This is a section dedicated to Kanji. For most of us, Kanji are cool chararcters seen on T-shirts, pendants, tattoos, wall hangings and scrolls, art work, home furnishings and so on.
The history of Kanji is actually quite complex. I’ll try a simple, condensed explanation here. Kanji are originally from the Chinese language. Kanji first came to Japan on official seals, letters, swords, coins, mirrors, and other decorative items imported from China in the 5th century. At this time, Japan was still illiterate with no written language at all! Quite amazing for a country with a literacy rate now of 99%.
The Chinese characters, Kanji, were originally used as a writing system in ancient Japan however just in Chinese. The readers of these documents were bi-lingual Japanese and Chinese. They read the documents in Chinese and then translated into spoken Japanese. Gradually Japanese sounds were incorporated and to cater for the different sounds in Japanese and Chinese, extra alphabets were added to the newly emerging Japanese writing system; these extra alphabets being Hiragana and Katakana.
Japanese has, in essence, 4 alphabets;
1. Hiragana, 46 symbols for Japanese nouns, verbs, adjectives etc.
2. Katakana, 46 symbols for foreign words like our names, country names, names of food, sports, native animals….anything that sounds quite like English. You can think of Katakana as for ‘borrowed words’ .
4. Romaji. This alphabet is used by non-native Japanese at the at the start of their study, before they have mastered Hiragana and Katakana. Romaj is Japanese words written in Roman (English) letters. This is a good way to start learning, however it is advantageous to learn script later as it enhances your learning and understanding of Japanese.
By the end of Year 9, the students have been taught 2136 Kanji. This is how many Kanji you need to read a newspaper and Japanese literature !! No wonder Japanese school is so hard!
Japanese Kanji has about 3000 characters (symbols) used frequently, although there are more than 6000 Kanji used in the Japanese language. One Kanji can represent a whole word, as shown belowor it can be be in combination with other Kanji to form a word. The Kanji for Japan for example has SUN and ORIGIN as the two parts. This is why Japan has the nickname ‘Land of the Rising Sun’.
More about Kanji is included in the All About Kanji section.
Some Kanji is very logical and sequential like tree, wood and forest;
Most Kanji though, is quite complex. This quite definitely adds to the appeal of Kanji as it is such a challenge.
Here are some popular Kanji. Some you would have seen before, some you will instantly love due either to their shape or meaning.
To see some amazing products using Kanji, check out Zazzle.com.au
Pendants, T-shirts, hats, bags…….the range is huge. Perfect gifts for friends and family ‘who have everything’
Here are some more gorgeous Kanji that you may have seen around…..or even better, you may now recognise.
Kanji is one of my favourite things about Japanese. I love reading it, writing it, learning it and sharing it.
Did you know that nearly all Kanji has a meaning? Some are beautiful, some are strong and brave, some have less inspiring meanings, nonetheless, they have meanings. So when a baby is named in Japan, a lot of thought goes into the name; for how it sounds and the meaning of the Kanji.
Some popular Kanji to have in names for boys are 真 truth, 太郎 healthy, strong and 竜 dragon.
Some popular Kanji to have in names for girls are 愛 love, 美 beauty and 優 kind.
The most popular names recently in Japan for boys are;
Hiroto 宏人 open hearted person
Ren 蓮 famous Anime character, means a lotus flower
Yuuma 有真 honest person
Souta 爽太 refreshing
Sora 空 sky
Yamato 大和 strong and masculine
Shota 翔太 To take flight
The most popular girls’ names at the moment are;
Yui 結 a sense of closeness
Aoi 葵 Name of a famous movie star and also a flower
Yua 結愛 a sense of closeness and love
Rin 凛 a smart, well mannered and balanced girl
Hina 陽菜 bright and healthy
Haruna 春奈 spring, plus independent
You too can get your name represented by Kanji. For order details and more information, please check the Your Name In Kanji page.
For $10, you will receive your personalised Kanji name as a PDF for printing purposes, jpg for using as an image and a page displaying the meaning of the Kanji. These are emailed to you. You can then get them screen printed on a shirt, cap, make any number of creative things as well as presents. I have had Kanji names printed on a canvas with photos. I then gave the canvas as a wedding present. Needless to say, the couple were in tears with such an original present.
Enjoy the Kanji pages!