Ah, poop. Everybody poops. Poop is funny, kids love talking about it, and it’s a great way to learn kanji. You heard me. You can now learn kanji from a poo based professor (a poofessor, if you will) and have fun doing it.
うんこ 漢字ドリル, or Unko Kanji Drills in English, is a new set of kanji teaching books that were just released in Japan. They teach school level kanji aimed at Japanese children from grades 1 to 6 in six separate books. Japanese kids like learning kanji about as much as you do, and that means it takes some motivation to get them to do it at all. These books are meant to make kids laugh while they learn, especially about the silly, dirty jokes that serve as example sentences.
Kanji are taught with on’yomi and kun’yomi readings, stroke order, and three very unique example sentences that… well, they talk about poop. A good number of these sentences are up on Unko-sensei’s twitter so you can really get a feel for whether this book is your style or not. Here’s the most recent example from Professor Poo:
【落】 (Grade 3)
Grandpa drops poop off the balcony.
The poop that fell down the cliff blocked the road.
A rakugo storyteller is making the audience laugh by talking about poop.
As you can see, these are some unique sentences. The grammar is simple, so beginner students of Japanese shouldn’t have too much trouble parsing them out. And there is no answer book, which means you can’t cheat when you don’t know something. Instead, use this as further motivation to try tools like HiNative to help correct your understanding of each sentence (though you’ll probably have to explain why you talk about poop so much).
There are 3018 total example sentences over the six books and they are well worth the (just under) $10/per book price, just for that. And let’s face it — poop is funny, kanji is hard. Put them together and you can make a once laborious experience a heck of a lot more fun.