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Essential Kanji
2,000 Basic Japanese Characters Systematically Arranged for Learning and Reference
Author P.G. O'Neill
Publisher Weatherhill
CategoryKanji learning - Joyo kanji
ISBNs0834802228 [COPAC, Webcatplus, Wikipedia]
0834800829 [COPAC, Webcatplus, Wikipedia]

Review of Essential Kanji by Ben Bullock

Kanji learning book covering the Jouyou and some of the jinmei kanji sets with a total of about 2000 characters. Gives both modern and old-fashioned handwritten forms and printed forms with some compounds. The choice of compounds is deliberately obscure in order to increase the student's vocabulary rather than to present the most common compounds. This is because the author expects this book to be used in conjunction with other Japanese language instruction.

Unlike Heisig or Henshall there are no mnemonics or history of the origins of the characters in this book. The only information given about each character apart from reference numbers to other dictionaries is its construction type in Chinese (for instance, pure pictographic character, sound part+meaning part character, etc.). However the handwritten characters in this book, unlike Henshall, do have stroke order and are written in a far nicer style. The book is fairly cheap and small, and thus more portable than most kanji learning books, so if you want a convenient but fairly comprehensive book to take on a trip to Japan, this is probably it.

☆ See all reviews by Ben Bullock.

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