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250 Essential Japanese Kanji Characters: v. 1 (Kanji Text Research Group) Paperback – 3 Oct 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Tuttle Shokai Inc; Revised edition edition (3 Oct. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 4805309466
  • ISBN-13: 978-4805309469
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 21.6 x 27.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,048,112 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Learning kanji - the system of Japanese writing based on Chinese characters - is the most challenging aspect of the language. This time-tested book, now in an enhanced and revised new edition, enables you to master kanji, with tested methods from the Kanji Text Research Group at the University of Tokyo. Each lesson helps you master a new group of kanji, and consists of several sections: Introductory Quiz, Vocabulary, New Character Grids, Practice, and Advanced Placement Exam Practice Questions. Either an etymology or a memory aid is offered for each kanji, to give students a base for understanding and memorizing the kanji systematically and correctly. The new editions of Volumes 1 and 2 now include: all 410 kanji that are required for the United States College Board AP Japanese Language and Culture Course Exam; and, expanded exercises, including special Advanced Placement Exam Practice questions.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jean Mclucas on 8 May 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent book - the best I have bought so far to learn Kanji as it gives visual memory aids to remembering and recognising the characters. Large clear illustrations and stroke order with room to practice.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David Ashford on 9 May 2009
Format: Paperback
Great way to start off learning your first 250 kanji.
Like the setup of the exercises, and having the origin of the kanji there really helps me to remember them.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
While not for beginners still useful 21 Mar. 2011
By Timothy Byrne - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is NOT a beginners Kanji book. The book seems to presume you've had about a semester of spoken Japanese, and throws you right into the middle of it, expecting you to be able to make since of basic sentences transcribed in Hiragana. Moreover the 250 essential kanji are NOT the 250 most basic Kanji per the Japanese education system and tests. The emphasis on the book is clearly on kanji you will confront as a traveler: schedules, maps, signs, menus, etc.
I do think this is in fact a very good book to have, but as a second book to use along with a more traditional introduction to kanji. It's emphasis on real-world kanji you will see every day in Japan is a nice supplement to the more standard texts.
There's a dilemma you face in learning kanji. If you stick with extensions of the radicals you already now, you'll learn new kanji quickly, but you'll forget it just as quickly, because you'll never use it. On the other hand if you learn kanji based on frequency of use you'll be all over the map in terms of sub-characters and radicals. It will take longer to learn it this way, but you'll remember it more.
That's not such a a dilemma really, since there is little value in learning something only to forget it right away. That's why books like this exist. It's harder to learn the language this way, but you actually learn it in a way that you can use it.
I'd suggest mixing this in as an alternate text with another more academically oriented kanji text. Though for a motivated learner with a decent introduction to spoken Japanese it would probably work.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Excellent, but learn your Japanese grammar first! 26 April 2010
By Joshua Davies - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book states that it's good for beginners - I wouldn't say that this is true; you won't get anything out of it if you don't already have a decent background in Japanese grammar. Hiragana and Katakana are used throughout as well - you will probably want to spend some time getting to know both before you dive into this book.

The book is divided into 21 lessons. Each one presents a dozen or so new Kanji characters, but always in the context of a realistic example such as a menu, a flier, a hospital, etc. Rather than focusing on characters individually, most are presented in the context of compounds, since that's how they usually occur in the language. I picked it up as a refresher - but there turned out to be a lot of characters presented here that I wasn't familiar with. Rather than present the characters in the Joyo Kanji order like most other books do, this book assumes that the reader is an adult, and presents characters and topics that would be of interest to adults. The examples are completely realistic (they're probably real, actually), and entirely useful.

My only complaint was that the examples spent maybe a little too much time focusing on place names in Tokyo - if you don't live in Tokyo, this won't be of particular use, and it takes up more of the book than I would have expected. Still, my Japanese reading comprehension definitely improved after working through this book - I've already placed an order for volume 2, and I can't wait until it arrives.
This book is very easy to comprehend and quickly gets you up to speed ... 14 July 2014
By leisure coach - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is very easy to comprehend and quickly gets you up to speed in both reading and grammar. But you need to be consistent with your studies, or you can quickly forget what you have learned.
I like the way that this book brings in examples from previous lessons.
Kindle edition - FLAWED 4 Jan. 2014
By Mikhail Shelan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have to second one of the other reviewers - do NOT buy the Kindle edition. Not only does kanji text break up over lines (i.e., does not fit properly on the page), I noticed a consistent misapplication of " making for improper readings of many hiragana (e.g., DA instead of TA, GA instead of KA, etc). This last is truly annoying as I have to look at romaji to figure out if the author really does mean DA instead of TA.

Another minor annoyance is the use of elongated O instead OU to represent OU hiragana combo...basically I have to switch between looking at Hiragana and Romaji to puzzle out the actual sound/reading of a kanji.

However, I have to also say that this is a great book to help one get acclimated with Kanji in common use. I wish I came across it during my life in Tokyo - would've helped me in reading and writing Emails and less reliant on friends.
Do not buy the Kindle version. 18 Sept. 2013
By T. Carrel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book itself is great, but don't waste your money on the Kindle edition. I'm using a new (at this time) Kindle Fire HD 8.9, on the Kindle the tables and other important charts lose their formating and I'm spending most of my important study-time trying to figure out what's written in this book instead of actually learning anything and my grades have taken a hit as a result.
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