The Kanji Code

    the kanji code

    The debut book from new publisher Ocha Press, The Kanji Code is all about learning kanji on'yomi readings by using phonetic and visual components. Similar to how Heisig's Remembering the Kanji uses mnemonics to help students memorize kanji meanings, The Kanji Code tries a different but parallel method for learning the writing system.

    In The Kanji Code, kanji are divided into three reading categories:

    1. Kanji used to create kana scripts (hiragana and katakana)

    excerpt from the kanji code book

    Hiragana and katakana were originally created out of components of certain kanji characters, and this section teaches you the readings of those kanji. The book includes helpful images of each character, with the kana it created on top of it in red. It also provides examples of words that utilize these readings, as well as their English translations.

    2. Kanji that share phonetic components and/or radicals

    pages from the kanji code japanese learning book

    This section consists of kanji that share phonetic components—pieces of the character that clue you into how they are read. These can be radicals, entire kanji, or simply components: pieces the kanji share that may or may not have a name by themselves. Each kanji lists an English meaning and some example words that use the on'yomi readings they share.

    3. Kanji that share visual or artistic patterns

    pages from japanese learning book the kanji code

    The third and final section is the most unique. It lists visual or artistic patterns that tie kanji together with their on'yomi readings. Some have similar strokes or shapes, or simply look similar if you squint. (I'm not joking!)

    The Kanji Code is very well laid out, its paper of satisfying quality, and its content rich and engaging. If you've been trying to learn kanji meanings using a similar book method and need a resource to help you with the next step, this is a great book to pick up.

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