Essential Kanji by P.G.O'Neill
Published by Weatherhill, Inc.
Subtitle: 2,000 Basic Japanese Characters Systematically Arranged for Learning and Reference

A small (novel-sized), simple book mainly for reference use, it can also be used for learning to recognize and write Kanji. It has one main section and several indices. It is intended for English-using students of Japanese, both beginning and advanced.

the main section has one entry each for exactly 2000 Kanji, including the standard Kanji and some extras approved for use in names, etc. Each entry contains:

  • Number (1-2000) for in-book reference
  • Brush and pen writings of the character
  • Stroke order for writing the character
  • ON (Chinese) and KUN (native) pronounciations of the character
  • Indication of Radical (base character)
  • Various indications of origin and derivation
  • Words containing the character

The first index (actually labeled as section 2 but index-ish in nature) consists of an alphabetical list of ON and KUN sayings, with a list of the Kanji belonging to them.

The second index contains an incomplete alphabetized list of English words commonly associated with a Kanji.

The third index lists all Kanji by number of strokes (sub-organized by radical).

The price indicated on the inside cover of the 2001 edition is $16.95.

Personal notes: I have had very little success trying to learn Japanese on my own, but since I bought this book, I have greatly enjoyed learning and learning about some of the simpler kanji. It has provided a great form of reference and I have enjoyed owning it greatly. I also appreciate the binding - it is soft cover, but very sturdy, and the paper is very bright and tough but compact, unlike most inexpensive reference pieces. It has survived my backpack well.

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