All about Kanji

Hiragana2In Japan there are 3 alphabets. They are called Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji.

Hiragana has 46 characters. The first 5 are like our vowels, a, i, u,e, o.a i u e o

After that most are in a two or 3  letter combination; ka, ki, ku, ke, ko.

ka ki ku ke ko

 Sa, shi, su, se, so come next until the last letter ‘n’.sa shi su se soThere is a Hiragana chart in Students’ Hangout – How Do you Say?

The second alphabet is called Katakana.katakana 2

Katakana also has 46 characters and the same sounds as Hiragana. Katakana is for words that are not traditionally Japanese words like Makudonarudo  マクドナルド   (McDonalds),  hambaagaa   ハンバーガー (hamburger) Oosutoraria  オーストラリア (Australia), Amerika  アメリカ (America), koara  コアラ (koala)

The 3rd alphabet is called Kanji.

Kanji 2Japanese Kanji, which originated from the Chinese language, has about 3000 characters (symbols) used frequently, although there are more than 6000 Kanji used in the Japanese language. See the brief history of Kanji in Kanji Mania.

One Kanji can represent a whole word, or be in combination with other Kanji to form a word.

tenki tenshi

The number of Kanji  in Japan is reduced from the number in China which is about 50,000…..although some modern Chinese dictionaries contain 100,000 or more Kanji !!

Why is Kanji so fantastic for us? celebration

  • It looks sensational, to write yourself, have on T-shirts, wall hangings, posters, pendants, homewares….all kinds of things
  • Nearly all Kanji has a meaning
  • It is challenging to learn
  • It is so unusual and special

Writing some Kanji Yourself

I have included some of the popular Kanji to write. If you would like to try, simply print the Kanji sheets and either copy or trace the Kanji. It is so relaxing and grounding to do. Think of the meaning as you write, particularly if you are writing a Kanji that has a special meaning for you. Good luck!

Kanji sheets for printing – Kanjimania


One of the five pages

How about getting Your Name in Kanji?

So, apart from wearing and displaying it, you can even get your name in Kanji symbols, with a meaning. Every sound has a few, or many, different Kanji that can represent it. It is important then to get the best possible meaning for the symbols chosen. You might find a great looking Kanji, only to find it means ‘death’, ‘tombstone’ , ‘urine’, ‘suffering’, ‘manure’, ‘obesity’, ‘being possessed’ or something crazy like that. (these are all meanings that I have come across when searching for great Kanji for writing friends’ names!!)

kanji for names 1 I choose Kanji that represent things like energy, happiness, companion, love, peace, loyalty, kindness, knowledge, abundance, dream and truth. For female names I choose beauty, grace, princess and pure and for male names, strength, samurai and protection.
kanji for names 2

See if your name is on the  ‘Your Name in Kanji‘ pages.

Try writing some Kanji when you have time and most of all – Enjoy the magic of Kanji !!