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"Remembering the Kanji" by James Heisig


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Hi all. In the future I might be interested in studying Japanese. A resource for learning Kanji that I found was a book called "Remembering the Kanji" by James Heisig. I read some positive reviews about it. Has anyone here tried, and if so what was your experience? Thanks!

PS There is a pdf section of the book online for free (legally) if you want to check it out.

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Well, I'm not a fan. It's certainly not the best book for beginners: it doesn't give you the stroke order (which is very important at the beginning, when you don't really know it at all just yet) or the readings (VERY important as well), just the meaning and what the characters look like.

I'd recommend getting Basic Kanji Book, for example.

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Hi all. In the future I might be interested in studying Japanese. A resource for learning Kanji that I found was a book called "Remembering the Kanji" by James Heisig. I read some positive reviews about it. Has anyone here tried, and if so what was your experience? Thanks!

PS There is a pdf section of the book online for free (legally) if you want to check it out.

Hi SirTenenbaum

I do agree with Czarownica that it would be really nice to get the stroke order of the characters and also the different readings. However, I do not think that this can be regarded as a "flaw", as James. W. Heisig sure was aware about all those important things that go with the study of a character. He must have thought that it makes sense to simplify things and he possibly wants to draw your full attention to the character itself. Still, I am not sure whether this really is a good approach to study characters. I did study with this book and also with the Chinese equivalent "Remembering the Hanzi" and I was able to study 800 characters in 3 weeks. Sounds great, no? The bad thing about it is that I almost forgot everything that I was learning after a few weeks / month.

So, in short words: I personally think that "Remembering the Hanzi" is a fun way to learn characters and it can certainly help to motivate you to get into learning of characters (to read all those stories and make up stories on your own can be really fun at the beginning). However, for an effective study of characters, the foundation of this "method" is not solid/complex enough and you would need to use different resources at the SAME time to make it more effective. If you are a beginner, it will be difficult to combine it with other helping tools though, as you would need to have something like an ipad or so where you can actually draw/write the characters, so that you would get the different readings and in some apps/programs you might also get the correct stroke order. The problem? Usually when entering/drawing a character in one of those "apps", you ALREADY need to know the stroke order (does not always need to be perfect but you definitely need some knowledge about the correct stroke order), if not, the program will not recognize your character input.

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  • 6 months later...

Old thread, I know... But I recently got my copy of Remembering the Kanji in the mail, actually... Three days ago if i remember correctly. The sixth/newest edition that is, and I got it new from Bookdepository. I did use some old Pdf I found online before, but since it didn't include all the kanji that the new edition has, I thought I was better off buying a copy. (I think it was the fourth edition that I found on pdf...). Either way, it's a good enough book for me to want to support Heisig with my cash.

Honestly I do think that RTK is a very good method. At first I too thought that it would be very important to learn the readings and everything, and for about 50 kanji or so, I did learn as many meanings and readings as possible for each and every kanji. I did however realise that after doing 50 of them, it wasn't really worth my time. After reading some more on the subject and asking about other peoples opinions, I got to the conclusion that it's better if i just learn the readings with vocabulary instead of with the kanji. Surely there can be some great usage of knowing a lot of readings right off the bat, but I found that it doesn't really matter all that much, atleast not to me.

So, I'm now only learning one meaning per kanji, and doing everything the RTK way. It's going much faster, and I could probably learn up to 50 kanji a day if I spent a lot of time on it. I don't quite have that much time though, and I do spend some time doing Anki flashcards to repeat the old ones I've learned, but yeah...

It's a great book, which will get you on your feet really quickly. I think the most important part about knowing the kanji is just to recognize them. As in general, you're mostly going ot be reading them in compound words and all, the most important thing is of course to know those compound words/vocabulary. But to know those, you're going to need to recognize the kanji, otherwise it'll be hard... There are of course also times where one kanji = one word, but you can learn things like those while studying vocabulary aswell.

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