I have just read through the first part of Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji book. So far I am finding it really good. But I am not going to recommend it, since I have not finished with it yet. Have a look at this website if you want to find someone who does recommend it.

This post is about remembering the Kana (Hiragana and Katakana). This is one way to do it:

In Summary

Download a flashcard program and study them consistently. You don’t have to do it all in one day, or spend more than 10 minuets a day, but you must do it consistently. If not every day, then every second day – this is essential.

In Four Easy Steps

  1. Have a look at the Wikipedia pages on Hiragana and Katakana to see what you are facing. The key thing to take away is that the two alphabets represent the same sounds. There are 46 shapes in both. There are also two types of strokes to change some of the characters sounds, adding 26 sounds. After that, there are certain combination that form new sounds (38 new sounds). This makes a total of 108 sounds represented in Hiragana and 107 in Katakana. You are learning the phonetic alphabets of Japanese.
  2. Download the free flashcard (SRS) program called Anki.
  3. Open Anki and go to File > Download > Shared Deck. Type in “kana” in the search box and select the one with the title “Japanese Kana” and description “Hiragana and Katakana syllabaries for Japanese. Comments or suggestions…” – it was the most downloaded one when I made this post. Once the download complete, all the Kana will be yours.
  4. Depending upon how fast you want to study, set the number of new cards per day. You might want to try to start small and build up depending upon how you go. It makes it much more fun this way.
  5. When studying, have a reference for the stroke order. I used the “Genki” textbooks, but there is no reason to recommend that particularly, so try this from wikibooks. Wikipedia also has two quick reference images that will be helpful: Hiragana and Katakana.

More Detail

There is no reason why everyone should learn the Kana first, but if you are starting a course on the Japanese language, it might be a requirement. Once you have done the initial hard work, you will need to keep on using them for retention. One way to achieve this is to continue with Anki and start learning some words. For further guidance, I will recommend this website (again) – “All Japanese All The Time”.

Help I’m Alive – Metric
Borders – The Whitests Boy Alive
Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) – Marilyn Manson
Blindsided – Bon Iver
Sweet Disposition – The Temper Trap
Italy – Akron/Family