December 04, 2005

My review of "Remembering the Kanji III" by James W. Heisig

This is my review of the final book in James Heisig's "Remembering the Kanji" series (Also posted on This book is the beginning of "the world beyond" 2,000 kanji, and starts you on the road to learning new kanji for the rest of your life.

"First, I'd like to note a couple of things:
(1) This book is no longer available in printed form on at this time. There are no doubt other places where you can buy this book in printed form, and there is always the option of a pdf/e-book version of this book available from the Nanzen institute website. This is merely a review of the product itself, not of Amazon's price or availability (or lack thereof).

(2) This book is intended for those that have finished both Remembering the Kanji volumes I and II. Chances are that most people reading this review have not done this; they are merely curious about what the advanced stages of this learning method are. If you've studied the first two books to their completion, this final book will be purchased regardless of what I say about it. The devotion one has at this point is stronger than anything I could possibly say to convince one otherwise.

What is this book? It is the third volume that expands on James Heisig's kanji-learning system (Which I would call "revolutionary," but I don't want this to sound too gimmicky). The first book tacked an English keyword onto all of the 2,000 kanji. The second book showed ways to remember readings of the kanji. By the time you finished both of these books (properly), you should know more than 2,000 characters, the basic number needed for a literate person in Japan. (I am at the level that I can read most what I would see in a newspaper, although I can recognize most all of the characters.) Once you are at this level, you now have free roam of many Japanese reading materials; the only obsticle you will encounter are kanji that aren't part of the joyou kanji and aren't part of the 2,000+ kanji you learned in the previous books in this series; and this is where book three comes in, as it expands your kanji knowledge by 1,000 new characters. And since only 1,000 new characters are treated in this third book (Compared to the 2,000 treated in the previous books), this allows enough space to cover all of the new kanji in the same manner as books one and two, except it is done in one volume. The first half of the book treats each kanji with a keyword; the second half covers the readings of the kanji.

The benefits are pretty straightforward, but if you've finished books one and two the benefits and feelings of self-accomplishment are deeper than simply a number. It's hard to describe, so let me use an example: Take the kanji for ant (It is pronounced "ari"); this is a kanji covered in this book. The only time you will see the kanji for "ant" is when you are referring to an ant and ONLY an ant (nothing more), but to actually know the kanji that corresponds to "ant" will give you an odd sense of accomplishment, one that you are no doubt be familiar with if you've attainted the degree of literacy given to you if you finish the first two books.

My point? You should be familiar with the sense of accomplishment you get when you study this writing system, and these benefits will continue through the pages of this book, as "gems" of kanji knowledge are given to you one after another. And when you complete this book (Which I have yet to do), your kanji knowledge does not stop. There are many more kanji that exist and are waiting to be learned by you, and this book sets you up to continue studying and to keep learning new kanji. Studying kanji is no longer a dread for me, I enjoy it; I enjoy learning new characters and expanding my knowledge; it has become a hobby that I don't want to stop.
So rather than thinking about this book as the "last book you'll ever need to read" about kanji, it can be one that starts you on an endless path of learning new characters to your hearts content.

For those that have traveled this particular path to study kanji, and have reached the level requiring another book to guide you deeper into the fabulous, frustrating, strange and beautiful world of kanji, be ready for rewards; not unusual rewards in your case (You're already familiar with what they are), but rewards that allow you to continue your endless and wonderful journey through this sea of these unique characters. If you choose to continue, hopefully you and I will meet someday in "kanji heaven," if such a place exists.
Until then."

Any questions about this book or review? Feel free to ask me about it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your subconscious mind is a powerful force. It can be an un-defeatable ally or a dangerous foe! It is a powerful force of nature that can be harnessed and made to work for us or it can be a wild beast that runs riot with our lives.
How powerful is 'powerful'?
Take the first Atomic Bomb - it could lay waste to an entire city in seconds. Or the gravitational pull of the Sun which stops our tiny planet from hurtling into space. Imagine the power of a black hole - that region of spacetime from which nothing can escape not even light travelling at 186 thousand miles a second. The Universe is full of powerful forces. Yet, all these wondrous things pale into insignificance when compared to the power of the subconscious mind.
The subconscious part of your mind is that part which regulates your heartbeat, lungs, digestive system and everything else in your body. It directs the inner workings of your body and such things as (what biologists call) 'machines' - tiny living cells that are composed of motors, drive-shafts and propellers - seriously!!! There is mounting evidence that the cells in our bodies have memory and that our very DNA is coded with memories of our ancestors. As well as having full control of all these functions and more your subconscious also retains all the thoughts, experiences and emotions you have ever felt. It regulates the most complicated mechanism in the unknown Universe - your body - and it can calculate the trajectory of multiple moving objects while supplying you with the words necessary to debate an issue while controlling a complex task of activities such as driving a car!
These tasks alone show how powerful the subconscious mind is. But it is much more powerful than that!
The truth is: No-one knows the limits of the subconscious mind's power!
Tell yourself that you will wake up at 6 a.m. and chances are you will awake. Go to a crowed party and through a mass of voices you will hear someone at the other side of the room mention your name! Set a problem aside and miraculously, out of nowhere, the answer comes while you are involved in another task. It recreates situations in your life that correspond to your beliefs. Time and time again you find yourself in the same situations, with similar partners, in almost identical jobs. Like a wheel your subconscious mind creates situations that bring your life back to the same spot.
Likewise it can totally transform your life - even overnight! It can bring you new situations, life experiences, luxuries and even people.
However, it is like a na�ve child or a better analogy is that of a computer. It believes everything that you tell it. Your conscious mind is the gatekeeper. Anything you think with complete faith is immediately past to the subconscious mind - which it then takes as literal fact. There will be no arguments because it has no discriminating capabilities.
Although your subconscious mind is more powerful than you can possibly imagine it is a mere servant. It is at your disposal. YOU are in charge. It acts just like a computer and like every computer it needs software to run. So if you do not program it then someone else will! You are constantly being bombarded with software programs for the mind every minute of everyday. Buy this product and you will look slim, drive this car and you will seem sexy, drink this potion and you will feel more vibrant about life. You are told what to buy and when to buy it, when you are too young to do a thing and when you are too old. You are told what is possible and what is not. Snap out of it!
Take back your control over mind and body. You were born with the most powerful computer system known to man - a bio-computer that regulates a sophisticated, highly flexible, changeable, self repairing vehicle. You are amazing, a true miracle. If you bought a new top of the range diesel Mercedes would you let Joe or Sue down the road fill it up with petrol?
Begin to think for yourself. Who told you that you could not achieve your dreams? Do you believe it? Who told you that you were too fat, too skinny, too stupid, too smart, too young or too old?
Does it matter?
No! Because you are and always have been in total control. Change your thinking and you will change your subconscious beliefs. Change your subconscious beliefs and you will change your life. personal development

10:25 AM  

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