When you learn Japanese, inevitably you have to hit the wall that is “kanji.” For an English speaker, having entire words comprised of one or two semi-complex symbols can be an unfamiliar and daunting prospect. On top of that, unlike Chinese, Japanese kanji have multiple pronunciations, depending on which words they’re being paired with or how they’re being used. English simply doesn’t do this.
But in time, as you familiarize yourself with kanji more and more, your mind starts to connect the words to the characters, and when you hear a new vocabulary word, your brain may start to try and figure out the kanji behind it. Kanji can hint at the meaning of a word, even if you’re not sure what it is. And even the vocabulary you’ve learned previously starts to look fresh and new, as you realize that they too have kanji behind them.
At this point, it’s time to play a fun new game: creating your own kanji compounds.
A kanji compound is any word consisting of multiple kanji. One that most people might know is 日本, or Japan, pronounced as “Nihon.” 読む, or “yomu,” to read, 書く, or “kaku,” to write, each have kanji in them. When you take the two kanji together, they become 読書, or “dokusho,” reading as a noun.
My favorite imaginary kanji compound is 光線欠, or “kousenketsu.” It means “lack of lasers.” Use it well in your daily Japanese studies. And then try it yourself! See what you come up with.