I'm level 29 and I just now noticed this

Who says I can’t write in kana? If I had to write freehand, I would just prefer writing in Romaji because it would be much faster and probably more legible for my colleagues to read.

I disagree that they would struggle very much with reading my Romaji.

Romaji Nyuuryoku, which is the method I (and most of us) use to input words into Wanikani, is also extremely popular among Japanese people while typing on a desktop computer (and not while texting on their phones).

Keep in mind, this would only take place on the rare occasion I’d have to handwrite anything.

If someone complains or gives me any indication that the Romaji is difficult for them, I’ll do my best in the future to instead write as clearly as I can in kana and/or wait to pass the information electronically or simply verbally when I call them or see them next.

Stroke order is not that difficult actually. There’s a general rule that they all follow. It useful when trying to remember the mnemonics as well if you know the stroke order. That way you can follow the story in an order that you know makes sense. It can help to recall some later that you might forget.

We may be talking about two different things. I’m not interested in studying stroke order because I’m not envisioning learning how to write kanji by hand any time soon.

On a more macro level than individual brush stroke order & symmetry when creating each kanji by hand — one thing I do notice is that the stories pertain to the radicals that make up the kanji we’re learning.

I do notice the radicals. But I’m not interested in learning the brush strokes to create the kanji or the radicals.

All I want to do is type using romaji nyuuryoku for the kana and and have pull-down and auto-complete menus for producing kanji.

For anyone who’d like to learn more about pitch accent, Dogen’s youtube series on it is worth checking out. Here’s the first video Japanese Phonetics #1: Introduction to Japanese Phonetics (Pitch-accent and Pronunciation) - YouTube

To get a quick idea what pitch accent sounds like and how Dogen teaches it watch the video from around four minutes in.

It’s not a completely equivalent situation, though. It’s always going to be easier for a Japanese speaker to read Japanese-language romaji than an English speaker to read English-language katakana. Anything you can write in Japanese you can duplicate in romaji without losing any pronounciation information from the hiragana/katakana; as you pointed out, English is too complicated for katakana to transcribe properly without losing/adding information. There’s no equivalent for “th,” for example, so that sound is always going to be simplified, and no “skip the vowel in this syllable” sign in katakana.


If anyone didn’t realize they could add synonyms to kanji and wants a ton of synonyms added automatically for all their unlocked kanji, here’s a shameless plug for a userscript I wrote that does exactly that: [Userscript] WaniKani Bulk Add Kanji User Synonyms

Yes I understand what you mean. What I was pointing out is that that radical order the stories that make up the kanji we are in is also the order in which you would write the kanji. (I’ve seen some exceptions though)

For example for war 戦

“A witch doctor who is also a drunkard could be likely to start a war. If a witch doctor gets drunk…”

When writing that kanji you’d write the radical for witch doctor first then drunkard. So the order in which the radical names appear in the mnemonic is the order the kanji is written. So if you are familiar with basic stroke order, when you look at the kanji you know what comes first, then next, and it can help with remembering the meaning of the character. I was just saying it can be helpful in remembering the kanji.

I’m… not sure that’s always true. For example, the mnemonic for 脳 is “Nestled in the grass of the moon lies a treasure chest said to enhance the power of your brain.” but you write the moon before the grass.

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I understand what you’re saying, and I agree to a point, but what I’m saying is that I think native speakers of English and maybe other Roman alphabet languages think somehow that or alphabet is easy for anyone to understand.

And it’s my experience that that just isn’t true for the average Japanese person, probably especially for writing Japanese. (Because what experience would they ever have reading romaji?) And if one can write kana anyway, why wouldn’t one make that small effort to at least write like a small Japanese child?

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Interesting it’s “Lacky” band. I grew up with “Laggy” band for elastic band / rubber band. Funny eh?

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My daughter told me the other day she thought they were called “lucky bands” when she was younger! :joy:

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Exceeeeeeept Japanese people are taught romaji in school, and it’s common enough that some businesses may choose a name in romaji or put a sign up in romaji or stick romaji on leaflets for design and style. Forms may require romaji. People write their names in romaji on business cards. If Japanese people weren’t comfortable enough using romaji, why would they do that? It’s in daily life. Not to the same degree that hiragana and katakana are, but frequent enough for people to be used to reading it. So sure, Japanese people will probably giggle to read a whole sentence in it, but it will be legible as long as the writer is printing clearly, and fast and accurate communication for both parities is the goal. Actually, it may be more legible than no-kanji hiragana due to the spacing, and less prone to error on the writer’s side…

I wouldn’t assume that people from other countries are this comfortable with romanization without knowing if it is used to the extent that Japan does and that their system for romanization is as logical and sensible as it is. Japan is very lucky. But since it’s an available point of compromise, why not, if it suits your purposes and everyone is fine with it?

Of course, everyone’s experience may be different, but my own experience disagrees with this point of view. I did bring your argument to my (Japanese) wife who responded, “Our brains just don’t work that way.” In other words (and she clarified thus) that in her opinion it’s far easier for Japanese people to make sense of Japanese written in hiragana than in romaji, just as a general point.

I’ll add to that, since we’re talking specifically about handwriting, that unless your penmanship in roman letters is extremely good, do not be at all surprised if Japanese people have a hard time reading your writing. (Likewise, I often have a hard time reading Japanese people’s hiragana). This is because we grow up reading and writing our own and other people’s handwriting. We know what is generally accepted as a divergence from printed text and what isn’t. Most Japanese people do not have very much experience reading roman handwriting and find it much harder to interpret.

It’s easy to underestimate our own linguistic biases, and thus convince ourselves that romaji is easy for most Japanese people to read. I think you’re overestimating the extent of its use in Japan. A word or two here and there for stylistic purposes, but whole blocks of text meant to actually be read and understood?

I’ll give you a (completely unrelated, but I thought interesting) example of how perception is affected by one’s own language. My wife is quite fluent in English and has lived in Canada for almost 30 years now. But this week was the first time she quite grasped that in English, the word “water” doesn’t necessarily mean “cold water”. Because in Japanese, みず absolutely is cold. Hot water is ゆ, and lukewarm water is ぬるまゆ. So she assumed all these years that the same must hold for English, that unless you add a qualifier, water is cold by definition. So she said something like, “How long do you take to cook hard-boiled eggs if you start from water?”

Anyway, I know that was way off topic, but in conclusion, my point is that writing Japanese in romaji makes some pretty big assumptions, and I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if many Japanese people aren’t able to understand it or don’t bother trying to read it in the first place. Japanese: it really is a whole other language.


I’m level 26 and I just noticed! Omg how easier it could have been… Gotta start using it! :joy::joy::joy:

How have you survived?! O__O

As another unrelated point, although Japanese are taught romaji in school, the examples I’ve seen are a different system from what most Japanese learners are used to.


Aye, indeed. The Japanese government has designated Kunrei-shiki as the standard romaji style, and that’s what’s taught in schools. The internet, on the other hand, tends to use something more like Revised Hepburn, or even Wapuro Romaji.

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I never added a single synonym… Maybe that’s why I still have 50 apprentice items…

For me the biggest headache comes from synonyms, but truth to told, english is not my first language :confused:

I think the root of the argument for Japanese written using romaji being legible to Japanese speakers is the assumption that if you can read the letters then you can (easily) read the words which isn’t necessarily true.

Naturally, Japanese people learn in school how to convert a Japanese word into a romaji representation of it but that isn’t the same as reading that word back. With WaniKani we have the same but opposite problem of learning to recognise characters and words without learning how to write them.

Also, I should point out that it can be quite hard to read something written only in kana (unless it is very short or consists only of words commonly written in kana instead of kanji) but still easier than romaji.

I think the theoretical situation that started this discussion was of writing a quick note in romaji which would be fine unless you’re a prolific note writer. When I lived in Japan, however, I had to fill in insurance forms in Japanese for my car as it was a legal requirement that I do it myself. I was generally fine reading the forms but it was so rare that I ever wrote anything in Japanese by hand that filling in my address (and I think a few other things) was quite an ordeal.

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