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Remembering the Kanji, Vol. 1: A Complete Course on How Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of Japanese Characters 5th Edition

70 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0824831653
ISBN-10: 0824831659
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

James W. Heisig is professor and permanent research fellow at the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture in Nagoya.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 460 pages
  • Publisher: University of Hawaii Press; 5 edition (May 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0824831659
  • ISBN-13: 978-0824831653
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #847,884 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

James W. Heisig is professor emeritus of Nanzan University and permanent research fellow at the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture in Nagoya, Japan.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 55 people found the following review helpful By E. Frias on March 27, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Anyone who states that the Heisig method for learning kanji does not work, says so because they have not tried it. I, myself, was Anti-Heisig for a good 5 years after I saw it on the bookshelf. I remember picking it up and saying "Ha, this book is a joke! It ONLY teaches you the meaning? WHAT A JOKE!!", and I also remember putting it back on the shelf and walking away from it not knowing what a gold mine I had just passed up on. After finding about the AJATT method for learning Japanese (you MUST google AJATT if you really want to learn Japanese), I completed Heisig's Remembering the Kanji book 1 + 3 and in 6 months I was able to learn 3,000 kanji perfectly! I could recognize every single kanji in books and instead of drawing blanks when I would see kanjis, I now see meanings. After the 6 months of studying the kanjis, I started learning to read real Japanese kanji in context through sentences found in the Yahoo Jiten (Yahoo online Japanese Dictionary). After about a year of studying sentences with learning to read the kanji in context like a real Japanese person, I am able to communicate with online Japanese friends, have a normal conversation in Japanese, and read fiction books.

After Heisig, this is how you will learn Kanji readings. After looking up a word, let's say "Sunshine" you'll see that it is pronounced as "youkou" and it's kanjis are Sunshine+Ray. That's it, you're done. It's that simple! Now whenever you see Sunshine+Ray together you know it's read "youkou". After graduating from Heisig, you won't waste countless hours writing out the kanjis to memorize them because you HAVE ALREADY MEMORIZED THEM. That is a such a gift. Genius.

I used to HATE Heisig, I used to think that it was the stupidest way of learning kanji, but now after graduating from Remembering the Kanji, I bow my head in humility to Heisig because Remembering the Kanji and the AJATT method of learning Japanese have blessed me with the gift of fluency. I did it, and you can too.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Micah Cowan on September 20, 2010
Format: Paperback
Bottom Line: It works

Okay, so here's the bottom line. It _works_. It does precisely what it sets out to do. I've been studying the Japanese language since I was 13 years old; it's now been about 20 years of studying the language. It hasn't been entirely consistent; it has often been a few months on (full-bore), a few months off (after burnout). Before I worked through RTK, I was probably familiar with around 300-400 of the most frequently-used kanji. I could never seem to get much past that hump, it always felt very much like an uphill battle, and even though I'd hit the foot of the hill running full-bore, I'd never quite make it to the top before, exhausted, I'd start to slip downhill again.

I'd beat my head against a Japanese Reader (A Japanese Reader: Graded Lessons for Mastering the Written Language (Tuttle Language Library)) for a while, which, though organized in such a way as to intrudce a few characters at a time, instead of leaving you to deal with whatever characters you may happen to find in other reading materials, still progressed fairly rapidly, and was also fairly outdated. Then I'd beat my head against some "real" reading material for a while. Then I'd try to ramp myself up on gradeschool-level texts, so there'd be fewer kanji to deal with; but this doesn't necessarily help so much, since kanji can often be a key to understanding a compound word's roots, and help a good deal in learning the words from which they're built.

The problem is, every time I came to an unfamiliar kanji, it would put a hard stop to the flow of my reading.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Peter P. Parisi on October 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
Several reviewers have downgraded this book because it wasn't what they expected. You should know up front: the book teaches nothing beyond the kanji. You will not learn a single Japanese word from this book. This is the book's strength! With a little exertion of the imagination, you learn the Japanese characters in a rational way, through a technique called "component-analysis." That is, Mr. Heisig has broken the characters down into elements that combine with each other to produce more complicated characters.

Heisig's motto is "Divide and conquer." He isn't kidding. If you manage to get through this book--and I grant that it is not easy, just easier than the way the average Japanese child does it!--you will have overcome the greatest obstacle to fluency in Japanese. The grammar is not complicated and the vocabulary no harder than that of any other language. It is the task of learning about 2000 intricate ideographs that defeats most students.

Don't take my word for it: go to a website called "Reviewing the Kanji" and see for yourself. Check out another site called "Kanjiclinic." The book has strong partisans because it works.

Finally, while some students have had remarkable success, learning all 1945 kanji in as short a time as three months, don't be afraid to take your time. Consider: if it takes you 4 years to complete this book, learning 1-3 kanji a day in your spare time, you will have completed the task in less than half the time it takes a Japanese child, studying an hour or two every school day.
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