The Challenge of RTK finally sets in.

I’ve just finished tonight’s new additional kanji to my ‘little red book’- a book I started March 22, 2009 to keep track in written form all the stories I make up (or borrow) for the kanjis in RTK. Currently I’m at 751 and scoot’n…

My current method for Kanji retention is more or less based on self-immersion. I’m not a morning person– so kanji is often delayed till I get to work in the morning. My ritual has been to treat Kanji-puffs (short reviews of 10-12 keywords) like smoke breaks. It serves to keep me fresh and up to date while also filling a need to not be tempted by the cancer stick… (something I promise to try harder with in Japan!!).

Ok… back to RTK… Lunch time probably kicks off RTK for me at the start. If I’m going to lunch with my co-worker and Kanji-Kohort Brian then it’s an in depth review of our ‘nightly sessions’, shared stories, trouble kanjis, and random quiz-me stuff. If it’s just me… I’m off to study the stories I didn’t nail down the night before… After lunch is more puffs.. then I head home for kanji-war.

My nightly sessions are uniquely awesome… They’re not like what I was into when I was writing my bajillion page thesis, or reviewing for Japanese Society/History exams. Yet, they’re just as academically rigorous. What makes putting stories to ‘chicken scratchings’ kanji tough? Three words: Innovation, Creativity, (and) Resourcefulness.

The thought process requires training your mind like you would your body for an event. Mundane repeated activities everyday only hone certain muscle groups which is why typically why gyms are equipped for a plethora of workout routines. Kanji training through RTK forces you to exercise you brain differently each night while you try to attach a Keyword to primitives with relatively little similarities between them. Take Vessels for example “隻” In this Kanji the keyword is “Vessel” but the elements that make up this kanji is “Turkey” and “Crotch.” The mental exercise is form a story that creatively links Turkey and Crotch to form Vessel.

Overall, it’s an activity that genuinely is challenging, tiring at times, and is a great sort of project to try and conquer– especially as a recent post-undergrad whose so used to nightly study sessions. It makes my ultimate goal “mastering Japanese” a worth while goal that’s attainable in my humble opinion.

~J out


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