So you’ve set out to master Japanese and decided to learn kanji. Well, before you march further into the ranks of people who have devoted their lives to learning this arcane form of communication, it might help to step back and take an overview of the entire process.
Phase 1: Learn the Individual Kanji
Well, there’s only 2,136 joyo kanji, so how hard could it be? Riiiight. Over the years, people have proposed lots of different ways of learning them. Learn only the meanings and forget the readings (Heisig Method). Learn them in context of words, write them, don’t write them, create mnemonics, make them into funny pictures, dissect them into their component parts. Somehow you’ll need to find a way to sandwich them into your brain.
When the Tohoku earthquake happened, I was sitting at my tiny Japanese desk, in the middle of a giant Japanese office, in the middle of Tokyo, just hating life. I was working elbow to elbow with about a hundred people, facing a row of unsmiling coworkers across from me, crouched in front of my pc, without speaking from morning until night. The most exciting part of the day was lunchtime, when we’d all take out our bento boxes and eat lunch together without talking. I couldn’t imagine it could get any worse. Continue reading “The Great Tohoku Earthquake”