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Crazy for Kanji: A Student's Guide to the Wonderful World of Japanese Characters Paperback – July 1, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-1933330204 ISBN-10: 1933330201 Edition: Bilingual

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Crazy for Kanji: A Student's Guide to the Wonderful World of Japanese Characters + Essential Kanji: 2,000 Basic Japanese Characters Systematically Arranged For Learning And Reference + Japanese Hiragana & Katakana for Beginners: First Steps to Mastering the Japanese Writing System (CD-ROM Included)
Price for all three: $39.20

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Stone Bridge Press; Bilingual edition (July 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933330201
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933330204
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #821,726 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Drawing on her sharp intellect, sense of humor, and tireless ability to ask all the right questions, ... Kushner seduces us from Page 1. -- "Kanji Clinic" by Mary Sisk Noguchi, Japan Times columnist

Kushner ... presents excellent learning strategies.... Her enthusiasm ... is infectious.... Kushner doesn't shy away from complexities.... She tackles them head on. --Asian Review of Books, by Todd Shimoda

Funny as well as educational, offering hundreds of games, lessons, and believe-it-or-nots.... Brilliantly merges the contemporary ... with the antique. --East Bay Express, by Anneli Rufus

Fun and informative read for people who are interested in the origins of language or simply want ... ways to make kanji easier. -- Nichi Bei Times, by Sarah Yuen

How I wish I had had Eve Kushner's brilliant Crazy for Kanji to begin my journey. --Choate Rosemary Hall Bulletin, by Katharine Jewett, the head of the languages department

From the Back Cover

Memorizing kanji--Japanese written characters--and their thousands of shapes, sounds, and meanings might drive anyone crazy. And here's something crazier: a whole book about kanji--where they come from, why they look the way they do, what they say about Japan, and how to learn them faster. The perfect book for students and teachers, Crazy for Kanji is filled with facts, examples, cultural clues, charts, dozens of photographs of kanji in action, and games and puzzles to challenge and entertain.

More About the Author

Eve Kushner is a writer in Berkeley, California. In addition to placing 315 articles in 35 markets, she has published two books. Both are in their second printings. You can find out all about her and her work at www.evekushner.com. For reviews of her books and for interviews in various media, see the Press Coverage page (http://www.evekushner.com/writing/press-coverage).

Eve is now focusing exclusively on kanji, the most complicated script used in Japanese writing. In December 2011 she launched Joy o' Kanji (www.joyokanji.com), a lifelong project. She aims to write one essay about each of the Joyo kanji, the characters used in daily life in Japan. Readers can download these essays in PDF format for an extremely low price. With comprehensive information about every aspect of a character, as well as photos of kanji in real-life uses, these essays reveal the personalities of each kanji (the character of the characters!) as nothing ever has. The site also features photo albums of kanji in action, as well as plenty of free essays (particularly about radicals).

As you can tell from the title of her 2009 work "Crazy for Kanji: A Student's Guide to the Wonderful World of Japanese Characters" (Stone Bridge Press), Eve has a boundless passion for kanji. She has spoken about this several times on "The World in Words," a radio program by PRI, which is an NPR affiliate.

From 2007 through 2010, she wrote "Kanji Curiosity" essays for JapanesePod101.com (http://blogs.japanesepod101.com/blog/category/kanji-curiosity), a language-learning site based in Tokyo. The "Japan Times" praised these essays as "informative and entertaining."

With all of her writing about the Japanese language, Eve has tried to show that kanji can be charming, poetic, and fun, not the source of fear and loathing that people often make these characters out to be.

Although her focus is now monomaniacal, she spent years writing about architecture, books, food, local events, and people with unusual passions. She began her career with "Experiencing Abortion: A Weaving of Women's Words" (Harrington Park Press, now Taylor and Francis, 1997). Because of this book and because of a prominent article she wrote about abortion issues in Hollywood movies, she has been featured in "Newsweek" and on TVO, a Canadian public television program (http://www.tvo.org/TVO/WebObjects/TVO.woa?videoid%3F654099689001).

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Either way Ms. Kushner's "Crazy for Kanji" is the book for you.
sbills
I would highly recommend this book for anyone trying to learn kanji.
A. Yee
I agree with the above views- this book is really a fun treasure.
Allegra Young

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By austin on May 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
Dear readers,
First of all, I would like to start by saying, "I am totally "Crazy for Kanji"."
I went to Japan last year in august, not speaking the language, not being able to read kanji, not knowing the culture... of course I had read some travel guides to make sure that I was not completely out in the blue... although, I think I was still in a shade of turquoise... :)
That was all before my mother sent me a book called: "Krazy for Kanji". A good friend of my mom had recommended it to her, and well, she took her friend's advice and immediately sent the book to me.
At first I was skeptical because my Japanese teacher told me that I should learn hiragana and katakana (two other Japanese alphabets) before I begin to go down the long and difficult road of learning kanji, but, when I opened the book... I knew I had made the right decision. "Crazy for Kanji" not only taught me new kanji, it also taught me how to recognize what a word means even if I have never seen the word before.
Here is an example from the book.
'' (nori: an edible seaweed)=sea+ moss. It's easy to imagine how viewed seaweed as marine moss.

Apart from that, "Krazy for Kanji" taught me how to draw kanji, the history behind a kanji character, and it opened my eyes to see how much fun Kanji really was. I pictured kanji as being a mountain that was impossible to climb... I mean, just the fact that there are THOUSANDS of kanji made it really quite scary...
I'm not trying to say that this book made me a master of kanji... no, I think I could read a thousand books and still not be able to read kanji fluently... however! "Crazy for Kanji" made me feel confident, and I am so thankful for this feeling.
Thank you Eve!
Your number one fan,
Elenor
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By DCarter on May 31, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a fabulous book. If you're reading this you probably have an interest in Japanese or know someone who does. Buy this book! You won't be sorry. The author, Eve Kushner, clearly loves kanji and she'll make you love it too. She's obviously done a tremendous amount of research and it's all presented in a clear and entertaining manner. The book is organized in sections in easily digestible sizes, usually 1-2 pages each. She covers just about every facet of kanji I ever would have thought of and a lot more. The book is packed with information that will help students at all levels. It's the perfect complement to all the kanji books out there that help you learn and memorize kanji - it helps you understand what it's all about and inspires you to learn more.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book is a must-have in your library, should you feel serious about mastering Japanese. I wish I had it much before to allow me have a broader view of all aspects; etymology, construction, similarities, memorisation techniques... even the complementary chapters where Chinese and Korean is treated makes a lot of sense so as to understand many of the implications in the current written Japanese ideograms. It is a perfect complement to your learning material and it is very nicely written even for the non native English speaking people. 5 starts!
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Etsuko Wright on May 17, 2009
Format: Paperback
The author's thorough analysis of kanji is amazing. Not only does she possess a vast knowledge of kanji, but she also is able to use this knowledge to help other learners. I have been teaching Japanese at the college level for many years, and this is the kind of book I have been looking for, not only for my students, but also for myself. Many students struggle to learn kanji and Crazy For Kanji can greatly facilitate their learning in a fun way. The information and style is up-to-date so that many young learners will relate to it. This book will also appeal to students with a wide variety of learning styles. I strongly recommend Crazy for Kanji for all Japanese students who are starting to learn kanji. It is sure to spark their interest and encourage them to continue studying Japanese at a higher level.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By barbara on May 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
I was impressed with the breadth of this book, covering the historic, cultural, aesthetic and functional aspects of Japanese writing systems. There are amusing anecdotes sprinkled throughout the text which makes it easy to share the author's enthusiasm for the subject. Although I had no intension to attempt to learn Kanji, I was interested in knowing why it survives despite the difficulties of reproduction relative to our 26 character system. I would recommend this book for serious students as well as someone whose interest is primarily the beauty of the traditional Asian characters and their history.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Allegra Young on May 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
I agree with the above views- this book is really a fun treasure. In addition I found the book made a great gift. I have a friend who has an exquisitely brutal form of cancer, and gave him Kushner's book as a fun book to help him during bleak times. He said it engaged him in a way a lot of other things hadn't during these tough days: it was fresh, fun, and a funky new hobby.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A. Yee on November 26, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I would highly recommend this book for anyone trying to learn kanji. Not as a study guide or a way to build vocabulary, but rather as a very detailed overview of the history, structure, and conventions of kanji usage. It's a great read for anyone who is "crazy" for kanji and I think could help those who are not so crazy about learning kanji to develop a new love and appreciation or at least make the process a little more enjoyable.

The book is laid out in chapters split into small "exhibits" that can be read on their own or as part of the chapter. Very readable entertaining and engaging with games, charts, and occasional cultural side notes which make this book something fun to just flip through but also possible to study from if your so inclined.
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