Japanese Language and Literature Scholar, Writer

Wolfgang Hadamitzky was born in 1941 in the small city of Tilsit, which was at that time part of Germany, but was ceded to the Soviet Union in 1945. Fleeing the front lines of the war, his family moved to Thüringen in 1944 and later relocated to the area of Bremen in 1948. Young Wolfgang graduated from high school in 1961 and enlisted in the military service (as was required of all able-bodied young men).

Between 1962 and 1965, Mr. Hadamitzky earned certification as a librarian at libraries in Bremen and Hamburg and thereafter worked in the German National Museum in Nürnberg until 1967. At that point he took a job as librarian at Goethe-Institut in Oslo. In 1971, he travelled to Japan, transferring to the Goethe-Institut in Tokyo. Hadamitzky rapidly fell in love with the people and language of the country, studying Japanese language and literature in night classes. After his posting at the Institute was over, he stayed in Japan for another year (until 1977). During that time he completed work on his first book Kanji and Kana.

From 1977 to 2004, Mr. Hadamitzky worked as librarian in the East Asian Department of the State Library of Berlin. He specialized in cataloguing the collection of Japanese books and was consultant for materials related to Japan. Most recently (in 2004) Hadamitzky released the revised and enlarged two-volume set A Guide to Writing Kanji & Kana and his ongoing projects continue (see Bibliography, below).

Wolfgang Hadamitzky has written numerous articles about the language and literature of Japan. He has also worked with several other scholars (including the creators of some of the major kanji dictionaries) to develop a systematic approach to classifying Japanese kanji characters. The Hadamitzky-Spahn Kanji dictionary (below, in the bibliography) is the result of these efforts.


Mr. Hadamitzky's work is well-regarded by students and teachers of the Japanese language. His style is exhaustive (and exhausting), but very enjoyable and interesting. His reference books are often considered to be among the best around. Among his most notable works are:

Kanji & Kana: Textbook and Lexicon of Japanese Writing [Kanji & Kana. Lehrbuch und Lexikon der japanischen Schrift] (Enderle Book Co., Tokyo, 1979).
This book was a list of the 1,900 Tōyō kanji with stroke order, variant forms, pronunciation and radicals. Kanji are indexed by radical and also by the index number from Andrew N. Nelson’s famous Japanese-English Character Dictionary. Also includes all kana (as the title states).
Published in German in 1979, English in 1981, French 1984, Hungarian 1995, revised English ed. 1997.
A version was made available on floppy disk in 1985 and CD-ROM in seven languages in 1989 (Mac Sunrise Script).

Kanji & Kana: Langescheidt's Textbook and Lexicon of Japanese Writing [Kanji & Kana. Langenscheidts Lehrbuch und Lexikon der japanischen Schrift] (Langenscheidt, Berlin, 1980).
This textbook initially contained the same material as the Enderle 1979, but later editions made numerous corrections, expansions and enhancements to the material.

Langescheidt's Practical Textbook of Japanese. Volumes 1-3 [Langenscheidts Praktisches Lehrbuch Japanisch. Band 1-3] with Kimiko Fujie-Winter (Langenscheidt, Berlin, 1987, 1988, 1990).
This is the three-volume practice book for Langescheidt's Practical Textbook ... Included are handwritten examples and stroke order for each character. Spaces are provided for practice.
Audio cassettes were also available for these books.

Japanese Character Dictionary. With Compound Look-up via Any Kanji with Mark Spahn and K. Fujie-Winter (Nichigai Associates, Tokyo, 1989).
The Japanese Character Dictionary contained 5,906 entries and 47,000 compounds and was the first dictionary with compounds listed under the kanji characters.

Japan-Bibliography: Directory of Japan-related Publications in German Language [Japan-Bibliografie. Verzeichnis deutschsprachiger japanbezogener Veröffentlichungen] with Marianne Rudat-Kocks (K.G. Saur, Munich, New Providence, London, Paris, 1990 and following) multiple volumes.
This is what many consider Hadamitzky's most important work. This many volume magnum opus is an exhaustive catalogue of all material written about Japan in the German language.

The Kanji Dictionary; Find Any Compound Using Any of Its Component Characters [Kanji jukugo jiten] with M. Spahn (Charles E. Tuttle Co, Rutland, VT, 1996).
This book picked up where the Hadamitzky 1989 Japanese Character Dictionary left off with supplementary information such as Japanese history, maps with names of old provinces, new prefectures, mountains, rivers, towns, cities, proper names and a whole lot more.

Langescheidt's Large Dictionary Japanese-German Character Dictionary [Langenscheidts Großwörterbuch Japanisch-Deutsch - Zeichenwörterbuch] with M. Spahn, O. Putz, H. Arnold- Kanamori et al. (Langenscheidt, Berlin, 1997).
The most detailed Japanese character dictionary in the German language, with 7,000 kanji and over 47,000 compounds. Published in German and English, later revised and expanded.

The Learner's Kanji Dictionary with M. Spahn (Charles E. Tuttle Co, Rutland, VT and Tokyo, 1998).
This smallish (2,882 characters, 12,000 compounds) dictionary, sorted according to the system of 79 radicals is intended to be a handy alternative to the full dictionary. It also contains surnames, information about writing and an index of pronunciation.

Japanese, Chinese, and Korean Surnames and How to Read Them; 125,947 Japanese, 594 Chinese, and 259 Korean Surnames Written with Kanji as They Appear in Japanese Texts Vol. 1 and 2 (K.G. Saur, Munich, 1998).
This amazing book is probably the most comprehensive book of Japanese, Chinese and Korean surnames in existence. In volume one, they are sorted according to the system of radicals. In volume two, the names are ordered alphabetically. Chinese names are translitereated in the Japanese method, Pinyin, Wade-Giles and Hepburn systems. Korean names are transliterated according to the McCune-Reischauer system and also the Hepburn transcription.

A Guide to Writing Kanji & Kana (Charles E. Tuttle Co., Rutland, VT, 2004) Book 1 and 2, enlarged edition.
This (marvellous, in my opinion) set was designed as a sort of celebration of the 25th anniversary of Kanji and Kana. This set is essentially a very well-conceived and executed update of the practice book from Langescheidt's Practical Textbook ..., containing all of the kana and thousands of kanji with large and small handwritten samples, stroke order, and usage examples for each character. Examples and spaces are provided for the student to learn each character and reference numbers relate each kanji character to the Hadamitzky-Spahn kanji dictionary. The whole thing is also fully indexed for easy lookup.

Mr. Hadamitzky has published books and articles in such great quantity that it would be impractical to list them all here. He has also consulted on and edited a huge number of articles and books about Japanese language.

Almost all of this information was gathered by looking over Mr. Hadamitzky's books at the local library (the ones I didn't already own, anyway).
Bibliography and details were filled in from Mr. Hadamitzky's webpage (in English or German: http://www.hadamitzki.de/english/recent.htm