Alphabet: Kanji


What is Kanji?

Kanji is one of the three types of Japanese alphabets which are used in reading.

Romaji is not counted as a Japanese alphabets technically speaking.

Example of Kanji

  • Kanji: Yellow
  • Hiragana: Green
  • Katakana: Blue


(I am going to have a barbecue with friends tomorrow.)

You can watch the video below up to 1 minute and 42 seconds to learn about the Japanese writing system including Kanji.

Number of Kanji

There are millions of Kanji characters, so it is impossible to remember all of them even for Japanese people.

As a Japanese learner, it would be great if you could remember very basic 200 Kanji characters. See more details here.

The Japanese government says that Japanese people should be able to use about 2100 Kanji characters by the end of Year 12. They start to learn Kanji characters in Grade 1 and finish learning about 1000 of them by the end of Grade 6.

Kanji sound system

Each Kanji character has a basic meaning and a couple of different ways of pronunciation. For example, 林 means ‘small forest’ and the pronunciation is either ‘ha ya shi’ or ‘ri n’.