Book Review: Kanji Pictographix
Friday, May 25th, 2012
There are many different ways of learning Kanji and students of Japanese tend to naturally gravitate towards the way that makes sense to them and/or the one that gets the quickest results.
It’s important to note that there is no perfect way – if you can learn and retain 2000 kanji, who cares how you did it!
Kanji Pict-O-Graphix focusses on a method that involves the use of mnemonics – short stories about each kanji that you attach to each kanji in your memory and then recall them as needed. Read my article on mnemonics here →.
There is no particular order to the kanji as per the JLPT but they are logically grouped by chapters such as World, Food, Animals, People and Body. Within a chapter such as Body, the kanji are further divided in to sub-groups including Body, Flesh and Bone, Skin, Heart, Love, Eye.
Alongside mnemonics, the book also makes use of pictographs.
As described in the introduction of the book, kanji originally developed from pictures used by the Chinese several thousand years ago to represent the world around them. Some types of kanji have retained their pictographic forms and look very much like the objects they represent.
Kanji such as 川 (River), 山 (Mountain), 門 (Gate) and 木 (Tree) are perfect examples of kanji that mirror their physical meaning in appearance.
You can read more about kanji pictographs in Ken Henshall’s excellent “A Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters” – find it Amazon or at your local bookstore.
The type of learning featured in Kanji Pict-O-Graphix is not for everyone – reviews of the book are often polarised for this reason.
It makes complete sense to me and has served me well but some people find the stories and pictures just don’t cut it for them.
In this case, rote learning (e.g. simple repetition) may work better for you. However, I suggest giving it a good try and not giving up too quickly as I am sure you will find this method very useful in memorising the kanji.
Below is a selection of images that give an overview of how the book looks inside – check out Amazon for more about the book and customer reviews.
Kanji Pictographix Gallery