Sunday, January 18, 2009

My life after the Movie Method

Completing this method has helped me so much with my Japanese. I attribute quite a bit of my progress to having completed this method. Here are some of the benefits:
  • Not only do I recognize kanji as familiar elements, I can recognize the phonetics of words as familiar sounds. I never get kanji with multiple readings confuzed.
  • Kanij compounds have become ridiculously easy to understand and remember. Long sentences with multiple unknown words are cake. For example: "造化正統の神胤を此大地上に降臨せしめ" has only three words that are kunyomi "神胤" and '此' with two of these being already known.
  • Because the phonetics are so easy to remember, I can focus on the meaning of words. I rarely have trouble remembering meanings.
  • Being able to recognize the phonetic components has made reading much easier to read and also can occasionally help to recognize new kanji.
  • Not to mention the tremendous help it gives when looking up words I can't copy/paste.
Knowing the onyomi and kanji has been so helpful, I can't imagine my Japanese with out it. How many people can be said to be able read full blown novels in Japanese after only a couple months?


  1. Your method is interesting, I think I might give it a chance or at least try for a couple Kanji and see what it gives

  2. Really wish I'd known about this method 3 months ago! I've learnt roughly 3000 kanji using Heisig 1 & 3, but of course, no onyomi or kunyomi.

    Do you have any ideas for someone in my position to incoperate the movie method? Readings for Kanji are the only thing stopping me from reading fluently. I don't want to create 3000 srs cards again!

    One idea I had was to take the Heisig keywords and incorperate them into the Movie Method, just using the keyword as part of the mnemonic device. So for instance, something along the lines of:

    "Bruce Willis used a BIG gun when shooting from a Mercedes in DAI hard 3". See where I'm coming from?

    That would still involve 3000 entries, time that would probably be better spent learning them the way I'm learning them now, by reading, watching, listening, using a monodic, and through sentences as srs items...

    Whaddya think? Awesome idea by the way!

  3. Thanks.

    Go ahead and try it and report back.

  4. Hey, I'm about to start this method! I'm really excited as kanji has always been the hardest part of Japanese for me, and I hated the idea of spending so much time learning only how to write them and none of the readings at the same time. Thanks so much for making and uploading the Excel files. I just have one question; the "dragging" and "potato" components look the same to me, even though one has 2 strokes and the other 3. What's up? Thanks!

  5. How do you go about reviewing these in Anki after you've learned them with the method? Especially for characters with multiple readings. For example,

    Sound おと、おん、ね、etc. 音

    Because with Heisig's first book it was simple Meaning -> Character. But we're incorporating the pronunciation as well here.

    Also, how is it that you don't get the readings confused if you isolate them like that? Do you still use compounds like the RTK2 book does?

  6. I don't bother to review them, I simply don't have to. Read the rest of the articles for your second question or email me with a more specific question.

  7. Hey dude-

    I stumbled upon this blog while perusing the kanji.koohii forums for a good method on quickly and efficiently memorizing character readings. I think this is a great idea, and as was previously stated it's like kanji-town but most likely better since there is already a base to work with.

    I had an idea that maybe you or other readers may appreciate. For the incredibly ubiquitous readings such as しょう, I thought of using whole movie trilogies so as not to cram 30, 40, 50 (I haven't checked exact numbers yet) different mnemonic triggers into just one movie. What comes to mind that I've seen far too many times is Star Wars and Indiana Jones of course. For others perhaps Lord of the Rings or some collection of Superman/Batman/Star Trek movies would be a good base for learning these readings that pop up so often.

    On this note, I've been trying to locate a list of "most common on'yomi" on the internet, but with no success. If I can't find one I'll compile one myself, from the list in your download pack.

    I'm only up to 1100 in Heisig at the moment though, so I'll have to wait to put this idea into action. Just thought I would share it with you and the rest of the Japanese enthusiasts out there. Fight on!

  8. Movie Method is *awesome*! It's working wonders for me. 2 Additional things that have helped me:

    1) In addition to using movie trilogies, I like to use tv shows for the readings with many kanji. There are so many more scenes to choose from! I used Arrested Development for しょう and found scenes for every character easily.

    2) Rather than study the kanji in random order (or Heisig order), I use a list of Kanji from th e japanese wikipedia sorted by frequency of use (google it). This just makes sense if you want to be able to read as much as possible as soon as possible. Turns out just 173 characters represents 50% of the kanji used on wikipedia! You can get to over 90% by doing 1000 kanji. From there on out, it's diminishing returns.

  9. Alyks, your approach caught my attention - it strikes me as a particularly insightful way of tackling this slippery enigma called kanji. I guess I'm what you might call 'visually challenged' - I need to see a movie clip [not text] with your target kanjis overlayed on particular scenes, and then to understand how you remember BOTH the ON and KUN readings from such scenes. I also need to see if you are memorizing the kanji in isolation or in pairs. I think I get the basic point of using familiar movies as a kind of memory hook to hang the kanji on, but I need to understand how your (obviously brilliant) imagination welds the components to particular objects/occurrences in particular scenes, and how all this enables you to crack open a book or newspaper and understand what is written, i.e. become literate in Japanese. I have discovered an ingenious grouping of kanji that puts all the joyo kanji in 8 networks based on the sound they start with - AND which is completely consistent with the etymology of each of the kanji (i.e. it's no accident that kanji that start with the same sounds also link conceptually with each other). My dream is to embed this - for me very intuitive grouping - into movies (like The Godafather!) to make the most of your method. Eagerly awaiting your reply. DS

  10. Well you can always email me if you'd like.

    alyks 42 at gmail dot com

  11. Hello i have just found your method, and i have decided to do something similar. I am currently just starting to learn the kanji. I will be making locations instead of films for the different on yomi readings and then ascociating stories, actions etc to these locations. I use locations that are very well known to me and relate to the on yomi readings in some way. For example- ジョ is basically my name so i use my room, but as there is also ジョウ i use another room i used to live in to make the difference. Then for ジョi can imagine a woman who for some reason is lost in my room walking around in circles so i help her find her way out of this crazy place, then i look at her face and OMG she looks like me. I decided to use this idea as i cant remember scenes and places in movies too well. Im not sure how i will be doing the Kun yomi, maybe ill do a journey method, where i associate a word with a journey through some where, and the places correspond to the katakana, and in each place somthing memorable happens that relates to the word in some way.
    Thank you for your ideas, it has been very helpful.

  12. I have a couple of kids and have several gorgeously-illustrated story books that I've read to them many times, and therefore know the pictures well. I've been using the Movie Method for a few weeks now and find that my illustrated kids books work just as well with remembering onyomi. They also have the advantage of not taking 90 minutes to view, like a movie would. My copies of Issunboushi, and Urashima Taro are beautifully illustrated but only take a few minutes to go through.

    Thank you for the Movie Method. Remembering the Kanji I revolutionized my language learning but RTK II has sat on my shelf for a year, cause I couldn't make much progress with it. Now I use it for the ONYOMI lists in the Appendix! (he eliminates rare readings in his lists, saving me some time) Prof. Heisig says in the forward to RTK II that you will likely get confused if you try to remember groups of kanji with the same readings. Well, the movie method has turned that warning on its head. It's the key to keeping them organized.

    I have thought of this. Should I reserve books for learning KUN YOMI, and just learn ON YOMI with movies, or do KUN YOMI take care of themselves?

  13. "I am currently just starting to learn the kanji. I will be making locations instead of films for the different on yomi readings and then ascociating stories, actions etc to these locations. I use locations that are very well known to me and relate to the on yomi readings in some way." - Joseph


    I did this when I learned the actual Kanji but wasn't learning readings yet. Doing the Movie Method now is great, because it's helping me review the Kanji writing while learning something new and useful. I have been loathe to go back and do a lot of remedial work on the Kanji writing because if feels like I'm not moving forward, just getting back to where I was months ago. Making it 2 steps helps me keep my pictures simple. Too many elements in a picture or story means some will likely get lost or confused. Using movies for readings only, helps me keep primitives, meanings, and readings separate and unconfused. I did use some movie scenes when I learned the writings, but this was before I had heard of the movie method and knew you could use movies as "buckets" of kanji.


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