Kanji Definition Kanjis are Chinese characters (called sinograms) which are a combination of pictograms and ideograms, adapted in the Japanese language. They are the elements of the three sets of Japanese scripts along with Hiragana and Katakana. Kanjis are used to write either Chinese or Japanese words. Each kanji has one or more meanings, and one or more pronunciations depending on the context. Unlike Hiragana and Katakana, Kanji are neither letters or syllables. A kanji is a set of strokes, traced in a specific order and meaning. Whereas Hiragana and Katakana are phonetic representations of sound, Kanji conveys sounds as well as meanings.
Kanji Usage- Total official Kanjis Kanji usage is based on the Jōyō Kanji hyō which is an official list of the most commonly used Chinese characters in Japan. About 2000 to 3000 official Kanji characters are in common use in Japan Kanji in grades 1-6, 1006 in number are called Kyōiku kanji that represents the list of Kanji learning per school year prescribed by the Japanese Ministry of Education. Kanji in grades 1-7, 1945 in number are called Jōyō Kanji. Jōyō means 'daily use'. Jōyō Kanji is composed of all the Kyōiku kanji, plus 939.
Kanji Readings & Pronunciations Each Kanji has 2 readings called : On'yomi & Kun'yomi. On'yomi is the Chinese reading (by sound) and Kun'yomi is the Japanese reading (by meaning). 'Yomi' in Japanese means 'reading'. On'yomi uses the Katakana script whereas Kun'yomi uses the Hiragana script. The pronunciation and meaning depends on the manner in which the kanjis are combined. In general, the On'yomi reading applies to Kanji compounds. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Kanji Types The kanjis are of different types: simple, combined or compound. Following is a simple illustration.
Simple Kanji : ex.go (five) = 五 ; nen (year) = 年 (onyomi readings) Combined Kanji : ex.gonen (5 years) = go + nen =五 + 年 = 五年
Note that Kanjis can be written in combination with Hiragana. ex. mimasu (to see) in Kanji = 見ます; in Hiragana = みます Each Kanji character has a Hiragana equivalent.
An 'o' is prefixed to some japanese words to express politeness. ex. money in japanese is kane or (o)kane when polite, written in Hiragana : (お) かね and in Kanji : (お)金 Note that 'o' does not have a Kanji equivalent.
Note: river = kawa or gawa, where gawa is used for combined kanjis. ex. Nile river = Nairu gawa (not Nairu kawa). Similarly, mouth = kuchi, guchi, where guchi is used for combined kanjis. ex. Exit = deguchi (not dekuchi).
Furigana Furigana is a Japanese reading aid, consisting of smaller kana (Hiragana or Katakana) or syllabic characters, placed above the line of text, to specify the pronunciation. Furigana are also known as yomigana or rubi in Japanese.
Rules for writing Kanji - Strokes order Horizontal line before vertical line Top to bottom and left to right Enclosures before contents or outside before inside Left curve before right curve Diagonals right-to-left before diagonals left-to-right Center before outside in vertically symmetrical characters Left vertical before enclosing Middle line, left side and then the right side Bottom enclosures and the point at last