- Series: Tuttle Language Library
- Paperback: 192 pages
- Publisher: Tuttle Publishing; Bilingual edition (November 15, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 4805309814
- ISBN-13: 978-0804804967
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 67 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #812,496 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Read Japanese Today: The Easy Way to Learn 400 Practical Kanji (Tuttle Language Library) Paperback – November 15, 2008
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"A simple first step, learning to read the first 300 Kanji characters; the same way Japanese elementary school students do. It gives topical examples of signage and localities from around Tokyo, so it would be particularly helpful for the first timer language neophyte in Japan. Considering that acquiring just a few thousand Kanji takes most of a High School education, you can't really ask for more in an easy to read book." —Goodreads
About the Author
Len Walsh has studied and taught Japanese in both the United States and Japan.
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Top customer reviews
I like the way Mr. Welsh delivers, but I think it was a bad idea to leave out the kana. For example the kanji for old. He put the kanji is pronounced "Furui" and in reality it is "Furu" and the "i" is in kana. I understand that he's trying to make it easier to memorize, but I think in the end it will just leave the readers confused when they encounter the kanji in the real world. They'll end up reading it as "furui-i"
To minimize my confusion, I use my Japanese keyboard on my iphone to type in the kanji so I can find out which syllables are actually part of the kanji, and which are the kana. There are probably other ways to figure it out, but this is just how I do it.
I would recommend this book if you're serious about learning kanji and need an easy way to learn. Just make sure to find out which parts are the kanji itself, and which part are in kana. I do want to say that it does take some dedication. (Perhaps flash cards or multiple reads of each section).
Enough about me, on to the review! This book starts out by delving into the origins of kanji and the changes made through the centuries, leading to modern-day kanji formation. As each new kanji in the book is explained, the author builds on the information before it by connecting the ideas behind the meanings of the strokes, both current and originally. This makes the learning process very fluid and easy to remember. Walsh also indicates which pronunciations to use when, and any exceptions there may be for a specific kanji. Not only that, but there is an index at the back of the book of all the 400 kanji explained in the book, along with their meanings and pronunciations.
If you are self-teaching yourself the Japanese language I highly recommend this book. Even if you are learning through a class I think this book will still help to reinforce your lessons and really help make the material stick. Happy learning!
where I took a flash card-type test. Yes, indeed! I aced the equivialent of the Japanese 6th form! How could I possibly have recalled all those ideograms? And I was less than half way through the book! One can quite easily run through this book in under a month, however, being the busy sort, I was only able run through the tutorials at bedtime ... a few pages at a time before nodding off ... paying little attention at first to the On and Kuhn pronunciations. You should save that extra effort for another time. First prepare to recognize the pictographs. That takes most of the memorization effort out of the 'picture,' so to speak. Then, all you'll have left are the sounds (and you almost don't really require these as they are not always used in spoken vocabulary but mostly in the written form (and often, these are accompanied by Furikana, completely eliminating the need). Although there are few more than 400 Kanji in this text, these are among the most practical Kanji to know and I see them everywhere I look. The final 14 pages of 'Today' is, alone, worth the price of the book. The next book to use is "Essential Kanji" (P.G. O'Neill). This may be used simultaneously with 'Jap. Today' and covers more territory but is organized in a more detailed, summary-type format and may be carried around for practical review. It covers 2,000 characters , is remarkably easy to use and serves as your constant guide until you feel you have mastered the idiom. When you no longer have use for "Essential...," you also will have little use for a Kanji dictionary. The third and last book to have around is "Kanji ABC" (Foerster & Tamura). This is a really terrific text based on the 'radical/grapheme' concept and lends a new visual dimension to the task of memorization that allows one not only to read Kanji effortlessly but to derive a meaning from a character or compound that one has not previously encountered. This book is also a must! In my experience, these are the only three books you will need to master this intensely difficult area of the language. I do have the Kanji Flashcards but have always found them rather cumbersome. Don't forget to tune into the above mentioned website. You won't be sorry. It's the best of the Kanji/Kana practice sites I have ever encountered on the Internet.
It doesn't really give you a break down between kun'yomi or on'yomi readings but instead declares the kanji readings as "by itself" or in a "compound word". Which isn't necessarily bad, it does make it easier to make sense of the readings.
I very much enjoy this book. The history of the kanji pictograph and the adaptions over the years really catches the readers attention. The only thing that I was unable to wrap my head around was the romaji (alphabet letters) for the readings. While I understand that romaji makes it easier for the reader to pronuciate the kanji, the romaji provides a crutch for someone who is serious about learning Japanese. The romaji keeps the reader reading in English as oppose to reading in hiragana or katakana which should be the foundation for reading Japanese and learning kanji. Reading the kanji readings in the Japanese writing systems ultimately helps the reader get into the state of mind of reading in Japanese. However, even if you can't really begin to read kanji if you don't know hiragana or katakana, the author does provide the reader with a hiragana and katakana chart in the back of the book.