I was so close to the end today that I had to push through and finish. My schedule is normally 35 new Kanji per day, but today I did 78.
And what a sweet victory it is.
The system teaches the 1945 basic "Joyo" kanji as well as another 97 useful kanji for a grand total of 2042 characters. They range from one stroke (for the number one) to twenty three strokes for the character for specimen
The system, called Remembering the Kanji by James Heisig, is totally ingenious and easy to follow. It's based around identifying primitive elements and making stories around them to remember.
For example, take specimen. The left hand side of it means gold or metal. The right side means oversee. So to remember specimen I think of someone overseeing me giving a urine specimen, since it's gold, for a drug test. Kind of weird, but weird stories stick.
Gold was learned by combining easier words, and so was oversee. Oversee is made up of slave, reclining, floor, dish. So I imagine a slave reclining on the floor of the kitchen, overseeing the other slaves cleaning dishes.
That sounds a bit complicated, but once you get into it it's very easy.
Like Emergency said, it can be done. Two thousand forty two characters in two months means that you have to average 34 a day. I don't remember exactly when I started, but it was within a day or two of my two month goal.
You don't just learn new ones, though, you also review old ones. The best software to do this with, by far, is Anki. You start out with very few review cards, but eventually you have 200+ per day.
One day I did nothing and was welcomed with 400+ cards the next day to catch up. Three days I waited until it was too late and only did review, no new cards. Three or four days I did way more than the 35 (stupid idea, in general), up to 120.
Anki says I worked for 165.37 hours total. Rescuetime says it's only 72 hours. I have no way to account for that disparity, but to me it seems like somewhere around 140-150 hours, not counting time spent reading the book and memorizing (maybe another 30 hours total).
I flipped over 14,647 virtual flashcards.
Besides the 2042 kanji, I learned a lot. First are some lessons ONLY applicable to other people wanting to learn Kanji, next are lessons that translate to other areas,
FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT TO DO THIS:
The journey is far from over. I'm going to do a month of review, which means 100-200 cards per day. I want to make sure that I have all of them solidly committed to memory, and I know for a fact that I probably only have 80-85% really well in there.
The system teaches you the meanings of the words, but not how to pronounce them, and not the multiple meanings or compound meanings. Months after the review months will be spent on that.
Still, knowing the meanings is a huge start. I could probably make sense of any sign, menu, or map. I have the framework now to learn vocabulary properly.
Above all, this experience reinforced the value of getting to the finish line. It was hard, though not as hard as I expected, and it feels great to have finished it. More than anything this post is a cathartic marker of having finished something tough.
Whenever people link to me it shows up in my stats, so I always go visit the site to see why I got linked. A couple weeks ago I followed back to a site called Sushi and Seduction.
The guy who runs the site really has a knack for finding pictures of gorgeous Japanese girls, so of course I started scrolling down looking at the pictures. Then a headline of an article caught my attention.
Every time someone sees me studying Japanese Kanji（漢字), characters the Japanese borrowed from the Chinese, and then used to represent Japanese ideas and pronunciation, I always get one or both of the following responses
1. Are you studying Chinese?
2. Is it hard?
In response to the first I always teach them and let them know that Chinese is significantly different than Japanese because Japanese people use three "alphabets" (they are in fact more like syllabaries), katakana, hiragana, and kanji, and because the grammar is substantially different.
The second though, is always a mixed bag. The U.S. Government states That Japanese, along with Arabic, and Chinese (and some other languages I forgot) are the languages that require the most time to learn for English speakers. But in my opinion, after having spent years studying on and off, Japanese is definitely one of the the World's toughest languages (at least considering it is actually spoken by over 100 million people) to become really fluent at (watch comedians, read adult-level literature, understand and differentiate slang and homonyms),but one of the easier languages to learn the basics to ( denoting location, modifiers, people, adjectives)