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KANJI & KANA : Handbook and Dictionary of the Japanese Writing System
By Mark Spahn & Wolfgang Hadamitsky
English edition : Charles E.Tuttle Company, Inc, 1981
German edition : Enderle GmbH, Tokyo, 1979
French edition : J.Maisonneuve, 1987

Reviewed by David Bordes
University of Kyushu

Mastering the 1,945 official general-use Japanese characters is certainly not an easy task, but some materials can be of valuable help. Spahn & Hadamitsky's KANJI & KANA is definitely one of them.

There are, at least, three good reasons why every learner of written Japanese should acquire this handbook :

- The introduction offers a complete review on the historical origins of the kana graphic system, including tables showing the original Kanji from which hiragana and katakana are derived (i.e.: / ^ and l / I). It also introduces-- and as far as I know, it is the only handbook which does this--the Japanese punctuation system with full examples.

- Each of the 1945 Kanji appears under three forms : paintbrushed form, drawn-with-a-pen form and printed form, so that the learner can avoid confusion with variants. The stroke order is explained for each of the Kanji. Five compounds are given under each Kanji, which makes for a total of about 11,000 words.

- The 1945 Kanji are listed under 3 indexes :

Radicals index : the authors give a simplified 82 Radicals Table (out of the 214 traditional radicals), which makes it very easy to look up a character.

Number of strokes index : You can look for a character by its number of strokes; kanji appear following the radicals table order.

Reading index : A to Z index in which Kanji appear under all their readings (i.e ~ appears under "KOU", "oriru", "orosu" and "furu"). Easily mistaken Chinese pronunciations of a character are also noted, which is very helpful. For example, under "TOU" you will find AA but also the exceptions () CHIN, ()RAN, ()REN, and (B)REN.

KANJI & KANA is very easy to use and with a bit of practice you will be able to look up any Kanji in less than 10 seconds! I enthusiastically recommend it to kanji learners. English, French, and German versions are available.