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Essential Kanji / Kodansha Kanji . Which is better?

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Essential Kanji / Kodansha Kanji . Which is better?

Postby sick_puppy882 » Mon 12.05.2005 11:38 am

I'm planning to buy a book that can teach me kanji and after some research, I'm torn between Neil's Essential Kanji and Kodansha Kanji Learner dictionary. Now, which is in your opinion better? I heard that both of them use romaji for pronunciation and I find that very frustrating (although I'm trying to get over it ...). Or is there any better/more apropriate kanji book for me to get?

What do you think?
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RE: Essential Kanji / Kodansha Kanji . Which is better?

Postby Zeo » Mon 12.05.2005 11:43 am

Hello^_^

"Read Japanese Today" is a good book to learn kanji, after my opinion. Though that book only learn you the most common 300 kanjis, the book explains the kanji in a very good way so that you understand it. Though, this book also use romaji for pronunciation ;)

I myself will recommand this book :)

The two other books you're talking about I have no experience with so i can not say anything about them. I'm sure they both are ok books :)

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RE: Essential Kanji / Kodansha Kanji . Which is better?

Postby sick_puppy882 » Mon 12.05.2005 12:48 pm

Hello, thanks for your reply ^^

"Read Japanese Today" seemed like a good option but I'd like something more complete ^^ I mean, I know that learning the first 300 characters is a great start but I want a book that can cover at least 1000 of them. That way, I can have all of them in one book ^^
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RE: Essential Kanji / Kodansha Kanji . Which is better?

Postby IkimashoZ » Mon 12.05.2005 11:43 pm

There are two books I'd like to recommend to you. Kanji pose an intricate problem for us foreigners learning the language, becuase kanji are a language in and of themselves. A high school teacher I had described it like this: "the kanji seem to be drawing on two parts of my brain at once -- one that writes and one that draws". Linguistically speaking, the radicals of kanji form an intricate web of meaning that seems like a mess of lines until you realizes what all the different pieces mean and how they work together (just like a foreign language). The kicker is that you have to learn the Japanese language itself, the kanji art "language" and THEN somehow manage to mash them together and have them make sense.

I've seen two different approaches to this that seem to work fairly well. Sometimes people prefer one or the other. I prefer a mix of the two.

Henshall's "Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters" is a very straightforward, linguistic approach to learning kanji with simple mneumonics, all the major readings and an explanation of Chinese origin for ALL jouyou kanji. The pluses are that he goes in order, so you learn the most useful kanji first, and also that there are plenty of example words. The downsides are that while explanations of origin greatly aid recognition, they have only limited success as far as production is concerned, not to mention learning all the jouyoukanji this way takes a really, really long time.

Heisig's "Remembering the Kanji" takes the opposite approach. There are no readings or vocab at all, but Heisig takes you on journey through kanji bit by bit giving you really excellent advice about memory retention along the way. You can finish this book and all the jouyoukanji in about two months at the pace he takes you, and you'll really understand how the parts work together afterwords. The pluses are that you'll be able to recognize the meaning of and produce any kanji from its meaning at will, and this method is much faster than Henshall's. At least, for what your learning. The downside is that you still have to go back and go through pronunciations (although reading a few good jump or GC manga will remedy this problem quickly). Also, I find Heisig's method damn boring, to be honest. I would much prefer to understand the history of the character than make up my own nonsense, even though I realize that making up my own nonsense will ultimately stick the character in my head better.

Both of these books are available at thejapanshop.com. You could buy them off amazon, but really, why bother?
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RE: Essential Kanji / Kodansha Kanji . Which is better?

Postby Skye_boy » Mon 12.12.2005 5:10 pm

Personally, I choose P.G O' Neils Essential Kanji. Okay now I will explain why.
First Reason, I have the book and let me say that out of all of the Kanji books I have seen, this one is hands down the best. Why? Unlike many Kanji books ,as far as I can see, this book only has one flaw, and that is conveying pronunciation through use of romaji. This book is perfection in all other areas. Two annyoing things about most kanji books is that they only have 300 to 500 kanji and they use examples with compounds of kanji you are learning with other kanji you have not yet learned. That is exremely annoying!! However Essential Kanji by Neil, teaches kanji in a very oragnized manner begining with ICHI(一) and only uses examples of compounds with kanji you have learned previously to reinforce what you've learned. And it has the 2000 kanji needed to be basically literate in Japan by the Ministry of Education. It also has very detailed stoke order guidelines. Essential Kanji is a must have 4 serious learners of Kanji. If you can get past the romaji, then i'll say you have a preety damn good book. And if you need more Convincing go to Amazon.com and type in Essential Kanji and see all of the Satisfied customers. Peace!!
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RE: Essential Kanji / Kodansha Kanji . Which is better?

Postby hyperconjugated » Wed 12.14.2005 3:01 pm

Kanji & Kana: A Handbook of the Japanese Writing System (Tuttle Language Library)

This is also worth checking out. IMO it's great. Looking up kanji fast and easy.
I highly recommend. There's some user reviews on:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0804820775/104-9329930-1637540?v=glance&n=283155
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RE: Essential Kanji / Kodansha Kanji . Which is better?

Postby L33TNINJA » Fri 12.23.2005 8:22 am

Skye_boy wrote:
Personally, I choose P.G O' Neils Essential Kanji. Okay now I will explain why.
First Reason, I have the book and let me say that out of all of the Kanji books I have seen, this one is hands down the best. Why? Unlike many Kanji books ,as far as I can see, this book only has one flaw, and that is conveying pronunciation through use of romaji. This book is perfection in all other areas. Two annyoing things about most kanji books is that they only have 300 to 500 kanji and they use examples with compounds of kanji you are learning with other kanji you have not yet learned. That is exremely annoying!! However Essential Kanji by Neil, teaches kanji in a very oragnized manner begining with ICHI(一) and only uses examples of compounds with kanji you have learned previously to reinforce what you've learned. And it has the 2000 kanji needed to be basically literate in Japan by the Ministry of Education. It also has very detailed stoke order guidelines. Essential Kanji is a must have 4 serious learners of Kanji. If you can get past the romaji, then i'll say you have a preety damn good book. And if you need more Convincing go to Amazon.com and type in Essential Kanji and see all of the Satisfied customers. Peace!!

yes. it is also lighter and way less pages so you can takeit anywhere(plus it has about the same amount of kanji in it)! i just ordered it a few days ago, in fact.
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RE: Essential Kanji / Kodansha Kanji . Which is better?

Postby Christian_ » Fri 12.23.2005 4:56 pm

Does everyone have such problems with learning kanji? It seems to me I need to study grammer, for some reason I have no problem with kanji. I find myself fliping through A guide to reading and writing Japanese and reading over a kanji once and I rember it, oddly enough. I could probably look over like 10 kanji right now and recite their readings after one or two looks. Does anyone have a wierd problem like this. I have a feeling once I get started on more grammer( possibly tonight:)) I will have a decent knowledge of making basic sentences. As for books ( sorry for going of topic) I REALLY recomend Read Japanese Today, It breaks apart each stroke and makes the kanji's meaning real easy to rember. The only downside is I see the book only gives some readings not all of them, so I stopped using that book. anyway, またね;)
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