Does stroke order matter?

If you don’t see why that’s a problematic teacher-assistant interaction, then I don’t see much reason to discuss it. There are proper ways to handle “corrections” (whether they’re accurate or frivolous).

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I personally prefer learning stroke order b/c I’m obsessive-compulsively detail oriented but I also firmly believe that using your own methods of learning help you retain information better so it’s sorta pointless to be so critical of people who learn a little bit differently than you do.

I actually see a BIG problem in this.

Not from the point of ALT, but from the point of students (that, I believe, are punished as well, if their method differs from the “official one”).

This teaching style absolutely kills creative thinking. Especialy in subjects like Mathematics, where there are many ways to solve problem. And I saw examples of students punished, because they were smart and creative. Not in Japan per se, but japenese schooling system is chapter on its own.


This is a question I asked my wife, who is Japanese, some time ago. She’s pretty strict on matters of Japanese language usage, and believes in memorizing kanji by rote repetition, so I was surprised to hear her answer, “Not really.” As long as you the final product is legible and easily distinguishable from similar kanji, the order in which you write the strokes is as unimportant as the order you write the lines for the letter E.

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Another reason why I think it doesn’t matter as much as people might think (and that they are often pretty arbitrary rules), is that it can vary widely by country that use kanji or hanzi what stroke order is considered “correct”.



For me personally, writing kanji and stroke order both make a difference in how well I understand what a kanji is supposed to look like. Writing makes me understand better what’s important to make it look like that particular kanji, if that makes sense. This makes it easier for me to recall a kanji and distinguish them in different fonts and handwritings.

Writing is key here, and the purpose of the stroke order is to get me used to the way it flows, and give consistency of shape, because it’s likely that a stroke made in a certain way will retain some basic similarity whenever I write it.

Now if only my kanji would stop looking like a five year old wrote them…


I’ve gotten many a point off on my exams from my 厳しい先生 for writing the wrong version of these kanji in my essays hahah. Definitely important!!

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Is “Reading Handwritten Japanese” a “real world case”? Because improper stroke order can go from “annoying” to “completely illegible” pretty quickly.

Also, knowing proper stroke order makes reading handwriting and gyosho exponentially easier.


Pretty sure, that someone reading my handwritten japanese is not a “real world case”

I dunno, for most people handwriting is automatic. You write your letters the way you were taught or the way you found most comfortable. It’s really difficult to undo this automatic action and work quickly.

I’d be pretty annoyed if someone was correcting my writing action at work (especially if it was in front of students as that’s pretty undermining) but then I generally hate being told what to do, which is why I’m self-employed.

As for kanji- I write down incorrect answers after a review session and I try to follow stroke order as best as I can extrapolate it (I don’t look it up, I try and follow the general rules). Are my kanji perfect? Probably not. Are they legible? Eh, I can read them.

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My trick when handwriting kanji is getting them small enough. They keep invading adjacent lines on the page.

Though my handwriting in English is aleady messy enough…

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I understand.

I only say that, if I was told to write a certain way to conform to how pupils are told I’d probably try my best to do so and later on discuss it with the team to understand their motivation.

Especially if you’re an ALT/a temp, you’re not here to change how things work.

That doesn’t mean you can’t talk this through with your colleagues but that doesn’t mean that you have to be offended either.

Anyways I think the stroke order is a great way to learn how to write properly and prior to learning it my kanjis were really not as good as now.

Again, that doesn’t mean you can’t live without it and it’s only my opinion.

But i think that’s what the OP was about, no?

Yeah, I agree with this. Learning stroke order has been very helpful for me when reading handwritten Japanese.

I don’t think you need to stress over the exact stroke order and all the exceptions for every single kanji (unless you’re doing calligraphy), but learning the basic rules and the stroke order for the 200-300 or so basic components confers a lot of benefit for relatively little work.


To be honest, I was not thinking about reading, since it doesn’t require you to memorize how to produce the stroke order, just like how reading doesn’t require you to know how to produce the kanji from memory.

I was referring to situations where you have to produce the kanji.

But still, I will go with my previous criterion… can someone who knows nothing about the minutiae of stroke order manage to read a handwritten kanji? Sure, because just like reading any kanji, they can practice and get better at it without understanding exactly why the handwritten kanji looks that way.

Just like with writing, it would help, but it doesn’t actually matter if someone can’t spell out the stroke order.

“Does it matter” versus “could it be helpful”.

You turned the actual situation into a reasonable one in your head, where everything happened professionally and with proper preparation given for the ALT.

It’s reasonable to tell an Australian ALT before class to use American spellings. It’s entirely different to portray their spelling as “wrong” to the students, as though it’d be wrong in any context.

In my very brief experience with handwriting kanji, I feel like once you understand the main rules, stroke order really helps a lot with making kanji more intuitive.

This is a cool article from the Tofugu team:


Ok, so quite a few people have stated that proper stroke order helps them read kanji better. I’m keeping an open mind, but I don’t exactly get it. I don’t see how you can tell by reading what order the strokes were written in. Stroke direction maybe.

Is someone able to explain with a concrete example, maybe an illustration? Because I feel like I’m missing something.

The strokes ‘suggest’ how a kanji goes - so you can sort of fit your pre-existing knowledge of kanji and how they’re written into the strokes you see on a page.

The first example that springs to my mind is that doing strokes out of order can easily render 石 as 右, or vice versa.

I guess it’s potentially more important for native speakers, who write so fast they tend to scrawl.

I don’t know much about stroke order and its importance since I’m a beginner but as a left handed using a fountain pen, it’s impossible for me to do it the “correct” way.

What I mean is that every stroke from left to right is reversed in my case, otherwise I’d be scratching my nib and my writing wouldn’t feel good at all. Top to bottom strokes are the same though. I still love hand writing kanji ;P.