How do you differenciate similar hand written Hiragana and Katakana

I have one very beginner question, I just started learning the Katakana, and there is very similar ones, like

フ and つ
ラ and う
レ and し

There is also へ but I guess this one does not matter because it is the same

Now of course written like this I can see that Katakana is more aggressive but on some of the real kana exercise there are very very similar ones.

Katanana script has lots of sharp corners, which the hiragana don’t.

But really, you just get used to it, much like when you were little you got used to p an q or d and b being very similar.


Yes I have no trouble to difference them both when written on a keyboard, it is just when I use apps to make them similar to hand writing, that is when they appear the exact same.

Learn how to write them yourself, once you know the stroke order you’ll have a much easier time recognizing the characters. It will still take a lot of time reading to get used to it, but knowing the stroke order definitely helps a lot with reading handwritten Japanese.


That’s a very good idea, thank you!

I practice reading small sentences and writing the characters atleast once daily from memory

The easiest way to differentiate katakana from similar-looking hiragana is that katakana is written with other katakana, while hiragana is written with other hiragana. Most of the time.

No, the real beasts that you need to be able to tell apart are シ/ツ and ソ/ン…

1 Like

Yes I guess it’s easy to differentiate later on.

I don’t really have trouble right now with those (シツソン) but I definitely have to think about half a second more than others. I enjoy learning these so much, it’s really relaxing.

When you see those pairs in isolation they may look similar, but in a word you will have other kana around to show you whether it is a hiragana or katakana word.

1 Like

Also as you learn more words and get more familiar with them and how they’re written you’ll stop looking at the individual characters and just read the word as a whole. So it doesn’t matter if that one ソ looks like a ン, because you know what the word is supposed to be.


Like this

If the handwriting is that bad you can also determine by the characters around it. If the others in the word are Katakana then it’s most likely Katakana.

You won’t see correct words written with a mix like this. フォトグうフィ
This example works better handwritten but you should get the idea.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.