Remembering the Kanji 1: A Complete Course on How Not to Forget the Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of by James W. Heisig Paperback $ Remembering the Kanji 1: A Complete Course on How Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of Japanese Characters. James W. Heisig. About the Book. 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.

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To submit a translation request, visit here instead. This is not the full list of rules. Please also read the full list of rules on the wiki. Is Heisig’s “Remembering the Kanji” a good book? Is Kanji Readings Necessary self. Is this a really good book and do YOU recommend it? RTK1 does not teach you to read Kanji. It teaches you to recognize them. It teaches you to assign an identity to Kanji so that when you read, you don’t see a bunch of moonrunes, but rather pictures that represent a concept.

I’ve learned kwnji RTK1. And I’ll tell you this: So after I was done, I learned all my vocabulary through native material, and I never struggled again with Kanji. But years later now, I’ve pretty much lost the skill Heisig taught me. I do not remember any identity I gave to those Kanji, ehisig instead, I remember in which words I’ve seen that Kanji.

And I don’t feel that it was necessary to learn the whole Kanji this way, as I now casually encounter new Kanji that I don’t even try to assign a meaning to yet still understand perfectly with a simple word lookup. So I’ll tell you that: It gives you a tool to make the learning of Japanese easier, but it is not necessary.

If Kanji all looks the same to you, then I recommend you use RTK until you have picked up the skill to tell Kanji apart from each other. If you can already tell what makes a Kanji and easily search any Kanji you encounter, then you can safely ignore RTK.

Lets be realistic, no one is going to learn the whole bunch of kanji kanni mere months spent on RTK book, but it will make memorizing vocab easier. RTK provides you the first stone on which you build your kanji knowledge using mnemonic technique. There will be a point when you dont need rememmber recall mnemonic images, but rest assured, the time spent on RTK aint wasted.

Mnemonic clues give your brain something to cling onto until you actually learn real vocab which contain these kanji, when hopefully you have other clues to memorize them pronunciation, meaning context etc. In the end, you won’t even remember the keywords, let alone mnemonic images associated with each kanji. This sub hates RTK with passion. Fluent speakers who gotten over kanji hurdle feel the book useless.

Disillusioned people who tried RTK in order to ‘read kanji’ trash it. To me, it doesn’t make sense to be learning kanji separately from vocabulary as ‘Remembering the Kanji’ makes you do. Therefore, I don’t really recommend it. As you say, it does get good reviews, so there must be some appeal to it, but I personally don’t like it.

The books I’ve been using to study Kanji are the Basic Kanji books. They come in two volumes, in each volume kanji are taught.

They have some good vocabulary to learn and janji exercises to put them to use. Putting newly learned knowledge to use generally works well for me, so I find the Basic Kanji books to be very good.

I’d kannji to start by saying that I’m very early in my own kanji learning journey around kanjiso I’m in no way an expert, but I’ve tried a lot of different approaches and got a feel for what works for me personally and what doesn’t. The big problem with Remembering the Kanji is exactly what you’ve pointed out – it doesn’t give any actual readings for the kanji.


As everyone else here has pointed out, kaji means that you really won’t be able to read anything at all. However, one aspect of the RTK system which I personally find a useful way for me to learn is mnemonics – remembering kanji by aknji little stories, associations etc in your own head.

That being said, you don’t need to spend the money on RTK to use mnemonics. One really useful kanji learning tool that I use almost every day is Kanji Alivewhich is a totally free, online kanji dictionary.

Basically, type in any kanji and it will give you the rough meaning, various readings, example sentences, radicals used, stroke order animations and, most useful for me, mnemonics.

I’d definitely recommend you check it out. Although, in my opinion, nothing replaces a good book, Kanji Alive is definitely a great supplement to help you understand each kanji better.

I really rdmember recommend Remembering the Kanji but do recommend using mnemonics. I’d buy a different book and check out Kanji Alive. It should not be the first thing you study in regards to kanji. It shouldn’t be the second either. But, once you have a basic understanding of Japanese, and have learned a few hundred kanji perhaps the N5 list by other means, it’s an absolutely amazing way to get your brain accustomed to reading kanji.

Most people skip the introduction, and think that the point of Remembering the Kanji is to associate each kanji with a keyword. The point is to get your brain used to seeing kanji and identifying them by their component parts; and it gives you a road map to study them in an order such that the kanji you are learning are built from parts you already know.

I’ve been studying Japanese for about three years over the course of about 6 years with a few extended breaks due to overwork ianji, and last fall I realized that the biggest obstacle to my reading native material and thus acquiring more vocabulary was that I could only read about kanji, and vaguely recognize another I started pushing through RTK in earnest in November, adding new kanji to my studies every day.

Heisig’s Remember the Kanji 1-3 w/top 2 community stories

My reading ability has improved dramatically as a result. Now when I scan over a page of text the kanji don’t appear as a bunch of lines, they appear as recognizable characters with component parts.

Even if I’m not familiar with a kanji, I can isolate its radicals and look it up. My understanding of stroke order means my kanji are always recognized when I look them up via direct input, and I can easily write things down as notes.

Not to mention that it’s far easier to learn vocabulary when you already know the kanji associated with it – similar to learning vocabulary in English is easier if you’re very familiar with Latin and Greek roots.

Learning the kanji in a vacuum and attaching them to English words is not the point. It’s just a different method of internalizing the kanji, and gaining the visual recognition that Japanese people acquire through their childhood years by seeing kanji every day. This is also a big part of why it’s easier for Chinese and Korean people to learn Japanese, they already have the ability to parse this sort of character baked into their brain. We westerners have to brute force it in there, and RTK is just one method of doing that.

Now, RTK isn’t for everyone, but I think a lot of people dismiss it out of hand because they simply don’t understand the point of it. But if you want to truly learn to read Japanese, you need to get your brain calibrated for kanji somehow. Otherwise you’ll be another one of those people complaining about how they’re trying to pass the N2 but their kanji ability just isn’t where it should be and they don’t know why they can’t break that wall. If you want something to help learn kanji along with useful compounds, I often recommend these flash cards to friends.


I use them myself for review and drilling vocab and reading, and they’re just wonderful products. There are three sets, the first will get you through N4 kanji. My argument against that is that you don’t need Heisig for that. You can learn about kanji components and stroke orders without memorizing hundreds of keywords, but rather associating the meanings with real Japanese words.

Heisig didn’t make up the concept of mnemonics and of course not stroke order, nor did he make up the concept of splitting kanji into component parts to memorize them. His unique contribution is the keywords. His unique contribution is the ordering of the kanji so that you learn them in sets which helps to reinforce the similarities and highlight the differences. It’s a far more efficient way of “loading” them into your brain than the standard order hence my referring to it as a road map in my post, which you may have skimmed over.

I supplement the keywords with a few compounds using the kanji written in hiragana when I add them to my anki deck, which helps immensely when I see the kanji in context as I can think back to what compounds I know and try to work out what reading it might use. That’s why I say that studying Heisig early is terrible; if you do so then all you have to link the kanji to are keywords. But after a year or so of study you’ll have enough understanding of Japanese that forging mental links to the Japanese words will be feasible.

RTK is definitely one of those things that people are very divided on. If you are expecting to read Japanese at the end of it, you won’t be able to read any at all. It attaches an English keyword not necessarily meaning to each kanji so that you can memorize vocab more easily. If that sounds like it appeals to you, then give it a try. It can be useful as a reference if you’re wondering about what sort of connotation a certain kanji or kanji component might have, but take the keywords with a grain of salt.

“Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji sucks” – Other Kanji Learning Methods?

It also has rather comprehensive stroke order guides, which can be useful. I was too kind to Heisig. Doing Heisig, you are basically memorizing translations to words, that are not actually Japanese words, while you could be spending your time memorizing actual Japanese words! Basically, hhe do Heisig. Your mileage may vary but I think this book and system helped me break through a major plateau in the early stages of my learning.

I was having trouble distinguishing kanji and my pace of learning just collapsed completely at the time. Then I heard about Remembering the Kanji and decided to give it a try. I ended up putting off all study for 4 months while I went through the book and it really helped a ton. Of course I couldn’t “read” the kanji I hadn’t studied before but I ghe no problems recognizing kanji and I could suddenly understand hundreds of random vocabulary I had never seen simply because of their association with assigned keywords.

My reading ability went through the roof even before I went back to learn the rest of the vocabulary. Since I knew every kanji, it was a breeze kanjk through the vocabulary beisig readings.

In the long run, I think the 4 months I spent going through this book actually greatly accelerated my studies. I highly recommend the book. Just make sure you read the intro carefully before deciding to use the system. Heisig is very clear about what his system teaches and doesn’t teach. No problem recommending the system. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement and Privacy Policy.

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