One of the mini-goals I set myself was to find out specific elements of a Kanji. I was interested in the particular characters of 静、速、遠、静 One particular book that looked like it could be helpful was ‘Kanji Power’. Though helpful explanation of the Kanji elements and useful compounds and adjectives, it only has 250 (first grade and second grade Kanji). My three were not in the list. I then turned to my well-thumbed Heisig’s ‘Remembering the Kanji’. I have used this way back when I first started practising Kanji and found it useful to remember some meanings. Yet, two of my Kanji were missing (they weren’t in the index) and one was confusing in its ‘story’ – this is certainly a book where you have work through it linearly. Obviously I hadn’t worked though it enough.
So, I then turned to my dictionaries and Kanji cards. This may have been a more obvious place to start but I was fascinated to discover if the books specifically aimed at aiding writing and memorization would be just as beneficial in supporting an inquisitive approach to the characters. Sadly, not. So, back to the dictionaries. I have two good dictionaries for this. Yet the one that helped the most was ‘The Learner’s Kanji Dictionary’. Finding the character was relatively straightforward using the book’s system of reference but it was also helpful as each character was accompanied by the corresponding graphemes which were helpfully referenced. Alongside this book I looked to my Kanji cards. The White Rabbit Press are pretty good at having everything in Japanese, showing stroke order and also words that use the Kanji. Yet the Tuttle cards have the advantage of noting and labelling the graphemes which is great to aid my understanding as well as interest. Sadly, though, the cards use Romaji. So, whilst I do like these particular cards for there clarification, the lack of Kana means I’m not using them for vocabulary. So, if you’re interested in discovering the elements of a Kanji, definitely the Tuttle cards and the ‘Learner’s’ dictionary seem the way to go.