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-This video will be ruh-blah-bluh.
This video will be of interest to people actively studying
Japanese, about to start studying Japanese, people who
like art and memorization techniques,
people who have nothing better to do,
and of course, people that enjoy watching other people get hit
by cars in a school playground under the watchful eye
of a thousand schoolchildren to an over-dramatic soundtrack.
[OVER-DRAMATIC MUSIC PLAYING]
-Whoa!
-Ooh!
-Oh, my God.
-And I thought road safety lessons
were supposed to be boring.
How could you go from Will Smith and Stephen Merchant
having an imaginary conversation to this?
And from the world's most powerful farmyard animal
to this?
And finally, from this-- OK, we'll do this one here-- easy
to remember, easy to draw.
Yes!
Oh, they're nothing alike!
No.
--to this.
[MUSIC THE BEACH BOYS, "WOULDN'T IT BE NICE"]
Oh, yeah, get in.
A whole other book-- finished!
Yeah!
Come in here!
Come and look at this!
I finished a whole other book.
It's pretty cool.
Oh-- oh, yeah, I-- I live alone.
[MUSIC PLAYING]
When I arrived in Japan last year,
I couldn't even say the most basic phrases, such
as, "Where is McDonald's?" and "A horse is necessary!"
which I thank you'll agree are absolutely essential
for everyday conversation.
Well, still, I couldn't read anything because of the three
Japanese writing systems-- Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji.
And I didn't know that I couldn't wash my clothes--
Uhh.
--use the air conditioning.
Uhh.
Even at restaurants, I'd have to take a dictionary, only
to still fuck up my order and end up
with "The Last Supper" instead of the healthy, delicious
salads that I thought I'd ordered.
So I temporarily eradicated my social life
and sat down to learn Hiragana and Katakana, of which there
are about 100 characters.
And by the end of August, I emerged
able to read both character systems.
But more importantly, I could read the world
around me, once and for all--
Haha!
Eh, oh, give me a break!
--except, I couldn't.
I turned my attention to the final character system-- Kanji.
The characters are "luh - gog - ra - fic," or "lo - go - graf -
ic"-- I haven't a clue how to pronounce that word--
meaning a single character can convey a word or a meaning,
such as "water," the "moon," and "rain."
It's an undeniably beautiful system,
and I was very excited to learn all 25 of the characters.
But there's not 25.
There's 2,000 characters.
This didn't initially put me off,
but then I learned that each character
can have multiple readings.
It was about then that I thought I was a bit out of my depth.
I mean, I thought I'd taken it badly,
but when I told my friend who's also learning Japanese--
Yeah, so as well as there being 2,000 characters,
it turns out they also have multiple readings, as well.
So--
-(ON PHONE) No!
No!
-No.
This was the point where I thought
about quitting the whole learning of the language,
especially as Japanese schoolchildren learned
over a 10-year period through a unique method known as writing
it out again and again and again.
But it was then that a few advanced non-native speakers
of Japanese told me of a method, of a way of getting around
it and being able to learn the meaning and the writing
of the characters in a matter of months, as opposed to years.
Not only that, but it would be a fun and creative way.
And I love fun.
If Japanese is your religion, let this book be your bible.
Heisig's "Remembering the Kanji" is now in its sixth edition
and originally came out in the 1970s.
It's short, and I mean very short.
The way to learning Kanji is by using your creative imagination
and stories to memorize the Kanji--
hundreds, if not thousands, of stories.
So instead of writing out the characters again and again
and again, you use your creative imagination
to conjure up imagery.
Key to the book's success is the way
it breaks down the Kanji into their smaller, primitive parts.
Kanji are typically made up of several other Kanji
characters we call "primitives."
And the idea is to turn those squiggly lines
into something with meaning, be it people, objects,
or anything that comes to your mind.
Some are quite basic.
For example, "I" is quite easy and natural
to see the shape for "I."
But for something like "fond," meaning "to be fond of
or to like something," which is made up of "woman" and "child,"
a bit more creativity is involved.
So we imagine a woman who obviously is fond of her child,
loves her child and is fondling her with happiness and love.
At the start of this video, I had some examples of people
that I've used as Kanji characters
or as parts of a story.
I actually found a use for Kim Jong Un, and here's how.
So here's a Kanji character which
means "un," as in to "undo something."
It holds other connotations, such as "mistake," "negative,"
and "injustice," just like the man himself.
But primarily, I chose Kim Jong Un because it's called "un,"
even if that description does have quite a good resemblance
to the dickhead in question.
So it's quite a simple character, as you can see.
And the three strokes at either side are easy to remember,
as that's how many North Korean leaders there
have been in that failed dynasty.
And in my head, when I see this character,
I don't just see a load of squiggly lines.
I see Kim Jong Un, which isn't something
you want to necessarily picture, but eh, it works.
And the way the book is ordered, you learn chronologically.
So the next few Kanji characters that you would learn
would have Kim Jong in it, but it
would have "un" as a primitive.
So for "sad," the character has two primitives-- "un"
and the one for "heart."
So I'm seeing Kim Jong Un and a heart,
which are two things that don't really go together.
And that's when you actually have
to use your psychotic mind to actually put those bits
and pieces together to form a story that
makes you memorize the key word.
So maybe Kim Jong Un has no heart, so he's sad.
That's the story.
So that's how I memorize it.
So when I see that character, I see Kim Jong Un and a heart.
I know he has no heart, so he must be sad.
So the word is "sad."
Another example, Will Smith and Stephen Merchant
having a discussion.
How can I get from that to this character?
So this character means "surrogate,"
and it's made up of three primitives.
We've got "finger" here on the left.
We have "ear," which I have already
memorized that as Will Smith, because for those of you that
know Will Smith, you know he has big ears
or he's always mocked for having big ears.
I don't really know why.
I don't think he's got big ears.
But anyway, it is Will Smith.
And then we have this one here, which means "sparkler."
But for no apparent reason, I've decided
to have it in my head as Stephen Merchant.
Just because I love Stephen Merchant,
and I'll have to put him in there somewhere.
Now, in 2009, a movie came out called "Surrogates,"
starring Bruce Willis.
And whilst the film was about was entertaining
is taking the words "crap" and "film"
and trying to make an anagram out of those words.
The fact was when I first saw the word "surrogate"
in the book, that is what came to my mind-- Will Smith
and Stephen Merchant are at a dinner party somewhere really
nice and wonderful, good food.
And Will Smith is standing there talking to Stephen Merchant,
droning on and on about how he wanted
to get the main role in the film,
"Surrogates," instead of Bruce Willis.
And Stephen Merchant is too busy thinking
about how much money he's just got from "Portal 2,"
and gradually, puts his fingers in his ears,
because he doesn't want to listen.
And that is it.
Stephen Merchant's standing there with his fingers
in his ears, trying to avoid listening to Will Smith talking
about how he didn't get the role of the protagonist
in "Surrogates."
And that is how Stephen Merchant and Will
Smith come to "Surrogates."
I was initially skeptical of this method.
But after making hundreds of these stories,
and after being able to memorize up
to 60 Kanji, how to write them and their meaning in one day,
it just works.
It really does.
Once you're able to turn thousands of words
into characters out of thin air, using your memory,
you will literally feel like Albus Dumbledore, Yoda,
and James Bond's footwear combined-- "Albus Yodabond."
[YODA NOISES]
-Perhaps most importantly, it gives you confidence
because it turns those squiggly lines around you
in your everyday life into something with meaning.
For example, a real landmark moment in my time in Japan
was after learning the Kanji for "big" and "small."
And most toilets in Japan have a little handle
with the "big" and "small" Kanji written on them.
And I finally realized what it meant-- big flush, little
flush, big flush, little flush.
Gosh, you have no idea how exciting that was,
just to know by looking at this character, ah, it's big,
that's small.
It changed my life.
Well, it didn't change my life, but it
was pretty big-- it was a pretty big deal at the time.
I know what maybe some of you might be thinking.
"Hang on, you can't actually pronounce the Kanji.
You can't actually read them.
You're basically an idiot."
And while some of that is true, the fact
is it's easier to learn the Kanji and how to write them
and their meaning separate from the reading.
That can be done in a few months.
That's going to take a bit longer.
Well, actually, learning how to read them
will take a fair bit longer.
Ultimately, it's like a puzzle.
So this Kanji here I know means "book."
And I know the word for "book" in Japanese is "hon."
So together, "hon," "book"-- together.
It just makes memorizing the characters so much easier.
And to someone who's going to do the book,
it takes between three to six months, on average.
For those of you learning Japanese or about
to start learning, you've just discovered a great shortcut
to carve a lot of time off your studying.
For those of you wondering why you watched the video,
because it is irrelevant to what you're doing,
you've learned there's a shortcut around any problem
or any situation-- usually.
And I hope you leave this video with a more positive outlook
on life.
I mean, that-- that would be amazing.
You won't?
Oh, so just trash this shit.