapt the difficulty to your performance.

As with other drills, entries that you fail to properly write, will re-occur with increasing frequency, while those you finally mastered, won't show up as frequently. In addition, KB will give you a number of clues matching your level on a given kana/kanji (an outline of the first few strokes or a full animation of the entire character). KB will be more lenient on handwriting mistakes when you are starting on a new entry, but progressively require more precision.

KanjiDraw's 4 buttons work as such:

KanjiDraw offers three sub-modes, all of which require you to draw your answer (a single kanji) in the upper part of the screen. Kanji Def and Missing Kanji work the same as for Kanji drills: asking you to guess a kanji (using respectively their definition/pronunciation or a compound word as clue), Kanji Mirror merely requires you to copy the kanji that is given to you (you still have to figure out the stroke order).

KanaDraw offers similar sub-modes: asking you to simply copy a given kana (Kana Mirror) or guess and write it, based on a romaji tip.

Both modules also provide you with a Study Mode that work identical to Study Mode for plain kana or kanji, but display animated strokes for these entries.

When you write a kana/kanji and click on 'OK', KB will analyse your trace and give it a colour rating (from deep green to bright red), reflecting its accuracy. Depending on your result and the settings you picked (see below), KanjiDraw will show you an animated correction or go on to the next question. To exit correction mode and skip to the next question, simply click 'OK' a second time.

KanjiDraw and KanaDraw have two options (available through the Settings menu):

In normal use, KanjiBox automatically selects Kanji to focus on, during your use of KanjiDraw. If you want to manually pick a set of kanji to study with KanjiDraw, have a look at the Study Sets section (make sure to select kanji for your set type, when creating it).

KanjiDraw and KanaDraw are paying add-ons: You can use them fully for 30 days, after which you will need to make use of Apple's in-app purchase system to unlock it in exchange for a small fee. This small extra fee allows me to keep the overall price of KanjiBox low (and gives users the choice to purchase KanjiBox with or without such extra features), while helping to fund work on new and exciting features. Note that if, for any reason (re-installing the app, installing on a new device...), KanjiDraw or KanaDraw become unregistered and ask you for purchase again: you can simply go ahead and click on 'Buy'; you will not be charged a second time, no matter what (this unfortunate piece of interface is unfortunately entirely under Apple's control and I cannot help it).

Note 1: KanjiDraw relies on a database of kanji strokes (Kanji VG, ©2009 Ulrich Apel) to correct your own strokes. While this database is very thorough and generally very accurate, it is possible (likely, even) that some errors exist, particularly for some of the more advanced/rare kanji. Hopefully, these errors will be ironed out over time (feel free to contact me if you encounter stroke issues that fail to be resolved in further updates).

Note 2: KanjiDraw and KanaDraw use a specific type of handwritten font as model for character drawing. This can sometimes lead to small differences between what you are used to see (in newspapers, computer programs or even elsewhere within KanjiBox) and what KB expects you to trace: unfortunately, there is no easy solution for that, except making sure you use the proper kanji writing style (such as highlighted in Study mode, for example).

MultiPlayer New!

MultiPlayer mode lets you compete on Kanji quizzing with other KanjiBox users. These days, it is still recommended you bring your own friends to ensure you immediately have opponents. But hopefully with time, there will be enough players to ensure competition round the clock.

Once you Connect to a server, you will be able to see how many other players are connected (but not necessarily playing) and whether there is an ongoing game.

If no game is ongoing: you can perfectly well start anyway and play on your own (as if in regular Quiz mode) until other players join in. This is by far the best way to encourage strangers to join in.

If a game is already ongoing: you can join at any time.

If you would rather wait for more potential players: use the 'Notify Me' option. This will allow you to go back to other areas of KanjiBox (or even quit KanjiBox) without disconecting. You will then receive a notification when more players connect, giving you the option of starting a game.

The rules are essentially the same as for single-player Quiz mode, except that players are ranked by response time and first (correct) answer receives more points.

The player with the most points after the last question wins the game and Worldwide KanjiBox bragging rights.

Note 1: KanjiBox will only let you connect and view MultiPlayer servers for your current level and one level up from it. Change your Kanji Level setting to connect to other servers.

Note 2: Although considerably improved from the previous development version released by accident, current version of MultiPlayer is still in its infancy and it is likely that you will run into small issues while using it: don't hesitate to report any bug to me (and ensure more stability in the next release)!

Study Sets New!

KanjiBox automatically manages the sets of entries it drills you on, using rather complex techniques, based on the Space Repetition System (SRS) to optimise your learning curve within your chosen level setting. However, if you want to make your own set of entries to be drilled on, you can use Study Sets to create custom sets of Kanji or Vocab words.

On the main Study Sets screen, click on the '+' button to add new sets. Pick a name and a type of data: either Kanji or Vocab words. When done, click on 'Add' in the upper right corner.

To add (or remove) entries to a set, click on the blue arrow beneath the set name.

Entries can either be selected through a search screen, or automatically imported from the last text you copied, anywhere else on your device.

Once you have added at least a few entries, click on a set name to use it with KanJIBox standard modes (Vocab and Reading for words, Kanji and KanjiDraw for kanji).

Note 1: to delete a whole set, make a left-to-right swiping motion over its row.

VoiceOver New!

KanjiBox now supports VoiceOver for some drills and most study views.

VoiceOver allows you to tap an item to hear it read by iOS's speech synthesis system (in English or Japanese). Although primarily designed to help blind and visually impaired users, thanks to the exceptional quality of the Japanese speech synthesis module, it can be a precious help to all Japanese learners. To use it, you need to enable the relevant settings in the Accessibility section of your device Settings. For more details, please have a look at this detailed guide on how to enable VoiceOver on your device.

Note 1: In order to properly read Japanese and English with their respective language voices, you must have your current language set to Default (by swiping vertically while in VoiceOver mode, until you hear "Default", followed by whatever your default language is).

Note 2: VoiceOver is purposely disabled in Quiz modes for cases where it is redundant (e.g. Reading mode) but would provide an unfair advantage to people using it.

Note 3: I have limited experience designing accessible interfaces for visually-impaired users. If you are in this situation and have any suggestions regarding ways KB's accessibility could be improved, please do not hesitate to get in touch!


Any question left unanswered? comments burning to be made? suggestions? Do not hesitate to contact me:

Extra Stuff

Everything below this line is absolutely extraneous and not required in the slightest to properly enjoy and use KanjiBox. Feel free to read on, but don't say you weren't warned (think about it, you could instead go for a walk in the park, I bet it's beautiful outside right now, go play with your kids/pet/spouse/date, do your taxes, I don't know... There are so many better ways to use those next five minutes of your life).

Note about revised JLPT level N3

As of 2011, the JLPT committee updated their level system from 4 levels (J4 to J1) to 5 (N5 to N1). New levels are generally considered to match former ones, except for N3, which has been added between former J3 and J2 (now N4 and N2).

Warning! There is no official description of the content for N3 level, and therefore all lists currently available on the web for N3 (kanji or vocab) are built from more-or-less informed guesses and estimates (some of them, wildly off the mark). KanjiBox's N3 sets are built based on a mix of 1) Reports from previous JLPT N3 tests 2) Japanese grade school levels (for Kanji) 3) Word frequencies in the Tanaka corpus (for Vocab). The result is a rather arbitrary split between N2 and N3 that makes it a little easier to tackle the latter. However, there is absolutely no guarantees that the actual JLPT N3 test will match this estimate: please do not rely on it blindly. Feel free to send me any corrections you may have, based on mock or past N3 exams.

Other Languages

In addition to English, KanjiBox 2.1 introduced limited support for other languages in Kanji and Vocab translations. This support is still experimental and thus subject to many issues:

Non-English translations only exist for some levels (starting from N5 and going up to N3-N2, depending on languages). Drilling or quizzing outside of these levels (or even within, in some cases such as 'Missing Kanji' drill, which can use words outside of your current level) will result in a mix of non-English and English translations. To avoid confusion, when you select a different language, English translations (used as backup when your choice is unavailable) will appear in italic.

For more information about translations, to submit corrections or even contribute translations in your language, you can check out the translation project in the online version of KanjiBox. You can also contact me directly.

Imiwa Integration

If you have a recent version of Imiwa (awesome free Japanese dictionary application for iPhone/iPad) installed, you can open it to the relevant entry directly from KanjiBox. Simply click on the small red and white icon in the lower-right corner of the detailed view for a word/kanji.

Beware: In some cases (when memory is running low), opening Imiwa will terminate KanjiBox and you will lose any ongoing quiz session you may have.

KB Online

There is a free version of KanjiBox available online. To log in, you need either a Facebook account or to create a new account by providing a login/password (if you previously synced from your device, you should use your Sync login there as well).

This version offers a few additional features, including the possibility to compare quiz scores with your Facebook friends and other users. Furthermore, as an iOS KanjiBox user, you can claim "Elite" status, which gives you access to extra features (such as full text drill/quiz).

To upgrade your status, simply use the Sync feature once from your device at least once (with the same login you use to enter your online account).

If for any reason, Sync does not upgrade your account you can also follow the instructions on this page to manually upgrade.

About the Adaptive Learning Algorithm

KanjiBox uses a special algorithm to adapt to your level by storing all your answers and using the data to pick new questions. In effect: entries you consistently answer incorrectly will come back increasingly frequently, while those you appear to have memorised well will only be asked episodically.

Another effect of KanjiBox's adaptive algorithm is that you do not have to worry about breaking down each level into smaller study sets: KanjiBox does it automatically for you... After a few rounds of questions, you will notice that KanjiBox slows down the introduction of new questions (how slow, depends on how well you are doing on your past answers) to let you focus on the set of problematic entries.

While there is always an element of randomness, the general order and interval at which any entry (word, kanji, kana...) appears is perfectly controlled and optimised to make your learning curve as smooth as possible.

More on Quiz Mode

Quizzes are split in waves. Each wave can vary in size (usually between 4 and 15 questions) with a consistent level (as well as specific display options for things such as furigana or kanji readings...). During each wave, you must answer at least 60% (50% for JLPT 3 and 4) of all questions correctly, otherwise the quiz stops.

The number of points awarded for each (correctly answered) question depends on: level, wave, speed of the answer, speed of an African swallow carrying a coconut.

Picking an incorrect answer will remove a proportionate amount of points. For our probability-adverse friends reading: this means trying to guess answers is always a bad idea.

Safest strategy for questions you don't know is to make use of the '?' button. The question will still be considered failed, but your score will not go down.

Upon successful completions of the final wave (levels have between 7 and 10 waves, depending), you will receive a bonus number of points (100 to 500, depending on level).

High scores are kept separately for each level (switching to a level does not reset them in other levels).


Contact Email

Please send support requests, bug report and suggestions to

EDRDG License Acknowledgement

This application uses the EDICT and KANJIDIC dictionary files. These files are the property of the Electronic Dictionary Research and Development Group, and are used in conformance with the Group's licence.

KanjiBox - ©2024 Dave duVerle