What is Tankan?

Tankan is an indispensable training application for anyone who wants to memorize the meanings and pronunciations of Japanese characters (kanji).

Tankan's simple, browser-based user interface is carefully designed for efficiency. You can easily deal with large kanji sets, and carry out the entire training cycle by keyboard.

Tankan offers a multitude of ways to select kanji for learning, such as JLPT sets, school grades or frequency, with additional filtering and flexible subdivision so that you can focus on manageable sections of material.

Tankan keeps a history of your answers and can not only identify characters you are having trouble with, but also characters which you are confusing for one another.

Stop wasting time on flashcards and clumsy programs that emulate them. Get Tankan today and start conquering the kanji!

Recent Updates

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February 5, 2023
Tankan 2.04.0002 released!

February 4, 2023
Tankan 2.04.0001 released!

February 3, 2023
Tankan 2.04.0000 released!

January 13, 2023
Tankan 2.03.0000 released!

November 30, 2014
Tankan 2.02.0000 released!

November 19, 2014
New low price: $5 CAD!

November 18, 2014
Tankan 2.01.0000 released!

November 3, 2014
Tankan 2.00.0400 released!

January 3, 2011
Tankan 2.00.0375 released!

December 21, 2010
Tankan 2.00.0369 released!

December 12, 2010
Tankan 2.00.0363 released!

December 10, 2010
Limited time offer:
60 day full trial!

Download now and go through the purchase screen to unlock the full features. Do not pay for 60 days!

December 7, 2010
Tankan 2.00.0359 released!

December 6, 2010
Tankan 2.00.0357 released!

November 30, 2010
Tankan 2.00.0353 released!

Efficient Testing

Instead of following a flashcard paradigm, Tankan generates test sheets, which can contain a large number of kanji, all in one window. Next to each kanji is a small input field for typing the test answer, which could be a kanji English meaning or a Japanese reading. Use the Tab character to move from one field to the next, and press Enter to grade the test.

The better you recall the kanji, the faster your testing will be. You will find that your eyes can read several kanji ahead of your fingers, and will be able to complete the tests as fast as you can touch type. Testing yourself on a batch of several hundred kanji in a single test will take only minutes. And the entire test cycle can be driven with the keyboard only. A faster user interface is hardly possible.

History Retention

Tankan maintains a history of your recent test answers, independently for each kanji, and combination of various test parameters. Based on your response history, Tankan can deduce not only which kanji you are having trouble remembering, but it can guess groups of kanji that you are confusing for one another. It is possible to test quiz yourself on the confused kanji so that you can learn to distinguish them.


The program state — your response history, the results of the last test, and the settings of all of the user interface controls — can be saved to disk, and later restored. You will appreciate this when having to log out or restart the computer, and it is also handy for experimenting with the program without disturbing your progress.

Flexible Selection

Tankan allows you to select kanji in various ways:

  • grade: Select the Jouyou kanji by a range of grades, from 1 to 9.
  • frequency: Characters in descending order of their frequency, meaning how often they appear in Japanese print.
  • stroke count: the range of how many brush strokes make up the character.
  • Heisig index: the order in which the characters appear in James W. Heisig's book, Remembering The Kanji.
  • JLPT sets: kanji sets believed to be used at various levels of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test.

Text Search Engine

The selection of kanji can be further refined with a text search over English meanings or Japanese readings. Searching can be done by exact match on full dictionary entries, word or word stem matches, free substring matches.

Divide and Conquer

Independently of the selection methods by grade, JLPT level and so forth, Tankan divides all the kanji arbitrarily into sixteen sets. The search filter offers a matrix of sixteen checkboxes to select these sets, in any combination. With this filter, you can break up a large, undifferentiated kanji category into manageable chunks that can be learned independently, and gradually combined into larger sets.

Radical Search

Search for Kanji by selecting one of the 214 classical kangxi radicals.

Kana Reading Fluency not Required

With the click of a button, Tankan can display all Japanese readings in western letters (romaji) instead of Japanese hiragana and katakana characters, which is convenient for students who are not yet fluent in reading kana.

Easy Japanese Input

Japanese text can be entered in romaji. Though you can use your computer's Japanese input method (IME), it is not required. IME entry slower, and based on romaji anyway, just with some extra keystrokes.

Click to Enlarge

Main screen: collapsed controls

Main screen: results of meanings test

Main screen: results of readings test

Test screen: kun readings

Windows tray icon

System Requirements

The minimum system requirements are:

  1. Windows 7, 8, 10 or 11.
  2. 64 bit operating system.
  3. 64 megabytes free disk space.
  4. 64 megabytes of free memory.
  5. Internet connection (briefly, for licensing transactions).
  6. Modern Browser: Firefox, Chrome, Edge, ...
  7. Not to forget: Japanese Fonts!

Tankan runs on Microsoft Windows as a background process which serves web pages. You interact with it using your web browser. When you launch Tankan for the first time, it automatically opens up a browser window. If you close or navigate away from that window, you can double-click the Tankan tray icon to open it again.


The installer is an executable program. To install Tankan, download and run the installer. If you are prompted whether to run the program from an "unknown publisher", go ahead and confirm.

Installation Places

Tankan files are located in three places. The executable files and other materials are located in the installation directory. Saved program state and the license file are located in the Tankan sub-folder of your user folder. You can navigate there by opening %USERPROFILE%\Tankan from the Windows start menu. The installer also creates shortcuts in your start menu (for the installing user only, not all users). Tankan does not store anything in the Windows Registry.


The Tankan uninstaller is located in the installation directory. It is called uninstall.exe. It tries to remove the program directory and shortcuts, but it does not remove your license (the file called license.lisp), or the saved state file (saved.lisp).

SHA256 Sums of Tankan Installer Executables

2.04.0002: baab92957cabbaaf094dfff3fe65887798c25db0ef1b06d779d18f84a50d27f6 2.04.0001: f140cf3dcaea0f0628e60fd6eba4b194355256dae8e45a0e22ab9f356f5aa473 2.04.0000: 3af117974ff4079ba4f89fb2132be27a09048af9d27c1a94f616c31e2b4cda25 2.03.0000: 7320fa305f106eb1ee88725b058d58ab88f8a2974626aadf88812640c0edf0ac 2.02.0000: 9a838cf3fd3daa53db8504fabb77c9d4c84030c83e8751a91810e0ef610a7ac4 2.01.0000: 1465bc05bf0b439f6667c7db98407cc01ac6ef223461c7ce5b4b64ce6e5cf901 2.00.0400: d8fc73bb37e0430a93077fe872ac61ec46e20536ce6c6331c5f97f077af0d8ea


Tankan is offered to individuals and organizations for the purpose of private installation and use. Redistributing it the public, such as hosting it for download on a website, constitutes "broadcasting" and isn't permitted. A detailed copyright notice is displayed by the installer prior to installation.

The Tankan installer may be shared using Bittorrent, using only the official .torrent files obtained from this web site.

Download Links

Current Release: 2.04.0002

Available via direct download from the Tankan site.

  • Added missing radical information to the kanji that were added in 2.04.0001.
  • Fixed an abrupt termination of the Tankan service, when trying to switch to the confused kanji, when some of the kanji are missing radical information.

Prior Releases

2.04.0001 Available via direct download from the Tankan site.

  • The filter-by-radical feature now uses Nelson radicals rather than classical.

2.04.0000 Available via direct download from the Tankan site.

  • Tankan now includes the full Kanjidic2, with over 13000 kanji; twice the previous dictionary size.
  • All 2136 jōyō kanji are now available; previously four were missing.
  • Number of questions in a test can now be specified as a fraction such as 1/8 including 1/1 denoting everything. Also a percentage such as 25%.
  • New special deck: Lapsed Kanji. Retrieves kanji for which any of the five most recent answers were wrong. Useful for obtaining a solid review of lapses, which would disappear to quickly from Problem Kanji deck.
  • Awesome new Second Chance feature. Now you can get a 100% score even if you make a few typos by receiving a chance to fix mistaken answers before the test graded and entered into your response history.
  • Some junk has been cleaned up from some english meanings.
  • The Test Preview/Results table rows now shown with alternating background color to make it easier to match dictionary entries to the kanji, in a wide screen view.

2.03.0000 Available via direct download from the Tankan site.

  • Bugfix in confused kanji identification in kunyomi reading tests.
  • Adjustments in kanji sizes.
  • Update to Latest kanji data from EDRDG.
  • Bugfix in restoring saved data: shuffled kanji may temporarily show blank definitions.
  • Fixed instability situation in restore.
  • Improved formatting of the sixteen subset selection checkboxes. New Firefox was making a mess of it.
  • Fixed broken license provisioning:
    • License server needs the full Referrer URL to generate the page which will post the license.
    • Modern browsers don't pass on the full Referrer URL to a different domain.
    • The fix is to set the Referrer-Policy header to allow this.
  • The license server is now referenced via HTTPS, not HTTP.

2.02.0000 Available via direct download from the Tankan site.

  • Improved identification of confused kanji.
  • Several fixes in the behavior of filter UI so that it is predictable and intuitive at all times.
  • Wording changes in the user interface and more toolitips.
  • Revised user guide, with clearer formatting that matches the program's theme.
  • Fixed formatting issue that could cause the layout of questions in a "Retest Wrongs" test to be strangely sloppy instead of neatly grid-like.


Download 2.01.0000 quickly from CNET:

Get it from CNET Download.com!

Or direct download from the Tankan site.

Major improvements!
  • Confused kanji subsets are shuffled now.
  • More forgiving question input:
    • Leading and trailing spaces and punctuation do not matter
    • English meaning answers are case-insensitive
    • The 18 character entry limit was removed.
  • New options in additional filter: filter kanji selection by frequency and grade.
  • Test Results shows percentage now.
  • Faster state saving/restoring and save file is 30 times smaller.
  • Licensing page has a field for passing a note to staff such as a promotional code.
  • Improved tooltips and tooltips in more places.
  • Various improvements in UI appearance and behavior.

2.00.0400: direct download.

  • Runs in 64 bit windows now.
  • Slightly smaller installer.
  • Much smaller installation size and memory use.
  • Kanji radicals have mouseover tooltips which show meaning.
  • Bugfix in filter feature when searching by whole entries.


  • Improved identification of confused kanji.
  • Upgraded dictionary to 2010 jouyou kanji.
  • Improved quality of JLPT data: N2 and N3 separated.
  • New filter feature: select kanji using one of the 214 kangxi radicals.
  • Smaller installer: down to 3.9 megabytes from 4.3.


  • Subset filter increased to 16 sets.
  • Method added for selecting kanji with multiple definitions.
  • Romanization bugfix: the -っちゃ (-ccha) fragment was mapped to the wrong romaji.


  • Powerful new feature: all Kanji are now assigned into 8 sets.
  • Use a few simple checkboxes to filter for sets in combination with any category.
  • Conquer the large categories like JLPT 1 in multiple pieces!


  • Small bugfix: checkboxes in main form were being cleared when returning via Back button in licensing screen.


  • Select kanji according to the order in James W Heisig's book Remembering The Kanji.
  • Select kanji from the JLPT sets.
  • Minor bugfix: some characters incorrectly displayed in help page.


  • New feature: Test Preview section on main form.
  • Allows Tankan to be more effectively used as a kanji search engine.
  • Provides a study mode, without clumsy modal behavior.

Activation Model

Tankan comes with a trial demo license which provides limited functionality, and imposes a 90 minute session time limit.

Purchasing Tankan is initiated from within the application. When you initiate a purchase, the licensing server on this website gives you a temporary license that unlocks the full features of the program. When your payment is received, your temporary license will be replaced with a permanent license which is portable and comes with e-mail support.

Using the licensing screen within the program, you can check whether a new license is available from our server and provision it with the click of a button. We will notify you by e-mail when your new license is available.


A permanent license which gives access to all Tankan features costs only $5 CAD (five dollars, Canadian).

Included in the purchase price is "license portability": licensing the software on additional computers, at no extra charge.

License Portability

The Tankan license file is bound to your computer by means of two pieces of information: the serial number of the disk volume where Tankan is installed, and the MAC address of the network adapter. If your hardware configuration changes, or you wish to use the software to another computer, you can activate your license on the new hardware free of charge. Simply install the program on the new computer, copy your existing license file over and invoke the license activation function from within the program.

Please note that temporary trial licenses cannot be moved from one machine to another, only purchased licenses. To use Tankan in trial mode on a new computer, simply install it there and have it generate a new trial license.

Why "Tankan"?

Tankan is the name of sweet and delicious variety of orange which grows on the island of Yakushima. This is the inspiration behind the orange theme. The word tankan also has additional meanings. It means "single kanji" (written 単漢) and also "brevity" or "simplicity" (単簡). Both these meanings are close to what the program is about!

I'm trying to learn the N3/N2 JLPT kanji, but there are too many!

Enable Tankan's filter, and choose "Filter by: subset". A set of checkboxes, which break down the kanji into sixteen groups that you can select individually or in any combination. See the User Guide for more info.

How can I maintain custom lists or, dictionary entries?

Such features are left out of the program because we believe they complicate the user interface without adding significant value. We believe that Tankan's numerous methods for selecting subsets of Kanji for study are adequate. Please contact support with suggestions if you believe that a critical feature is missing!

Does Tankan implement the Leitner system?

In short, no. Tankan keeps a detailed response history for each kanji. Kanji that require more study are identified by evaluating that history in complex ways. Predating the era of personal computers, the Leitner system is a manual system of prioritizing the presentation of paper flashcards.

My kanji look blocky, not like the Tankan screenshots!

It's because of your font: change it! If you're using Firefox, look in Tools/Options/Content. The font you see in the screenshots is MSMincho.

Is this really the best way to learn kanji?

In short, no, because there is no single best way. This program is only a tool for memorization, intended to complement other forms of study, especially "offline" study away from the computer. It's important to study the kanji in their context: words and sentences. Likewise, it is crucially important to write the kanji.

Speaking of which, you can generate writing practice sheets using Tankan. Thanks to the web-based interface, anything you see in Tankan can be sent to your printer. Some Tankan users practise writing from by using Tankan selecting some Kanji, choosing either Japanese readings or English meanings, and then printing out the main page. Working with the printed pages, it is possible to cover up the left side to hide the kanji, look at the definitions or readings on the right side and write kanji in the middle space. Then uncover the kanji and check your work for incorrect or missing strokes.

I get "Error opening file for writing" when installing!

You might not have permissions to the installation folder; choose another location. Quite possibly, you have an existing installation of Tankan, and Tankan happens to be running. Look for the Tankan icon in the system notification area ("tray"). Right click it and Exit. Before doing that, you might want to find the browser window with your Tankan session and save your state! After quitting Tankan, switch back to the installer's error dialog box and click the Retry button. If there is no icon in the system tray, then use the Windows Task Manager to locate and stop any process named tankan.exe and tankan-service.exe. Then try continuing the installation. (We have never run into an issue like this.) Be sure that you don't have any of the Tankan installation materials open in any application such as an editor or browser. Sometimes the Windows Explorer shell can prevent files from being overwritten. The only fix is to stop and restart the Explorer shell or to reboot the system entirely. Such issues should not affect Tankan unless you explore the Tankan installation folder.

I accidentally erased my license file!

You can recover your license from the Tankan licensing server, if you are on the same computer. Simply go through the "activate" workflow from the main screen. The licensing server will inform you that you have an existing license. Use the "Provision" button at the bottom of that screen to have the license reinstalled. If you lost the license because of a complete operating system re-install on the same computer, then the license probably won't be valid for the new installation. However, you need the old license in order to exercise your option to get a new license through the Tankan user interface. In this situation, please contact customer support.

I paid for Tankan; how can I use it on a different PC?

You have to transfer the existing Tankan license you have to the new PC. To do this, you will need a way to transfer files between PC's, such as an external hard drive or network share. You can also write an e-mail to yourself and attach the file, and then read the e-mail and download the attachment on the other computer. Install Tankan on the new PC using the installer. Then on both PC's, find the folder where Tankan saves information, such as C:\Users\<username>\Tankan. On the old PC, this folder has a file called license.lisp. Copy the file license.lisp to the Tankan folder on the new computer. Tankan will recognize that this is a valid license, but for a different computer. Run Tankan, or if Tankan is already running, refresh the browser window showing Takan's main screen so that Tankan notices the license file and presents you with a "re-activate" link. Use the "re-activate" link to go through the process of obtaining a license on the new computer. You will get a temporary license which gives you access to the full features. Meanwhile, staff will review the activation request. If it is granted, a new license will be prepared for you on the server.

I have a feature idea. Can you implement it?

Every feature suggestion will be given consideration. Please send any suggestions or bug reports to the support e-mail address. Thanks!


If you require support, or have any questions, suggestions, concerns or comments, please write to: