There is one crucial strategy that hasn't been mentioned yet: learn the meanings of kanji radicals and use them in mnemonics in order to remember the meaning of the kanji. This will make it infinitely easier to remember kanji meanings, though it won't help you at all with memorizing their readings (pronunciations), and I don't know of any particular method for learning readings other than rote memorization with flash cards or some other form of repetitive practice.
An example of a mnemonic:
間 （あいだ） means "between" or "interval" and it is composed of two radicals:
門 （もん） - gate
日 （ひ） - sun/day
Since the radical for sun
is in the middle of the open space in the gate
radical, you can remember the meaning of 間 with the mnemonic, "the sun
shines through the gap between
." This will also help with remembering how to write the kanji.Reviewing the Kanji
is a website you can use to drill yourself on kanji using mnemonics; you can use either the mnemonics that the website suggests or you can make your own (if you do, making your own is even more effective for memorization than using someone else's).
I also really like the About.com pages about kanji, because they have pretty much everything you need to know about a kanji--radicals, stroke order, readings, compounds in which it is used--with the exception of mnemonics. Here's a link to an index in which the kanji are sorted by grade level.
Sno wrote:By "sample sentences", I guess I meant simple sentences that use kanji that also contain hiragana characters written above to help while reading (kind of like how Japanese childrens' books are written).
How about raw manga? Shonen and shoujo both use furigana (those small characters written next to the kanji to show the pronunciation), and I would assume that children's manga do the same. It depends on the manga, but some are fairly simple and understandable--generally realistic slice-of-life manga will be the easiest to understand because they stick more to everyday vocabulary and don't have as many specialized terms. I recently read Cross Game
in Japanese, and that is a good example of a very understandable, light read. The trick is finding something that is not too text-heavy, doesn't contain a lot of obscure/specialized vocabulary, and doesn't use very much slang.
I don't know of any websites for raw manga (and it would be against the forum rules to link to them publicly anyways), but I'm sure you can find some raws online if you look around.