Review: Japanese Kanji for Beginners: (JLPT Levels N5 & N4) The Method that’s Helped Thousands in the US and Japan Learn to Read Japanese Successfully

All right, I’m going to preface this review with a notation: if you don’t know katakana or hiragana characters before reading this book, it would be wise to get another resource that deals with it directly either before or for studying alongside this book, because it may be confusing for those who are very new to the Japanese language.

That said, my reason for picking up this book explains part of my absence from social media in the book world: between reading, working on my WIPs, studying for a certification exam in my field of study AND being busy with life events and work, I’ve been self-studying Japanese. Meaning I’ve been engrossing myself in both the written and verbal facets of the language for a number of weeks (well…more like months. My passion for learning Japanese dates back to when I was in high school but it’s only been in more recent years that I’ve actually had the time to really dedicate to learning it.). This was one resource that was recommended to me to pick up for study and I found it at my uni’s bookstore.

It’s a very strong resource with a plethora of practice and examples, and an educational supplement that doesn’t cost too much. The first part of the book introduces you to concepts of the history of the language, stroke order rules, and helpful tips in learning kanji. After that point, you dive straight into the practice (44 Lessons worth), everything from numbers to common vocabulary to phrases and real world exchanges and examples. I found the space dedicated to practice the stroke order very helpful, alongside commonly used vocabulary words and lessons designed to have you practice visualizing and responding in writing to different tasks and scenarios. Admittedly, though, this is still a text best supplemented with a comprehensive text in Beginning Japanese, because it doesn’t really go into explaining katakana and hiragana despite showcasing it prominently throughout the book. The CD that comes in the back is mostly for emphasizing pronunciation through the different kanji that are showcased through the book. That really helped me in terms of having both verbal and written practice/emphasis through my studying, though I wish the CD component could’ve had more interaction and content with respect to each lesson in the book.

I will definitely be coming back to this book for review, and think it would be a good resource for those who are learning Japanese formally as well as in a self-study capacity.

Overall score: 4/5 stars.


One comment

  1. Kanji is all about repetition and I’m currently at the point of “if you don’t use it, you lose it” stage. I used to know over 1,000, but since I stopped studying it in school, I have lacked the time and motivation. 😦 I’ll pick it up again someday I hope….
    Anyhow, good luck with your studying!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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