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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and very useful book., 21 Jan 2004
This review is from: Read Japanese Today (Paperback)
A friend of mine recommended this book to me before I went out to Japan for six months, and it was a BOON!
It starts with the simplest Kanji (characters), and clearly explains their origins and meanings. Then it shows how these 'elemental' characters are built up into more complex characters, with more complex meanings. After getting through the book I found that I could understand lots of common Kanji in Japan, even though I wasn't actually 'reading' them. It was a bit more like seeing road signs - you understand them 'directly' without any sound entering your mind at all.
If you also get a simple book on the spoken language, and also learn the two phonetic alphabets (Hiragana and Katakana - not too difficult to learn), you'll find you can get along surprisingly well in Japan.
This was all twenty years ago, but I remember going through this book so fondly that I've just ordered a copy to go through again!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for any student of Japanese, 22 Feb 2007
By 
This review is from: Read Japanese Today (Paperback)
I had read rave reviews for this little book and so I felt I had to get a copy and see what all of the fuss was about.

My initial reaction was one of disappointment as this the both the format and the writing style of this book is quite unlike any other textbook I have ever come across - However, once I began reading it I realised that this is precisely its strength !

Once I had settled down into a regular pattern of reading a few pages of this book I realised that I was suddenly increasing my knowledge and recognising basic Kanji with ease.

The small size of this book makes it the perfect companion for your daily commute or any other journey and belies the wealth of information that it contains - all of which is conveyed in a light and informal manner that makes learning the basic Kanji easy and enjoyable.

I have only a few very minor critisms:-

Firstly, the lack of index (although a free index has been written by another "fan" of this book and can be obtained online free of charge)

Secondly, the small size of the book means that there is no "stroke order" of the Kanji included. However the primary "Raison d'etre" of this book is remembering / recognizing the Kanji rather than the actual art of writing.

Finally, there are a couple of pages where the typesetting / layout appears to be slightly bizarre - but this does not adversely affect the content.

Therefore in summary, if you are seeking a good introductary aid to remembering the first 300 (or so)Kanji - then buy this book, read (and re-read)a few pages each day, and you will not be disappointed.

A superb little book that should be in the collection of all students of the Japanese language.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read Japanese Today, 15 July 2005
By 
Spider Monkey (UK) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Read Japanese Today (Paperback)
`Read Japanese Today' is a short, but brilliant, start to learning how to read Japanese. The descriptions of each word are very clear and as the author describes how the words are formed and also the roots of each word, you can visually see how the shape came about and so remember them easier. I found this to be interesting in it's own right, good for beginners to whet their appetite and learn the structure of Japanese writing in an accessible way and invaluable in learning to read Japanese overall. Worth considering.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Actually makes learning kanji easier and interesting, 23 July 2009
By 
Mr. S. M. Hicks (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Read Japanese Today (Paperback)
Firstly, I'll state the ONE problem I have with this book, it does nothing to help remember all the different readings of each kanji. You may pick up some of them, but remembering the readings will still take much effort. All the book does, is list a few of the common readings, but there's no easy way to remember them.
However, where this book really shines, is remembering the meaning of the kanji. Once you start understanding each element of each kanji, they stop looking like random squiggles, and they start looking like pictures made up of smaller, simple pictures. Since I've started reading it, I'm finding that I remember a lot of more kanji than I used to, with little effort, and for a few, where I can't remember the reading, its a simple case to make sure I revise them a little bit extra with additional tools such as smart.fm
The book does exactly what it says, it helps you read japanese, just make sure you pair this book with other learning tools to help with the other aspects of the language (namely, writing, speaking and listening).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The first book to buy starting with japanese, 12 Oct 2007
By 
Katia Borghi "Katia B." (RE Italy) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Read Japanese Today (Paperback)
I found the book very fascinating and useful, the best "entrance door" if you want to go on studying Japanese, and a nice reading if you just want to know a little bit more about Japanese culture. It makes you learn the most important kanji in the easiest and funnniest way, better than many more expensive and difficult book.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't be put off by there only being 300, 9 Feb 2004
By 
oja7 "oja7" (Huddersfield, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Read Japanese Today (Paperback)
All the characters have meanings of their own; what could be an easier way for remembering the meanings of Kanji, than by learning meanings of these. Forget just learning by rote, trying to remember the sequence of lines; and expose yourself to the etymology of the characters. Some of the derivations are crazy, but that's the way it is; and it still makes sense than imposing another level of complication by trying to learn Heisig's misleading stories. Don't be put off by there only being 300 total symbols, or whatever it is; you'll get a grounding that far exceeds that number, compared to other "The first 10000 Kanji" titles, and allows you to better understand what's going on in all of them.
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4.0 out of 5 stars No longer pocket sized, 7 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Read Japanese Today: The Easy Way to Learn 400 Practical Kanji (Tuttle Languge Library) (Paperback)
I have the 60's first edition that I love most for its convenient pocket sizing. I thought this would be the same but disappointingly for me it's now a normal sized text book, no longer fit for the pocket. Other than that this edition has 100 more kanji and new indexes. So 4 out of 5 due to the doing away with the pocket sizing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Make sure this is what you need, 17 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Read Japanese Today: The Easy Way to Learn 400 Practical Kanji (Tuttle Languge Library) (Paperback)
Don't get me wrong, this is a good book with mnemotechnics for remembering a good number of kanjis and it would be very useful for the ones learning Japanese or for those ones travelling to Japan who want to uunderstand basic signs (like which toilet is the lady's), but it lacks a few important things.

First, this book will help you to remember the meaning of the kanjis and their most common combinations, but not their pronunciation (some pronunciations are included, but always in romaji and not for whole words), so if you want to learn Japanese you need something else. This book would be a great support for help you remembering the kanjis.

Second, the book doesn't show you how to draw each kanji. It includes the generic rules, but there is a lot of exceptions and with japanese kanji there is a certain order for each stroke in the ideogram. This is one of the main things I was expecting from the book and I felt disappointed with.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Does What it Says, 25 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Read Japanese Today: The Easy Way to Learn 400 Practical Kanji (Tuttle Languge Library) (Paperback)
I'm not kidding, this book really does what it says. I can easily still remember what characters have what meanings and how to read them. The only downside I would say is that it doesn't show you how to write the kanji, but then again that is not the reason why this book was published. I will definitely recommend this book as this has been a major help for me. =D

Oh and I have to give this side comment - as I am very geeky I actually counted almost ten times to see how many kanjis there are in this book. I got total of 562, so this is a book definitely worth more than I bargained for =)
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5.0 out of 5 stars the best Kanji book ever, 11 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Read Japanese Today: The Easy Way to Learn 400 Practical Kanji (Tuttle Languge Library) (Paperback)
The book is fun to use and easy to follow you cant help but learn it may take longer than the 10 days the author says, it as with me but i think its best i,ve seen so far when you learn what and how the Kanji is made up it seems simple.
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