The Japanese writing System

I have done posts on the Japanese language. I have touched on learning the Japanese language and on how to practice it. Not once did I ever consider posting about the writing styles of the Japanese people. It is weird how something you work with everyday can be the most oblivious thing. You see, I am an author, I write novellas. Not once while writing on this blog or even typing up my recent book did I ever think to do a blog post on the Japanese word. Doing this blog has influenced my writing. I have found myself inserting Japanese Romaji. Mostly names for characters.

You see Romaji is the Romanization of Japanese. The Romaji is split into three separate systems; the first being the Hepburn Romanization. This is the most commonly used form of Romaji. The other two are Kunrei-shiki Romanization and Nihon-shiki Romanization. Romaji is not used often to write letters. It is used mostly for inputting on computers and street signs. In Japan you will see Romaji heavily used in tourist areas. It has been taught to the Japanese children since World War II.

Kanji is another form of Japanese writing. Kanji are ideograms; this means that each character of kanji has a meaning of its own. Kanji consists of 2136 characters for use in everyday Japanese life. In total there are tens of thousands of them. All of these characters are Chinese in origin and were first introduced to japan in the 5th century. Interesting note is that these characters were not introduced by the Chines. They were introduced to the Japanese by Korea. Japanese students are expected to know several thousand by the time they graduate from high school.

The Japanese writing system consists of three types. I have already spoken about Romaji and Kanji. The last of the three is called Kana. Kana like the Japanese writing system is formed in three parts. The first is Hiragana; the modern cursive form of the Japanese language. Katakana the modern angular (think script in English) is the second form. The last form is known as man’yogana. Man’yogana is referred to the old syllabic kanji. Man’yogana is the ancestral form of both Hiragana and katakana.

As you can see from my brief explanation the Japanese language is very complex. Even with its complexity it remains a language I want to learn. Below you will find the links to the sites I used for this post. Give them a read. There is a lot more information out there.


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