When to use kana and when to use kanji?

I’ve just read the following sentence on NHK Easy News:


I was wondering why are いちばん and つくった writting using kana and not using kanji? I really was expecting those two words to be writting in kanji since that’s how I often encountered them up until now.

Is there a rule or best practice for that?

1 Like

Sometimes individuals will write words that are usually written in kanji in kana if there would be a kanji-cluster that would make reading or quickly visually parsing phrases difficult. That’s pretty subjective. I don’t know, but would guess, that newspapers have set style guides for kanji usage however.

In this case, it’s probably just a case of NHK Easy wanting to make the sentence a little more visually inviting to learners. I can’t think of much cause for 作った to be written in kanji there. (And indeed, that whole sentence is written in a kind of unnatural, simplified way, to be more accessible.)

1 Like

Well, it’s NHK News Easy, so it’s not really possible to make generalizations across all of Japanese from their editorial decisions, but sometimes using kana can just look more “balanced”, or less stiff, or maybe the nuance of the word is ambiguous, or plenty of other possible reasons.


The light novel I’m reading likes to use kanji for words that are commonly written in kana, so I guess it’s mostly up to the individual preference of the writer. A site like jisho.org will say something like “usually written with kana” on such words, but in the end, it’s up to the writer. My personal preference is to not have a huge string of kanji when I write something, so I’ll sometimes write a word in kana to break that. :man_shrugging:, seems like a good general practice.


I’ve noticed that too, but did never see it on the two words above.

Well, as Leebo said, it’s NHK News Easy, so you’re more likely to encounter more words written in kana that are typically written in kanji. I don’t think you’d find those written in kana in a normal NHK article, or a novel.

Yeah, I got that. Thank you all for the explanation!

1 Like