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Remembering the Kanji 1

James W. Heisig

Publication Year: 2007

Updated to include the 196 new kanji approved by the Japanese governmentin 2010 as “general-use” kanji, the sixth edition of this popular textaims to provide students with a simple method for correlating thewriting and the meaning of Japanese characters in such a way as to makethem both easy to remember. It is intended not only for the beginner, but also for the more advanced student looking for some relief from the constant frustration of forgetting how to write the kanji, or for a way to systematize what he or she already knows. The author begins with writing the kanji because—contrary to first impressions—it is in fact simpler than learning how to the pronounce them. By ordering the kanji according to their component parts or “primitive elements,” and then assigning each of these parts a distinct meaning with its own distinct image, the student is led to harness the powers of “imaginative memory” to learn the various combinations that make up the kanji. In addition, each kanji is given its own key word to represent the meaning, or one of the principal meanings, of that character. These key words provide the setting for a particular kanji’s “story,” whose protagonists are the primitive elements. In this way, one is able to complete in a few short months a task that would otherwise take years. Armed with the same skills as Chinese or Korean students, who know the meaning and writing of the kanji but not their Japanese pronunciations, one is then in a much better position to learn the readings (which are treated in a separate volume). Remembering the Kanji has helped tens of thousands of students advance towards literacy at their own pace, and to acquire a facility that traditional methods have long since given up on as all but impossible for those not raised with the kanji from childhood.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press


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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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p. v

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pp. 1-7

The aim of this book is to provide the student of Japanese with a simple method for correlating the writing and the meaning of Japanese characters in such a way as to make them both easy to remember. It is intended not only for the beginner, but also for the more advanced student looking for some relief...

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Note to the 4th Edition

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pp. 8-12

In preparing a new layout and typesetting of this fourth edition, I was tempted to rethink many of the key words and primitive meanings, and to adjust the stories accordingly. After careful consideration and review of the hundreds of letters I have received from students all over the world, as well as...

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Part One: Stories (Lessons 1–12)

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pp. 13-113

Let us begin with a group of 15 kanji, all of which you probably knew before you ever cracked the covers of this book. Each kanji has been provided with a single key word to represent the basic meaning. Some of these characters will also serve later as primitive elements to help form other kanji, when they will...

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Part Two: Plots (Lessons 13–19)

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pp. 115-176

By this time, if you have been following along methodically frame by frame, you may find yourself growing impatient at the thought of having to read through more than 2,000 of these little stories. You probably want to move at a quicker pace and in your own way. Take heart, for that is precisely what we are...

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Part Three: Elements (Lessons 20–56)

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p. 177

We come now to the third major step in our study of the kanji: the invention of plots from primitive elements. From now on, the ordering of the remaining characters according to their primitives will be taken care of, but the reader will be required to do most of the work. As before, particularly difficult kanji will be...


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p. 407

I. Kanji

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pp. 409-426

II. Primitive Elements

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pp. 427-430

III. Kanji in Stroke Order

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pp. 431-441

IV. Key Words and Primitive Meanings

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pp. 442-460

E-ISBN-13: 9780824864132
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824831653

Publication Year: 2007

OCLC Number: 647928458
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Remembering the Kanji 1

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Subject Headings

  • Japanese language -- Orthography and spelling.
  • Chinese characters -- Japan.
  • Japanese language -- Textbooks for foreign speakers -- English.
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