Apr 19, 2018
Kanji Pict-O-Graphics is the book I used to learn how to read and write in Japanese while I was in high school. I didn't actually learn all of it, but it was a great introduction, and I was fascinated by the images. I can say now, I still remember some things from the illustrations used to help readers remember the meaning of kana and kanji. What I have trouble with more often is the yomikata, or how to read the kanji, because some have several ways they can be pronounced.
When I was around 15 I was given an old Japanese magazine by one of the students at my school, who I guess was from Japan. I was never totally clear on that but we had art class together. I became obsessed with the Japanese writing. I think it's because of the design quality and complication, but I decided then that I wanted to learn how to read and write in Japanese. There was a Japanese class at the high school in the city, but after asking my mom, she wouldn't agree to drive me there every day or let me change schools.
I found Kanji Pict-O-Grahics in the library and I'm sure renewed it and checked it out multiple times. I still remember the pages and the sometimes sort of inappropriate images to show women or body parts. It has over 1000 kanji which could be the 1000 or so kanji taught in Japanese elementary schools, or just random ones that easily fit into the root characters which he uses to organize the book. This book was a great primer for learning hiragana & katakana before I could finally study Japanese in college.
I feel like some of the kanji taught in the book are rarely used or have bad translations, but overall it's helpful for visual learners for the easier characters at least. Some of them are stretching it a bit and I wouldn't say it helps me remember how to write. That still takes good old fashioned practice.
Now I've got my kanji drill and tons of authentic materials to work through while living in Japan. For me that's the most practical way to learn more. I'm feeling like just reading a ton in Japanese, the same way I read a ton (in English) as a kid and picked up vocabulary before learning it in school. That's what really gets to me while living here. I love bookstores and libraries, but I can't read novels yet, and I'm past the picture book level. I'm learning to be okay with not knowing exact meanings and guessing rather than looking everything up. While conversation is for sure more useful while living in Japan, I'm a big reader, so I want to be able to read in Japan too.