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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

71 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 (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #437,428 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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By B. Vazquez on December 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book delivers on it's promise. Learning in a few months the core meaning in English of over 2000 Kanji and how to draw them in proper order. The later stories in the book require the reader's active imagination, though. I would recommend the website "Reviewing the Kanji" at [...] Users post their own stories for particular Kanji, and some are truly memorable. Plus a community forum of fellow Heisig Method students for advice and encouragement. I would also recommend the Firefox add-on Moji, on: [...]
Very good for underlining and looking up Kanji, their roots, pronunciation, meaning and reference a number of dictionaries.
Finally, a good Flashcard program, like Anki, with a deck in Heisig cards included, and you're good to go!
Try Heisig for a month. Give it just an hour a day and you'll be recognising over 300 common Kanjin in the Japanese press and amazing yourself. After that, you will not want to give it up.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By leosmith on August 14, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There were already 120 reviews for Remembering the Kanji by the time I wrote this, so I'm not going to focus on the excellent points that my fellow reviewers have covered. Instead, let me tell you how Heisig changed my life.

6 years ago I decided to learn the language of my Mitsubishi coworkers. I had studied other languages before, but never anything as demanding as Japanese. I was expecting to make steady progress in the language while only putting in 1 hour per day. But 1 hour soon became 2 hours, and that wasn't the worst thing that was going on. I still wasn't able to make the kanji stick. I tried writing them over and over, and even some mnemonics, but no luck - I just wasn't remembering them. I finally decided to search the internet, which lead me to these very reviews. I was impressed by what I read, and found the free PDF of the first 100 or so pages of the book at the Nanzan Institute. I tried the method, and was astonished at how well it worked. I ordered the book, and devoted 10 hours per week. I finished it in about 6 months.

It was a very difficult exercise. Not just because I was using paper flashcards, but because it took 2 to 3 hours a day of difficult, intense memory work. By the end I was surprised at how taxing it was, since it had started out so easy. The accumulation of cards over time was something I hadn't accounted for. But when I finished, it was an incredible feeling of accomplishment. I felt like I'd climbed Mount Everest. It was a life changing event, because I never knew I could work that hard toward a goal, and achieve such an intellectual accomplishment. I was now confident of my abilities to learn Japanese. In fact, I didn't stop there. I went on to learn Mandarin, Spanish, Thai and French.
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