Home Previous Columns Book Reviews Other Articles Reader Response Links

Reader Response
October-November, 2001

James Heisig announces Spanish version of "Remembering the Kanji"

Dear Mary,

I have just returned from 18 months in Spain and Latin America. While in Barcelona I teamed up with two Catalan friends to produce a Spanish version of Remembering the Kanji.We call it Kanji para recordar, and it entailed a complete redoing of most of the stories, since word-associations in Spanish share very little with those in English.

It will be on sale in Japan from mid-December of this year. Meantime, you can find out about it at either of these two addresses (and also download some of the material for free):

http://www.nanzan-u.ac.jp/SHUBUNKEN (under PUBLICATIONS ... Other Books & Collections)

The link in the latter to my co-author Marc's Japones en vinetas could also be of interest. This book has been very well received in Spain, and sales in Latin America will follow.

To judge from your readers' responses, you are performing a very useful service, and providing it very intelligently at that. Congratulations.

All the best!

Heisig devotee desires audio tapes for Volume II

Dear Mary:

It has gradually become clear that James Heisig has created a significant learning tool which begins to make possible the attainment of Japanese literacy for non-Japanese.

I myself attempted study of Kanji two or three times in the early 1980's only to give up in complete failure each time. In 1993, I discovered Heisig's "Remembering the Kanji" and worked through it carefully for about a year, after which the Joyo Kanji were learned.

It became clear from the speed of progress and the accuracy of retention that his method worked and that his careful guidance as to the manner in which the foreigner must proceed, as well as his advice on the creation of Kanji cards and the writing practice, all combined to provide powerful reinforcement of the learning.

With volume II of Heisig's work, we see a perhaps less systematic procedure but still an incredibly useful methodology for learning the typical readings of the Kanji.

There remains only one thing missing: Has anyone thought of making audio tapes, read by a native Japanese speaker, of the example readings provided for each Kanji in Volume II? Thanks.

James Pannozzi
Cranston, Rhode Island (about 50Km. south of Boston)

"Is German software currently available for 'Kanji ABC'?"

Dear Kanji Clinic,

Congratulations on your excellent website. In the review of Andreas FoersterLs "Kanji ABC" on your website, the author mentions a German Software employing his system for learning Kanji. ItLs not clear from the review if this German software is available to the general public or if itLs something for himself. If it is indeed available ILd like to know where or how to get it.

I thank you in advance.

Alexandre Soares
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Mary Sisk Noguchi responds to Mr. Soares

Dear Mr. Soares,

In response to your question, Andreas Foerster and Naoko Tamura sent me the following reply:

"Concerning the program, it still exists only as a DOS Version but we are planning to update it as a web based service. We will inform you when it is available. Best regards, Andreas"

As for me, I am hoping an English version will also be available. I guess we will have to be patient. Hope this is helpful.

It is certainly exciting to know that kanji learners in Brazil are discovering the Kanji Clinic. Are there any good kanji learning materials written in Portuguese that you would be willing to share with us? Tell us about kanji learning in Brazil!

Best of luck in your kanji learning,

P.S. Kanji learners from 40 countries have visited the Kanji Clinic Web site. Let us know about kanji learning in YOUR country!

Kanji learner in Rio de Janeiro recommends Kumon

Dear Mary,

As for the kanji studying materials here in Brazil, they're much the same as the traditional material you can find in English. In fact, some people do make use of materials in English.

If you don't know about it yet, I think you should take a look at the material of the Kumon Institute of Education for Japanese language.It is meant for Japanese people, so it's completely in Japanese.

In fact, Kumon presents this material in Japan as a companion for kokugo classes. It covers everything from the first to ninth grade of Japanese schools, and goes beyond. It presents all the jouyou kanji, kakikata, yomikata, bushu, etc., which is a nice change from other materials.

It isn't a kanji specifc material, but I still think it's worthwhile, because presenting all the kanji inside a context is really useful. It is a self-study material, so you can start at the point in which you are most comfortable, and walk through it as quickly as desired.

Most adults with some proficiency in Japanese language can go through everything in 2 years or so.

Please check at www.kumon.co.jp

I hope this is helpful.

Thanks again,

Alexandre Soares
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The sad news of Father Joseph R. De Roo's death

Dear Kanji Clinic,

I have just learned that Joseph R. De Roo, author of the wonderful dictionary "2001 Kanji" has passed away. I had been hoping that he would publish an expanded version of "2001," or better still, a textbook based upon his kanji situations; we will never have them now.

Father De Roo's passing is sad news for all students of Japanese.

Edward J. Wood
Henderson, Nevada, USA
"America the Beautiful" with Heisig's keywords

Dear Kanji Clinic,

I don't know what people in Japan are thinking about these days, but here in Oregon there's a lot of patriotism interwoven with revulsion about zealots who steal passenger aircraft to crash into busy office buildings. In that light I got to thinking about how there were probably a number of people from the two great "Kanji Countries," China and Japan, who perished in the New York assault-- including some who might never be accounted for. Given the international nature of activities in the World Trade Center, there might also have been not a few multilingual people and students of foreign languages who met with tragedy on September 11, 2001.

In memory of those people I decided to send you a Kanji-ized version of "America the Beautiful." It is meant to be sung completely in English, utilizing English/Kanji key-words taken from Jim Heisig's Remembering the Kanji I. Perhaps you would like to share it with visitors to the kanjiclinic.com Web site.


O ”ό–ž for spacious skies, for amber ”g ”V —±
For Ž‡ ŽR majesties, γ the ‰Κed –μ!
America! America! _ shed his ‰Ά on thee
And Š₯ thy —Η with brotherhood, ”T ŠC to Ί ŠC


A Japanese language teacher
Portland, Oregon, USA


Is there NO limit to the kanji used in newspapers?!

Dear Ms. Noguchi,

Yesterday's morning edition of the Yomiuri Shimbun (Oct. 6) included a major, front-page announcement about needed changes in Japan's post-9/11/01 anti-terrorism policies. The text included some of my old bugaboos: ‹°QAˆΣŽ―A”j–ŁAŠm—§AŽ©‰qŒ A‹Ω‹}A‹ΰ—ZAΔ”R, kžAŒ‘ˆψ...

ž? Œ‘? Where the heck did these kanji come from?! I mean, Œ‘ is right there in the second sentence of the first paragraph of the lead story. I can't locate it in Heisig. I can't locate it in my list of uŠwKŠΏŽšˆΘŠO‚̏ν—pŠΏŽšv. It is destroying my faith in 1) Heisig; 2) The •Ά•”Θ (Education Ministry); and 3) the concept of ν—pŠΏŽš(jooyoo kanji, "regular use kanji") .

I mean, I thought Kanji Clinic was supposed to be giving hope to gaijins out in kanjiland, and now I see that, for some reason, the government allows the Yomiuri to use NON-JOYO, NON-PERSONAL-NAME KANJI right on its front page. Are there NO boundaries, no finite limits to this endeavour?! Oh, Sister Kanji, Kanji Clinician, please enlighten us about what to expect on the front page of the Asahi, the Yomiuri, and the Nikkei!!

Web site visitor in the U.S.
Mary Sisk Noguchi responds to Anonymous

The Japanese government does not police kanji use in Japanese newspapers.

Major daily newspapers add furigana to even slightly obscure personal and place names. In principal, they also add furigana to any characters outside the range of tooyoo (“–—p) kanji, but in fact each newspaper sets its own standards for character use.

(Note: In 1946, a list of characters known as "tooyoo kanji" was published by the Japanese government, limiting the number of kanji to be used by the public to 1,850 characters. An expanded list of 1,945 characters, known as "jooyoo (ν—p) kanji," was later published in 1981. The 1,945 jooyoo kanji have all been studied by those completing compulsory education in Japan).

As you point out, ž (KAN, "move") and Œ‘ (KEN, hiku, "pull") are not jooyoo kanji. I was not familiar with either of them, so I pulled out my dictionary of choice for everyday reading purposes, Halpern's "New English-Japanese Character Dictionary." Neither character was listed in that dictionary, which has 3,587 character entries. I was able to find the two characters in both Spahn and Hadamitzky's "The Kanji Dictionary" and Nelson's "Japanese-English Character Dictionary," both of which have approximately 7,000 entries.

I then learned, by checking my Kenkyusha's Japanese-English dictionary, that kž ‚³‚Ή‚ι(shinkan saseru) means "shake" or "shock." The example sentence in my dictionary is

u’ŠE‚πkž‚³‚Ή‚ι‘εŽ–Œv("a world-shaking event").

Even though it contains a non-tooyoo character, it is easy for me to see why the Yomiuri chose to utilize this particular compound word in describing the events of September 11.

So, until Big Brother gets involved in policing kanji use in Japanese newspapers, it is impossible to predict exactly what kanji will turn up in your morning or evening rag. The need to keep their product readable to the majority of Japanese newspaper consumers, however, will likely serve to keep newspapers from going too far overboard with non-tooyoo kanji use.
Desperately seeking stories

Dear Kanji Clinic:

I read the review of Heisig's "Remembering the Kanji I" on your Web site and it's 100% on the mark. I am a convert and now a Heisig evangelist, but my problem is after the first 500 stories... I was able to get the first 500 quickly and can write 90% of them from memory. Even though he has given 500 great examples of how to write stories... that's where I am stuck and need advice.

Why doesn't Heisig release an edition with all his stories?? Is there anyone else out there that would easily pay twice, triple or more for an edition that included all the stories that he used himself? If anyone has direct contact with James Heisig (does he have a web site??) Please forward this message and let him know that I have my cash in hand waiting - and thanks for a great book.

Has anyone thought of starting a story database online? Then we could collaborate and possibly all get through the first book faster. Anyway... if anyone has any advice I would really appreciate it.

Thanks for your Web site. I was incredibly excited to finally find a forum discussing kanji study and alternative study methods.

Adam Horvitz
Mary Sisk Noguchi responds to Mr. Horvitz

Dear Adam,

In my kanji learning workshops I have heard other Heisig devotees echo your words.

On a personal note, I made up my own stories after the first 500, and found them highly memorable. Later, I discovered KanjiCan software, and enjoyed using it, too. KanjiCan provides stories, using Heisig's components, for all 1,945 general-use characters. You can learn more about KanjiCan by going to Book Reviews on this Web site.

I hope you get response from other Kanji Clinic readers--that's what this forum is all about!