How To Write In Japanese - Part 2

By ken cannon - 3:28 AM

Hey Ken Cannon here.

Alright so since last time I told you all I’d give you more info on how all this squiggly line business works. So this is the second part of my intro to the Japanese writing system.

Ok so this is a typical Japanese sentence.

ロシアが攻撃している= the Russians are attacking!

Now you’ll of course notice that there’s a whole mess of different characters in there. Hiragana, katakana and even kanji.

Now why is this? Wouldn’t be a bajillion times easier to just type all this mumbo jumbo in one writing system?

Well the answer is yes and no.

First of all because of the major remodeling of the characters the Japanese did, kanji alone couldn’t handle the task of carrying the Japanese language, so this lead to the development to the kana systems.

But then since there were no concept of the space in Japan (that’s why it’s so crowded over there…)

Just kana was too hard to read 


And at the same time kanji, in itself became sort of a status symbol. Basically the more you knew, the smarter you were. And as stupid as this sounds, just look at English.

Why else do the words, glad, gay, joyful, cheerful, delighted, jovial and exultant exist?

Good lord, just say you’re happy!

And so that is where the games begun, now rumor has it you only need to learn about 2,000 kanji to read a typical newspaper (that’s reassuring…) but fortunately most shounen manga have something called furigana.

And furigana are little kana characters above the kanji that help with reading, basically so you can sound it out instead of knowing the kanji. Which is pretty cool, it helped me be able to read manga before I even knew any kanji. Now the downside is you read a bit slower than normal, but hey that you can savory the manga!  Mmm tasty Naruto… (haha corny puns ftw)

Now one more thing about kanji, just in case you haven’t pulled your hair out yet. Is that typically for each kanji there are at least two different ways to read them. And they go by the names

Kun yomi – Japanese reading


On yomi – Chinese reading

Now since I’m assuming most of you don’t know any kanji yet, basically just remember that this makes your life suck more =) (aren’t you glad you dropped in for this positive, uplifting blog post)

Now, as much as most people complain about kanji being the reason they're husband left them, with the right strategy they really aren’t that bad. In fact I had a blast while learning them!

But of course you need this super secret cool tool/book. Butt (_l_), since I’m cool, I’ll tell you about it in my next newsletter, so sign up! And I’ll see you next time!

Ken Cannon

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  1. my favorite hiragana/katakana/kanji-mix word is: 消しゴム! hehe
    btw, what are those colored squiggly things??!

  2. hahah I love keshigomu's,sometimes I wish a had a keshigomu for my life. Good byeee nagging grandparents, good byee annoying neighborhood dog, Good byeee empty wallet! (wait that wouldn't really help...)

    keshigomu = eraser

    Oh and the colorful squiggles are blown glass key-chains =)

  3. That's something I find really difficult while reading Japanese: the example you did in English "Imeancomeonifitypedlikethisallthetimeit’d
    probablysuckprettybadhuh?" That's how Japanese write with their hiragana, katakana, and kanji all the time. You have to be able to quickly distinguish one word from another... even kanji often has hiragana as part of its word. It makes my eyes hurt, even in English. How can they do it? Oy... I think even after I become fluent, I'll still space out my words. Do you?

  4. I've been learning Japanese for 3 years, and while I know all the Katakana and Hiragana, I've only learnt a handful of kanji! Numbers, days of the week, and a few other things... But I don't envy the poor buggers that have to learn English! xD Japanese is simple in comparison, I think ^-^ Btw, your blog rocks!! :D

  5. @Cheri, hahah, that's really funny. It was the exact same with me when I started learning.

    It really just takes a lot of exposure to overcome that, since were so used to spaces in our words. I found reading manga and playing video games with long story lines (rpg's) helped a whole bunch.

    P.S I'll tell you a lil secret I know all the so called Japanese experts will scream at me for. Whenever I don't have to, I still write in romaji.. I know, I know. haha but I really don't feel its a big as deal as most of the experts will tell you.

    @Jazz, heheh I agree full heartedly! English is a nightmare in comparison. And thank you very much ^^

  6. :D Turns out Japanese isn't really that much of a pain. So many people still think I'm out of my mind starting it ^^ There are much more difficult languages...
    And which language is hard to learn, when explained like this? Thanks so much! (bow)

  7. I have a question, what is superstar in japanese? I know what it is with the drawings or whatever they are, but the word, what is it?

  8. Man oh man I feel like a woman (learning hiragana). Somebody told me it was easier but I never knew there was a masculinity deduction for it! Well anyway, I really love your blog and this "motivational" post helped me understand the uses of the different types of japanese. Thanks so much! ^_^*

  9. I'M ANONYMOUS! But I have one question. Do you have to learn kanji to be fluent in japanese or can you set it aside and not learn it at all? Oh and by the way superstar in japanese is スーパースター.

  10. @Anonymous, I personally went against the grain and set it aside for a whole year without learning it. And it really helped me learn both aspects faster, since I had better focus and structure. And yes I wouldn't recommend it, but I also know people who speak fluent Japanese, and can't read or write it so yeah technically there's no danger in it.

    1. Your blog is the best. I find it true help indeed. I just wish your classes would open up once more.