- A kanji reference and learning tool -

This is the new official website for KanjiNirvana (kani). Based on the wonderful work of Norbert Siepenkötter, the creator of KanjiNirvana, a group of developpers will now continue the developpment of the tool in a cooperative basis. The old homepage is available at here

Please have a look at Arne Schmidt's excellent page for SL-C700 users, including a solution for problems with the notes handling in KanjiNirvana on this device.
Thanks Arne!

New in v1.3:
- new quiz algorithm
- various fixes

New in v1.2:
- Change to the Hits field to allow owners of A300 to enter a kanji with the native input methods

New in v1.1:
- Integration with QTReader
- some bugfixes

1) Introduction
2) The main screen
3) Looking up a kanji
4) The Kanji Info page
5) The Kanji Quiz
6) KanjiNirvana and QTReader
7) Thanks
8) Files and Memory
9) ToDo
10) Download

1) Introduction

KanjiNirvana is a kanji reference and learning tool for Sharp's SL5x00 and A300 Zaurus PDA's. It is aimed at students of the japanese language and anyone else who is interested in japanese characters.

One of the many difficulties students of the japanese language have to cope with, is the huge number of unique characters (kanji) they have to memorize. Everyone who has tried to learn japanese knows the problem: When reading a text you very often encounter a kanji you haven't memorized yet and a lot of time has to be spend finding the character in a kanji dictionary. After finding it you normally would like to memorize it, so that you don't have to look it up again and again.
KanjiNirvana combines a flexible kanji lookup method with a simple kanji quiz for memorizing to help with these two common tasks.

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

Copyright 2002 by Norbert Siepenkötter.

2) - The main screen -

The lower half of the main screen contains a frame with different search methods:

Above this frame there is the Hits field, which displays all the kanji that fit into the momentary search criteria:

On top of the main screen is the info area, where a chosen kanji from the Hits field is shown together with its english meaning:

3) - Looking up a kanji -

To find a kanji, you simply fill out one or more of the search criteria:

Kanji are composed of one ore more smaller components, its radicals. Pressing the radicals-button opens up a table with the 214 radicals, ordered by their stroke count. By choosing one ore more of them the search can be limited to those kanji that contain these radicals.

(Handwritten Character Recognition):
Pressing this button will open up a canvas where you can scribble down the character and let the HCR-algorithm identify it. Even though the algorithm has some limitations, this works surprisingly well if you know the stroke order and stroke number of the kanji (which usually follow some simple rules) :)

Stroke count (S#):
If you can identify the number of strokes the kanji consists of you can enter it in the Stroke count field to limit the search to this stroke count.

kun/ON/name reading:
Most kanji have several japanese readings and the reading field can be used to narrow the search to those kanji with the given reading. Text entered in this field will be automatically transformed to hiragana/katakana.

Use this field if you know the english meaning of the kanji.

Jouyou grade:
Some kanji are graded by their difficulty. Use this field to narrow the search to these grades.

Frequency of use:
For the 2,135 most common kanji a 'Frequency of use' ranking exist. You can limit the search to a range of the frequency.

Many different codes exist for each kanji. If you want to look up a kanji by one of its codes you can do it with this field.

All the kanji that fit into the chosen search criteria ar displayed in the Hits field. If there isn't enough space in the Hits field to display all the Hits, you can page through them with the arrow buttons at the right of the Hits field. Above the arrows the total number of Hits, the momentary visible page and the total number of pages is displayed.

If you have found the kanji you are looking for in the Hits field, tap it with the stylus. The kanji and its english meaning are display in the Info area at the top of the main screen.

Now you have the option to display more info about the kanji by pressing the kanji's button, to copy or paste it and to enter it into the kanji quiz by checking the checkbox next to the quiz-button.

4) - The Kanji Info page -

By pressing the kanji's button in the info area of the main screen the Kanji Info window is invoked. This page displays all the info about the chosen kanji. Additionally you can enter some personal comments about this kanji in the Notes field at the bottom of the window. This can be used for example to enter recognizing mnemonics like the Henshall Mnemonics ( or anything else that helps you remembering this particular kanji.

5) - The Kanji Quiz -

Back on the main screen, the quiz button brings you to a simple kanji quiz. On the settings tab you can choose which info should be shown to you: the kanji itself, its readings, its english meaning and/or your notes about this kanji. All the kanji that have their quiz-checkboxes checked on the main screen are included in the quiz and can be found in the 'Kanji in quiz' field. Edit this field or use the 'clear all' or 'add' buttons to change the contents of the quiz. On the lower part of the quiz tab is the answer area, where you can scribble down the kanji, its reading or what else you have chosen to be asked for.

6) - KanjiNirvana and QTReader -

KanjiNirvana can be called as a kanji dictionary from inside Tim Wentford's excellent e-text reader QTReader ( Just tap on the kanji in QTReader to get the english meaning. To enable this all you have to do is to enter the string 'kani/query' in QTReaders dictionary settings. Thanks Tim!

7) - Thanks -

Of course KanjiNirvana (among other japanese dictionary programs) does only exist, because many people, especially Prof. Jim Breen provided the excellent kanji database files. Thanks a lot for this great work and for releasing it free for noncommercial use! (Please see for copyright and general information)

Another big Thanks goes out to Owen Taylor for his kanjipad program, based on the work of Todd David Rudick and Robert Wells. Its translation engine for the handwriting-recognition could be used without changing a single line of code for KanjiNirvana! Very cool...!

Thanks also to the Trolltech team for providing the great Qt package! I used Qt for the first time in this project and I really was pleasently surprised about the ease of use und very good documentation!

8) - Files and Memory -

The files kanjidic, romkana and raddat are the dictionary source files. You will only need them if you want to rebuild the internal KanjiNirvana dictionary. They are not necessary for normal use. The file kaninotes holds the user written kanji notes and can be edited from inside KanjiNirvana (at the info page) or with any unicode capable texteditor. All these files are located in $QPEDIR/kani/ , but doclnks are created in the Documents/text/plain folder.
KanjiNirvana is memory hungry. If you get frequent 'out of memory' warnings I recommend turning off the fast load option for other applications (press and hold on the application's icon). If you encounter strange problems when running KanjiNirvana, an incomplete installation due to memory shortage might be the reason. Unfortunately the Qtopia install application doesn't report such errors...

9) - ToDo -

A more sophisticated quiz algorithm.

Maybe a better database compression.


10) - Download -

KanjiNirvana is a free software, licensed under the terms of the GPL.

Please visit the sourceforge summary page at

For earlier relases, please see the old home page

Please feel free to contact us for any questions, comments, suggestions... We like getting e-mail! :o)

(C) July 2002 Norbert Siepenkötter (norbert @ siepenkoetter . de)
(C) January 2004 Frederic Peschanski (kokerui _@_ free _dot_ fr)