Kanji Alphabet

The Japanese language has three types of characters: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. Katakana is mainly used for foreign words, Kanji is the set of adopted Chinese characters, and Hiragana is a Japanese syllabary or Japanese phonetic lettering system. Modern Japanese writing uses a combination of logographic Kanji and syllabic kana (consisting of katakana and Hiragana).

The Japanese writing system is considered to be one of the most complicated writing systems currently used. In addition to the 46 characters each in the hiragana and katakana syllabaries, there are well over 50,000 kanji. Even most native speakers do not know nearly close to this number.

Kanji is used to write most words of nature Japanese or Chinese origin, including nouns, stems of verbs and adjectives, stems of many adverbs, and most Japanese personal names. Texts without Kanji are uncommon and are usually children’s books or early electronics. Modern Japanese also uses acronyms from the Latin alphabet, such as “BC/AD” and “am/pm.”

Unlike other Asian languages, such as Chinese, there are no “tones” in Japanese. Japanese is written top-to-bottom, left-to-right.

Kanji
English Meaning
Vocab. w/ Kanji
One一人 (one person, alone)
Two二人 (two people, pair)
Three三日 (3rd day of the month)
Four四日 (4th day of the month)
Five五日 (5th day of the month)
Six六日 (6th day of the month)
Seven七日 (7th day of the month)
Eight八日 (8th day of the month)
Nine九日 (9th day of the month)
Ten十日 (10th day of the month)
Hundred百万円 (1 million Yen)
Thousand千万円 (10 million Yen)
Ten thousand万年筆 (fountain pen)
Yen, circle, and round円い (round)
Day, sun明日 (tomorrow)
Week毎週 (every week)
Month, moon月曜日 (Monday)
Year今年 (this year), 去年 (last year)
Time, hour時計 (clock, watch)
Time frame, span of time時間 (time, hours)
Minute, part, to understand, to divide三十分 (thirty minutes), 自分 (oneself)
Noon午前 (morning, A.M.)
Before名前 (name)
After, later, behind午後 (afternoon, P.M.)
Now今晩 (this evening), 今朝 (this morning)
Before, ahead, future先週 (last week), 先生 (teacher, master)
To come来月 (next month), 来る (to come)
Half, middle半分 (half)
Every, each毎日(every day)
What, which, how many何曜日 (what day of the week)
Person人々 (people)
Man, boy, male男の子 (boy)
Woman, girl, female女の子 (girl)
Child子供 (child)
Mother母 (mother)
Father父 (father)
Friend友達 (friend)
Fire火曜日 (Tuesday)
Water水曜日 (Wednesday)
Tree, wood木曜日 (Thursday)
Earth, ground土曜日 (Saturday)
Money, gold金曜日 (Friday)
Book, source日本語 (Japanese)
River川 (river)
Flower花火 (fireworks)
Spirit元気 (healthy, spirit, fine)
Life, to live, to be born, to grow生徒 (pupil)
Fish魚 (fish)
Heaven天気 (weather)
Sky, empty空 (sky)
Mountain山 (mountain)
Rain雨 (rain)
Electricity電気 (electricity)
Car, vehicle電車 (electric train)
Language, word, to chat英語 (English)
Ear耳 (ear)
Hand手紙 (letter)
Foot, to add足 (foot)
Eye目 (eye)
Mouth出口 (exit)
Name名前 (name)
Shop喫茶店 (coffee shop)
Station駅前 (in front of the station)
Street, path, way道具 (tool)
Shrine, society社長 (president of a company)
Country外国人 (foreigner)
Outside外国 (foreign country)
School, learning大学 (university)
School学校 (school)
Up, above上着 (jacket)
Down, below靴下 (socks)
Middle, center, inner, between日中 (during the day, midday)
North北 (north)
西West西 (west)
East東京 (Tokyo)
South南 (south)
Right右 (right)
Left左 (left)
To see, to be visible, to show見せる (to show)
To hear, to listen, to ask聞く (to listen, to hear)
To write辞書 (dictionary)
To read読む (to read)
To talk, conversation電話 (telephone)
To buy買い物 (shopping)
To go, to carry out銀行 (bank)
To go out, to leave出かける (to go out)
To enter, to put in入口 (entrance)
To rest, break, holiday, vacation休む (to take a day off)
To eat, food食堂 (dining room)
To drink, a drink飲み物 (beverage)
To talk, word言う (to say)
To stand立つ (to stand)
To meet, society会社 (company)
A lot, many多い (many), 多分 (probably)
A little, few少ない (few)
Old古い (old)
New新しい (new), 新聞 (newspaper)
Big, a lot大きい (big), 大変 (dreadful, immense)
Little, small小さい (little)
Cheap, safety, peace安い (cheap)
Expensive, high高い (expensive)
Long, leader長い (long), 部長 (manager)
White白い (white), 面白い (interesting)