Life in Japan: Learning Kanji

After 10 years in Japan, you’d think I’d know the 2000 main kanji, right? Well, I only know about a quarter of that. But is it really important to know kanji in Japan? How has knowing only 500 kanji affected me? Here’s my answer.

I Read Encyclopedias for Fun

There are three writing systems in Japan: hiragana (ひらがな), which is the main phonetic set of characters; katakana (カタカナ), which is the phonetic characters used mainly for foreign words; kanji (漢字), which is used throughout Japanese, and is taken from Chinese. It’s this last one that gives a lot of people trouble. It’s extremely important to know how to at least read kanji to be able to read a newspaper or book in Japanese.  This week’s question comes from Ellen Hawley.

I had friends who lived in Japan, and even after years reading Japanese (not the phonetic alphabets but the characters) remained a problem. Have you been able to learn enough to manage well? If not, how does that affect you?

Chinese_characters_logoI’ll begin by saying that I love kanji. It’s fascinating to me, but the biggest problem with it is that I often forget how to write them. But that’s…

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2 Comments

Filed under Japan, Japanese

2 responses to “Life in Japan: Learning Kanji

  1. Japanese is Greek to me. In fact any foreign language I can say the same about. I had a sweet Japanese penpal many years ago. I can’t remember her name, but I wish we had not lost touch. I think oriental writing is quite lovely. Have a good day! I am visiting this blog (and another of yours) from the A2ZRoadTrip challenge. It’s nice meeting you.

    http://curiousasacathy.com/2015/06/do-it-or-else-die-trying-to-do-right-atozroadtrip-music/

    • Thanks for the visit (to both blogs). I also had some penpals a while back, and luckily, I’m still in touch with one from 16 years ago. In fact, he lives not too far from me, and we meet once or twice a year.

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