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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Japanese Alphabet Introduction

We will start by explaining a bit about the Japanese 'alphabet.'  To go more in-depth, visit the specific pages of each 'alphabet.'

The Japanese language has 4 sets of 'alphabets.' There are the two kana alphabets:

Hiragana (ひらがな) and Katakana (カタカナ)

then there is the third, Rōmaji (ローマ字)

and the last one is...Kanji (漢字).

昨夜のコンサートは最高でした。 (The concert last night was terrific.)
Hiragana: , , でした Katakana: コンサート Kanji: 昨夜, 最高

In Japanese, three types of character sets - Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji are used in a mixed way.

昨夜のコンサートは最高でした。 (The concert last night was terrific.)
Rōmaji: sakuya no konsāto wa saikō deshita.

Additionally, Rōmaji is used mainly for the convenience of foreigners.


The Kana (Hiragana & Katakana)

The kana alphabet is similar to the Latin one that I'm writing in (A, B, C's) because they have phonetic sounds for each character.  The hiragana could be compared to our capital case alphabet: A, B, C, but this is mostly used for Japanese based words.  The katakana could be compared to our lower case alphabet: a, b, c, but this alphabet is used for words of a foreign origin, such as America, coffee, or cake.

Here's a lovely picture of the kana:

Now I know what you are probably thinking...that's a lot of characters, and I hate to kick you when you're down, but this isn't all of them.  There are two special extra characters called the nigori and the maru, which is basically small additions that you add to the kana you see already to make different sounds (such as ga, ba, pa, etc).

As you can see, the last characters are from the ones above, just with added lines and circles.

DO NOT WORRY!  Keep in mind, if you could learn the Latin alphabet (upper and lower case, block and curse) , you can learn this as well.  If you learn all of these you will be able to read Japanese because in most newspapers they have furigana above the kanji.  Furigana is essentially just the hiragana, so you can sound out the kanji if you don't know it.

'fu-ri-ga-na' - compare the furigana above the kanji with the hiragana in the first chart above.

NOTE on Pronunciation: When it comes to pronouncing the letter 'f' in Japanese, it's not as sharp as it is in English, when we press our lower lip against our upper teeth to make the sound.  In Japanese, as if you are blowing a bubble, lightly purse your lips and blow.  It's a delicate 'f.' 


Rōmaji (ローマ字) is simply Japanese written in Latin characters (roman characters, kind of a spin-off of the word Kanji (漢字).  As you can see, when writing the word rōmaji in Japanese, the -ji is the same kanji character).

The Kanji 

Now on to the Kanji.  As you can see from a few examples below, it's quite an artistic 'alphabet.'  Kanji usually has one character that depicts one word.  Each Kanji symbol has one or more way of readings and meanings.  

These characters that were borrowed from China (kanji actually means Chinese characters), and it's a pictoral alphabet that goes into the tens of thousands, but don't lose motivation now.  Only around 2,500 Kanji are used in daily life.  

EXAMPLES:  川 月 木 心 火 左 北 今 名 美 見 外 成 空 明 静 海 雲 新 語 道 聞 強 飛

Remember: It's only hard if you think it's hard.