>I don't want to learn the kana and kanji using "mnemonic devices" like "こ " looks like a can of coke, so "ko!" ok maybe for one or two that I have trouble with, but I will decide my own mnemonic devices for those. I did the same with hebrew ( ה has a hole to breath, so H sound, ח has a blocked throat, etc) and it worked fine.
>So my question is this: what books are good for basic learning that don't have "cheating" nonsense in them? I find it distracting and impossible to ignore. My wife just got me "Japanese HIRAGANA & KATAKANA for Beginners" the tuttle method by Stout, and it looks good and has room to practice strokes, but has all these crazy pictures.
>Ideally, I would like to learn Japanese as a native would, starting with kindergarten equivalent material. I know they are guided by teachers and parents, live in Japan, and can speak and understand Japanese, but there must be something for foreigners besides "move to Japan," right?
It's impossible to learn Japanese as a native does, if you're not a child.
In any case, if you wanted to do that it would be something like this:
1) Study the spoken language for ~6 years, and learn the hiragana near the end
2) For the next 6 years, study many different subjects in Japanese, learn katakana, and learn kanji very slowly (80 in the first year, 160 in the second), while being surrounded by Japanese constantly.
Learning the writing system first is not how a native does it, but there's not much out there to help you if you don't want to do that. Also, learning materials for Japanese kids have a lot of pictures in them too -- they are for kids, after all.