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Remembering the Kanji, Volume I: A Complete Course on How Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of Japanese Characters
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Remembering the Kanji, Volume I: A Complete Course on How Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of Japanese Characters

(Remembering the Kanji #1)

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  674 ratings  ·  61 reviews
Part one of a complete course on how not to forget the meaning and writing of Japanese characters. These self-teaching methods help you remember and write by harnessing the power of the imagination.
Paperback, 516 pages
Published October 1st 2001 by Kodansha (first published 1977)
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Average rating 4.25  · 
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Sep 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, japanese
I DID IT. Right on.

Phew! I started working with this book at the end of July/the beginning of August. Heisig himself says in the preface that it should be possible to finish it all in six weeks if you're dedicated and have the time - I laughed at that and thought to myself that it would take me years.

It took me four months. Four months of sitting down every evening to learn about 15-20 new kanji each day. (And I would've been done even sooner if some dickwads hadn't broken into my apartment and
May 舞
Aug 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites, languages
After 4 months of studying 25-50 Kanji characters every day, I can easily say that coming across this book has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me. When I first started learning Japanese, I was in despair; not knowing how on earth was I going to memorize 2000+ complex characters and be expected to use them, but with Heisig's book it became fun and interesting. And for that I'm deeply grateful.
Kenrick Chien
Sep 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: language
Don't let the method presented in this book turn you away. The first time I read about this book, I thought "WTF? When am I going to learn the readings of each character?! This is STUPID!"

About 3-4 years later, I realized that the method from my Japanese classes wasn't cutting it. What method am I referring to? The method where you learn the strokes for a particular character, 2 or 3 readings of it, and then repeatedly writing it ten times or more, hoping that it would stick in my memory past
Feb 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone studying Japanese
Shelves: nonfiction, reference
Love, love, love this book. Between RTK, Anki, and, I learned the (English) meanings and writing of over 2,000 kanji in 89 days. I averaged 22.9 kanji per day and studied for 136.8 hours. Of course, now that I've entered all of the kanji into Anki, I have to keep reviewing. But I love this method of learning kanji.

When I see an unfamiliar kanji, I can now break it down into radicals and figure out how to write it. Before RTK, kanji was just a bunch of scribbles. More than
bhen adrecra
Jul 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was going to begin this review by repurposing the old dictionary joke about how the zebra did it. In the case of Remembering the Kanji book I it was the sign of the snake that did it (2042. 巳). You are right, it is a terrible joke and does not work at all here. I am glad I did not use it

I found James Heisig's Remembering the Kanji books I and II in a used-bookshop in old Tokyo town. They were a rather cheap 500 each—much cheaper than the 30 or 2000 I had seen them at before—so, despite having
Feb 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
LAST AND FINAL UPDATE:I decided not to finish this kanji learning method, not because it's not good but because I found out another method (WaniKani) that works better for me at this point in my life. There are a couple of disadvantages of this book: 1. the learning arrangement of the kanji makes sense for learning them intuitively but not for practical use and 2. you don't learn any kanji reading at all. The disadvantages are not very important if you have time to study them fast and then move ...more
Sep 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Don't be fooled into thinking there is any one way to get thru the kanji-- your ass is on a mission through imaginationland as you read his and create your own stories to go along with all 2000 or so common kanji. Working through this book took me about 8 months, and it's benefit is only felt when you finish them all. They are in what Heisig calls "imaginative memory" order; that is, you can't expect the first 300 to be the kanji with the fewest radicals. However, they're laid out nicely so the ...more
Abdullah Al-uthman
Aug 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese
two months have passed since I started this book. In these two months, I have learned 2200 Kanji, formed 2200 different stories, drew 2200 characters, and most importantly, learned 2200 words from the Japanese vocabulary. Heisig book offered me a significantly great push towards learning the Japanese language.

The main advantage of Heisig method it teaches you one of the best methods to differentiate between similar Kanji. There are a lot of Japanese Kanji which differ by a single stroke which
Patrick Wallace
Dec 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
For anyone wanting to remember how to read and write kanji, this book is a must have.

The author, James Heisig, makes a few assumptions about learning the kanji that may seem odd at first, but in the end make perfect sense.

His first assumption is that it is a waste of time trying to learn only a handful of kanji. If our goal is language acquisition, then we should try to remember all of the kanji that the Japanese government has declared open for daily use in Japanese. By making this
Quí Hiển
Aug 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
Only Kanji symbols and their English meanings, with hints for remembering. And those hints are, for most of the time, sooo sooo sooo etymologically incorrect. That's what grinds my gears. The Kanji are not Egyptian hieroglyphs, and looking at Kanji won't teach you how to read a book, let alone how to speak (and the book doesn't even show you how to pronounce the Kanji, ffs). For a better Kanji book in the same memrise style, please do yourself a favour and buy the Kenneth Henshall's "A guide to ...more
Jul 01, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reference
This book was recommended to me years ago by a French lecturer at my university in Japan. I mainly checked it out because I found the concept fascinating and wanted to give it a try, but in the end the way of learning that this book teaches you is not compatible with my own mental way of categorizing what I learn; in a sense, I would have had to un-learn everything I already knew to begin with, and since this book only teaches you to recognise meaning and not to "read" - that is, not to be able ...more
Oct 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Definitely a solid offering. I was at first very disappointed when I realized I wouldn't actually be able to "read" kanji after working through this book, but I decided that since I had limited time before my trip to Japan, knowing the general meanings of a lot of Kanji would be better than knowing how to pronounce maybe 300-400 or so. In about 6 weeks using this book and Anki decks already compiled and available in the shared decks library (NihongoShark for recognition and this koohi-based deck ...more
Feb 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: japanese
An excellent book by an excellent author - RTK invokes mnemonic techniques that are useful not only in learning the kanji, but learning almost anything else one puts one's head to. On a good day, I often learned almost 100 kanji, with high levels of retention. If I were to read/complete the course again, I would probably take it easy, learning at a rate of about 25 per day. Slow and steady wins the race.
Jul 06, 2018 rated it liked it
I borrowed this from my library as an Interlibrary Loan, so I didn't have much time with it. However, I had enough time with it to know that this isn't the study method for me. Much of the book was useful, however the method just isn't my learning style. I actually prefer learning the kanji, the meaning, and the pronunciation all together, and it seems to work well that way for my brain.
Hao Zui
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With all of its issues, such as this only being an introduction to kanji (though you're introduced to them all), Heisig makes this daunting task a little less so and a lot more fun/fast, all them "f" words. By the way, I like to brag and I finished it in 59 days filling up some 70 pages of notebook paper.
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I strongly believe I never would have learned kanji without this book. Required studying!
Lindu Pindu
Jul 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
The best method if you want to start learning Japanese without feeling like you're under siege.
Although it is very helpful in remembering the shape and stroke order of the kanji, it fails to provide any readings (On and Kun). Therefore it cannot be used on its own which is a big disadvantage.
Bob Page
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: abandoned (not mine, but it's what motivated me to do RTK)
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Before you start this book make sure you're using the 6th edition not the 4th, because that one has a couple errors (one or two keywords were repeated, another had the wrong Kanji, and on top of that it's not the full 2200 Kanji but 2046. The 6th edition is the one you want).

This is a brilliant book. The only book you need for writing and recognizing Kanji. I can't praise it enough to be honest. Although it required tremendous dedication from me because it got tedious as time went on especially
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Evan by: Abroad in Japan
I'm going to be the minority here since most people getting this book and reviewing it are those that are new learners of Japanese. Once your Japanese gets to a certain point, you'll understand why I wouldn't recommend this book.

First of all, there are no readings whatsoever. You can't actually read Japanese unless you can, well, read Japanese. Knowing that two Kanji mean two different English words doesn't mean you know how to read Japanese. If you don't know what that Kanji says in actual
Jacob van Berkel
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Works by assigning 'keywords' to each kanji (so learning the meaning first, without initially learning the readings) and by constructing the kanji from the elements up. Both of these basic methods I recommend.

Some opponents s of learning the meanings separate from the readings like to claim that Japanese themselves do it all at once too, but they don't: after all, by the time Japanese kids start learning kanji, they already speak Japanese quite proficiently. They already know the readings and
Mar 26, 2018 is currently reading it
If you are learning Japanese, this one is excellent to pick up! I'm so glad I was reluctant to learn in traditional Japan-way, it would take me so much longer...But in reality, you do not need years to know all the characters, just follow the rules in this book and you can do it! For those who are learning, I recommend to download Anki deck for this book, it is a bit more comfortable to memorize in that way.
Feb 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Pretty good, but it can be tiring from time to time.
Make sure to read it with the Anki deck for max performance.
Paulina Grunwald
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great book for learning kanji. In the begining the method seems to be weird but it does work!
Ђорђе Мојсиловић
I forgot..
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The method shown in this book is a great way to study the japanese kanji and helped me a lot to memorize them, both in reading and writing.
Patrick Coakley
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reference
This series has been my go-to for learning kanji over the last 10 years or so, especially when I need to brush up. Highly recommended to anyone learning Japanese at any level.
Aug 23, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese
I finally did it, and I'm not really sure what I think of it.

By way of background, I've been a student of Mandarin for over 20+ years and I had the reading of most of these characters down before I came to this book. I have also already put in about ten years of Japanese study (on and off). So when I got this book I was already reading in Japanese without too much trouble (popular novels, manga and such -- just need my trusty dictionary app and I'm fine.) I could not, however, write a lot of
Aug 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: any Kanji learner
If you are looking for a way to memorize the Japanese Kanji without beating your head against a wall, this is the book for you. I spent a year trying to learn Kanji the traditional way, but my rote memory wasn't up to the task. I would write and write but within days of practicing one Kanji, it would slip out of my brain and onto a squishy mass on the floor. Heisig changed that for me. Using his method, I learned to write and associate one English meaning to 1,600 Kanji in three months. ...more
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Remembering the Kanji (3 books)
  • Remembering the Kanji II: A Systematic Guide to Reading Japanese Characters
  • Remembering the Kanji III: Writing and Reading Japanese Characters for Upper-Level Proficiency