The Japanese language uses three kinds of scripts – Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji, of which Kanji remains the most fascinating script. Japanese Kanji characters are believed to have been adopted from Chinese characters. It is believed that Chinese immigrants must have brought these ‘Han Characters’ which were gradually fitted into Japanese language.
Kanjis are ideograms, indicating what the character actually means using symbols. They are thus pictographic. Hiragana and Katakana, on the other hand, evolved as phonetic sounds representing the Kanji. Since they have been adapted from Chinese script, most Kanjis can be read in two ways – Kunyomi, the Japanese reading, and Onyomi, the Chinese one. Apart from that, the context of the sentence and the okurigana (hiragana following the Kanji) also determine its reading.
Though every Kanji can be written in Hiragana, Japanese newspapers, magazines, posters, notices, novels and other literary works use Kanji rather than Hiragana.
It is estimated that earlier, there were more than 50,000 Kanji characters! Interestingly, in recent times, a list of commonly used Kanji has been made which contains upto 2500 characters. Kanjis are written keeping their stroke order in mind. Some Kanji characters may have just 1 stroke, while some may even go upto 23.
Learning Kanji by looking at them as pictorial representations is very effective. Kanji actually gives meaning to the word and sometimes, when you come across a word in Hiragana, you may not be able to guess what it means. But the same word in Kanji will enable you to make sense of the word. This is the main objective of the Kanji course which will, with the help of innovative mnemonics, help you learn 500 Kanjis in 10 days!