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The Kanji Handbook (Tuttle Language Library) Hardcover – October 15, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The meaning-based framework in this book provides a streamlined approach to mastering kanji characters. Its innovative alphabetical index is a particularly welcome addition to currently available kanji learning materials."—Mary Sisk Noguchi, The Japanese Times

"Possibly the most creative approach to learning kanji characters yet invented for English speakers. This book gives students the most important motivation possible for learning those troublesome characters: it makes learning fun."—Proffesor Ian Condry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"The use of mnemonic devices presented in this book can be a highly useful motivating tool in communicating large amounts of information to memory, and I am sure that suggestions in that regard will catch the imagination of many students."—Professor Wesley Jacobson, Harvard University

"Revolutionary and standard–setting…"—The Japan Foundation

About the Author

Vee David is an Assistant Professor at Kyushu University of Health and Welfare in Miyazaki, Japan.
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Product Details

  • Series: Tuttle Language Library
  • Hardcover: 1185 pages
  • Publisher: Tuttle Publishing (October 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804837791
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804837798
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 2.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,134,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Vee David is an Assistant Professor at Kyushu University of Health and Welfare in Miyazaki, Japan. For six years he worked in the publications division of the UN Secretariat in New York City. He has also been a regular columnist of Miyazaki's largest newspaper . He enjoys teaching his revolutionary learning strategies on Kanji characters.

Customer Reviews

So two stars, because the book might work you.
Jackal
This is a great Kanji Dictionary, it provides you with helpful ways of remembering the Kanji.
Serafima
Highly recommend this for anyone learning Japanese!
Mrs. J. C. Davis Davis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Zack Davisson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
For most people studying Japanese, kanji is your nemesis, the thing that will make you want to hurl your study books across the room and run screaming into a country that uses a more decent writing system, like the alphabet. But they are pretty cool, and if you want to know Japanese, you need to know kanji, so you desperately look for tricks or shortcuts to make the process less painful.

"The Kanji Handbook" is another guide that proposes a method to get those little chicken scratches to stick inside your head better than just endless copying. The system is fairly simple, using linguistic association, where a word is written out with everything but the first letter, which is then replaced by the target kanji. For example, the word boat would look like (kanji)oat. The kanji are then grouped together in a fairly nontraditional method using similarity of appearance. This way, you study them all as a group and can learn to detect the small changes that separate one from another. This method is both good and bad, because while it makes it easier to remember the groupings, some very complex kanji are learned next to very simple kanji, and there is no workbook to help master the strokes. There is still a healthy amount of copying, as the author recommends writing each kanji about 30 times, then he composes a sentence in English using the target kanji that is also written about 30 times. Some of the sentences are quite odd and forced to include all the kanji in the grouping, but they are usually helpful.

I have tried the Heisig method, but found it a little too esoteric for my tastes, and I didn't stick with it.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Peter T. Evensen on May 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Beginning a English word with the corresponding kanji is a novel approach. It will help one to remember the meaning, but not the character readings, which is the real challenge. This book does not address this problem.

A word of warning: this book uses ROMAJI for the readings. I do not understand why so many kanji books use romaji. If one wants to learn kanji, surely one can read katakana and hiragana. Romaji is an unnecessary distraction.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Operation Latte Thunder on March 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book is light-years past most other books trying to teach kanji.

While romaji is used for the readings, this is not really a problem.

Some folks worry about copulas...these are present and more comprehensive than many of the other books and flash card sets I have.

Flip through a copy. You will probably like it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jackal on October 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover
High marks for creativity. Learning kanji by using phrases and substituting the first letter of some words with a kanji character. Well? I didn't work for me. At first I found it intriguing, but I tried a few phrases and it didn't stick. I much prefer a modified Heisig approach. So two stars, because the book might work you. It is a serious attempt. But I definitely didn't like the book.

For anyone who cares to know, I found these two books very useful. I have now learnt 1,200 kanji:
1. A Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters (Tuttle language library)
2. The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary

Plus flashcards that are easy to make in Excel. In my case using information from the second recommendation above. That is also a great way to familiarise yourself with the Microsoft IME.

Many people like Heisig's Remembering the Kanji, Vol. 1: A Complete Course on How Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of Japanese Characters and I basically have used a similar approach. I have found that I remember better using a more etymological approach (see first recommendation)
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By emerald ocean on May 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
==================

From Kanji Samurai:

KanjiHybrids narrow down the possible choices, not meant to give outright answers: "ZRountain" could be interpreted as either "mountain or fountain." There is no magic formula or short-cuts, other than the learner's determination. The author intended it that way from beginning to end. In addition, not all cold medicines work for everyone. Some may be allergic to a few. But some works well to some. Each to her own! But this book is great!

==================

From Belton (London):

I found the book heavily discounted so I decided to buy it, mainly because I liked the look of the "Veemeunics" . These are interesting little sentences using these kanji hybrids to link characters in your memory mainly by shape. For instance "istant arden, in fact a Zonkey's den...

And the idea behind using hybrids I find quite interesting. Why "istant is different than " = distant and oddly a more useful connection. I also think the ambiguity at times helps by making me look closer or think harder. I first thought Zonkey might be Donkey because of the potential rhyme. but in fact it's monkey and I think it might now be a permanent memory. or has the potential to be. To be fair to the author he does have this to say. "KanjiHybrids are not an end in itself, but a learning tool to further knowledge. The ultimate goal is familiarity with kanji compounds, pure and simple. You must set in motion a lifetime commitment for advancing your kanji reading and writing skills through constant and continuous application."

Indeed if you take away the hybrids, the method is very much a traditional one. The twist is it's using your 16 years plus of English knowledge to give you a leg up.
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