I like studying Kanji. It reminds me of my college drawing class, where we had to balance letterings and drawings, make them fit into boxes and stuff. When I started to learn Japanese, my teacher told me that if I wanted to be respected by the Japanese, I had to write Kanji (and Hiragana and Katakana of course) like a Japanese. He then drew a box, and made me balance the Kanji 日（read as にち nichi, ひ hi or bi, に, ni and じつ jitsu, which means sun or day) in the box for several minutes until I got it right. He’d been quite strict, and for that I am thankful. After his initial instructions, he left me to study Kanji by myself.
Since that time, all I used to study Kanji was my Basic Kanji 500, then later my Intermediate Kanji Book. I’ve stayed faithful to this series, I don’t believe in switching books or styles or all that. I don’t recommend jumping from book to book, because for one, Japanese books are costly. Another reason is you’ll accumulate too many books, there are literally dozens of books on Kanji. I’ve never really written on my textbooks, only on my workbooks and only in pencil. I always use notebooks, word cards and writing pads. I’d suggest though that if you were really serious about learning Kanji, you have to stick to what you’re used to, if it works.
Also, I took the Kanji Kentei this year, and I plan to do so again early next year. Preparing for it has helped me a lot in my understanding of Kanji. For this, you need to practice a lot, write, write, write, and write again. When I was studying for it though, I wasn’t looking up English meanings and all that, I was purely studying the stroke orders, Kanji word combinations, readings and radicals. Then when I went back to my Japanese studies, it seemed so much easier.
On a related note, there have been quite a few blog entries about the Kanji of the Year, 偽 (read as にせ, nise, meaning fake). These are the links to those posts:
Japan Probe: 2007 Kanji of the Year
What Japan Thinks: Kanji of the Year 2007
Asian Offbeat: ‘Nise’ (Fake) Chosen as Japan’s Kanji Character of the Year
GlobalTalk 21: Do you know what the No.5 Kanji is in this year’s countdown?
Photo via: 3Yen.com