James W. Heisig – Remembering the Kanji 1. In the book these kanji are taught using stories. These kanji are learned the fastest if you read the book as well. Remembering the Kanji I: A Complete Course on How Not to Forget the Meaning and 1 4th Edition (Japanese Edition) [James W. Heisig] on On-Yomi: カイ. Heisig story: The key word refers to kanji that are written in full, squared form, as opposed to cursive writing which is more flowing andabbreviates.

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The following is my review, which I also plan to post on Amazon. It does precisely what it sets out to do. Before I worked through RTK, I was probably familiar with around of the most frequently-used kanji. The problem is, every time I came to an unfamiliar kanji, it would put a hard stop to the flow of my reading.

Since finishing volume one of RTK about a week agoreading is dramatically easier for me. It is the beginning: The other common complaint I hear is that no one who finishes this book goes on to gain an intermediate-to-advanced understanding of Japanese. This is silly, as in order for this to be true, the book would actually have to have some property that prevents you from further study.

In any case, nearly every time this challenge is issued, someone steps forward as a counter-example. Well, I mean, duh? Anki has several sets of flashcards for RTK that you can download right from within the application, and kanji.

Review: Remembering the Kanji, volume 1, by James W Heisig

You will not only need to review, you will need to review a lot. You will become frustrated at how quickly you can forget kanji, or at least pieces of kanji, and how certain kanji fortunately just a handful for me keep slipping from hiesig memory over and over tip: Alright, now for some complaints about the book. The keywords chosen for kanji are frequently very poor choices IMO.

In several cases, the English keywords themselves are obscure, and I have to look them up in a dictionary. Using the keyword in an example sentence for each character or something would have been appreciated. Often they are obscure and rambling monologues with only light connections to the elements in the kanji.

I very frequently replaced them with my own visualized connections, and was quite happy when Heisig finally stopped providing his own clumsy narratives. Why yes, yes, I did. Why do I still recommend this book, then you may ask? He provided unique keywords to associate with each primitive jeisig each character, so that you can easily review from keyword-to-kanji.

As for the stories, you can always substitute your own and, heiisg the majority of the book, are required to in any case. The book does a good job of teaching you how to write the characters properly, and illustrates the differences between printed and written forms; and most of all, it presents everything in an order that streamlines learning.

The system itself has a few disadvantages which are worth mentioning, even though in my opinion they are crushingly outweighed by the advantages of this system. First, a significant portion of your energy in reviewing and associating the characters with keywords, is that many of the keywords are confusingly similar.

This is an unavoidable consequence of trying to map each character to a unique and individual keyword, since many kanji have very rt meanings which are often used to reinforce eachother when they are paired to make a kanji compound word.

Some keywords differ only very, very slightly.

James W. Heisig – Remembering the Kan – Memrise

Additionally, this system comes with a condition: This can be a daunting task to contemplate, and this is only for the worse since as far as I know, this system will not be effective if it is interrupted. It takes a very similar approach to learning the kanji, and in particular focuses on the same key concept behind RTK: In my opinion, it also has a tendency to choose more useful keywords ueisig the primitives than RTK does.


However, it suffers from two shortcomings that really prevent it from being as effective as RTK, in my opinion: I would love to see someone rfk rework this system, and perhaps choose better keywords, and address some of the other problems I mentioned above.

However, it still remains at this time, the most effective system for quickly gaining a solid repertoire of characters, and at the end of it, you really can read Japanese much more effectively. Between the different editions of volume 1, there are mostly the addition of a few characters, and some changes to what some of the mnemonic rhk are. As for the difference between the different volumes, you can get that from any online description of the individual books, rhk roughly: Volume 3 is the same as volumes 1 and 2, but on a new set of an additional thousand characters or thereaboutsnot covered in volume 1.

There is a fantastic new resource that came out this year By the heisigg, I am actually the author so feel free to e-mail me with questions. You can contact me from the website. A given character usually has at least two pronunciations, heosig a few have quite a few more than that.

But I think Heisig works so well precisely because the first volume completely ignores pronunciation, and focuses on meaning or at heisjg rate, a caricature of one of its meanings and writing, which gives you a more manageable chunk of information to learn.

You can absolutely learn the kanji using Heisig, without even knowing any other Japanese first; the website All Japanese All The Time actually recommends it as the first step in learning Japanese, before even learning kana. I disagree with that particular point, and recommend learning the kana first.

Heisig is by no means perfect, and I can think of several ways it could be dramatically improved in my opinion. An important point, though: In my experience, after I finished learning the characters, I quickly stopped drilling on them. I could not imagine trying to study Japanese without that. By the way, look carefully: So you may still rfk to purchase the book anyway which you should do at any rate, since actually possessing a PDF of the full book, if you had not paid the publisher for it, would be illegal.

But then you say that you agree with all the people saying that volume 2 is not needed.

It takes some Japanese knowledge to use, which is its main caveat. Just stick the sentences in anki and review them daily, same as RTK.

The other part of this is that it uses a lot of somewhat useless vocabulary, mainly to build your kanji reading skills and kanji-based vocabulary instead of daily conversational vocabulary. However, again I do have friends that learned this way as well and they read Murakami during their leisure time. But the major grouping portions — the pure and semi-pure groups, are probably of great benefit.

I have no argument with those. Kanji in Context sounds rather like the ideal sort of reading practice. Kanji in Context sounds good, but it appears to be hard to get a hold of: So you need something else for that. I deem that chapter informative, but not really useful. The next chapter is probably the most helpful in the book: By learning the sound associated with that grapheme, you learn all the graphics in which it appears at least, among the common or so — there may be some few exceptions, but they would be in fairly rare characters.

It starts with the largest groups of such characters, and ends with the smallest groups. I have my doubts as to whether the chapter remains useful once it gets down to groups consisting of only two total characters, but there you go. So, to answer your question: For my money, the easiest sort of reading to make progress in, is instruction manuals, where the vocabulary is typically limited, the grammar is normal, and the writing is intended to be easily-understood.


Websites are probably best, because you can take advantage of browser plugins that allow instantaneous lookup of vocabulary and kanji though of course that can also become a crutch. In regards to some of the comments toward the very end about it working all at once or not at all: I find this to be mostly untrue. I think there is some point in the book where once you get passed it you have enough kanji under your belt to make some headway elsewhere if you so desire.

Take me, for example. Even so, with only 1 or 2 exceptions I already knew all the primitives meaning I could create a story on the spot for my new kanji if I so wished. Hi Micah, you really put in alot of effort here. I wonder what your final goal is for this site? But more related to the topic. Do you have a list of Kanji learning resources or sites? Not books, so much but sites that teach Kanji, or do a good job of it?

The koohii site is often recommended for people going through the Heisig kanji books, though personally I used Anki. This advise is all fine and well for anyone who has the mental capacity to get through the book within what is assumed to be a standard time range. In that case they would be making a sacrifice now a not insignificant one to get a later reward.

However, for those who are going to be outside that range — people who, for example, would take two years or more to get through the book, it is a questionable exercise. It should be noted that a large number of those who have successfully gone through the book within an acceptable time frame and are happy with the result are people who already had a lot of Japanese study under their belt, which would have sped things up for them.

My advise to anyone considering using this book who is in the very early stages of their study would be to try the first few hundred kanji using free materals, time it out and then come up with a realistic calculation of how long the whole process will probably take for them, before investing in a purchase.

The end goal is to think in Japanese. Therefore all these English meanings for Kanji and all the mental framework of stories built up to assist your memorisation of them must ultimately be discarded. But, crutches of this sort, or any other remain useful nevertheless, as a bridge to getting to that point, after which it may be burned. A very humble—I mean it—question. I am just starting on the Kindle edition of RTK. Right after the explanation of the kanj for the number three, after putting the number 2 in brackets to explain that it is written with two strokes, the author adds two …are they kanjis?

Please bear with me and explain! I am half-way through the second volume and I am loving it.

etk In my opinion, the RTK books are my most important tools for studying Japanese. After about years of study I stopped most of everything and just pushed through RTK volume one starting at the beginning of a summer break from school.

What’s the point of RtK (Remembering the Kanji) ?

I saw my classmates get ahead of me in terms of being able to read out loud knowing the pronunciations but I began to surpass them in reading comprehension since I started to know all the meanings.

Now that I am half way through the second volume, everything is starting to come together and I am really starting to get good results. Has anyone here finished volume two, or maybe even moved on to the third volume?

I cannot wait to see what lies ahead!