I use the term “cranky dog” to refer to kanji studies.

It’s not an evil dog. It’s not a friendly dog, to start with. Mostly it wants to be left alone, and not change its ways too much.

Some people will tell you, “Ignore the dog. You don’t need this dog to like you to be happy and successful in your Japanese studies. After all, あなたはすごいかわいいですよ!!! アニメ! I am cool Joe from Detroit!”

Well, sorry, but kanji is so ingrained into Japanese language and culture that you can’t ignore it. If you try and ignore the dog, you will end up bumping against it while it lays there trying to sleep and growling at you.

Others will say, “There is a course that will teach you kanji in one month!! It is the best course ever! Someone on a website said so!”

Well, okay. You go pay for it and let me know how that goes. The dog will perhaps open a sleepy eye and look at you while you prance around doing…whatever it does that is supposed to teach you 2100+ kanji in a month, as well as kanji compounds, as well as vocabulary.

Others (like me) will say, “Learn the ways of the cranky dog, and it will become your partner.”

With this, the dog might wake up and glare at you as you fumble reading, writing, and pronouncing even the simplest of kanji, and words using those kanji. But you keep at it, and soon the dog will get up and lead you by the pant cuff as it points out something connected to a kanji you’ve already learned. Soon the dog will be awake and looking at you with indifference as you stumble around, getting better at not being bitten.

Will the dog ever come up beside you, wagging its tail as the two of you go on a marvelous adventure in Japan?

Ask me when I get nearer to that dream.