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Learn Japanese – What’s the best way to write out kanji and kana? (Forum Spotlight)

Welcome to Forum Spotlight! Here we’ll be introducing interesting and useful posts made by members at our very own Forum. This week’s forum spotlight post is a question asked by debondtjan about the best way to write out kanji and kana that was answered by Belton.


“For writing the kana/kanji, what would you suggest: a thick pen or a normal pen to practice? The bigger, calligraphic versions of kana & kanji (where they use a thick pen) always look so much better and easier to the eye than the smaller ones.

One problem I currently see in my learning process, is that sometimes small hiragana (on screen) miss some pixels (that you clearly see on bigger hiragana) that aided me in remembering certain hiragana. For example: an arc not completely drawn and looks more like a strike. If someone needs a better example, I’ll try looking for one.”


“I suggest you use a pen that you are comfortable with. I think the easiest size to work with starting out is a square 15mm or 20mm on a side for each character. Maths copybooks for children are often a cheap source of large squared paper. Bigger characters can actually be harder to draw neatly. (Using a brush is even harder.) having the square divided into four gives you extra guidelines to get the proportions correct.

If you want to write neatly it’s good if you can find a teacher to correct or guide you. Sometimes what looks ok to you might look a bit strange to a Japanese person. (This becomes more obvious when you start drawing kanji) There are books available that will point out mistakes to avoid.  Self Study Kana Workbook by AOTS is one I used.

I wouldn’t really advise them for a complete beginner but there are some Nintendo DS titles available in Japan that mark your character out of 100 and even give guidance about proportion using what you have written as a starting point.

I found I had to increase the size type rendered in browsers to make Japanese easier to read. In a similar way that children’s books are typeset in larger type. It makes it easier to distinguish different characters. Most browsers have a button to increase the text size.”

Thank you Belton for the explanation!

You can find a lot more useful information like this at the Forum, so stop by and join in the many discussions with fellow listeners and the JPOD101 crew!