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.
Originally posted on 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?
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