Learn more about Kanji–make your trip even more interesting!

  • You know, if you study about the culture or history before you visit a country, your trip is always going to be more interesting. And here’s why kanji is interesting when coming to Japan.

    Kanji 漢字

    Kaniji, literally means “characters from Han China” are Chinese characters used in Japanese. Kanji is one of the four character types used in the modern Japanese writing system. The other three are hiragana, katakana and romaji(roman letters).

    Hiragana ひらがな

    Hiragana is a system of simple rounded Japanese symbols developed in Japan.

    Katakana カタカナ

    Katakana are Japanese symbols usually used for foreign names and “loan words”.

    Why is Kanji the most fascinating?

    There are said to be about 50,000 kanji characters in existence, of which a literate Japanese adult will be able to recognize about 3,500. Out of these, 1,945 are officially recognized as “everyday” or jo-yo- kanji, and knowledge of about 1,000 kanji symbols is considered sufficient to read about 90% of the words in a Japanese newspaper.

    Now you figure out what Kanji are and how they are used usually.I understand that it is impossible to understand the whole thing. But if you recognize how they are made, your interest will grow bigger!

    Look at the above picture. This picture shows how Kanji was made and what its meaning is. Most of Kanji were developed by the same logic as in this picture. These pictures are called pictographs. Each word was created from one or two symbols by using their shapes.

    After you can recognize simple Kanji, you will be able to combine two or three kanji into one character. As you can see from the above pictures, these are using simple “tree” kanji, but according to the number of tree kanji, the meaning changes, 木ーtree, 林ーwoods, and 森ーforest. This is quite an interesting rule to recognize kanji, so if you don’t know any difficult kanji, you also can guess the meaning by what that kanji consist of.

    I’d be happy if this article made you more interested in Kanji and Japanese language!