Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Remembering the Kanji 3, Second Edition

Remembering the Kanji 3, Second Edition: Writing and Reading Japanese Characters for Upper-Level Proficiency

James W. Heisig
Tanya Sienko
Copyright Date: 2008
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Remembering the Kanji 3, Second Edition
    Book Description:

    Students who have learned to read and write the basic 2,000 characters run into the same difficulty that university students in Japan face: The government-approved list of basic educational kanji is not sufficient for advanced reading and writing. Although each academic specialization requires supplementary kanji of its own, a large number of these kanji overlap. With that in mind, the same methods employed in volumes 1 and 2 of Remembering the Kanji have been applied to 1,000 additional characters determined as useful for upper-level proficiency, and the results published as the third volume in the series. To identify the extra 1,000 characters, frequency lists were researched and crosschecked against a number of standard Japanese kanji dictionaries. Separate parts of the book are devoted to learning the writing and reading of these characters. The writing requires only a handful of new "primitive elements." A few are introduced as compound primitives ("measure words") or as alternative forms for standard kanji. The majority of the kanji, 735 in all, are organized according to the elements introduced in Volume 1. For the reading, about twenty-five percent of the new kanji fall into "pure groups" that use a single "signal primitive" to identify the main Chinese reading. Another thirty percent of the new kanji belong to groups with one exception or to mixed groups in which the signal primitives have two readings. The remaining 306 characters are organized first according to readings that can be intuited from the meaning or dominant primitive element, and then according to useful compound terms.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6415-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. 1-2)
    Tanya Sienko
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-10)
    James W. Heisig

    The american philosopher William James once wrote that a great idea goes through three stages on its way to acceptance. First, it is dismissed as nonsense. Then it is acknowledged as true, but insignificant. Finally, it is seen to be important, but not really anything new. Time and again history confirms the wisdom of James’s observation, but it also reminds us that the very same bias that resists the invasion of novelty also serves to swat away many a flea-brained idea buzzing about for attention.

    In this connection, I must admit I am of two minds aboutRemembering the Kanji...


    • Chapter 1 New Primitives and Kanji Primitives
      (pp. 13-23)

      We begin our journey to 3,000 kanji with the addition of a few new primitive elements to those already included in vol. 1. They have been included only if they appear frequently enough in the kanji in general to be useful, or if at least three instances appear in this volume. Each new element is followed by the new characters in which it appears.

      After this, all the primitives in this volume will already be familiar to you. If you get stuck, consult the comprehensive list in Index ii at the end of this volume.

      We close this first chapter...

    • Chapter 2 Major Primitive Elements
      (pp. 24-119)

      The kanji treated in this chapter comprise the bulk of part one of this book, some 734 characters in all. Each character is entered under its principal primitive element, and the elements themselves are arranged in their dictionary order....

    • CHAPTER 3 Miscellaneous Kanji
      (pp. 120-133)

      The characters introduced in this chapter (107 in all) are not arranged in any particular order, except where one serves as an element for the next....

    • CHAPTER 4 Western Measurements
      (pp. 134-135)

      The handful of characters presented in this chapter are meant to introduce you to the basic principles used in writing Western units of measurement. Contemporary Japanese has by and large discarded this way of writing, but it is not uncommon to meet these characters in historical texts. As frightening as they might appear at first, there is a very clear logic to their composition....

    • CHAPTER 5 Phonetic Characters
      (pp. 136-137)

      While thekanasyllabaries have taken over most of the chores of incorporating loan words in their original sounds, a few exceptions have survived. The following group of characters are used mainly today for their sound value, rather than for their meaning. In each case, the sound is provided by a signal primitive, as will be indicated in Part Two of this volume. For now, the signal primitive (or its composite elements) have been underlined.

      These final two characters, taken together, are the Chinese phonetic transliterations of the English wordcoffee, which is the principal form in which you are...

    • CHAPTER 6 Old and Alternate Forms
      (pp. 138-146)

      Earlier on, in frame 2352 of chapter 2, we introduced an old form of the character for technique (芸➞藝). In this chapter we pick up 37 more old and alternate forms. In some cases, the older form has never been “updated.” In others, both forms are still in use.

      Examples of other cases where older forms and newer abbreviations occur are given in their respective frames.

      We end this chapter with those characters in fairly common use whose elements havenotbeen assigned newer abbreviations....


    • CHAPTER 7 Old Pure Groups
      (pp. 149-170)

      The first group of readings center on what were called inRemembering the Kanji 2“Pure Groups.” Each character that belongs to a pure group contains a signal primitive which prescribes a givenon-yomifor that character and all others in the group with it.

      The number to the far right of the top line set in bold typeindicates the frame number in which the writing of the kanji was introduced. In almost all cases this refers to a frame in Part One of the present volume.

      The number under the character in each frameis preceded by an...

    • CHAPTER 8 New Pure Groups
      (pp. 171-197)

      This chapter introduces new primitive groups, based on signal primitives that were not introduced as such in vol. 2. As before, a small frame will be set at the head of each group to indicate the signal primitive, reading, and kanji from vol. 2 that belong to this group.

      In most cases, the reading of the kanji that will serve here as a signal primitive has already been learned, and in that case the reference to the frame in vol. 2 where the reading was introduced will appear under the signal primitive.

      As in the previous chapter, an arrow (⬇)...

    • CHAPTER 9 Semi-Pure Groups
      (pp. 198-220)

      The semi-pure groups, it will be recalled from vol. 2, are groups ofon-yomibased on a common signal primitive—but with a single exception.

      Strictly speaking, the addition of secondary and tertiary readings would do away with most semi-pure groups. But the classification is a useful one, and it is worth the strain to preserve it.

      We begin here with semi-pure groups already learned, and conclude the chapter with a number of new groupings.

      The following groups did not exist in vol. 2, but can now be formed as semi-pure groups, using characters already known as signal primitives.


    • CHAPTER 10 Mixed Groups
      (pp. 221-249)

      The 162 kanji treated in this chapter make up the most difficult of the signal-primitive-based groups. Let us begin by recalling the three classes of “mixed groups” introduced in Vol. 2:

      Group a includes groups with two readings. As distinct from the “semi-pure” groups, there must be at least 2 kanji for each reading.

      Group b is made up of groups with only two exceptions to the standard reading of the signal primitive, which must apply to at least 3 kanji.

      Group c is made up of miscellaneous groups where it is still useful to see a signal primitive with...

    • Chapter 11 A Potpourri of Readings
      (pp. 250-287)

      We begin this hodge-podge of readings with a group of kanji whoseon-yomiyou should be able to guess by “intuition” from the dominant primitive, even though there are too many exceptions to allow us to make a group as such.

      Theon-yomifor this next group of kanji can be guessed at from their meaning. That is, the reading of another, more common character of the same meaning supplies the reading. To help you, the character of related meaning is given in each frame.

      Theon yomifor this next group can be guessed at from their meaning. That...

    • CHAPTER 12 Kanji with Japanese Readings Only
      (pp. 288-297)

      In this chapter we will bring together all the characters learned in this volume that do not have an assignedon-yomior whoseon-yomiare too rare to bother with.

      In general the readings are given inhiragana, although this does not necessary mean that there is a direct correspondence to akun-yomi. In cases where the pronunciation is clearly based on a foreign word or an original Chinese reading, however, the reading is given inkatakana....

    • CHAPTER 13 Readings of Old and Alternate Forms
      (pp. 298-300)

      The readings of the old and alternate forms of kanji learned in chapter 6 keep the same readings as their simplified forms. For the sake of completeness, all readings that have not appeared in the foregoing chapters of Part Two are recorded here. Note that two of these characters (巌 and 伍) have been assigned “official” readings for use in names....

    • CHAPTER 14 Supplementary Kanji
      (pp. 301-306)

      This final chapter is meant to encourage you to expand your proficiency beyond the range of 3,000. The 7 characters given here to get you going include the last 5 kanji from the Ministry of Education’s official list of kanji (3001–3005) and 2 kanji that fell between the cracks of the selection process, but which you will find useful (3006–3007). Room has been left for you to add kanji of your own.

      Only basic information has been provided in the first 7 frames, in a simplified layout different from the rest of the book. Each of the kanji...


    • INDEX I Hand-Drawn Characters
      (pp. 309-317)
    • INDEX II Primitive Elements
      (pp. 318-322)
    • INDEX III Kanji in Stroke Order
      (pp. 323-337)
    • INDEX IV Chinese Readings
      (pp. 338-356)
    • INDEX V Japanese Readings
      (pp. 357-403)
    • INDEX VI Key Words and Primitive Meanings
      (pp. 404-430)