Kanji, Chinese characters, is the big white elephant in the room when you want to learn Japanese. There’s really no way to get around learning it except through memorization and use. For me, one of the biggest help is by using flashcards.
At one time I had started making my own flashcards using index cards and writing down the kanji and any information on it while studying through How to Read Japanese books. Let me tell you, unless you’re flat out broke (which I was at the time), don’t do what I did but instead invest on a professionally done set.
The set of flash cards I personally use is from White Rabbit Press called Japanese Kanji Flashcards. It is put together by Max Hodges and Tomoko Okazaki. Volume 1 has the first 300 beginner-level kanji’s. There are two other sets after the first volume that you may pick up if you wish to continue.
The price may be a bit steep, particularly the latter sets but if you’re really determined to learn the Japanese language, then the price is worth it. For a more reasonable price, consider picking up a set through Amazon or other sites if you can find it offered less than retail price.
Each card is 3.5″ x 2.5″ with rounded corners and coated with UV varnish for increased durability. The size is small enough so you can fit them in your pocket and the feel of it is nice to the touch. I’ve used my set over time and it still looks and feels like brand new.
Each card has, in the front, the kanji, the kanji in several compound states, count of strokes, stroke order diagram, card reference number, any look-alike kanji with it’s meaning and card reference number, and radical. At the back, you may find the On (Chinese way of) reading, Kun (Japanese way of) reading, it’s meaning, schematic of the kanji’s elements (i.e. what the parts of the kanji mean for example, woods is two tree kanji’s), reading and meaning of each compound found in the front, and a progress meter to show you how far you are into learning all the kanji’s.
As a heads up, there’s another set of kanji flashcards you may pick up from another maker but I’m quite happy with this version from White Rabbit Press. Pick up your own copy if you can. It’s quite worth the investment.