Kanji Story

Have you ever wondered how the Chinese formed their writing script? Just like the Egyptian heiroglyphs, Hanzis (the Chinese logograms) were formed by observing the nature and its surroundings. Later the Japanese borrowed these logograms from China for writing their own language.

The Japanese language also uses the kana scripts for writing those words and phrases which cannot be  written using kanji script. These two kana scripts are called hiragana and katakana (which is used to write foreign words).

Since kanji are logograms that have evolved from ancient Chinese scriptures, almost every kanji has a meaning attached to it. If you are ready to give some time to it, kanji can become your favorite part of learning Japanese.

Japanese language uses only a few selected logograms from a list of around 50,000 Hanzis that were created in China in the distant past. These were then modified in terms of writing and meaning in Japan. A standard Japanese sentence is written by using kanji along with Hiragana and Katakana.

For example: 今朝コーヒーをのみました。(I drank coffee this morning.)


今朝 is written in kanji

コーヒー is written in katakana

をのみました is written in hiragana

You might have to know 3,000 to 4,000 kanji to read subjects that use jargons, but the number of kanji taught in schools are fewer. The Joyo kanji list (kanji for daily use) consisted of a total of 1,945 kanji until 2010, when the numbers in the list was increased to 2,136. This is primarily the ultimate list to be learned by a Japanese ninth grade student or a JLPT N1 examinee.  Since it is very difficult to comprehensively read and write so many kanji the Japanese Ministry of Education has come up with another list called the Gakushu list. This list contains those 1,006 kanji from the Joyo list, which students must know how to write.




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