Kodansha's Elementary Kanji Dictionary Paperback – 4 Sep 2001
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
It is not a comprehensive list of kanji, but it does contain most of the commonly used ones. That's all you'll need 95% of the time, especially when you're only dealing with a textbook. Plus, it's small enough that it won't add tons of extra weight to your already brimming backpack.
So, how does it work? You can find kanji by the number of strokes in the radicals, by the dictionary in the back of the book, and by the radical list on the back cover. It's so user friendly! Basically, it lists radicals by the number of strokes in the top right-hand corner of the page, and then lists the radicals down the right-hand side of the page. It highlights the radical section you are currently in (sort of like a dictionary that highlights which letter you're on). And, located underneath each radical, there are kanji with all of their on and kun readings, and small definitions for each reading.
If you don't know what the radical is, you just check out the radicals on the back cover and check each one until you find the appropriate kanji. It's so handy!
One thing this copy does that I don't understand: it includes a small printout of the kana. Why is this an afterthought rather than included in the introduction? It's a tiny slip of paper and is easily lost. It helps if you use it for a bookmark. However, if you're getting into kanji, chances are you won't need this slip, so this is only a minor annoyance.
If you're a student intending to enter advanced Japanese courses, get this book. You will be glad you did!
Only the first 6 grades are covered. If you don't know what your materials require, you'll likely not find plenty of characters.
Key meanings of Kanji are done poorly. Too many meanings that seem unrelated. The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary picks one or two key meanings in RED color and shows how they are related.
No SKIP method to lookup Kanji.
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