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About

The Real Kanji world is a book intended for all those students of Japanese who want to learn the 2136 Chinese characters necessary to have literacy in the Japanese language in a logical, systematic, concise and, why not, also entertaining way.

Every Japanese language student eventually faces the time when he or she has to start learning kanji (Chinese characters used in Japan). Kanji is everywhere and unless you want to wander about without being able to read a simple text, you got to learn them. However, learning kanji is not an easy task, and many different approaches have been attempted, from root memorization up to creative mnemonics.

In my own experience as a student of Japanese I tried myself to deal with those interesting characters called kanji in several ways. Using flashcards, not using flashcards and focusing only on vocabulary, writing the kanji down relentlessly… The problem with all those methods is that they require a lot of time and effort in order to just attempt to approach the seemingly unfathomable horizon set by the 2136 characters determined by the Japanese ministry of education to be indispensable for literacy. But the worst part was not to be clueless about which path to follow, but the very feeling of knowing that there was something missing that I could or could have taken advantage of.

To this point, it is common knowledge among most scholars and many students that Chinese characters share a set of components that put each one of them in phonetic and semantic relation to the others. But many of those scholars, teachers and students do not know how those relationships actually work and as a result they overlook their usefulness. In summary, each component bears a meaning and is the evolution of an original pictographic depiction of a concept. Thanks to that one can learn groups of interrelated characters looking back to the original pictographic etymology. In this sense, by actually understanding the real composition of each kanji and the connection they have among each other, the student will be able to retain naturally the forms and meanings of the characters.

The truth is that there are some kanji books out there that understand the concept of components and try to draw on them, however I consider that most of those attempts are quite unorganized. In some occasions, these books encourage the student to make up their own associations or provided some folk etymologies. This is a fine approach but I have found that, over time, those associations and stories tend to crumble, since they are not based on a solid, actual background. On other occasions kanjis are not arranged by order of actual frequency or, worse, they are not grouped into similar components, therefore they fail to acknowledge the advantage of learning in groups rather than randomly.

The main purpose of the book that I am introducing here is to offer an innovative ultimate solution to make possible the learning of the 2136 kanji needed for Japanese literacy at once in a smooth and effective way, so to say, faster and better than you would do without it.

Although the system and concepts used throughout the book is comprehensive and well thought, the student of Kanji will find the book a tool that will make his learning process quite easy and straightforward.

The best way to demonstrate that in a way you can see it at a glance is through an example. Let’s suppose you are about to learn the kanji (flower).

First you would have learnt in the chapter 0 the 145 Radicals and identify in that character three of them.

Then you learn that the combination of 亻 (人) and 匕 forms a new phono-semantic component:

After that, you put together that component with the remaining radical and you get the new kanji:

Now you’ve learnt forever the main meanings and sounds of 人, 化 and 花. This is a summarized version of the process you will go through with the Real Kanji World.

 

 

 

We see that with each new kanji you are offered to learn not only about their core meanings and readings but also about to learn also about its formation, vocabulary and relation to other similar kanji. With the arrangement provided in The Real Kanji World you will be able to learn kanji faster and better than ever.

 

 

The Real Kanji world is a book intended for all those students of Japanese that want to learn the 2136 Chinese characters needed for Japanese literacy in a logical, systematic, concise and, why not, also entertaining way. The method of The Real Kanji World is based on two main concepts: comprehension and association.

With the book you will first learn 145 radicals that are paramount for recognizing and making semantic and phonetic associations between different kanji. Then you will learn each of the more than 2000 kanji in order of difficulty in regards to the Japanese school system, as well as in groups of characters sharing semantic and phonetic components divided into three themes: The human world, the Natural World and the Man-made World. These divisions and categorizations incite association in a remarkable way. Each entry for a kanji, in turn, has an explanation based on real etymologies to facilitate the comprehension that, at the end of the day, will make you perceive the kanji system as a logical and cohesive.

  


 

 

Another concept that The Real Kanji World takes advantage of is that of the formative classification. That is, each character can belong to a different class of kanji in regard to its formation. The student, if guided in a reliable manner (as it is done by The Real Kanji World), can take advantage of these classifications to determine what kind of relationship one character has with the other.

As for kanji classes, first we have the already mentioned radicals, then the semantic components, the phono-semantic components and finally the compound characters.

In each chapter (or level of difficulty) you are presented a set of characters that derive from a semantic or phono semantic component, so you can learn characters in groups that share a logic relation.

In the excerpt of the Chapter 1 shown above we can see the character classified as a Phono-semantic Component with the sound KOU and meaning of e exchanging. The following glyph, 効, is a Compound Character composed by 交 and the Radical 力. The last character, 校 is a compound of 交 and the radical 木.

That is the basic system of relationships presented throughout the book.


 

The learning system based on semantic components and original etymologies is not arbitrary. It is a system found after years of searching through thousands of characters studied with depth. After many years of testing various systems and trial-and error, I realized that the path to follow was real etymologies and logical associations between characters, since they are of immeasurable value on acquirement and memorization of kanji.

The idea of making The Real Kanji world, thus, came to be as the culmination of years of self-study and research. Unsatisfied with the existing kanji learning methods, I gradually set up my own system based on relationships between kanji taken upon  legitimate etymologies researched on several databases that have been made public on the web.

Over time, however, I wanted to put all these collected knowledge into a good use not only beneficial for me but for any kanji student. That is how I came with the idea of putting together a system that teaches all the 2136 joyo kanji in a nutshell.

Little by little I developed my own database of the 2136 kanji jewels in which I was filling all meanings, onyomi and kunyomi readings, archaic variants, original pictographic glyphs, etymological explanations and components.

Through the process of making the database I have learnt a lot and enjoyed my time, but nothing is worth it if it is not shared and put into use. I realized how great it would be if people could not only obtain interesting information of each kanji, but also the possibility of learning each character systematically and with relation to Japanese vocabulary.
That is how I thought that the best thing to do would be to develop a book that not only offered all the detailed information collected over the years in the database but to make a logical and smooth system that would allow any student of Japanese to learn all the kanji necessary for literacy along with the vocabulary and readings associated with them. So I started developing the book titled The Real Kanji World.

 Creating such a book requires a lot of time and dedication, but putting it into physical existence also requires capital. In order to complete the book in a polished and satisfactory manner I have no choice but to devote myself to it full time for a short space of time, but to make the book available for any enthusiastic Japanese student or researcher I need to spend a significant money to cover associated printing costs. and spend significant money. That is why I resort to Kickstarter and gentle contributors to make The Real Kanji World possible.

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

Risks and challenges

The product is almost finished and I have done enough research to make sure that the future printing process will be nice and smooth.

I will communicate regularly with the backers and make updates about the production, printing and shipping processes, so everybody can be aware of how this book becomes reality.

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