- Series: Remembering the Kanji (Book 1)
- Paperback: 490 pages
- Publisher: University of Hawaii Press; 6th Updated edition (March 31, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0824835921
- ISBN-13: 978-0824835927
- Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 174 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,327 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Remembering the Kanji 1: A Complete Course on How Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of Japanese Characters 6th Updated Edition
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About the Author
James W. Heisig is a permanent research fellow at the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture in Nagoya, Japan.
Top customer reviews
Let me state that as far as the book itself goes, it looks like a fantastic book with a great system, and I am very happy to pay for it and use it. It is JUST the Kindle version that has a problem, NOT a problem with the book or the system itself.
If I receive a corrected version of the Kindle edition, I will come back and fix this review. If you are wanting to learn Japanese, I will suggest you get this book, but for now order the paperback.
For anyone struggling with the second half of RTK1 or RTK3, google Kanji Koohii (Amazon won't let me paste a link) > You have to create an account but it's completely free. Don't waste your time thinking up hundreds of stories - other people have thought up far funnier and memorable stories already. If you use Kanji Koohii, the second half of RTK1 is not just easy - it's downright fun. Some of the community stories are hilarious.
This approach works better for some kanji than others (e.g. petition is made up of the kanji for meadow and head, and Heisig comes up with some story about you petitioning the Wizard of Oz's head in a meadow, which is downright weird, but it's not like it's symbol combination that has an obvious connection with the meaning of the resulting kanji). So, it's by no means perfect, but it's _way_ better than learning each of the kanji individually based on the frequency that they're used without taking into account which kanji are used to build other kanji. You get a very organized approach to constructing each of the kanji and making them easy to remember (or at least easier to remember) rather than trying to learn how to draw each of them without taking each of the others into account.
Now, that being said, I think that Heisig puts too much store in imaginative memory and thinks that you shouldn't be practicing drawing each kanji over and over to help remember it. I have to argue that using multiple memory mechanisms is going to improve your chances of remembering something, and writing stuff down definitely helps. So, I think that practicing each character several times rather than just memorizing which kanji make it up and writing it maybe once (as Heisig seems to think you should do) is a worse approach. But the tools that he's giving you by organizing the kanji based on which other kanji make them up as well as giving you ways to remember them based on those pieces rather than simply what the kanji looks like as a whole are an _enormous_ help and makes learning more complex kanji far easier. So, while I don't agree with everything that he says, I think that his overall approach is very good. And since I'm an engineer, how logical and organized his system is is _very_ appealing to me.
Now, a serious downside to all of this is that you're learning the kanji in a very different order than anything else is going to use. So, you're not going to get much help from elsewhere (and Heisig actually says that he thinks that learning the kanji using his method combines very badly with more traditional methods such that you shouldn't use this book if you're taking classes or using other textbooks at the same time). It also only covers the kanji themselves and not pronunciation or grammar or anything like that - which I don't think is a bad thing (Heisig points out that it makes it so that when you do learn those things, you're in a position closer to that which a Chinese person would be in, since they'd be familiar with the kanji and their rough meanings but not how they related to Japanese), but the other volumes are supposed to go into that stuff (I haven't gotten to them yet, so I can't comment on them in detail). But even if you were to switch to other textbooks after having learn the kanji covered in volume 1 of this series, you'd be able to go through them that much faster, because you'd recognize the characters and know how to write them, which is obviously a _huge_ barrier to learning Japanese.
On a last note, I'd highly recommend that you pick up the mobile app that goes with this (at the moment, it's under $2). In addition to listing all of the characters in the order that they're in the book, giving you a handy referencee, it shows you how to draw them with an animation (the book shows you which order to draw each stroke but not the direction of the stroke), and it can be used for flash cards, which is fantastic (even allowing you to pick which kanji are in a study list rather than just having a preset set of flashcards). It does seem to be somewhat buggy at the moment, but it works well enough to be well worth it IMHO.
This like someone mentioned in one of there reviews makes the entire book unusable
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