Hiragana, Katakana & Kanji
The Japanese Writing System
The Japanese language can be read by associating several writing systems: Kana and Kanji.
The Kana gather two syllabic alphabets, each composed of 46 characters and having distinct and complementary functions:
- Hiragana are essentially used for grammar, especially for particles and they allow to read Kanji, therefore to write all Japanese words. It is the first phonetic alphabet taught to Japanese children and foreign learners;
- Katakana are mainly used to write words from foreign language.
Kanji are characters originating from China and make up the Japanese vocabulary. There are about several thousands of them among which a little more than 2,000 are official signs (called "joyo kanji") of which 90% have a daily usage.
In addition to these 3, the romanji / romaji alphabet makes use of the Latin letters to transcribe Japanese words.
Below, several practical articles help to read and write Japanese language as well as the latest questions from the Kanpai community about this topic.