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Japanese Writing – What is kanji?

The word “Kanji” means Chinese letter or character. The kanji script was invented by the Chinese. It was introduced to Japan by Buddhist monks and adopted by the Japanese around the middle of the 6th century AD. Kanji are ideographs meaning that the whole character conveys a meaning rather than just a sound (the hiragana and katakana letters on the other hand convey just a sound). Kanji were originally drawn as pictures from nature but gradually transformed to more generalized representations.

By the end of year nine Japanese students will have learned 1945 kanji as prescribed by the Japanese Ministry of Education (the Jouyou Kanji). There are many many more less commonly used kanji totaling over 5000. ReadWrite Kanji teaches the 1945 prescribed kanji in the order in which that are taught to Japanese students.

writingstyles_good.gif

Kanji can be written in various styles.
This is the character for “good” written in a number of styles.