Minna-san Konnichiwa! (みなさんこんにちは)

Thanks for stumbling onto our page! We dedicate this blog to Japan and all the great stuff that comes out of it.

This blog is here for those interested in seeing what the ACMT Japanese Club has been up to and what we're learning step-by-step. It's a self-study club to enrich our lives and give us better opportunities for our future.

If you decide to follow this blog and learn alongside us, don't hesitate to send us questions. We may only officially have members who are a part of ACMT Zagreb, but unofficially the amount, who want to be a part of this, is limitless.

Thanks for your time and effort.


Japanese Club


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Friday, October 28, 2011

Lesson 1 - Kanji


A Bit about Kanji 
First let's talk a little about Kanji. At first Kanji may look difficult, mysterious and even a bit scary. I mean, how can someone read a sentence filled with a bunch of squares, lines, dashes, curves, and dots? I mean seriously, look at this sentence:


It's a bit intimidating isn't it?

Let's scare you a bit more. Did you know that there are nearly 50,000 kanji? Can you imagine learning all of them? Neither can Japanese teenagers, that's why, the good news is that you only have to learn 2,000.

Some more good news is that you only need to know about half to read a typical Japanese newspaper and even better news to those that enjoy reading manga, it takes less to read the books in original Japanese.

Of course you're probably thinking, “2000 kanji is still a lot...” 
and you'd be right if you compare those to the 26 letters of the English alphabet. Don't worry, we'll take everything one step at a time and gradually, you'll learn the kanji. Do you remember when learning multiplication and long division was hard? You grasped the concept, but to be able to remember you had to practice a lot. I advise you to practice whenever you can.


Hopefully within 1 year we'll be able to learn 80 kanji, which is Level 4 (the most basic level) of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. The characters we'll be learning are the same characters studied in Japan by first- and second-graders and they are some of the most common and most important kanji that you need to know.



kun-yomi: ひと、ひと(つ)
romaji: hito, hito(tsu)
on-yomi: イチ、イッ
romaji: ichi, itsu
一(いち)[ichi] - one, the number one
一つ(ひとつ)[hitotsu] - one (object)
一月(いちがつ)[ichi gatsu] - January (1st month)
一番 (いちばん)[ichi ban] - #1, the best
一人(ひとり)[hitori] -–one person, alone
世界一(せいかいいち)[sei kai ichi] -–the best in the world

How is it written?:

kun-yomi: ふた、ふた(つ)
romaji: futa, futa(tsu)
romaji: ni
二(に)[ni] - two
二つ(ふとつ)[futotsu] - two (objects)
二月(にがつ)[ni gatsu] - February (2nd month)
第二 (だいに)[dai ni] -–the second

How is it written?:

kun-yomi: み、み(つ)、みっ(つ)
romaji: mi, mi(tsu), mit(tsu)
on-yomi: サン
romaji: san
三(さん)[san] - three
三つ(みっつ)[mittsu] - three (objects)
三月(さんがつ)[san gatsu] - March (3rd month)
三角 (さんかく)[san kaku] -–triangle

How is it written?:

Confused by some of the terms?
There are at least two common pronunciations: kun-yomi (purely Japanese pronunciation) and on-yomi (pronunciation based on the original Chinese). (For a more in-depth explanation.)

You may have noticed that each character seems to have at least two pronunciations. Some have even more, but many of those are obscure and rarely used, so we won't be writing them down for you to learn. Don't worry! Since they're rare you won't miss them!

Trying to figure out whether to use the on-yomi or kun-yomi can be a bit tricky at first because it may seem random and unstructured. In some ways it can be, but soon you'll begin to notice a pattern:
  • Compound words (words made up of multiple kanji) are usually read using the on-yomi pronunciation
  • Kanji that stands alone or next to only kana characters usually use the kun-yomi pronunciation
  • Japanese place names and family names also usually use the kun-yomi pronunciations
There are, of course, exceptions, but we'll worry about them as they come along.