[Anime Culture Monday] What is Kanji?

Kanji is a bit of a difficult concept for us to understand, especially using the roman alphabet. Rather than having a string of letters like we do in English, German, or Spanish, there are certain lines that represent a word or a concept. Widely seen in anime, they can be observed when a character is writing their homework or walking down a street full of shops. Kanji is the script used in Japanese and Chinese and has a long and interesting history that has been expanded on to create the lettering that we know and love today.

What is Kanji

Kanji is a combination of characters used to create words and sentences in Japanese. There are over twenty thousand kanji in all, but most people just learn to read between two or three thousand. Kanji can also be combined to form new words. Before kanji was brought over from China, the Japanese had no formal writing system. Upon seeing this, the Japanese adopted it and it became an integral part of their language and their culture. Japan also has two additional scripts that must be used to fully form its written language; these are known as hiragana and katakana. The Japanese language is exceptionally difficult to learn because of the many different variations in the script. With the two thousand kanji that people are expected to know, they must also combine the 46 syllables that each hiragana and katakana possesses to fully make up the written language. The Japanese language makes the roman alphabet’s twenty-three letters seem like a piece of cake!

Kanji in Anime

Kanji is portrayed throughout almost every anime and has become almost something that we, as viewers, ignore. Seen on books, in shops, and in schools, kanji can be seen almost anywhere. As prominent as our own alphabet, Japanese children must learn to write kanji from a young age as well has remember thousands of kanji in combination with its counterparts, hiragana and katakana. Kanji can also be seen in untranslated manga which adds to the beauty but amplifies the confusion. Popular anime such as Noragami, Pokemon, Steins;Gate and Ouran High School Host Club all contain examples of kanji throughout the anime. While many of us cannot read this kanji when it appears, it is quintessentially Japanese and its presence makes anime all the more enjoyable and true to Japanese culture.

Final Thoughts

Kanji is a prominent part of Japanese culture as it is embedded in the language. While difficult to learn, it is easily one of the most beautiful scripts in the world to view. Chinese calligraphy is a popular art that is also found in Japan and for good reason. This beautiful script is preserved in time and is able to be kept alive through its people and artists. We hope that this article has helped broaden your understanding of kanji. If you have any questions or comments regarding kanji, please leave them in the comments section below.

Noragami-crunchyroll-Wallpaper-500x281 [Anime Culture Monday] What is Kanji?


Author: Lauren

I am an anime lover, travel addict and wanderlust seeker. If I am not watching anime or reading manga, you will probably find me in my garden, playing the piano or writing. I love video games, particularly Final Fantasy and am anxiously awaiting the next release (though it probably will not be for at least five years). I hope that you will take a look into my top 5 anime so you can learn more about me. I hope that my articles will enlighten you and help you grow in knowledge of the anime community!

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