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Question: Beginning to learn to read/write Japanese characters.
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Posted 4/18/12 , edited 4/18/12
I am beginning to teach myself Japanese characters. I am starting with Hiragana, but reading that online that typical Japanese writing is a mix of Kanji, Kana, Hiragana, and Katakana?

So, basically in order to read Japanese, and be able to get along a few week in Japan by myself - I would need to be able to read and write Kanji, Kana, Hiragana, and Katakana - since sentences, books, and other writings mix all of these characters together?

How should I teach myself?

Begin with Hiragana, then move on to Katakana once I master all of the Hiragana characters? Finally moving on to Kanji once I have a very comfortable grasp of both Hiragana, and Katakana (Kana)?

Is it true that some sentences I might encounter written could use characters from all three within one sentence?


Posted 4/18/12
Yes, Japanese uses all three quite frequently. Most, if not all sentences you'll actually encounter will consist of both hiragana and kanji. Katakana, while important, is not used as frequently.
Learning Katakana and hiragana should be pretty easy. They both have the same sounds and just look different. Try flash cards maybe.

As for learning kanji, well, it'll be harder, since there are tens of thousands of them. I seem to remember hearing that to actually get by living in Japan, you need to know 1000 kanji... But I guess all you can really do for those is practice practice practice.

So yes, I would so go for hiragana and katakana first, if not at the same time. And then move on to kanji. Kanji will take a lot longer to master.

It may help if you try reading Japanese newspapers online once you have the basics sorted out. News papers will be written in all of kanji, hiragana and katakana. Also, I know that on google chrome, there is an app that can inject furigana (The way to read the kanji in hiragana form), so this may help in your learning of Kanji.
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Posted 4/18/12

haikinka wrote:

Yes, Japanese uses all three quite frequently. Most, if not all sentences you'll actually encounter will consist of both hiragana and kanji. Katakana, while important, is not used as frequently.
Learning Katakana and hiragana should be pretty easy. They both have the same sounds and just look different. Try flash cards maybe.

As for learning kanji, well, it'll be harder, since there are tens of thousands of them. I seem to remember hearing that to actually get by living in Japan, you need to know 1000 kanji... But I guess all you can really do for those is practice practice practice.

So yes, I would so go for hiragana and katakana first, if not at the same time. And then move on to kanji. Kanji will take a lot longer to master.

It may help if you try reading Japanese newspapers online once you have the basics sorted out. News papers will be written in all of kanji, hiragana and katakana. Also, I know that on google chrome, there is an app that can inject furigana (The way to read the kanji in hiragana form), so this may help in your learning of Kanji.


Thanks you.

ありがとうございます。 :)


Posted 4/18/12 , edited 4/18/12
The Japanese government has identified about 2,136 commonly used Kanji (Jouyou Kanji) needed be considered literate. Wikipedia has the list, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_j%C5%8Dy%C5%8D_kanji Knowing which reading to use can be very tricky.
I would defintly suggest you consider a book, like James Heisig's Remembering the Kanji or the Japan Times Genki series. These are what I am using anyway.

As for reading I subscribed to digital verson of the Hiragana TImes for practice, they have the articles in both English and Japanese and all the Kanji have furigana.

がんばってね!
Posted 4/18/12

phogan wrote:

The Japanese government has identified about 2,136 commonly used Kanji (Jouyou Kanji) needed be considered literate. Wikipedia has the list, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_j%C5%8Dy%C5%8D_kanji Knowing which reading to use can be very tricky.
I would defintly suggest you consider a book, like James Heisig's Remembering the Kanji or the Japan Times Genki series. These are what I am using anyway.

As for reading I subscribed to digital verson of the Hiragana TImes for practice, they have the articles in both English and Japanese and all the Kanji have furigana.



I was close enough
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Posted 4/18/12

GodWhomIsMike wrote:

I am beginning to teach myself Japanese characters. I am starting with Hiragana, but reading that online that typical Japanese writing is a mix of Kanji, Kana, Hiragana, and Katakana?

So, basically in order to read Japanese, and be able to get along a few week in Japan by myself - I would need to be able to read and write Kanji, Kana, Hiragana, and Katakana - since sentences, books, and other writings mix all of these characters together?

How should I teach myself?

Begin with Hiragana, then move on to Katakana once I master all of the Hiragana characters? Finally moving on to Kanji once I have a very comfortable grasp of both Hiragana, and Katakana (Kana)?

Is it true that some sentences I might encounter written could use characters from all three within one sentence?




Take the ferry on over here to Manhattan and go to a karaoke bar, learn to sing a few Japanese songs and try to read along as it plays.

Mondai nai!

Naw seriously, you're in New York I'd suggest paying the $300 and going to Japan Society. I never took their class but I know people who have and they're very good speakers and readers now. I kinda wish I had caved in and did it, but I'm happy where I am with it.

If you're intent on self learning try starting with the list of 500 kanji that any 3rd grader in Japan can read, covers all the really important ones.
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Posted 4/18/12

haikinka wrote:


phogan wrote:

The Japanese government has identified about 2,136 commonly used Kanji (Jouyou Kanji) needed be considered literate. Wikipedia has the list, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_j%C5%8Dy%C5%8D_kanji Knowing which reading to use can be very tricky.
I would defintly suggest you consider a book, like James Heisig's Remembering the Kanji or the Japan Times Genki series. These are what I am using anyway.

As for reading I subscribed to digital verson of the Hiragana TImes for practice, they have the articles in both English and Japanese and all the Kanji have furigana.



I was close enough :lol:


Thanks guys!!!
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Posted 4/18/12 , edited 4/18/12



Take the ferry on over here to Manhattan and go to a karaoke bar, learn to sing a few Japanese songs and try to read along as it plays.

Mondai nai!

Naw seriously, you're in New York I'd suggest paying the $300 and going to Japan Society. I never took their class but I know people who have and they're very good speakers and readers now. I kinda wish I had caved in and did it, but I'm happy where I am with it.

If you're intent on self learning try starting with the list of 500 kanji that any 3rd grader in Japan can read, covers all the really important ones.



I will look into it. Also, the department I work for is actually working to see if they can kick off a Japanese language program for the Fall '12 semester.
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Posted 4/18/12
Go to Japan Society, you won't regret it.

http://www.japansociety.org/
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Posted 4/18/12

GodWhomIsMike wrote:
Begin with Hiragana, then move on to Katakana once I master all of the Hiragana characters? Finally moving on to Kanji once I have a very comfortable grasp of both Hiragana, and Katakana (Kana)?



Yes, that order is essential. Fortunately the kana are easy to master. It's easy to find a self test program for these. You'll need to master the kana before you move onto kanji. Most dictionaries will provide the reading using both these kana. You don't want to rely on romaji since that crutch will hamper your future efforts.


GodWhomIsMike wrote:
Is it true that some sentences I might encounter written could use characters from all three within one sentence?


Yep, it is very likely, especially if you intend to read manga.


phogan wrote:

The Japanese government has identified about 2,136 commonly used Kanji (Jouyou Kanji) needed be considered literate. Wikipedia has the list, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_j%C5%8Dy%C5%8D_kanji Knowing which reading to use can be very tricky.
I would defintly suggest you consider a book, like James Heisig's Remembering the Kanji or the Japan Times Genki series. These are what I am using anyway.

As for reading I subscribed to digital verson of the Hiragana TImes for practice, they have the articles in both English and Japanese and all the Kanji have furigana.

がんばってね!


These are good recommendations. I also recommend the following:
- "Japanese Step by Step" by Gene Nishi. It's a great grammar book to get started with.
- "Japanese Sentence Patterns for Effective Communication" by Taeko Kamiya. There are 140+ different sentences starting from simple and progressing to complicated.

I also recommend the podcast series done by Japanesepod 101. It will help you improve your listening and pronunciation skills.

If at all possible, take a conversation course. The best way to learn is to practice.
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Posted 4/18/12 , edited 4/18/12

Kuro_Kiri wrote:

Go to Japan Society, you won't regret it.

http://www.japansociety.org/


Thank you. Been reading the site since your first post, and thinking of attending some unrelated events there now. I'm also considering joining as well.
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Posted 4/18/12

deadpanditto wrote:


GodWhomIsMike wrote:
Begin with Hiragana, then move on to Katakana once I master all of the Hiragana characters? Finally moving on to Kanji once I have a very comfortable grasp of both Hiragana, and Katakana (Kana)?



Yes, that order is essential. Fortunately the kana are easy to master. It's easy to find a self test program for these. You'll need to master the kana before you move onto kanji. Most dictionaries will provide the reading using both these kana. You don't want to rely on romaji since that crutch will hamper your future efforts.


GodWhomIsMike wrote:
Is it true that some sentences I might encounter written could use characters from all three within one sentence?


Yep, it is very likely, especially if you intend to read manga.


phogan wrote:

The Japanese government has identified about 2,136 commonly used Kanji (Jouyou Kanji) needed be considered literate. Wikipedia has the list, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_j%C5%8Dy%C5%8D_kanji Knowing which reading to use can be very tricky.
I would defintly suggest you consider a book, like James Heisig's Remembering the Kanji or the Japan Times Genki series. These are what I am using anyway.

As for reading I subscribed to digital verson of the Hiragana TImes for practice, they have the articles in both English and Japanese and all the Kanji have furigana.

がんばってね!


These are good recommendations. I also recommend the following:
- "Japanese Step by Step" by Gene Nishi. It's a great grammar book to get started with.
- "Japanese Sentence Patterns for Effective Communication" by Taeko Kamiya. There are 140+ different sentences starting from simple and progressing to complicated.

I also recommend the podcast series done by Japanesepod 101. It will help you improve your listening and pronunciation skills.

If at all possible, take a conversation course. The best way to learn is to practice.


Thanks. I am certainly planning on doing a course.
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Posted 4/18/12

GodWhomIsMike wrote:


Kuro_Kiri wrote:

Go to Japan Society, you won't regret it.

http://www.japansociety.org/


Thank you. Been reading the site since your first post, and thinking of attending some unrelated events there now. I'm also considering joining as well.


The movies are great, they have a nice theater. It's like $12 or something to get in, not that bad since it's a non profit organization. Looks like Godzilla is playing there soon. You know, the one WITHOUT Raymond Burr.
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Posted 4/19/12 , edited 4/19/12
I can get this textbook brand new for $46. Any opinions?

Genki I: Integrated Course in Elem Japanese (w/CD)
(ISBN 10: 4789014401 / ISBN 13: 9784789014403 )

Link: http://www.amazon.com/GENKI-Integrated-Elementary-Japanese-Edition/dp/4789014401/


From what I gather, it's the most commonly used textbook for teaching Japanese 1 to College Students.


I figure if I can get a Master's Degree, while holding a full time career with a 3.5 GPA in 2 years, and now teach a college course on top of a full time job, then I can easily master a language and memorize a textbook.
Posted 4/19/12
It's pretty good, IMO. It's what I've been using. I'd recommend you get the workbook that goes with it though, it has all the exercises in it.
http://www.amazon.com/Genki-Integrated-Elementary-Japanese-Workbook/dp/4789010015/ref=pd_sim_b_3
I usually do them on a peace of paper so I can do them over as needed.


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