The Beauty of Kanji and how easy it really is

Hey guys, so I’m from Germany and we grew up learning that European languages have the most advanced grammar systems. It was a very European centric teaching method. Chinese was disregarded as a more primitive language with its “hieroglyphs” and “pitch sounds” and my teacher even drew connections to caveman back then.

I didn’t take it too serious, back then but learning kanji now made me realize what complete and utter horseshit that was.

Kanji/Hanzhi is actually easier for the brain to comprehend than our own letter alphabet. Our brain doesn’t think in letters but concepts. Language is a tool to assist our thought process, entire words underline concepts and so we can entertain them.

But Kanji are always a representation of one single concept. In English I can say Bank, Money, Gold, Iron, Metal. They are all different words, but if you know kanji they all use 金 which is metal.

It is the natural thought process of the brain in written form. If you think of gold you think of, shiny, metal, valuable, ore, money etc. The more specific you get the more description an object has, therefore, descriptive kanji usually are built of many radicals and words use multiple kanji. But the overarching idea usually is a single kanji.

Small easy to large and complex. You use smaller ideas to create bigger ideas.

So it’s not primitive at all, and it’s very much in line with our human nature.

This is not to say that western languages are better or worse, but our system isn’t much more “logical” or “comprehensible”. Lol.

Kanji are very logical and necessary for Japanese.



Nice post, by the way. Though, I’d like to add that the associations made with certain concepts can be heavily biased by cultural, even at the most basic level. Of course, that’s what makes different cultures, different languages, and our world as a whole, interesting.

Oh, and one other note: How the staff at WaniKani chose to break down kanji for modern audiences doesn’t necessarily reflect what was intended when the character was created. But, I’m fairly certain you knew that. :wink:


Thank you for pointing it out. I was heavily simplifying and generalizing, I wrote of it as more of a language itself. Obviously if we were to have our own kanji it would be with different cultural implications, but it wouldn’t be bad or “inferior” it would in fact just be a representation of how our brain in our culture and environment already thinks of these concepts. Maybe that’s why Japanese can think in Kanji.

But yes you are right :slight_smile:


See you at level 20! :slight_smile:

Kanji are great, and that’s why we’re here, but keep in mind that the Japanese language existed before kanji were added in 6th century and later. Hence all our “Japanese” readings. Murasaki’s novel was written in kana with no kanji.


I am sorry you you were forced to grow up in what frankly, seems like racism. But lets not get crazy in the other way. There are plenty of Kanji that have meanings that seemingly have nothing to do with each other because the spoken language comes before the written language, and the “meanings” of Kanji are essentially defined from their usage, not some magical quality. Even if we ignore 金曜日, 金色 is definitely not “metal color” and 金玉 are sure as hell not related to metal unless you 've got a real problem.

You’ll start to see this more when you get out of the most basic Kanji, but even 切手 is going to throw this theory for a loop.


I spoke too soon, one day I’ll probably make a frustration post when I get to later levels lol.

Thank you for your input :slight_smile: I always appreciate it.

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Haha can’t wait to slam into a wall

Hi there!

Remember that kanji is not just about representing meanings, but readings as well. Some words in Japanese have meanings that have nothing at all to do with the individual kanji meaning components it was made from, but the kanji were chosen to represent the pronunciation of the word because the majority of vocabulary in any language are of abstract concepts, rather than concrete. For example, the word for 'Friday" in Japanese is 金曜日. But what does the kanji for metal 金 have anything to do with ‘Friday?’ NOTHING! The Japanese just chose the kanji 金 for its reading of ‘KIN’, because the Japanese word for ‘Friday’ is pronounced as ‘KINYOOBI.’ You can see that in other languages as well. For example, in German, the word for iris (the colored part of the eye) is Regenbogenhaut. Which literally translates into ‘rainbow skin’. But to an English speaker such as myself, ‘rainbow skin’ made absolutely no sense to me. What does the ‘skin’ (Haut) have to do with the ‘eye’?
I found out the best way to reduce the frustration and confusion of learning Japanese vocabulary is to disregard the meanings of the individual kanji it is made of and only focus on the pronunciation of the word when you first learn it. The meanings of the individual kanji will come to you naturally the more vocabulary you learn. I hope that makes sense. It took me awhile to figure that out. Good luck with your Japanese studies!

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They actually are though? It references how tanuki balls were used in the process of hammering gold.


I don’t think this is true. The names of weekdays in Japanese are related to planets. They’re not arbitrary :stuck_out_tongue:

More info here: 金曜日 - Wiktionary


Kanji are great!

I grew up the same way in Austria.
Everything outside is primitive and has to replaced by European logic for the sake of the better.
Kanji are magical to me. I would rather prefer to replace the alphabet with it.

And alphabet is not sound.
You don’t even know what language it is if you see just one word:


Gratulations for daring to expand your horizon, it is definitely worth it :slightly_smiling_face:

It is only becoming more interesting the more you know. A good book was recently republished after it was only available for a ridiculously high price second hand:
If you love Kanji, it is worth to start being serious about it from the beginning because it saves a LOT of time.

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Meanwhile, japanese these days be like


I agree that Kanji are beautiful, but I think you’ll change your tune about “how easy it really is” when you start hitting the later levels :slight_smile: Levels 31-40 are called “hell” for a reason

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No… it’s not. English is far easier to understand than Japanese. We only have one alphabet to learn. Japanese has hiragana, katakana and kanji. This makes it an extremely difficult language for our brain to compute.

I mean, even Japanese natives get mixed up sometimes because their language is so damn confusing!

The number of writing systems you have to learn is just one aspect that determines how easy a language is, among many other factors.

Apparently, you have never dealt with people who can’t tell the difference between there and their, your and you’re, accept and except, affect and effect, eminent and imminent, ensure and insure, advice and advise, bemused and amused, flare and flair, complementary and complimentary, capital and capitol, its and it’s, who’s and whose, than and then, stationary and stationery, principal and principle, loose and lose, lay and lie, through and thorough, passed and past, council and counsel, apart and a part, allusion and illusion, precede and proceed, elicit and illicit, cite and sight.


Hold on a minute.


What in the goddamn


Nice one plantron. I guess I don’t hang out with people who are uneducated like this.

But cmon. Japanese Vs English? It’s not even close.

Bemuse and amuse…lol

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