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Remembering the Kanji: Complete Course on How Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of Japanese Characters v. 1 (Manoa) Paperback – 15 May 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 472 pages
  • Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press; 5th edition (15 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0824831659
  • ISBN-13: 978-0824831653
  • Product Dimensions: 22.4 x 15.5 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 461,960 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

James W. Heisig is professor and permanent research fellow at the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture in Nagoya.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By tonberry1 on 30 Mar. 2009
Format: Paperback
I'll try to write something that hasn't been covered by the other reviews. My background before reading (and studying) this book. JLPT ~3, and I knew ~400 kanjis (through the old fashioned memorization).

The Remembering the Kanji is *exactly* what it promises. After reading many reviews and forums, many people think it is something more. It is not.

What does it promise then? Luckily this time (unlike with many other books) you don't have to buy it blindly. Heisig has released a good number of pages freely available on his site, so you can decide before buying. Also as with any method, you have to review the the kanjis systematically. There is a website called Reviewing the Kanji, which although fan made, is done with quality of a commercial site.

One thing though that surprised me, not in a good way. There are stories only for the first 500 or so kanjis. After that, you have to be a little bit creative. But thats where the Reviewing the Kanji -website comes into help (see for yourself).

As you may have already read from other reviews, after reading this, you cannot say that you have mastered the kanjis, this is only the start. At most 1/4 of the work. Maybe even less. But it is quite possible to be able to finish the book in 2-4 months with the reviewing, depending on the time you use daily. After that, and with a basic knowledge of the Japanese grammar and words, you are able to guess new words very easily (although you don't know how to pronounce those). And when you see compounds, I have found that it is easier to remember those now if I know the individual kanjis.

As also pointed out by the other reviewers, the 2000 "general use" kanjis include some kanjis, that I cannot imagine being used daily.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By D. White on 11 Mar. 2009
Format: Paperback
In 'Remembering the Kanji" Heisig has created an effective study guide for learning the meanings of the general-use kanji. Be careful not to believe that this book is going to miraculously help you learn the kanji with little effort, it still requires hard work and concentration.

To help you remember the kanji Heisig has deconstructed the kanji and provided meanings for each particle that make up the characters, introducing elements (or "primitives") systematically throughout the course of the book. In doing so he has made it possible for you to create stories, albeit often tenuous stories (some of them are so silly they are almost annoying), that help you to remember characters. Nevertheless there is no doubt that it is an effective method, though in my opinion there is nothing special about the technique; the same technique could be applied by you with a list of radicals and the kanji and their meanings, either through etymology or through your own interpretation. What is really effective about this book, however, is the layout and the fact that you are provided with all the general-use kanji and their meanings in one book. Kanji are not organised by their number or stroke count, but there is a natural progression that allows you to learn primitives and apply them to several kanji before moving on to new primtives. While this is very effective for learning the meanings of the kanji, those who are revising for the JLPT will not find this book useful unless they have a long period of time to study.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Kirk on 28 Oct. 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I think the only people who don't find this book to be something of a god send either unfortunately don't get on with the mnemonic system, or completely missed the point and gave up (like some of the reviewers).

Stop to think for a second about what this book aims to achieve: being able to write accurately, from memory, 2045 characters, and the ability to very easily learn additional ones. Most people manage this is within 3-6 months, and with consistent SRS review, the results will last a lifetime.

Trying to cram readings on top of that with brute force memorisation completely contradicts the idea of the book. It's hard to believe the people who suggest this have even read the introduction. You will learn lots of readings from seeing characters that you recognise in your studies and reading, and after finishing the book you will recognise ALL the characters.

If you want to learn kanji, you owe it to yourself to at least try to see if this method works for you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By W. Burdin on 3 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback
I bought this book from this site in April 2008 and now, 13 months later, having managed to complete all the lessons, I feel like I'm in a position to give it a fair and honest review.

First, some background about my own experiences of learning Japanese. I had been learning it at weekly sessions at university for three years before I started the Heisig course. I was familiar with a few of the most common Kanji, but, like many, felt that learning the huge number of complicated characters and words was an insurmountable obstacle if you weren't brought up being taught them at school. Having read a number of other reviews and opinions on this book, I decided that the possibility of being able to learn as many new Kanji as this book claimed couldn't be a bad thing!

The basic Heisig method for learning the Kanji involves two stages. In the first book, you learn the basic meanings of around 2,000 Kanji, including the 1,945 Kanji from the Joyo kanji list, plus a few other useful characters. The meanings are expressed in `key words', which help to convey the general sense of the Kanji. Although some characters do have several meanings, only one key word is assigned to each one to reduce possible confusion. Additionally, the writing of these characters is taught, including the correct stroke order, and once you pick up the basic rules for writing Kanji, other, seemingly very complex characters can be written surprisingly easily. The second stage, which is detailed in another book (Remembering the Kanji 2: A Systematic Guide to Reading the Japanese Characters: Vol. 2), teaches the reading of the Kanji and how they combine to form words.
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