Four Tips for Learning to Write Japanese

Many students experience the difficulty of trying to write in Japanese and end up with a bunch of scribbles or deformed Japanese symbols. That was my problem for a long time.

As some Japanese language readers have written to me, asking for tips on how to improve and write in japanese legibly. I decided to bring together in four tips, the things that helped to improve my handwriting, writing in Japanese in a more pleasant and readable way.

Start by drawing instead of writing in Japanese

The basic difference between drawing and writing in Japanese is the simple fact that more attention is paid to the shape and proportion of the strokes of each Japanese symbol.

In this case, it's best to try to slow down the writing, drawing the Japanese symbols slowly and trying to obey the stroke sizes and proportions. Gradually, our mind starts recording each movement, making the strokes flow more naturally.

Once you feel more secure, you can start writing Japanese with the new kanji, faster and more legibly.

a unique font style as a reference for writing in Japanese

In the Japanese language, I have been using a very common Japanese font pattern, MS Gothic. I practice a lot printing the symbols on a sheet of paper and trying to write the same. At first I print an Excel spreadsheet with cell borders and the symbols I want to learn.

With the kanji in light gray color, I practice by covering the strokes in the correct order and then practice writing in Japanese myself. The most important thing is to always follow a Japanese font, as the stroke proportions and kanji format change from one font style to another.

Write in Japanese in a squared-sheet notebook

In most common stationery stores you can find notebooks and squared sheets instead of the common pattern, striped sheets. In other words, instead of lines, we will have comics on the sheets.

Practicing writing in Japanese within four frames helps to improve writing proportions. This way, the kanji will always have the same size and the writing will become more uniform.

A good practice is to write in Japanese with large symbols and gradually reduce them to a more pleasant size. In the case of notebooks with squared sheets, we can use four squares for a symbol and then end up writing an ideogram inside just one square.

Another tip for writing in Japanese is to use texts as a reference. Writing isolated symbols is quite different from writing texts and sentences in Japanese. So look for texts and copy them, writing them by hand on a sheet of paper.

At first, you can practice writing texts in Japanese in the squared-sheet notebook, but gradually, you should put those notebooks aside and rely less on them.

This is a technique that Japanese people use when they are starting to learn how to write in Japanese in schools in Japan.

practice a lot

In the beginning, I also wrote a lot of scribbles. The lines came out crooked and out of alignment. I practiced a lot. I bought a small notebook and filled it with scribbles trying to draw the symbols in the most perfect way.

Don't give up, the ending is always rewarding. It just doesn't cover much of itself. Remember that you are learning to write all over again by doing those handwriting exercises from when you were a child. Remember that? It's the same thing now.

Image credits: anthonygrimley and Warren Antiola