December 08, 2005

How does Kanji-Town work? How do I create my own Kanji-Town

OK, now that I've found what I think is the answer to my problem, it's time to figure out how to use it. Because no book or group of people had written anything on this method for learning kanji, I was left on my own to figure out how to work this newly discovered system. Shortly after I found this way of remembering kanji my wisdom teeth were taken out (Which might be considered a blessing), which resulted in a week of do-nothing-but-stay-home. I don't watch many TV shows or movies anymore, nor do I play video games very much (Thanks to KanjiTown, we'll get to that later), so during that week I spent many hours exploring for the first time a complete town of Kanji. I ended up with an 80+ page document on my computer which described in detail every event and encompassed almost every kanji taught in the first book of Heisig's series of "Remembering the Kanji." It was a resounding success, and I can recognize many Kanji thanks to this week of exploring. All that is left for me to do is keep exploring this imaginary inter-connected world until I can recognize every kanji I see.

As an artist (I like to draw, although other things take most of my time away from this hobby), very little compares to the satisfying feeling one gets after creating a picture or some piece of art that truly expresses your emotions and draws you into a world that goes beyond the medium you created it on. "This is beyond writing on a piece of paper, this is a window into a world within my mind that I have created." So with KanjiTown, I wanted to do the same and design locations to my satisfaction that screamed "ME!" from the heights above. I did, but I have found that:

KanjiTown + Personalization = Lots of Time

As much as I love creating things, I realize that to create and reinforce my own worlds and locations would take time if they were to became as second nature to me as the locations in Springfield and such. Because I enjoy doing this as an aritst, I don't mind the extra investment of time. I no longer watch much TV anymore because I enjoy these fictional worlds better than those created by others to entertain me (At least for now). But I want to figure out how this can benefit the other learners of kanji, how this can be made easier for them.
Then I thought back to The Simpsons, and the fact that that show has created a world that has a distinct feel to it. Not necessarily the Simpsons, but I had used other various characters and settings from books I had read, movies I had seen and games that I had played when I created the first document of KanjiTown (The 80 page one). Then, another truth suddenly dawned upon me: Every book, movie, television show, cartoon, video game, etc. has been put on this earth to create distinct locations to use in KanjiTown. Maybe this isn't really the case, but these people have already gone through the work and time to create a world distinct from other worlds (Mainly to compete for my viewership, readership, player-ship(?), whatever), so now it one's job to use their hard work in conjunction with KanjiTown to remember what goes on (Provided the person doing so does not feel bad about missing out on "personalizing" thing; I don't think it can be called "selling out" in this case, but I'll leave that up to the learner).

Now that the conclusion has been drawn that every piece of entertainment is made to help make KanjiTown go quicker, I need to make a list of every different thing that conjures up a different image in my mind. Every book I've read, TV show and movie I've watched, every video game I've played (And even those I haven't; remember we're trying to figure out different environments that you've already got in your head) that carries a distinct atmosphere and "feeling" with it. Once I had a nice sizable list of about 300 or so things, I organized those things by medium (movie, book, video game, tv show, etc.). I'll post a sample list in the next couple days, so you get an idea of what I'm talking about.

Then you get a list of as many different ON yomi that exist (There was an index of such in the back of Heisig's Remembering the Kanji II, and this was of much help. I'll create a document of this in the next few days and post it here). Now you take your list of TV shows/movies/etc. and you write those various things next to ONyomi that you wish that they corrispond to. Remember, you need some sort of way to connect the two.

For example: If you wanted to assign something to the reading "KAKU," you need to have some connection between the setting and the ON yomi. I wanted "kaku" to be a dessert, because "KAKU" sounds like "cactus," and there are cactui in the dessert. So all kanji pronounced "KAKU" are to be placed in the dessert. (HERE IS LINK TO DESSERT STORY)

This is what I did, but I didn't use any movies or games to create a "preset" atmosphere. If I had wanted to, I could have taken one of the settings from the Indiana Jones movies (I haven't seen them in forever, though), and create "Indiana Jones - The Adventures in the Kanji Cactus Desert," or something to that effect. Within this setting, the kanji would play a role in Indiana Jones' adventures. I never had problems remembering the "connecting word," because the world is so detailed in my head that I can't easily forget about it.

Now the question comes up: Should this all be written down, or should it simply stay in your head? Maybe it's becasue I consider myself an "artist" I have to have some sort of hard copy of whatever it is I'm doing. Also, when I add new characters to Kanji-Town, I want to be able to "place" them so they fit into the situation properly, and at least for me, this is simpler when I have a document to record what happens.

(Continued later)

Let's say you do this for every kanji that has an ON yomi.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI - there is a kanjitown template available for free at the Remembering the Kanji Yahoo Users Group. Enjoy.
Leo Smith

1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI - there is a kanjitown template available for free at the Remembering the Kanji Yahoo Users Group. Enjoy.
Leo Smith

1:58 PM  
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