The Lazy Kanji Kendo Mod

This is a gracious guest post by E Dub Kendo. In it, he introduces a sweet mod[ification] he made to lazy kanji cards to increase their effectiveness. Effectiveness and preference can and does vary by person. Nevertheless, I think this mod is a valuable improvement that definitely deserves to be part of AJATT “canon” 😉 .

Though I have no hard data, my hunch is that “Lazy Kanji natives”, i.e. people who go straight into lazy kanji with, say, less than 1000 characters’ worth of previous experience, will benefit most from this mod. Heisig did not pen RTK for naught — logical connections matter.

Due to a variety of factors involving chronic pain and fatigue, I found my kanji studies grinding to a halt around #700 in RTK. I just could not get motivated to keep going. Typing up stories, writing out kanji, and trying to remember keywords that meant the same thing despite having completely unrelated kanji was just too exhausting, and made my hands and wrists ache.

Then Khatzumoto-sempai came up with something that sounded like just the thing for me, Lazy Kanji, which turns the process of memorizing kanji into something more like repeatedly dialing a telephone number until it’s memorized. With renewed hope, I made an initial attempt at some Lazy Kanji cards.

However, what I quickly discovered was that it became too easy to forget about breaking the kanji up into its component parts and I was relying on rote memorization and visual memory. In other words, it was too slow, and even more painful than writing Heisig-novels. A little bit of thought fixed the problem though. A simple modification to the front of the cards could, with little effort, bring back all the benefits of Heisig’s mnemonics without nearly as much work.
So, here’s what the cards look like:


The TEENAGER went to a _______ in the LITTLE HOUSE.

The task looks like this. First, write the kanji. Attempt to write it just from glancing at the sentence, if necessary, however, it’s alright to look at the kanji. That’s why its there on the front. Then, look at the kanji and say the keyword out loud. The keyword can be any synonym that carries that meaning. So party, gala, shindig, bonnaroo (joking) — would all be correct.

Grading [Anki scale]: If I get the keyword and I can write the kanji just from the sentence, I mark it “Very Easy”. If I have to glance at the kanji I mark it “Easy” or “Hard”, depending on my feeling about it. Missing the keyword entirely gets it marked “Wrong”.

Adding the fill-in-the-blank sentence does two main things:

  1. First, it serves as a reminder to break the kanji up into its components, which is the strongest part of the Heisig method in my opinion.
  2. Second, it works as a bit of “context”, providing a mental hook which is easy to grasp on to and gives the brain something familiar to grasp at while learning something that initially looks like random squiggles to it.
    But, because of the combination of SRS and blending writing and recognition, it is no longer necessary to use complex or wordy stories to memorize with. A simple sentence that links all the primitives together and to the keyword in some sort of logical structure is all that is necessary.

My deck, which contains all the kanji from RTK1, is a shared deck on Anki, and can be found by searching “Lazy Kanji + Mod”. Some of the “stories” are idiosyncratic to my strange tastes and sense of humor, but most of them are generic enough to be useful to anyone.

Having worked through all the kanji making the cards, and hundreds of them in late stages of review, I can definitely say that Lazy Kanji is efficient and far more enjoyable than the more traditional method. While your grasp on the kanji will NOT be as strong initially as someone who worked through the book the normal way, over time it will balance out. That’s the power of the SRS combined with motor memory and adult logic.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Fists? 1 Put ’em up!


  1. OK, not fists

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  47 comments for “The Lazy Kanji Kendo Mod

  1. kalek
    December 16, 2010 at 01:36

    I’m about a week away from finishing up my Kanji using Kendo’s method.

    I tried the normal Heisig method originally, but between my own acting like a hare instead of a tortoise, and with how un-fun it is to do vanilla Heisig, I had trouble remembering Kanji I did even only the day before, and I always wanted to avoid reviews (causing them to stack up to the point where it would be two to three weeks before I’d see Kanji that I should’ve seen a day later, even with doing 100-200 a day). I imagine if I would’ve stuck it out and done 200+ reviews daily for a month, I would’ve gotten through it, but the thought of doing that at the time probably would’ve made me want to quit learning Japanese.

    So, I started over. I got about 400 Kanji in, still with vanilla Heisig, but I was making my own stories (instead of taking them from, and at a constant rate of 50 new Kanji per day. If I wanted to do more, that was fine, but not any less. Around 400, I found Kendo’s mod again (I’d seen it in the past and thought it was totally dumb), and decided to give it a try for 100 Kanji.

    The reviews ended up being easier than ever, and while they’re not my favorite thing to do, it’s a whole lot more fun than old Heisig reviews. Also, I remember the Kanji better than ever — I can plow through text now and remember every keyword without trouble (unless, of course, it’s a Kanji that I don’t know yet), and as far as I can tell, my writing is better than ever too, despite the fact that during review I never have to write totally from memory without seeing the Kanji for a split second first (unless it’s one of the first 400 Kanji that I didn’t switch over yet).

    tl;dr I wholeheartedly recommend Lazy Kanji + Kendo’s Mod to learn the Kanji. It’s fast, fun, easy, and I remember them better.

    Also, if you use Kendo’s deck on Anki’s shared decks, and just use a smart phone or something to review whenever you’re waiting for class to start, at a restaurant with boring people (this is a normal occurrence for me — my parents are very boring people who eat out nearly every day), or for a minute or two whenever you’re bored and messing around on the Internet (1 minute time boxes during page loads are great), I see no reason why you wouldn’t finish with a strong foundation with the Kanji in ~2 months or less. The only other thing that I’d recommend doing is doing the Kanji from the RtK supplement ( ), which you’d have to make up your own stories/sentences for (Kendo didn’t include these), but making up 157 sentences over the course of two months is pretty easy. That’s 2.5 sentences/day on average on top of what you’re already doing. It is maybe 5 minutes of extra work, including the initial reps.

    December 16, 2010 at 02:17

    So what is the difference to RTK?
    Is it:

    RTK Your method
    Stories RTK (use all words, including the key word) =~ Sentences (leave blank for key word).
    Try to recall the Kanji Recall the key word (using Kanji as visual help when needed = Kanji recognition)

  3. Neo Samurai
    December 16, 2010 at 02:52

    Wow, I didn’t even realize that deck was made by kendo. I’ve been using it for a bit, but didn’t realize the method involved with it. Definitely going to give that a try.

    Great post, kendo! 🙂

  4. Matt
    December 16, 2010 at 04:27

    I’m really beginning to believe that the best method is the one you invent yourself.

    It seems like everyone and their uncle has their variant on RTK (I certainly do!), but it’s really hard to tell which one is “best” because you can ascribe all sorts of wonderful attributes to your homebrew method, but no one will ever bother doing a real quantitive comparative test to determine its relative strengths on large sample sizes beyond anecdote.

    Which isn’t a bash on homebrews or suggesting that people owe it to anyone to scientifically quantify their methods. Instead, quite the opposite, I suggest that everyone /try creating their own method/. Not from scratch, but they should try to personalize the method they use to learn from an existing method. And -not even because the method they invent will absolutely be better than another-, but because of momentum. Sometimes moving your focus off the direct path and giving a personal twist to your work /motivates/ you.

    And really, motivation will always be >>>> the specifics of any method.

  5. that one guy
    December 16, 2010 at 08:45

    “I’m really beginning to believe that the best method is the one you invent yourself.”

    Exactly. Less attention needs to be spent forever combing for the perfect – read: makes it all easy and effortless – method and just put some creativity and effort etc into it. This isnt to slam the OP, he has found, and has shared, what has worked for him. Kudos!

  6. kokage
    December 16, 2010 at 09:53

    I have also started using the Lazy Kanji Deck a week ago, being 1300 Kanji in with RTK and looking for a way to speed up things. But, before I start on Lazy Kanji, let me just say:

    – I have never been unhappy with VanillaHeisig – English keyword on the front, with an english explanation of keyword from a monolingual dictionary where needed, and the story where needed (if I fail the card to often, never longer than 1 sentence). Retention rate is satisfactory. Repetitions don’t hurt.

    – As I am in Japan, I have Kanji everywhere, so e.g. on the way to the grocery store I say every keyword for every kanji I can see in my head. It really bothers when I know all the elements, and remember the story, but can’t recall the keyword OR (even worse) don’t know whether I should know the kanji, because I know all the elements, but not the keyword (turns out often enough that I haven’t learned the kanji up to that point in time). This is what’s really annoying to me.

    So I have thought of Lazy Kanji as more of a reading + writing exercise. Reading–>producing keyword–>copying the kanji–> Through repeated writing it just magically sticks in your head (like the telephone number mentioned earlier). I gave it a shot, but soon got distracted by the prominently displayed stories, that are not mine and stopped reviewing, going back to my VanillaHeisigDeck. I couldn’t be bothered to copy my stories into the Lazy Kanji Deck – VanillaHeisig didn’t hurt that much.

    Now I see how Kendo intended it to be and understand why the kanji are soo small and the stories in a bigger font size!

    Still, as for me, I deleted the Kendos stories one by one and use Lazy Kanji as an exercise for reading and keyword producing, plus writing the kanji out once, in addition to VanillaHeisig. As I am still with the early, easy (no – often repeated, therefore “got used to”) kanji, I breeze through it. Curious about the later kanji, though.

    So, that’s my “homebrew” of Lazy Kanji. I don’t think I will dismiss VanillaHeisig, as I constructing the kanji from its elements wouldn’t be covered by my Lazy Kanjis, would it? I am not sure how long I can keep up managing two decks, though… Priority on Heisig, maybe…

    Anyway: Kendo – thanks for the deck and thanks for your articles, they’re really helpful!

  7. jason
    December 16, 2010 at 10:43

    I did the Kendo method. It worked out ok, but you usually have to change a few stories as they don’t always work for the individual (everyone’s different, yeah?).

    My retention was pretty good and it was fast. The stories fell away pretty quickly too, leaving only the keyword, which is good. After about 3 months from stopping my reviews I think I lost about 40% of the 2000 odd I learned, but I was doing 100+ kanji per day towards the end and finished in 1 month using the Kendo (the majority of those 40% are the later half of the book that I blazed through, which means plan for “3 months” not “1 month”, lol.)

    Currently, I am filling the gaps and don’t really need components to remember things anymore. My cards usually look like this:


    He has amassed immense w—-
    The soil is en—- with nutrients

    Clozed delete
    wealth, enrich

    wealth, enrich, abundant

    I would recommend this if you are seeing a lot of Kanji you don’t know and have finished RTK1 (you can do RTK3 this way without even needing the book). Fill the gaps, just like you would with vocabulary and grammar, it makes things a lot easier. Also, I don’t need to rely on one keyword (although the keywords I try to remember are usually the ones I think are most frequent based on sentences from my dictionary – “Japanese” Iphone app FTW.)

    # It takes 1 minute and a half per card to create (with the Japanese dictionary app – everything in one place).
    # I do writing as I review for words I don’t know well, so I don’t do it with Kanji reviews.
    # Yeah, I finished in 1 month (actually a little less), but I wouldn’t recommend this. Take three months and do some reading as you learn – you’ll be 1000% better off. (1000 Kanji would get you the gist of a somewhat native sentences – definitely textbooks would be ok.) + do you really have 5-7 hours a day to review Kanji? (I didn’t sleep much, yawn.)
    # Good luck!

  8. December 16, 2010 at 17:50

    It’s kind of crazy, sad and cool that the Heisig method went from “This is so amazingly fast.” to “Oh man, this is so slow”.

    I finished it, and still do reps that way, but for characters that I’m uncomfortable with (or become a Leech in Anki) I add a Lazy Kanji card where I test backwards with readings added in for fun. It’s easy to make the cards with Anki, and I don’t need them for every kanji, which keeps off the stress of going through cards that are too easy.

    What surprises me is that people type out their stories at all. I mean, to each their own but I thought the point of Heisig was to reduce writing (or in this case typing)!

  9. Drack
    December 17, 2010 at 10:11

    I have a different take on Kanji, completely different form RTK, as I had been doing them in classes and independently before discovering this site. There are several features of .. I dunno, let’s call it Drack’s method:

    -Works if you already have had previous Japanese education outside of AJATT .. knowledge of words and kana. Doesn’t work if you don’t, so if you STARTED with AJATT, forget it, it doesn’t fit into Khatzu’s method, so keep doing RTK.

    -NO ENGLISH on any flashcard whatsoever… no stories, no keywords.

    -Don’t add a kanji to your SRS until you know a sentence using it. If you can’t use it properly or even pronounce it, do you really even know it yet?

    -Two cards per kanji. One for reading, one for writing. You’ll get the meaning from the words and from your sentence cards that have that kanji.

    My cards have 3 fields:
    -Kanji – Just the character

    -Stroke Order picture – I get them from (See, even if you hate my method you still got something out of this comment!)

    -Readings in kana only, but don’t just put the reading, put a word that uses it (for 物 don’t put ぶつ, put どうぶつ or はくぶつかん and underline the ぶつ). Put readings for several words that are present in your deck’s sentences. This makes the kanji and sentence cards *reinforce each other* You can also put readings for other common words representative of the meaning of the kanji. Underline the portion of the compounds that “cover” the kanji you’re learning. For weird or irregular readings (like 火傷 = やけど), put them in parentheses and don’t grade yourself on remembering them, they’re not important enough to justify the SRS time to learn them. For readings that could confuse you into thinking it’s a different kanji with the same reading, put a phrase around it so it’s not ambiguous which kanji it refers to.

    Recognition card has the kanji and stroke order picture on the front, and the question is remembering the readings. You don’t have to pick the exact words on the other side, just some word that uses that reading, for each reading you recorded.

    Production card has the readings on the front and the task is to write the kanji. Feel free to use Heisig’s primitives or any other method to memorize how to write the character, but don’t think in English!

    I learn how to write the kanji, I learn the ways to read the kanji, and from the selection of words I picked, I learn the meaning of the kanji, all without breaking my all-Japanese train of thought with any English.

    The downside for you guys is that it doesn’t fit into AJATT. Since AJATT requires kanji before sentences or even kana, it doesn’t fit into this method. Don’t try it. This is for people like me who have *already taken classes* or used other methods to get knowledge of kana and the basics, and want to use the knowledge they already have to accelerate the kanji learning process. I’m not deviating from the rest of AJATT, my immersion environment and sentence cards are the same as everyone else’s.

    It’s working great for me. Those classes weren’t a complete waste of time after all.

    Khatzu, I hope this post isn’t stepping on your toes, I just wanted to share how I’m doing it, even if it only applies to the minority of people here who spent (wasted?) time using other methods before finding yours.

  10. Drack
    December 17, 2010 at 10:41

    A picture is worth a thousand words, here’s a Drack’s Method card:

  11. Jason
    December 18, 2010 at 01:12

    @Drack Thank you the stroke order link was a welcome addition to my Kanji card model!

  12. haplology
    December 19, 2010 at 08:23

    Interesting idea. I suppose the lazy method could be done the same way, but with Keyword and Story on the front, and Kanji on the back. One thing I like about glancing at the character – eventually I want to be able to glance at characters and think the meaning instantly.

    Instead, if I have to write out a word, sometimes I have to think about each individual character. That leads to other problems, like 接続 makes me kinda dyslexic for some reason, but if I got more used to looking at 接 and thinking touch rather than vice versa, it might be faster.

    I do love the RTK method from the perspective that I don’t make sloppy mistakes. 疲 and 病 are the kinds of characters that I know from context, but before RTK couldn’t write to save my life (and I suppose the difference is a tad bit important). Lots of similar characters that confused me before, now are impossible to mix up.

  13. Tommy Newbhall
    December 19, 2010 at 15:05

    Howdy ho ajatteers! This is tom from Taiwan gonna give you my two cents on The One Method To Rule Them All(tm) for learning characters.

    I’ve currently got 2910 active cards in my Kanji deck, which I started making in November 2008, and I can proudly say that I pwn the heck out of chinese characters, which is just to say that I’m speaking from experience. I’ve gone through a number of different formats for kanji cards, including a several month stint with LazyKanji, and I’d like to share with you the results of my tweaking:

    When I did Heisig originally I pretty much stuck to what he says in the book religiously, despite running into many of the frustrating problems people are experiencing here. Any tweaks I made in formatting or in my SRS habits didn’t seem to help, and I was always worried that something I would do would make the whole method obsolete, or worse, that “Heisig’s method doesn’t working for me.” Though Heisig and supporters’ talk of his method “cementing characters firmly in your mind” is motivating, please ignore such bold and preachy statements. Heisig’s method is not perfect, nor are you. You will forget characters, you will confuse them. Your memory is a fickle friend, and if there’s one real lesson that Heisig can teach you, it’s not about characters, but about how your mind works.

    Anyway, I was doing this originally
    Keyword => Character+Story [aka VanillaHeisig]

    The problem with this method is:
    -Despite being straight from the man himself, I feel that the story here is treated more like an afterthought, where reviewing the story was necessary insofar as you don’t remember how to write the character without it. While you obviously don’t need to memorize the story, per se, I have found that reviewing in this manner is not the best way to use the story.

    – As kokage mentioned, also I found it was extremely difficult to recall the keyword when I saw the character in the real word. Intuitively, this is obviously a huge problem, but Heisig dismisses it, and since Heisig was all about going against your intuition I though ok, just do as he says. In other words, I blamed this problem on my own perceived inadequacies rather than accepting that the method was imperfect.

    -This has been mentioned before, but when you’re getting into the 3000 range of characters you will definitely need to reuse some keywords, and VanillaHeisig doesn’t accommodate this well.

    So there were a few tweaks I used here and there, in card formatting, story creation protocols, using japanese readings, but nothing really took me from feeling like “this isn’t working that well” to the point of “this works like a charm” that everyone else seemed to be feeling. At some point long after I finished Heisig, Khatz mentioned using LazyKanji, and though I had toyed with this idea in my head I didn’t dare go against what Heisig says. At that point I figured, if Khatz is doing it, it must be ok, so I reformatted my cards and gave it a whirl. Lo and behold… still no “ah ha” moment.

    I was using this method:
    Character => Keyword + story [VanillaLazyKanji]
    But didn’t like it because:

    -Passivity. I think this is fundamentally the main problem with the Lazy Kanji method, as well as the KendoMod. Yes, its fun and easy like popping bubble wrap but because it doesn’t require much thought, to me it became more like rote memorization than really reinforcing the connections between the character, it’s parts, and the keyword.

    -Difficult to grade, since most of the time I’d give a synonym for the keyword rather than the exact keyword, and so the question became “how close is close enough?” Or, from having seen the character in real usage I would know the meaning well, but if this differed from the keyword I just say “oh I know that one” and move on.

    -As the cards matured, my ability to remember keywords, or even a synonym, was definitely less than it ought to have been, especially for characters that I would rarely see in regular Japanese. I was forgetting a large number of characters that I once knew, but it was hard to tell whether I had truly forgotten these or if I just had a very fuzzy understanding of their meaning.

    With this method, I decided to put the story with a keyword cloze on the front to help with a few of the more difficult cards that I had in my deck, thus making them like the Kendo Mod described above. Then, lightning struck and I came up with a new method, which seems to solve all the above problems in a roundabout way, [Though I have to admit that it is still far from “working like a charm”]

    Story [Keyword Cloze] => Character + Keyword

    Basically this is the same “KendoMod” that is discussed here with one important tweak: neither the character nor the keyword is displayed in the question. This is a radical departure from what Heisig recommends as well. Nevertheless, I find that it is much easier to both recognize characters and give a meaning when I see them in “real life,” and also easy to recall specific characters when I need to write them.

    -Easy/fast/fun to do like LazyKanjiKendoMod, because just reading the story will give you the clues to writing the character properly (i.e. the names of the primitive in the story) while also requiring that you produce the character entirely from memory. I actually find that the small added challenge that makes this more fun and less passive without being too difficult to do.

    -Easy to grade, because with a cloze you are less likely to give a synonym. You know easily whether you remembered the keyword properly, as well as whether you wrote the character properly.

    -also no problem with having the same keyword for multiple characters

    So… to illustrate this I give you a sample card


    a […] is a piece of clothing that displays a pattern to wear around your neck


    a scarf is a piece of clothing that displays a pattern to wear around your neck

    -In the “story” fields, I use bold to indicate the keyword in the story and italics to indicate the primitives.
    -Writing the primitives at the top is not really necessary but I find it helpful to type them out when I make the card, especially for ones that are not in Heisig.
    -Of course, I also occasionally put pictures on the front.
    -After I started learning the readings of characters, I started to add them to the front of the card to help remember the character. I.e. if i was reviewing Kanji and I happened upon one that I knew the reading I would often the card and add the reading. However, to reiterate what I said above, do not bother to do this when you first make the cards. Judge for yourself whether this strategy is helpful or not.

    Here’s another one for the road:

    [image of the "assassin's creed" guy... wearing a hood with only his mouth showing]

    monks walk with their hoods low, they all look the […] and the one part of your body you can see is their mouth



    monks walk with their hoods low, they all look the same and the one part of your body you can see is their mouth


    This is actually an imperfect card because it uses the concept “part of the body” a phrase normally reserved for characters with the 月 primitive. These Japanese readings were added after, AFTER I completed Heisig. After I had them in my sentence cards, and I knew the reading.

    Finally, I’ve found there are a few basic characters which are easier to remember just as shapes, or pictographs, than it is to break them down and make a story out of. For these characters I have the same card format, but I don’t have a cloze story. These basically work like this: Story or description => Keyword + Character

    For example,

    Pictograph of a window with lattices


    Normally this would reduce to something like drop+boxed in+wolverine=window, but this too much when its so obviously just a friggin’ pictograph. is good at pointing these out.

    Thinking about how this relates to the general “principles of flash carding,” keep in mind that what you need to remember is what is on the back of the card: The answer to the question. On the front of the card are the passive pieces of memory that remind you of what you want to actively recall on the back. In my experience, the only way something in the front of the card gets remembered is by sheer exposure: rote memorization. Sure, SRS will give you that exposure, but in order to really strengthen your memory you need reinforce the links between memories as well.

    The tricky thing with Kanji is that there are actually two pieces of information that you need to remember for the same character: the keyword and the writing of the character. One way to handle this fact was by having two cards for the same character, one Keyword=>Kanji, one Kanji=>Keyword, although Heisig dismissed this, saying something to the effect if “its a waste of time” and “if you can do it one way you can do it the other way.” For myself, this was partly true, although I wasn’t satisfied with my ability to concretely remember the keywords out of context. Honestly, my current method has not solved this problem completely, though it is an improvement. I would also stress that in practice, needing to recall the exact keyword of a character is rarely necessary. Having a familiarity with a character, being “in the ballpark” or “having a feel for” its meaning is more than good enough 95% of the time. I often feel that I know more clearly what a character *does not* mean more than I know *exactly* what it does mean, yet if I see a new character, I know at an instant if I am not yet familiar with it.

    This principle applies to sentence cards too: we aren’t trying to remember what’s on the front of the card i.e. the sentence itself, but we are trying to remember the meaning of the words, the meaning of the sentence, and the pronunciation of the words. Being able to say that sentence or a similar one is less a matter of having seen the sentence several times, but of having remembered the principles behind how its component parts go together.

    Coming out the other side of AJATT , the number one piece of advice I could give anyone and everyone here, despite our lust for the speed and efficiency of AJATT– ABSOLUTELY DO NOT RUSH THROUGH HEISIG. Make stories for every character, make them well, make your cards beautiful. You will thank yourself later if you do; you will kick yourself later if you do not.

    Your cards do not need to have the Japanese readings on them.
    Your cards do not need to have any more complex definitions than the one or two word phrase that Heisig gives. Think of these not as definitions to give you the meaning of the character but are more like a “clue” to get you in the ballpark. You will learn the “real” meaning of them later. Keep in mind that at this stage of AJATT, you are not learning Japanese, you are preparing yourself to learn Japanese. This is a hard reality to take.

    I, too, questioned the necessity of this preparation the entire time I was doing Heisig, and it was extremely frustrating. So, I know how y’all feel. When I started Heisig I thought “I would be one of those guys who does Heisig in a month” while in reality, it took me nearly six months. Now, there is no doubt in my mind that learning characters first is absolutely essential, and even when friends, professors, administrators and other manifestations of knowledge-power at my university here want me to study chinese “the right way,” I tell them “No, thank you. I will do things my own way,” knowing that my conscious postponement of speaking will only magnify my pwnage later.


    • Augusto Modanese
      December 19, 2010 at 20:45

      Wow, you just grabbed that idea from my head! I had been thinking about doing cards this way after a month or so of Kendo’s cards. In fact, I kinda do like this, but with the kanji on the front, only I don’t look at it. I put it in a very small font, with the story big.

      I think an improvement might be using the 2-step answer plugin for Anki and having the kanji be the first part of the answer and the keyword the other. Grading would then be:
      Easy – Wrote kanji from memory only with the story;
      Good – Remembered part of kanji from story, but needed to look at one last primitive or missed the arrangement;
      Hard – Didn’t recall the kanji at all, needed to look to write;
      Again – Didn’t recall neither the kanji nor the keyword.
      (Going to do that here ASAP!)

      • Reis McCullough
        April 8, 2011 at 14:05

        Hello, thanks for the tip with the 2-step answer plugin. But how do you use it?

    • Adonalyn
      January 7, 2011 at 00:47

      Thanks for posting this Tommy, it was very insightful. While I do vastly prefer lazy kanji to vanilla Heising, I have always disliked the kanji on the front – it is extremely difficult to just “not look” at a kanji that’s right in front of your face, and I share the same problems you described above. Specifically, because the kanji is on the front, I am having problems figuring out if I can really write the kanji from memory, or if I had just seen in and felt like I knew it.

      My question for you is this; do you have your deck shared on Anki? If not, could you share your deck? Unfortunately, I currently suffer from diagnosed carpel tunnel, and even though I want to update all of my cards to reflect your model, the prospect of updating ~2000 cards one by one is physically impossible for me.

      I also appreciate your advice to not rush through the kanji. I feel like I’m going at a snail’s pace; I’m married and have a full time job and other obligations, so sometimes I can only review kanji using my phone on the train. It’s nice to have my timeline reinforced by someone who has come out on the other end.

      Thanks for your help,


  14. Tommy Newbhall
    December 19, 2010 at 15:19

    Shoot, there’s some stuff that didn’t get rendered properly there. Here’s those example cards again:


    a […] is a piece of clothing that displays a pattern to wear around your neck


    a scarf is a piece of clothing that displays a pattern to wear around your neck


    [image of the "assassin's creed" guy... wearing a hood with only his mouth showing]

    monks walk with their hoods low, they all look the […] and the one part of your body you can see is their mouth



    monks walk with their hoods low, they all look the same and the one part of your body you can see is their mouth



    Pictograph of a window with lattices




    I should also mention that I did a similar thing as drack to put the the stroke onto my cards.

    But, I super-streamlined the process by downloading all the animated GIFs from and integrating this clever piece of HTML into my Anki Template :

    where the string “/Users/Tommy/Documents/書類/soda-utf8” is the folder on my HD where the GIFs are stored. I’m on a mac, so it might be slightly different syntax for PCs.

    and the string “漢字” is the name of the field in Anki that contains the filename for the GIFs. The clever thing is that with the set, the filename is just the character. Basically, no copying and pasting involved, it just displays them automatically. I don’t even know HTML and I figures this crap out. Friggin genius!


  15. kokage
    December 19, 2010 at 22:24

    @Tommy Newbhall

    お疲れさま!すごいなぁ、それ。 Thanks for the long post, sharing your experiences with kanji learning and your method in such a detail.

    I found a part of the problem with producing the keyword in real life is that you are not in the SRS-Mode – no laptop in front of you, not pencil in your hands, you are not in the Kanji-Study-Mindset. Of course, the more you expose yourself to real kanji (eg. read signs, labels, manga, websites), the more you will be able to produce keywords (recognize characters and meaning) outside the SRS-Mode. Why am I so keen on the Heisig keywords? As I am not supposed to know / don’t know the readings of most kanji I encounter, I am careful not to use a random reading I happen to know, but recall the exact keyword instead.

    I will definitely have a go on “Story[Keyword Cloze]=>Character+Keyword” as it seems to suit my needs. Also I will try to “ABSOLUTELY DO NOT RUSH THROUGH HEISIG”.

  16. Augusto Modanese
    December 19, 2010 at 22:42

    Wow, you just grabbed that idea from my head! I had been thinking about doing cards this way after a month or so of Kendo’s cards. In fact, I kinda do like this, but with the kanji on the front, only I don’t look at it. I put it in a very small font, with the story big.

    I think an improvement might be using the 2-step answer plugin for Anki and having the kanji be the first part of the answer and the keyword the other. Grading would then be:
    Easy – Wrote kanji from memory only with the story;
    Good – Remembered part of kanji from story, but needed to look at one last primitive or missed the arrangement;
    Hard – Didn’t recall the kanji at all, needed to look to write;
    Again – Didn’t recall neither the kanji nor the keyword.
    (Going to do that here ASAP!)

  17. Tommy Newbhall
    December 19, 2010 at 23:07

    gosh darnit. Here’s that sweet HTML hack for displaying animated stroke order GIFs:

    [img src=”/Users/Tommy/Documents/書類/soda-utf8/%(text:漢字)s.gif”]

    1. download animated Kanji GIFs from

    2. unzip them to a convenient folder on your hard drive

    3. in the above html code, replace [ with

    4. replace “/Users/Tommy/Documents/書類/soda-utf8/” with the location of the folder you created in step 2.
    -This might need some tweaking if yer on a PC

    5. replace “漢字” with the name of the Anki field that contains your character. Probably this is “Kanji” or “Character” or something. Be sure to spell it correctly with the same capitalization.

    6. stick your edited chunk of html text into an appropriate place in your Anki Kanji template.

    Vïølà! Now you should be getting automatically generated animated stroke order diagrams courtesy Jim Rose and! w00t. Actually if anyone knows an even bigger collection of stroke order diagrams than that one that are similarly easy to download, it would be super cool.

    • Reis McCullough
      April 8, 2011 at 13:37

      Thanks for link for the HTML hack, but I’m having trouble accessing the kanjicafe site. Any other options?

  18. Tommy Newbhall
    December 19, 2010 at 23:10

    oh lol umm ok step three should read replace [ with “back carrot” (the character that looks like a sideways v and is often used in HTML.) and replace ] with “front carrot”

    lemme try this
    Replace ] with > and replace [ with <
    haHA i used the tag!

  19. Drabant
    January 14, 2011 at 21:36

    The problem I see with your method, or perhaps more with your implementation of your method in your example, is that it shares one of the greatest problems (for me) with Heisig’s implementation of his method: “puns”.

    党 doesn’t actually mean party, as in feast, but a party as in a group. And this is huge problem for me when going backwards. If I learn this character as “party”, and associate it with a celebration, I will get the general meaning of celebration when going backwards, and the real meaning will be lost to me.

    What I’m doing is Heisig, but with hints added when I need them. These hints usually tell me which characters are the wrong answer, since my main problem is key word confusion.

    Once I knows enough characters and won’t get a the number of daily reviews in my srs are low enough, and I only add a new character every now and then, I might go over to lazy kanji.

    I think the best way to use the Heisig method is take the method, but discard his implementation. Take a frequency list of chracters, split them up in their components and do the research yourself, make up your own keywords. A lot more work in the beginning, but I think it will give much better retention in the long run. But if you are anything like me, you will be lazy and use the (flawed) implementation that is already there.

    • ブライアン
      January 17, 2011 at 01:46

      The confusion over keywords is part of the purpose of the story. For example, the story I have for “party” refers to the leader of a political party being shoved headfirst through the window of an outhouse so that only his legs dangle out. Good mnemonic (for me) and also clarifies the meaning.

      To a certain extent though, at least in Japanese, I don’t think having the exact meaning is really necessary. Lots of characters have multiple meanings, and compounds sometimes have no relation to their component parts. (Seriously, someone explain to me the writing of 馬鹿.) The point is to get something, some mental hook that tells you “okay, this character looks like this, and you write it like this…” Obviously you don’t want a meaning that is completely disjointed from it’s actual usage, but the occasional error should, I think, correct itself through exposure to actual written Japanese.

      (Grain of salt disclaimer: I say this as I sit at 1220 kanji. It’s entirely possible I’m wrong on this and will have issues down the road. YMMV.)

      • Drabant
        January 17, 2011 at 21:55

        You forgot to say which method your are using, Heisig or lazy kanji (this version)?

        Your story for party is very similar to mine, but the point of my post was the example story used by E Dub Kendo, which refers to a celebration and not a political party. At least, it seems to refer to a celebration.

        I don’t think there is such a thing as an exact meaning, but this is also part of why I feel that keywords can become a problem. To truly get the real meaning of the kanji, you must understand it without referring to a keyword in English.

        I feel that as time pass, I start to forget the original keywords. Maybe I won’t confuse “party” and “group”, but more abstract words like “emotions” and “feelings” are easier to mix up. And sometimes the keywords and kanji don’t correspond to what I expect. If someone asked me how to say the word “lie” in Japanese, I would say that it’s ウソ, but the keyword “lie” refers to the kanji 詐, while ウソ is written 嘘 (Encountered in RTK 3). If this keyword hasn’t come up in my SRS for a long time, it’s very easy for me to write the wrong kanji. And sometimes it can be really frustrating to stare at a keyword with a blank mind, and then when I see the kanji, I know that I could have written it correctly if I had had the Japanese word written in kana instead. (At which time I will add that Japanese word as a Japanese keyword, to sometime in the far future replace my English ones).

        On thing with “correctly” defined keywords, is that I can read something with furigana, encounter a new words that I don’t know, see how this word is read, and figure out it’s meaning from the kanji. But if I have the wrong idea about the kanji means, I might get the wrong idea about the word as well.

        馬鹿 is a based solely on the sounds of the characters, I think, but it is very easy to make a mnemonic of that writing, so the writing should be easy to remember.

        I feel that at this point, the Heisig method is still the best way to go, but do something like what Khatz did (if I can remember correctly), and take a frequency list, split up the characters in their parts (using that site) and make up your own keywords. I’m too far along Heisig to start over now, but that’s probably what I would do if I was starting at this moment.

        Lazy kanji, I believe is good when you already have mastered the components, and only add a new kanji every now and then. Even with this addition.

        • ブライアン
          January 18, 2011 at 02:00

          I’m doing vanilla Heisig. (And, having re-read the OP, I agree that the story would mislead me.)

          As someone mentioned in another comment thread, learning kanji isn’t learning Japanese; it’s merely laying the groundwork. The keyword, I think, isn’t there to give you more than a general notion of meaning. It’s there to get the character and its writing into your brain, so that when you learn the Japanese that uses it, it’s not just another bunch of scribbles. (Consider, 行 has the vague meaning of “going”, while 行く means “to go”. 行く is concrete — as well as being actual Japanese.)

          Heisig himself points out at the start of Lesson 31 (?) that the English keyword is only a temporary association to give you a mental hook. The plot will fade, the keyword will fade, and you’ll be left with the Japanese and the meaning. Being able to point out “well this character means ‘fish’, and this one means ‘melancholy’, and this one…” isn’t really necessary past a certain point, I think. (And if at any point later on you *do* need it, you can just translate the meaning back into English, and who cares if it’s Heisig’s keyword or not?)

          It’s worth noting that the card format I use places the keyword and story both on the front. This serves two purposed — clarifies meaning, and distinguishes between two kanji with similar keywords (if the character you’re thinking of doesn’t have a component that’s in the story, you’ll reconsider.) If you only have the keyword on the front, I can see where that would cause problems.

          As far as I’ve seen, I still think that kanji meanings are only marginally useful in understanding compounds. For example, 携帯 baffled me for a long time until I Googled it. (Yes, it’s a contraction, but then again, the 電話 part of 携帯電話 could potentially mean any number of things if you’ve never seen it before.) The connection between kanji and compound is logical, but only once you know the compound. Granted, incorrect keywords only make the problem worse, but I’m going to look up any word I don’t know or understand from context *anyway*, to check myself.

          And honestly, for me, the inconsistencies and quirks and weird bits make things *easier* to remember. For example, I originally took “permit” (許) as a noun — until I saw it used as a verb, laughed at myself and made a mental note. Now I think of it in the verb sense, despite not having changed the story in my SRS or even having reviewed it more than once or twice since. And I’m never going to forget the writing of 携帯 because of how much it confused me. (Okay, and also the absurd mental image of an obi in place of a schoolgirl’s cellphone strap.)

          I don’t know. (Seriously, I don’t know what I’m talking about. Why are you reading this?) Efficiency is nice, and I love to be efficient where I can, but it’s the potholes that remind you to keep your eyes on the road.

        • February 17, 2011 at 18:24

          Yes, I’m sure some of my “stories” use a separate meaning of the keyword than what the kanji “means” in Japanese. I don’t see how this is a particular “fault” of Lazy Kanji, or my modification of it, as it would be just as easy to do this while working through vanilla Heisig, unless you go through double-checking each kanji as you go, and carefully tailoring your stories in this way. Sure, you can do that, but it is an awful waste of time. For me, at this point, the stories have long ago faded away. What was left behind was the keyword. Not any particular “meaning” of the keyword, just a string of sounds, linked together in my mind with 2000+ something odd kanji. When I encounter a Japanese word using the kanji, I look the word up, I learn the word’s definition and instantly the kanji’s meaning is made clear to me, and something clicks with keyword, kanji, japanese word, and meaning that ties them all neatly together. Then gradually, the keyword itself fades away and there are just Japanese words.
          You mention being able to understand the meaning of a kanji you encounter, even if you arent able to look it up. Well, guess what, if I’m reading, and I encounter “党” used in a sentence, and the sentence refers to say, a radical faction of a political group, and I don’t know the word “党派” but I remember, “Oh yeah, that kanji is ‘party'” I will immediately put 2+2 together, and not mistake it for some kind of word meaning “High School Prom” or something. Learning the kanji is like weaving a lattice-work for your Japanese vines to grow on. But, after many, many, many layers of vines have accumulated, the lattice-work will all begin to decay and eventually it becomes the vines holding the lattice work together, not the other way around.

          • Kuroneko
            January 13, 2012 at 03:16

            Hey, Kendo, I was going to use your cards but I don’t understand why Four and some them don’t have a stoy to go along with it. Why is that? :/

  20. January 27, 2011 at 03:56

    Maybe a stupid question, but if I am using RTK1 to remember Kanji and their meanings in English how am I expected to know how to type the kanji onto the back of the SRS card?

  21. March 14, 2011 at 04:54

    I KEEP CHEATING and looking at the Kanji and I DON’T WANT TO!!!

    Loving all of this. Long time first time — OK, so I’m a cheater of sorts – or at least I have wandering eyes. When I read to read the story first I THOUGHT it was cheating but I actually found that trying to come up with the kanji from story reading just forced me to memorize the story even more which is all you really need! I tested myself by doing the regular set of Heisig front first and back first and I was amazed. Even if I “struggle (chortle)” with the Lazy Mod deck I find that when I switch over to the regulars I have them down!

    MY PROBLEM IS I would REALLY like to read the story without danger of looking at the kanji above AT ALL! I just can’t help but 50% of the time sneak a peak or a lot of the time I can even pick up the basic structure of it in my “perifs” or peripheral vision. I have come up with a solution (but not for mobile devices:( ). COVER THE KANJI with a digital sticky note. I have a MAC aptly called jMac. I opened my sticky app that comes with OS X and I moved a sticky note ALL THE WAY to the top until it couldn’t go any higher. SECOND, and this is the key, you set the menu option Note > Floating Window (AKA Always on Top) so that the sticky note will never go behind another window. THEN I positioned my ANKI just so that the kanji above the story is covered. So, now, I can go through with ease without fear of “cheating.” If I need to see the kanji I just move the note and it’s EASY TO PUT BACK because it’s ALREADY ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP and it can’t go any further – so I just slide it back and forth – try it. Super simple. If you’re on Windows or Linux I’d guarantee there are TONS of programs like these or you can just use ANY program window that you can set to be FLOATING WINDOW or ALWAYS ON TOP. This method is much better than poking your eyes out to keep them from wandering. Lemme know if you need clarification.

    • km31
      June 19, 2011 at 23:49

      Why don’t you just chnge the font colour of the kanji to white? That’s what i’ve been doing with the stories in vanilla heisig, so I can just highlight it to check if i can’t immediately remember the story from the keyword…I’m confused why everyone needs to make it so complicated!

    • Silwing
      November 5, 2014 at 01:33

      You can use the Anki “Hint” feature. I personally find that a lot smarter than making the text color white. Just go to the “Manage note types” in Anki, chose the note type of your lazy kanji deck and click the “Cards” button. In the text field for the front side you’ll see something like {{Kanji}} change that to {{hint:Kanji}} and voi la you get a fancy clickable link saying “Show Kanji” on your front side of the card. No more distracting peripheral vision giving you the outline of the kanji even though you don’t want to see it. As a bonus you can then still see the kanji before getting the keyword answer in case you can’t reproduce it from memory.

  22. Neo Samurai
    March 14, 2011 at 14:25


    Here’s a suggestion that worked for me. Why not cloze-delete the kanji? That way, there’s absolutely no danger of looking at it; after you turn the card around, you’ll see the kanji.

    Or you could just put only the story on front and try to produce the kanji and keyword through the story.

  23. April 1, 2011 at 02:14

    I want to share my SRS format.

    But first some introduction: I’m now on 1200th frame of RTK (1199 to be exact), I have tried the ‘vanilla’, ‘Lazy Mod’ and also some other formats, which were abbreviations of those. Up to around 1000th frame I’ve wrote each kanji before showing an answer. It was good, couse my writing ability increased. But unfortunately it was also SLOW (20-30 sec per answer), one and a half an hour of SRSing a day… plus the time for input stuff… Fulltime job.

    I got sick of it, so now I’m only writing character once after making the story and putting it to SRS (actually from now on I will be handwriting kanji AFTER SRS session, and just the new ones of course). Now it’s ~10 sec fer character avg. and ~30 min of SRSing in total.
    Also the session limit changed. Used to be 10 min, then 2 and now it’s 3 min and I think this is optimal for me. 3 min is great, couse you get done something like 15-20 reps – it’s a visible progress, but you don’t get tired (3 min, seriously, pffff…)

    Da. I could write some more, but I guess no one even cares, so here is what I came up with, nothing revolutionary(is there even a word like this in English?). This resides somewhere between Kendo’s Lazy plus Mod, Tommy’s version, and the ‘vanilla’ format.
    It’s Keyword+Primitives=>Kanji+Story



    Metal| Gully


    Picture the molten lead (the heavy metal) being discreetly drained out of the factory into a gully behind. {Story by samusam from}

    Scoring (Anki 0-3):
    3 – Story pops up in your head along with the correct image of the kanji.
    2 – Kanji is good, but you don’t get the story remembered.
    1 – You got the good story, but kanji is messed up somehow, or you’re just inconfident in remembering this one.
    0 – This one is the least used by me, couse choosing 1 (hard) shorten the time of next appearance, so eventually it will be short enough for you to remember (plus why demage the good stats? ;p). Using almost exclusively when confusing completly new characters.

    This is easier than ‘vanilla’ keyword=>kanji, couse you get hint from primitves (plus a hint about placing the elements – ‘|’ is ‘next to’, ‘/’ is ‘under’, ‘[‘ ‘enclosure’, ‘\’ ‘semienclosure’ like road, etc.), but still you need to reproduce entire story and the kanji. This is supposedly (‘in my opinion’; I just don’t want to use the forbidden ‘S’ word… xD) better in long run, couse you get your brain working for each answer, and I think this is kind of what Mr Heisig meant urging(?) us to go keyword=>kanji.
    Tommy’s version also does some good, but I’m too lazy to make cloze to each card 😉

    I’m really just starting this today, so if there will be some long term effects, I’ll let you know. If anyone like/ dislike this, post comment here or at my blog (-_-)/~

    • April 1, 2011 at 02:18

      This is supposedly (‘in my opinion’; I just don’t want to use the forbidden ‘S’ word… xD) better in long run |THAN LAZY PLUS MOD|, couse you get your brain working for each answer, and I think this is kind of what Mr Heisig meant urging(?) us to go keyword=>kanji.

      Sorry for double post, but… an error, you know :/

    • kalek
      April 1, 2011 at 12:46

      I’d say if you don’t remember the story, but you do remember the Kanji, that’s totally fine — probably still a 3. The point of this is to learn the Kanji, not the story, so if you don’t know the story it’s no reason to grade yourself lower if you still came up with the Kanji easily.

      At this point, 3 months into sentences, and with less than 80 of my RtK1 cards (kendo format) immature in Anki, I remember very few of the stories I used to learn the Kanji, but yet I’m reading Manga and playing text heavy video games without any Kanji-related problems.

      Don’t make it harder than it needs to be. Make Japanese as easy and as fun as possible, and you’ll progress really quickly — way quicker than if you kill yourself trying.

      • April 2, 2011 at 14:17

        The problem is, I’m not native English, fluent English or even good-enough English speaker/whatever and I didn’t know more than 30% of words that were used as keywords in RTK. Story is a reinforcement of meaning of English keyword to me, so I can follow what’s going on. I’m remembering all of it (story+keyword) to be sure, that I get the right ‘flavour’ of the keyword, if necessary.
        At my blog I’ve corrected the scoring, so it is like ‘for everyone and anyone’ now, I guess.

  24. Rob
    April 13, 2011 at 16:15

    I like the “lazy kanji” deck in Anki but I like to edit the kanji to the color white, that way they do not appear at first but can be revealed by highlighting with the mouse. This lets me work on the story first before going to the fallback of the kanji itself. It’d be great if I didn’t have to do this manually 🙁

  25. Wayne
    April 21, 2011 at 04:27


    Try Anki Shared Deck – “Lazy Kanji Mod V2”. I made the kanji invisible until you select it.

  26. Alex
    April 24, 2011 at 09:03

    I checked out the [Lazy Kanji Mod/Mod V2] shared decks, they are great, thanks to Kendo and Wayne!
    One question though: If it it the first time I encounter the Kanji, how do I learn the components? In the Heisig book, there is an introduction for each new component.

    Thanks in advance for your time and help!

  27. Ragdim
    May 18, 2012 at 02:25

    Man… and to think I could have been using this since the beginning. I was (and still am) using the KanjiDamage Plus deck which uses the lazy kanji method that khatz first laid out. I thought I was being smart since I wouldn’t have to waste time making my own cards and could cut out the cost of buying RTK, but boy was I wrong — started back in February and I’m just now on 1650 (there were 2 weeks where simply had to take a break, though I maintained a baseline). Although I was definitely making things harder for myself by scoring all of my cards as ‘hard’ no matter how easy to remember they were (I’ve racked up 22,250 reviews now), I have a hunch that life still would’ve been difficult for reasons outlined below.
    Because I chose the premade deck route and didn’t get RTK, I neglected writing out my kanji like I should’ve. This was bad bad bad bad. Not only is it more fun writing out the kanji while you SRS (reviewing was literally painful to me), it also helps with retention (I’ve discovered this after doing it just under a week now). What’s more is that I don’t have any experience writing out cards, so it’ll take some getting used to when I go to add the remainder of the 2k that we’re supposed to learn, and any ones beyond that.
    In the end, I’ll be finishing out with the KanjiDamage Plus deck I already have (it’d be more time intensive editing all those cards, or starting over from scratch with kendo’s premade deck… at least I think), and then pick up RTK to add the remainder. Anyways, that’s my little warning to others. I’d just like to thank khatz for making this grand site, and I’m really glad that I’ve come so far on my own — would’ve never thought it possible had it not been for this site.

  28. Ragdim
    May 18, 2012 at 05:09

    I forgot to mention a question I have about writing out the kanji. I’m currently doing my reviews for the day and I’m sitting on 51 minutes for 59 reviews (26 correct since it’s completely new cards that I’m on now), so I’m wondering if I might be overdoing things again? I write the kanji for each and every card, no matter if it’s a failed card or a fresh one — if it’s in front of me on my SRS, I write it.
    I also switch between my anki window and yamasa dictionary to see stroke order, so that takes a bit of time (I’m picking up the stroke orders pretty quick — it’s to the point where I’m confident I got it right and thus don’t bother consulting yamasa for certain kanji). Is this a legit amount of time to be spending considering I have 109 reviews for the day? Thanks.

  29. kai
    December 7, 2012 at 01:40

    Anyone want to work together on a Kendo Mod style deck for Traditional Hanzi?

  30. Livonor
    December 27, 2012 at 01:05

    That’s my 3 cents:

    First of all:

    1-I put the kanji on the front and the real meaning (idea) of the kanji on the back
    2- I’m not waste my time writing them
    3- I change the fonts and color background of my deck using the tips of this post:
    (seriously I highly recommend you to change the fonts and color of your deck)


    My method is the “movie method” it let me able to learn the a kanji AND its most common on-reading without any additional time

    The site already gives a lot of information, so I’ll just resume my experience with the method in a little FAQ:

    1-Learning readings and meanings at the same time seems like a lot of extra work

    I though this in the first time I saw this method, “how it’s possible to learn more information at the same time??” but when I finally put it in practice I realize I was learning the kanjis more easier than with heisig, because I was making stories with things that I like instead of just coping and pasting stories from the reviewing the kanji, but just that doesn’t mean nothing, you can use things you like to make stories with the heisig method too. What makes you learn (almost) without extra time is the fact that you already use characters and places in your stories, you don’t put the compounds on a white background, you mix them with random characters and places to make the story more vivid, the only difference is that using this method you will start to pick up those characters and places from a specific theme that represents a reading

    2-I don’t need this shit, I can learn the readings from context

    Yes mah boy, you can learn the readings from context, and the kanji as well, but this method (almost) doesn’t add any time or effort to the “traditional” method to learn kanji thorough memonics so why not give it a try?

    3-Do you really need to use movies to make the stories?

    No, I never use movies, I just use animes and games, the important is to have something with a “theme” to associate with the reading. (you can even use places and people that you met in your real life)

    4-Do you use RTK kanji order or group them based on their readings? (e.g. learning all the kanjis with the フreading and then learning all the kanjis with the ケイ reading…)

    I group them based on their reading. mainly because it’s easier to deal with new compounds appearing all the time than deal with new themes (readings) appearing all the time, and I already know a lot of compounds ( I was in the #800 kanji with the heisig).

    5-Do you create new compounds as they appear to you like the creator of the method?

    No, I use heisig’s compounds because they are very good ( they make almost all kanjis have just 2~3 parts) and they are already there so I don’t need to spend time creating them, however I change the meaning of the compound if it don’t refer to a concrete object, so it becomes more easy to visualize in my mind

    6-The creator of the method said that is better to place the compounds in a scene, but I don’t know many scenes from my animes/movies/games. (or them don’t have any scene at all)

    Using scenes is a better choice because you already know them so no need to create a new story from the scratch, but if you can’t find a scene that fits with the compounds of the kanji or its meaning just make a story à la heisig using the characters and/or places of your “theme” and the compounds, this already is good enough.

    7-I already know a lot of kanji thanks to heisig and I don’t want to make all those stories again

    You don’t need to make new stories, you can:
    1-Just put the characters/places of your “theme” in the story of the kanji
    2-Use the keyword of the kanji to create a new story

    in both way you will be able to learn several readings pretty quickly, in the 1 way you will be just adding new suff to story that’s already there, and in the 2 way you will be just dealing with one compound (the keyword) to make a short and simple story

    8-Should I learn more than 1 reading per kanji?

    Based on my personal experience, no. More than 1 readings per kanji make the story too complex and add more effort to the process, and since most of the kanjis have just one common reading the second reading may not be useful enough to pays off the effort to learn it. The propose of this method is not make you able to recognize every reading of every kanji, is to reduce drastically the amount of new information that you will have to learn in your sentences so you just need to focus on the readings you don’t know

    9-The “theme” should have something that remember you of the reading associate with it?

    Again, based on my personal experience, no. All my themes have nothing to do with their readings (except for the anime ソウルイーター that I associated with the ソウ reading), if you group the kanjis by their readings and learn all the kanjis with reading X before go to learn the kanjis with reading Y the theme is associate with the reading quite naturally

    Final notes:

    I spend that time writing this post because I really believe that this method can really revolutionize the way we learn kanji, making a total beginner who just finish RTK have a “reading knowledge” of a person who already know thousands of words, like the creator of the method said:

    “Another big thing is learning vocab. Words that use onyomi are practically memorized already. You guys think learning 飛行機 is easy when you know “Fly – Go – Machine”. Imagine how easy it is when you also know the readings. ひ – こう – き.”

    I really want that khatzumoto make a post about it. The people on this site need to know about this method.

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