How do people read kanji in normal size fonts?


I’ve had this doubt for a while, it’s time to ask: how do people read kanji in normal size fonts? I will give two simple examples:


So, we have here two similar kanji (they are not that similar) but the details are so hard to see (at least for me) that I have to put my face up to the screen (or to zoom it) to see the details and distinguish which kanji it’s. For some kanji it’s not difficult, especially if they are simple, but when they cram 3-4 radicals or more it becomes impossible if the size of the font is set to what we’re used to see on the internet.

So here comes my question: how the hell can ppl read like this? Can they? Or japanese people use bigger fonts than us?

Just checked, for me to read the sentences I wrote with confort and ease, I have to set the zoom on chrome up to 175%.

I think it’s a combination of being so familiar with the kanji/kana you only have to see the key feature - I mean, when I see 待, 持, or 特 any more, my eyes are really only looking at one part - and context/expectations while reading. Even in English, most people don’t really “see” every letter individually as they read. The brain fills in a lot. They’ve done studies of how much English text they can garble up before it stops being readable and you’d be surprised.


The okurigana you added is a contextual clue. Plus, when you read a kanji, you aren’t scrutinizing every single line.

Something like 鬱 is so crammed it’s impossible to see everything, but it makes a distinctive shape.


I agree with ctmf but as a beginner, I also suffer from the same problem. I just ordered a magnifying class so I will be able to read the Genki books, Nihongo Sō-Matome, etc…with more ease.

You need more and more and more exposure to be able to identify the nuances with relative ease. There will be a time when you do it without thinking too much


for me this is just a blob right now

It is a blob, but it’s a pretty unique blob.

As ctmf said, it gets better with practice and as you learn more. Over time you’ll start to recognize the kanji/words more easily and you’ll often be able to know what it is just from the context.


I second what was said above. Once you get more comfortable with reading, you stop noticing the little details and notice the context. That’s the beef I have with the JLPT quizzing you on those tiny stroke differences. It’s really impractical unless you’re planning on regularly handwriting kanji for some reason.


Well, when the JLPT does that, isn’t it usually a different kanji that has been created? That’s an important distinction to be able to make.

Should have gone to Specsavers…

You will have to be British to appreciate that!

I have less problem with Kanji than the ridiculously small hiragana used for furigana in books - sometimes I’ve had to use a magnifying glass and still failed to read them.

The other problem is when they use a different font for the Kanji that with the small size makes it look like a blob as the lines merge together.


To be fair, this has made me feel much more justified in owning a magnifying glass which was formerly just for decorative purposes :sweat_smile:

Whether it’s just my eyesight I don’t know but most of the time I can read kanji on computer screens but I often wear a pair of +1 reading glasses for reading textbooks and Aria.
For Non Non Biyori I use a magnifying glass.

Like actually a blob? Because I can at least see the inverted E in the bottom half. This sounds awful but are you sure your eyesight is okay? I’m only asking because I found out I needed glasses when I was complaining about the subtitles being way too small to read and my then-bf looked at me like, honey, maybe it’s you and not them :stuck_out_tongue:


Dutch too… Was nou maar naar Specsavers gegaan.

I agree on the furigana also being a big clue. Context of course. But by now I probably have had a lot of practice reading/writing those two kanji a lot

Well, I can barely see the hair radical on the botton right, the rest is just a mess of information.

That’s the reason I gave up on のんのんびより - I felt like an old fart with terrible eye sight.
Not so much the kanji, but I still depend on furigana a lot… and those are ridiculouslyly small :frowning:

Came here to say this. Furigana in books is practically unreadable sometimes. The worst for me is when it’s a digital copy of something that I’m reading on my phone like a manga where it’s just an image (as opposed to text that you can change the font size of) but when you zoom in the resolution ends up being too low to help make out the furigana at all.


I don’t know what device you’re using, but on my phone at least I can distinguish most details of 鬱 at my normal resting distance. So while it is also true that experience counts for a lot, you really might consider checking either your device or your eyes.

Yeah digital furigana is basically impossible. It’s definitely readable in the physical copy, but in low-quality scans they might as well not exist.