You all know it by now: I like to buy books, especially if they’re related to Japan or studying Japanese. I usually prefer Japanese printings for that matter with that special silky paper and the extra wrapping around the book. But this here will do as well and in the end, it’s all about the content. A friend of mine put it nicely when she said: “everything is just a little bit prettier down there”. And she is right. Nevertheless, I bought some books from the states as well and Kanji pict-o-graphix is one of them. Don’t make the mistake and think that you can learn the Kanji with this book, it’s not made for this purpose (we have WaniKani for that). It’s more likely a typographic experiment and a very fun one indeed.
When I first started with learning Japanese the Kanji, the so-called Chinese characters, were a big mystery for me. It seemed like an unmanageable task to learn all two thousand of them and I didn’t even know about different readings back then. After learning Hiragana and Katakana I didn’t really know how to continue. Finally, I decided to buy a textbook (みんなの日本語) but quickly noticed that this one wasn’t made for me. The same time I thought it would be a good idea to get into the Kanji learning as soon as possible and picked up some flashcards and this book from amazon.
I probably don’t have to mention it but both didn’t help me at all to achieve my goal. Kanji pict-o-graphix still remained on my so-called book table at home but it was much later when I really gave it a look. Around two weeks ago to be precise. Just discovered it again, lying under a huge pile of magazines and books. And while browsing through the pages I noticed how much thought and creative energy was put into this. Especially because I really know how hard it is to create a fitting mnemonic for a Kanji and to construct a story around it. Trust me, I’ve done Heisig and am currently working my way through WaniKani. Or to rephrase this: I failed a lot and tried quite some different stuff to improve on my Japanese (or to learn some Japanese at all)
Note: This will kick off a new series of articles or rather a new form. I’m trying to put up some personal reviews of Japanese learning related books on the site. If you have any recommendations and/or wishes, just let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading guys & gals!
If you’re learning the Kanji this book can be a great way to bring back some memories or just for comparing your own stories with the ones of the author Michael Rowley’s. Of course, I’m taking all these pictures primarily for you but I always enjoy it as well skipping through the archives and just browsing through some book pages. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Reading some reviews on amazon many seem to disappoint that you can’t learn the Kanji with this book. It’s a little sad because you can’t even say to these people that the book wasn’t made for this purpose. Looking at the back-cover there are all sorts of false promises. It’s probably been the publisher that insisted for these to be printed.