Japanese Writing for Beginners

Eriko Koga. Taxi Japan

General Description about Japanese writing

Writing might be one of the most difficult, but also fun, parts of learning Japanese. The Japanese don't use an alphabet. There are three types of scripts in Japanese: kanji, hiragana and katakana. The combination of all three is used for writing.

Roughly speaking, kanji represents blocks of meaning (nouns, stems of adjectives and verbs) and hiragana expresses the grammatical relationship between them (endings of adjectives and verbs, particles).

Katakana is used for foreign names, the names of foreign places and words of foreign origin. So, how they are used in a sentence? Check out my article, "Katakana in the Matrix."

Confused? Overwhelmed? Here are some common questions.

If you want to learn Japanese writing, start with hiragana and katakana, then kanji. Hiragana and katakana are simpler than kanji, and have only 46 characters each. It is possible to write an entire Japanese sentence in hiragana. For example, many children's books are written in hiragana only. Japanese children start to read and write in hiragana before making an attempt to learn some of the two thousand kanji commonly used.

To learn how to display Japanese characters on your computer, try here.

Hiragana/Katakana Lessons

  • Hiragana Lessons
  • Katakana Lessons

Kanji Lessons

Here are frequently asked questions about kanji.