The story ignores the origins of the Japanese language; this is a mystery, until the sixth century it only existed in the spoken form. Once the Japanese imported Chinese characters, known as kanji, they start to formulate their own forms of written language.
The Japanese writing system has three different characters groups:
Traditionally, Japanese is written in vertical columns and read right to left. However, the Western way of writing from left to right, horizontally from top to bottom is increasingly being used. In the media and on signs you'll see a mixture of the two ways of writing.
- Kanji (several thousands of Chinese characters).
- Katakana (two syllabaries of 46 characters each; together called Kana).
Japanese symbols; Kanji is derived from Chinese symbols. Japanese kanji symbols are same as Chinese kanji symbols.
Hiragana is a Japanese script to use words those are not there in kanji. Katakana is used to write foreign language words.
The easier writing systems to receive are the phonetic syllabaries, hiragana and katakana. Both have 45 regular characters and can be learned within a couple of weeks. Hiragana is applied for Japanese words, while katakana, with the squarer characters, is apply principally for loan words from Western languages (especially English) and technical names. Progressively, romaji, the roman script applied to spell out Japanese words, is also used in advertisements and magazines. Interesting places to practice reading hiragana and katakana are on the advertisements plastered in train carriages and on restaurant menus.
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