Posted by: felishkulitz | September 17, 2009

My Kanji Experience


宋徽宗作品《草书千字文》
Image via Wikipedia

Learning Japanese is not complete without, of course, studying the writing system.

Five years ago, I begun to learn hiragana and katakana which is rather simple. It is funny that I have no idea then that three of the particles in Japanese where written differently so I keep on using what I know. The topic marker ‘wa’ is pronounced as such yet written as ‘ha‘; Place marker ‘e’ is pronounced as such yet written as ‘he‘; and, direct object marker ‘o’ is pronounced as such yet written as ‘wo‘. I was not until I encounter “Let’s Speak Japanese” TV program that they explained these irregularities.

After the elegant hiragana and the rigid katakana, I then studied the high cultured kanji. It started when I bought a kanji dictionary by Mr. Maruyama  Chiemi for the Persian Gulf Publication.

I started with the easy kanji by selecting through many entries those with simple characters. There is this ‘hana’ which means flower, numbers, months and other basic nouns. Then I found that our school library have the joyo kanji list which overwhelmed me for its complete list of 1945 commonly used characters. In one of the appendices, it is explained that there were an estimated four hundred thousand characters in ancient times. That makes Han characters a formidable subject.

What I love the most about kanji is it’s calligraphy. Observing a master write three to four characters with the graceful hand on the right timing and with the right stresses makes one open his mouth without knowing it. I, being fond of history watched a documentary about this very sophisticated script, learned of many calligraphic styles. Among those learned styles, I find the grass script very interesting. Should I ever be enrolled in a calligraphy class, I will not miss learning this style.

It is still my ecstasy.

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