Customer Reviews: A Guide to Writing Japanese Kanji & Kana Book 1: A Self-Study Workbook for Learning Japanese Characters (Tuttle Language Library)
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on September 3, 2006
After hitting a plateau in my Japanese studies, I realized that a solid grounding in kanji was really holding back my progress. I knew that I needed a systematic approach to the 1,945 jyouyou characters and recalled that this series had been used as the kanji textbook at my alma mater, Princeton University, in the Japanese language study curriculum. I worked this two textbook series for about 4.5 years and it has really paid off (e.g., JLPT kanji tests are a snap, even level 1). The ordering, while different from most other kanji instruction orderings, flows nicely and doesn't overwhelm the student with too many similar kanji in a row (e.g., it doesn't group by radical and present every character containing that radical). Granted, some fairly common characters aren't introduced until much later in the series, but this is a small sacrifice for an ordering that flows and supports systematic recall.

If you can speak basic Japanese and can read some characters -- but are coming to terms with the fact that you are going to have to learn the jyouyou sooner or later -- don't hesitate: by this series and get going. If you have zero experience with Japanese and are looking for survival skills in kanji and are living in Japan, I'd suggest using the Helsig approach, which has you learning basic kanji meanings before readings and written style. After all, what good does knowing the readings for "danger: slow down" characters on a sign if you don't know what they mean?

BTW, I often hear students asking why bother investing in learning how to write the characters by hand given that most writing is done on computers anyway. Don't fall into this trap: there is no better way to cement a characters morphology and meaning in your memory than learning to write. It has worked for students of the graphology for millenia -- it will work for you, too.
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on October 14, 2005
I am 20, and I have been trying to learn Japanese off and on since I was 16. Recently I have tried to get back into learning it and this book has been the most useful so far, for one main reason, it has spaces for you to write the kanji, the hiragana, and the katakana. For years I have been trying to learn the Kanji by just looking at them, that did not work so well, but this system in the book of drawing them out has finally help me to remember them. Maybe I should of just got a kanji dictionary and some loose leaf paper. Then again, most other kanji dictionaries don't have stroke order and also the box shapes did help me to keep my kanji from being to sloppy.

The book also has samples of words the kanji are used in, which also helped me. Since most Japanese words are hard to remember, knowing the kanji that make them up helps make me learn the words.
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on June 21, 2007
I tried many books, and this is the best I could find. It starts with hiragana. With each character you learn, it teaches you words using combinations of characters you previously learned. The next section is katakana, and it's the same thing: combinations of previously learned characters. The last 75% of this book is kanji, and once again, the combinations are only with kanji characters you have previously learned. The order of the characters differs from the way many text books teach you, but it is well structured.

Some kanji books I've used tried to teach by relating the character to a picture. This might work for young children, but it doens't work for me. I learn by structured lessons.

The majority of the space on each page is made up of empty squares for you to practice writing. This is useful because you should be attempting to mimic the example character. With every square, you will write more like the example. This book will cause your kanji to be complimented by Japanese people because of how neat it is. Also, the more times you write a character, the more times it will be cemented into your head.

Using the index in the back of the book, you can find any character in the book. When I'm writing my homework assignment and I come across a kanji character I don't know (or don't know very well), I look it up in the index and practice writing it about 5 times. Then I move on with my assignment. Look up a character 3 or 4 times and it is yours to keep.

This book will not teach you Japanese. It is designed to accompany a text book, and it's best used side by side with your homework assignments. I recommend this for beginners, and also for those aspiring a 3 or 2 on the JLPT. Do not attempt to learn Japanese without this book. The price is justified.
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on July 16, 2016
I love this book! I have been studying Japanese language for 2 years now. Not only is it great review for the kanji I have already been introduced to, but it also makes mastering new kanji a snap.

Each kanji is shown with stroke order, examples, and readings. I am finding it quite helpful in my continued study of the language.
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on July 22, 2010
I've been using this all summer to learn 12 kanji a day and it's been amazing. It gives you lots of space to practice, plus plenty of kanji combinations to show how each character can work with other characters. It gives all the readings, some of which I didn't learn when I took Japanese in high school. I'm the sort of person that learns best with repetition, so this book has been extremely helpful. The only qualm I have with it is that the index is a little hard to use, or just not comprehensive... often I try to look up a kanji by its reading and can't find it, although perhaps it simply isn't there... in any case, this is a great book and a great resource for learning kanji!

If I had gotten another book, though, I feel it would have been helpful to get one that explains the stories/reasons behind the shapes of the kanji, but this is definitely a good start and I recommend it to anyone trying to learn Japanese.
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on May 21, 2013
I was looking for a self-teaching guide to writing all the kanji in the Japanese language, and although this is just the first half, I am very, very pleased with it. It gives you the Kanji, how to pronounce it, and it gives you a tracing guide for the first two boxes, then you have to do it by yourself from there. It's great for practicing and memorization.
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on May 14, 2006
This book was very helpful in my Japanese studies in that it shows relationships between calligraphy and typed symbols and gave phrase examples to show the meaning and, in some cases, origin of words and symbols.
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on December 15, 2012
If you are not familiar with the japanese writing system, I would suggest to buy this book. I really did not know anything except the hanzi which is the chinese form but this book really guides you in writing kanji and kana. Just be warned that this is not a conversational book, this is just another tool that will be extremely useful to establishing yourself in the japanese language. Go for it. I can say that I really like it!
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on September 27, 2007
This book gives easy to follow instructions for how to write kanji and gives good examples of words in which the kanji is used. When giving examples, it gives the page numbers of the other kanji used for quick reference, which is really useful. The downside is that it does not give the hiragana that follows the kanji, so you have to already be familiar with the various forms the word takes by itself. Thus, I would not suggest it for any new speakers or people just wanting to learn how to write Japanese.
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on February 15, 2013
I have attempted to master the kanji using so many methods and I have finally found the book that has given me the drive and inspiration to forge ahead. The feature that I found most useful is the grouping of several kanji that are very similar and therefore easily confused, or kanji with related meaning.

Jocelyne Lebon
Author of Clementine's Uncommon Scents
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