This is my Japanese language page for those of you who don't know any Japanese at all.
For total beginners :)
I've just started building this page, so please be really, really patient...
"Irasshaimase" means "Welcome". This is it written in Hiragana :
Hiragana is a phonetic syllabary derived from Kanji -
here are the basic Hiragana characters and the sounds
that they represent :
As many of you already know, Kanji is a several thousand character writing system devised by the Chinese many centuries ago.
I'm rather vague about the numbers and origin of Kanji ?
Well, I'm not a Kanji scholar...
How many characters are there ? Umm, I don't know - and you don't want to.
There are in excess of 6,000 Kanji.
However, the Japanese now use only 2,000 Kanji (approx).
Anyway...the Japanese use three main character systems : Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji.
Katakana is similar to Hiragana in that it is a phonetic syllabary also - it's used mainly for onomatopoeia,
foreign words and names, and for phonetically spelling Japanese names that one hasn't seen written down.
(Ie, names that have the same sounds, but have entirely different Kanji characters...)
There are four basic ways of writing
Japanese - roumaji is phonetic transliteration into European alphabet,
Hiragana is phonetic Japanese, Katakana is phonetic Japanese, and Kanji is the
main character set used.
Kanji is the mainstay of written Japanese, whilst Hiragana is used for some words, but mainly
Some words in Japanese are written only in Hiragana because there
are no Kanji equivalents.
One of the major
problems in learning Japanese is learning all the different
The normal method is to teach people roumaji.
Hiragana...Then Katakana... Then Kanji...
In my view, it
is easier in the long run to learn all the systems side-by-side, ie,
Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji.
Example : Car (or : wheel, vehicle) - kuruma (roumaji)
"Kuruma" would usually be written in Kanji, but beginners and Japanese children would normally write it in Hiragana.
Learning the 114 Hiragana characters is at first daunting, but you get there.
However, you then have 119 Katakana thrust at you... (Uhh...I feel an ice-cream headache coming on...)
THEN...you are chucked into the terrifying depth of Kanji (like I said, about 2,000 characters).
At this point, screaming is actually permitted (but somewhat frowned upon).
I know almost no Kanji, as my brain committed suicide during the third lesson.
Ee, Nihongo wa kirei desu. "Yes, Japanese is lovely."
Demo, totemo muzukashii desu ne :( "But very difficult, isn't it :("
Ok, before you start screaming, how about some light relief ?
If you're fabulously lucky enough to be in Japan, you can sometimes see Tommy Lee Jones on tv,
advertising Suntory's Boss Coffee :) The ads are mostly quite funny - Mr Man In Black has swapped rôles
to play an alien investigating life on Earth. Fortunately for us, a poster called Raytrace put a compilation of
all 13 Boss ads featuring the enigmatic Mr Jones on videosift.com :)
The ads have also been subbed in English.
I particularly like the one in which he has steam blowing out of his ears :)
Here's a link :
You see him everywhere on vending machines :)
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