Kanji Mania

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.

belief dream courage scrolls

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.Hiragana2

Japanese has, in essence, 4 alphabets;

1. Hiragana, 46 symbols for Japanese nouns, verbs, adjectives etc.

 

katakana 2

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’ .

3. Kanji.Kanji 2

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.

In Primary School (Year 1-6) Japanese students learn 1006 Kanji. With this number of Kanji, you are able to read Japanese signs, magazines, primary school level novels among other things.Japanese School Girl

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 belowgragon tiger monkeyor 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 RisingJapan Sun’.

More about Kanji is included in the All About Kanji section.

 

 

Some Kanji is very logical and sequential like tree, wood and forest;

tree wood 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.

dream flower love

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’

home_9zazzle Tshirts

zazzle pendants

How about a unique  Kanji greeting card? Kanji cards

 

Here are some more gorgeous Kanji that you may have seen around…..or even better, you may now recognise.

Japanese scrolls

 

 

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  truth, 太郎  healthy, strong and dragon.
Some popular Kanji to have in names for girls are  love, beauty and  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.

Jessica set jpg

Taj meaning etc for site

 

Enjoy the Kanji pages!