Question about Japan
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20 / M / Space/Time
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Posted 11/25/12 , edited 11/26/12
Will im hoping to go to japan in the near future, and I am currently learning japanese as some of you know.

What I don't get is Kanji. I understand i need to learn about 2000 Kanji to read a newspaper, but do you need to learn them to view signs on the streets and other things?

I just don't get how you learn kanji. Onyoumi and Kunyoumi. Do you learn them both? There is about 4 definitions per symbol. Do you learn them all?

Also, what's the best way to learn them. I plan to start learning them now, since I've finished learning Hiragana and Katakana.

Thanks

Also is it easy to get lost in japan, like if you go by yourself? That's pretty much what I am scared of. I don't know of anyone who wants to go to japan with me as of yet, so i am planning to go by my self in that case, but im kinda nervous going by myself.

Do you have any tips? :D

I'm not going yet, probably after my education hopefully.
Posted 11/25/12 , edited 11/25/12
Yeah, you need to learn them to read road signs. Although there's always the pictures to help I guess...
Yeah, you learn both onyomi and kunyomi, but once you get to a higher level, you'll be able to read kanji you've never seen before by just looking at it. by looking at it's components. You can do the same thing with the meaning to, especially if you know the context it's being used in. But like I said, that's at a higher level, when you already know quite a bit of kanji.
Can't help with the best way to learn them, since I didn't "learn" it as a foreigner. But when I was little, I was forced to write a janji over and over again until I memorized it, then use the kanji in it's on and kun form in context. And every other week, I would have a test for both reading and writing kanji. But I'm not sure whether this method would be of any help to you lol.
And I can't answer the rest, since I wouldn't know. If I'm ever lost, I just ask.
As for tips, don't say that you like Japan because of anime lol.
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Posted 11/25/12 , edited 11/25/12
It is true that it was anime that inspired me to come to love japan. But now, whilst looking at japanese culture and what it's like in japan, it just made me seriously want to go. It's just so awesome
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Posted 11/25/12 , edited 11/25/12
I plan on going too, but from looking at like culture videos and Japanese movies you can tell that there is A LOT of kanji EVERYWHERE.
So it's very important to learn as many kanji as you can. I'm pretty slow and I started Japanese a year ago, so I've only learned like 120 characters, but just recently I started to try and pick up the pace by learning 2-3 a day instead. This way, i'll know around 2000-2500 by my fourth year ;)

Oh yeah, and like what haikinka said, don't tell people you went to Japan because of anime, some people just won't get it.

Yes, you have to learn both on and kun, but what helps is to find a good book that gives you word examples and study from that to see all the irregulars. Besides that, beginner kanji kan be pretty fun to start learning. (and they try not to confuse you with all the really weird ones)

For example, something easy would be like 花火 (hanabi / fireworks) it's 花 hana 火 bi or 花 flower 火 fire. Easy right? I mean, fireworks do kind of look like giant fiery flowers in the sky. As for whether to use on or kun, that's really all based on context. I just thought this was easy since I already knew what the word for fireworks was in Japanese so it made sense.
These are both written in kun, which kind of deviates from the whole "if there's two + kanji, then you should try to use only on" rule. But like I said, you just kind of need to study the words first.

Now, for something more difficult, I'm going to use something from another website:


結構.

The first kanji is made up of the radicals 糸 (string), 口 (mouth), and 士 (samurai), and means… to tie up or to bind. Huh? Plus the actual kanji for samurai, 侍, is totally different from the samurai radical. Never mind, let’s push on.

The second kanji is made up of the radicals 木 (tree), 一 (one), 冂 (upside down box), and 十 (ten), and means… paper mulberry. Um, okay, I guess. There’s a tree radical in there after all.

To all logical intents and purposes, 結構 must mean a tied-up paper mulberry tree, right? Nope, not even close. It means OK, no thanks, and wonderful, among other things. But there’s no way to know that unless you regard 結構 in its entirety as something separate from its constituent kanji, and you won’t know which meaning is correct without context.



So, just try your best. It's actually fun when you get down to it.
I found some websites for you so that you can practice easily.

Kanji dictionary:

http://www.saiga-jp.com/cgi-bin/dic.cgi?f=0&start=1&sid=1353867949_2358

Tofugu.com is a great site that can both teach you about culture and language, there's also a link to some great learning books that you can order online. I recommend getting Japanese for Busy People and Remembering the Kanji

http://www.tofugu.com/

make yourself a ton of flashcards to promote learning and practice. It's really helpful.

http://quizlet.com/

This site is good for first starting Kanji if you don't have a textbook:

http://www.japanese-language.aiyori.org/index.html





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Posted 11/25/12

mesomuffin wrote:

I plan on going too, but from looking at like culture videos and Japanese movies you can tell that there is A LOT of kanji EVERYWHERE.
So it's very important to learn as many kanji as you can. I'm pretty slow and I started Japanese a year ago, so I've only learned like 120 characters, but just recently I started to try and pick up the pace by learning 2-3 a day instead. This way, i'll know around 2000-2500 by my fourth year ;)

Oh yeah, and like what haikinka said, don't tell people you went to Japan because of anime, some people just won't get it.

Yes, you have to learn both on and kun, but what helps is to find a good book that gives you word examples and study from that to see all the irregulars. Besides that, beginner kanji kan be pretty fun to start learning. (and they try not to confuse you with all the really weird ones)

For example, something easy would be like 花火 (hanabi / fireworks) it's 花 hana 火 bi or 花 flower 火 fire. Easy right? I mean, fireworks do kind of look like giant fiery flowers in the sky. As for whether to use on or kun, that's really all based on context. I just thought this was easy since I already knew what the word for fireworks was in Japanese so it made sense.
These are both written in kun, which kind of deviates from the whole "if there's two + kanji, then you should try to use only on" rule. But like I said, you just kind of need to study the words first.

Now, for something more difficult, I'm going to use something from another website:


結構.

The first kanji is made up of the radicals 糸 (string), 口 (mouth), and 士 (samurai), and means… to tie up or to bind. Huh? Plus the actual kanji for samurai, 侍, is totally different from the samurai radical. Never mind, let’s push on.

The second kanji is made up of the radicals 木 (tree), 一 (one), 冂 (upside down box), and 十 (ten), and means… paper mulberry. Um, okay, I guess. There’s a tree radical in there after all.

To all logical intents and purposes, 結構 must mean a tied-up paper mulberry tree, right? Nope, not even close. It means OK, no thanks, and wonderful, among other things. But there’s no way to know that unless you regard 結構 in its entirety as something separate from its constituent kanji, and you won’t know which meaning is correct without context.



So, just try your best. It's actually fun when you get down to it.
I found some websites for you so that you can practice easily.

Kanji dictionary:

http://www.saiga-jp.com/cgi-bin/dic.cgi?f=0&start=1&sid=1353867949_2358

Tofugu.com is a great site that can both teach you about culture and language, there's also a link to some great learning books that you can order online. I recommend getting Japanese for Busy People and Remembering the Kanji

http://www.tofugu.com/

make yourself a ton of flashcards to promote learning and practice. It's really helpful.

http://quizlet.com/

This site is good for first starting Kanji if you don't have a textbook:

http://www.japanese-language.aiyori.org/index.html









This was the answer i was looking for. Thanks for your in depth answer, it really helped with the questions I had. I just couldn't get how Kanji works. It would be easy simply memorising them, but understanding them is completely different.

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Posted 11/25/12
I don't get it Japanese words, but I think I get something like sora mean sky
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Posted 11/25/12
With about four years of preparation time to go, and you seem pretty diligent about this, I'm guessing that so long as you keep it up, you probably won't have too much problem when you get to Japan. I went to Japan solo in 2007 and 2010 with essentially zero knowledge of Japanese in 2007 (except names of sushi fish), and some basic Japanese in 2010 (about 1 year self-study by that time), and got along pretty much just fine. Japan is, well, pretty civilized, and as a traveler, so long as you don't go looking for trouble, it likely won't come looking for you. It's not like hiking along the border of North Korea, or in the mountains between Iran and Afganistan. I got sort of lost and ran out of food and water on the lower part of Mt. Fuji (somewhere around the old 4th and 5th stations-- which are these abandoned dilapidated huts), but ran into a few locals hiking, and with my poor Japanese and some smiles, got a home-made sandwich and guidance to the new 5th station where I was able to get back to civilization (I'd never been so glad to pay Y400 for a bottle of soda in my life!). I've been a bit lost a few other times in Japan, but with the help of the locals, even with basic Japanese, I've always ended up back on track and am still alive!

As others have said, the more of the language (and culture and customs...) you learn, the better and richer your whole travel experience will be. In the major cities (and even smaller towns more frequented by tourists), road sides will have Romanized names, but the kanji are otherwise in widespread use, and it'd be good to know as many as you can. I leaned Chinese before learning Japanese, and so learning kanji is fairly easy to me. I can only suggest that if 16 is your real age (can never be sure online? :-) ), maybe take Japanese courses in highschool, if yours has them, or college/university. A lot of colleges require some foreign language credits for graduation, even if you're not majoring in languages or humanities, and so you might even knock out a required course or two while at it.

Incidentally, the Japanese language has borrowed considerably from the Chinese language. It seems the On reading of kanji are derived from Chinese pronounciations. I think learning the kanji (or Chinese characters) is ultimately a matter of brute memorization-- although there are some hints in the characters themselves, and quite a bit of order in the seeming chaos. While it's often described as a pictographic language, in reality, Chinese characters have evolved well beyond being mere literal depictions, and as mesomuffin's example describes, for the most part, you really CANNOT derive their meaning accurately from simply looking at their constituent parts. Nor their pronounciation, for that matter.
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Posted 11/26/12 , edited 11/26/12

sushipath wrote:

With about four years of preparation time to go, and you seem pretty diligent about this, I'm guessing that so long as you keep it up, you probably won't have too much problem when you get to Japan. I went to Japan solo in 2007 and 2010 with essentially zero knowledge of Japanese in 2007 (except names of sushi fish), and some basic Japanese in 2010 (about 1 year self-study by that time), and got along pretty much just fine. Japan is, well, pretty civilized, and as a traveler, so long as you don't go looking for trouble, it likely won't come looking for you. It's not like hiking along the border of North Korea, or in the mountains between Iran and Afganistan. I got sort of lost and ran out of food and water on the lower part of Mt. Fuji (somewhere around the old 4th and 5th stations-- which are these abandoned dilapidated huts), but ran into a few locals hiking, and with my poor Japanese and some smiles, got a home-made sandwich and guidance to the new 5th station where I was able to get back to civilization (I'd never been so glad to pay Y400 for a bottle of soda in my life!). I've been a bit lost a few other times in Japan, but with the help of the locals, even with basic Japanese, I've always ended up back on track and am still alive!

As others have said, the more of the language (and culture and customs...) you learn, the better and richer your whole travel experience will be. In the major cities (and even smaller towns more frequented by tourists), road sides will have Romanized names, but the kanji are otherwise in widespread use, and it'd be good to know as many as you can. I leaned Chinese before learning Japanese, and so learning kanji is fairly easy to me. I can only suggest that if 16 is your real age (can never be sure online? :-) ), maybe take Japanese courses in highschool, if yours has them, or college/university. A lot of colleges require some foreign language credits for graduation, even if you're not majoring in languages or humanities, and so you might even knock out a required course or two while at it.

Incidentally, the Japanese language has borrowed considerably from the Chinese language. It seems the On reading of kanji are derived from Chinese pronounciations. I think learning the kanji (or Chinese characters) is ultimately a matter of brute memorization-- although there are some hints in the characters themselves, and quite a bit of order in the seeming chaos. While it's often described as a pictographic language, in reality, Chinese characters have evolved well beyond being mere literal depictions, and as mesomuffin's example describes, for the most part, you really CANNOT derive their meaning accurately from simply looking at their constituent parts. Nor their pronounciation, for that matter.







Thanks for this incredibly in depth answer. This solves the problem of me getting lost. To be honest, im not even sure if i will go in 4 years. But i will go whenever i have time, for an example, when i finish university / most of my education. I'm just leaning japanese now for the fun of it. Preferably to read manga and watch anime / webites / magazines in japanese, but it will come very useful when i visit japan
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Posted 11/27/12
Hi, I'm looking for a japanese student or freelancer to work part time on japanese language project. Please contact me by skype: horizonhm. We will discuss more details. If you know of anyone (or yourself) who is interested in this offer, please let me know.
Eznik 
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Posted 11/27/12 , edited 11/27/12
When you start university, you should consider participating in a foreign exchange program and spend a semester in Japan.
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Posted 12/15/12
Taking on kanji is basically all brute force rote learning. When I studied Japanese we basically had a full page of words with their respective kanji (say 40) to take on every couple of days. The teacher would tell you what the most common use of the word/kanji was and what I did was I basically filled notebook after notebook with kanji and repeated them at least ten times each. It's been a while now but I still feel like I could remember half of what I learned.

Obviously it helped that I was in Japan at the time and everyone else in my class was Chinese who already knew most kanji (though obviously I had the advantage when it came to loan words written in katakana), so it felt like I had to really challenge myself in order to keep up. I don't mind bragging that I ended up being the best in my class after just half a year of it.
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Posted 12/15/12
Learn words.
Just keep learning words.
Remember the way the kanji are read for that word/phrase without worrying about all the ways it COULD be read.
Each time you learn a new word refresh yourself on the readings and meanings for the individual kanji but don't stress about it.
Focus mostly on the how it is actually read for that word.
It will start to build. Soon you will start recognizing more and more kanji in new words, and that will build on what you already know.
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