Is there any benefit to learning to write Kanji?

Since I have been on this path of learning Japanese, I saw some services that are keen on teaching you the proper stroke order. WaniKani didn’t bother with that, which is something I liked about it, but I also read people that were upset that it didn’t teach stroke order.

My opinion has always been, everything is electronic now and I literally cannot think of any time where I would actually write the Kanji, so I have no reason to learn the strokes. I also feel like it would take incredibly longer to learn all the Kanji if I had decided to do so.

So that being said, is there any benefit or reason to learn writing Kanji? I could see how it might help you remember the Kanji better, but other than that, I’m not sure. Anyways, I doubt WaniKani would skip teaching writings if it was necessary for some reason.

What are your opinions on this? Are you learning to write?

1 Like
  • Being able to better distinguish similar kanji.
  • Sending cool letters/postcards to Japanese friends.
19 Likes
  • Bragging rights
28 Likes

Well, according to my japanese penpals, even the japanese people are starting to forget how to do so, so you’re not alone in that case.
Still, I’d be pretty embarrassed if I was asked to write a simple name on paper and couldnt do it. It’s definitely not a high priority to learn the language, but, not being able to write is still a little bothersome.

8 Likes
  • Describe certain kanji to other people (mainly to foreigners) by pretending to write them on your palm. = Bragging rights.
7 Likes

On a more serious tone, you can always learn to hand write later. That’s what I will do. I can’t even hand write hiragana, but mixing kanji up is becoming a rare thing for me. I will eventually learn it once I have more free time (Ha! Jokes on me!), and it will be a cool way to revise the all the kanji ^^

14 Likes

Just like you, I always thought that I would never need to write Kanji or even Hiragana by hand, so I never bothered. Also, I’m attending an online class and they never asked me to write something by hand.
Then over the last summer, I went to a Japanese language school in Japan, and of course did they expect me to write my homework and also tests by hand! Luckily I had just started to learn to write Hiragana the week before I joined class, but wow that was a struggle! I could never write fast enough because I had to think about each character (at least in the beginning). So for note-taking I would always write in romaji but I got slightly frowned upon by the teachers. Luckily they accepted my no-kanji writing, but I was so embarrassed by it that I promptly started to learn to write kanji so that I’m ready when I visit again.

On a more practical side, I am now seeing more and more similar kanji, and I’m sure being able to write them will help me memorize their parts even better.

5 Likes

You should really get on that. :stuck_out_tongue:

14 Likes

Why? :stuck_out_tongue:

2 Likes

writing by hands builds muscle memory. you’re more intimate with every radical than if you keep it in mind as an approximation of shape. it’s not needed per se, but it helps strengthen your memories.

12 Likes

I (very rarely because I am busy with WK and grammar) use an app called Kanji Study. It gives you a blank grid and you are meant to write out the kanji in proper stroke order. But I don’t really use it for stroke order, I use it to test myself on whether I remember the radicals that make up a kanji. To do this I just set the “stroke sensitivity” setting to reeeaallyy easy, and then try to build the kanji radical by radical.

As I am getting to levels that have more and more visually similar kanji, being able to visualize the kanji without seeing it is getting much harder.

Here’s an example if you’re interested!

And when you forget or get the stroke wrong:

You can also create your own decks, so you can sync it with your WK learning. You can also remove the meaning and just have the onyomi and kunyomi readings.

13 Likes

Here is a Tofugu article on how to correctly guess stroke order. I think it’s pretty logical once you get the hang of it. If you have or will have a social relationship with someone in Japan, exchanging letters is common in my experience. As far as who can recall how to write, there seems to be generation gap given current technology so even younger natives struggle with this. Reading handwriting is another challenge too for good practice (or any kanji without the purple/magenta background with perfect font). I’ve always found 書道 interesting and it has such a deep history (would be great to get a lesson someday or something).

3 Likes

At some point I’m going to take the 文章検, and they don’t let you use a computer to write your 文章, so.

4 Likes

I’m still pretty new to this but I use KaniWani exclusively with a handwriting keyboard. It has stroke order available in the details on every vocab item. Learning how to write Kanji, I think, can only be a good thing as you’re tying in an additional sense and that can make your memory more robust.

3 Likes

I love this app. Bought it myself. The developer is really nice too.

This is what I plan to do as well. I made it about 400 kanji into Remembering the Kanji before I found WK and decided reading recognition is a bit more important right now. Once I get through WK, I plan on going back through RTK and focusing on writing.

2 Likes

I like to hand-write (English and German) as I learn because I find it helps my memory.

And one of the things that attracted me to Japanese is the beauty of the script, particularly Kanji. I’d like to be able to re-create that myself by hand.

I haven’t really started trying to write kanji yet, but I have a feeling I want to do it as I go along, not save up a whole load to try and learn later.

6 Likes

Some people may disagree on this, but if you decide to learn to write as you go through WK, I highly recommend going through maybe the first 100 or so kanji on Remembering the Kanji to get a better idea of how writing works and how kanji components kind of stack together. WK throws a ton at you and skips around a lot, and I feel like, while WK is a great resource to learn how to recognize and read kanji, it doesn’t give you the best experience to learn how kanji is split into pieces.

You don’t even need the actual book to do this. This sample PDF is more than enough.

3 Likes

Some kanji is written differently by hand compared to computer. For example, 冷 is written differently if you write in MS Word (depends on font of course, but by default it’s different). Also, in any school, university, applying for job and so on, in these sort of situations it is expected of you to write something by hand. So yeah, I think it’s pretty useful to learn correct stroke order.

1 Like

Writing out kanji can be another step in solidifying it in your brain.

I don’t do it with individual Kanji, but any vocabulary I want to learn properly, I write out lots of times as part of that process. Even if I don’t intend on writing letters, it helps even in just recognising words/kanji when I see them.

Also, if you say it out loud as you’re writing it, the pronunciation sticks as well.

Also, also; If you write out your Grammar lessons, you also write out the example sentences. So it all plays a part.

3 Likes

Is it worth learning to write Japanese? I suppose the answer is to ask yourself how often you handwrite English (or whatever language you normally use). I can’t imaging having to rely on computers/devices for writing English, but I’m old enough to say that that was my only option growing up. (Although I did use a typewriter in university!)

Seriously, though, if you are handed a pen and paper, it’s nice to be able to record words with them. So if you imagine yourself in a Japanese context, all things being equal, it would be better to be able to write, than not to be able to.

Is it worth devoting significant time to learning this skill? I’d say (and see my above bias) that you should certainly learn to write hiragana and katakana as a baseline. My ability to write kanji from memory is still rather lacking, but I do plan on correcting that when I have more time.

3 Likes