Learning Japanese is an art. Although the language looks complex, their writing system is easy to learn. The Japanese alphabet especially looks difficult to understand. However, the 3 writing systems, that are Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji, altogether make it easy to learn Japanese. If you are a beginner, then, this article will guide you in the most simple way about the Japanese language Course and its writing system.

Japanese alphabet is surely an interesting script if compared to the simple English ABCs. One can find that the new and upcoming language to be learnt is the Japanese language. People are embracing this language and have started showing interest in learning it at the same time. But, they do find the language intimidating. The Japanese language is in fact very easy to understand. We shall discuss all the different Japanese writing systems as well as their English counterpart. So, let us get to know all about the Japanese writing system.

What is the Japanese writing system?


The Japanese basically have 3 writing systems which are –

  • Hiragana
  • Katakana
  • Kanji
The three writing systems in Japanese language

These words although sound a bit dense, don’t worry. The first two writing systems – Hiragana and Katakana are easy to learn and understand. They can be of help whether you are planning to learn Japanese or travelling to Japan. The term ‘Kana’ represents both Hiragana and Katakana together. People find the third system, that is Kanji, a little difficult, but do not fear it as we shall overcome it.

1. Hiragana

The first writing system ‘Hiragana’ is the foundation of the Japanese learning system, which means it is the most basic form. It can be the building blocks of Japanese language learning. Here, ‘Hiragana’ represents the native Japanese words. There are 46 primary sounds that represent the Hiragana characters. This is where the consonants are followed by the vowels. Thus, basically, beginners use ‘Hiragana’ while learning. One can find Hiragana in kids’ books and comics. They are also used to fill in particles of Japanese grammar, making the sentences easier to read. 

Hiragana and Katakana charts are the first two writing systems, both together called as Kana

2. Katakana

This is the second writing system and it also has the same 46 sounds as Hiragana. One can use Katakana to write foreign words in Japanese and also to give significance to a word. Slang words or stylish names use Hiragana to put emphasis. Thus, Katakana is used to represent foreign words in Japanese. Alternatively, onomatopoeia, scientific terms, as well as advertisements also use Katakana.


Next, is the difference between ‘Hiragana’ and ‘Katakana’ which is – they look different. Hiragana is a bit more curvier while Katakana is sharper.

Katakana Hiragana
ア a あ a
イ i い i
ウ u う u
エ e え e
オ o お o

3. Kanji 

The third writing system is Kanji which represents not only characters but whole words as well. Objects, verbs, adjectives, or adverbs can also be Kanji. Moreover, Kanji characters depict an image as well. The Chinese characters known as ‘hanzi’ are the inspiration for Kanji. 

Hiragana and Katakana do not use spaces in a sentence. Hence, this makes reading quite confusing. Therefore, one can use Kanji here. It gives structure to the sentence. 

There are more than 1000 Kanji, and to become fluent in Japanese one must know at least 2000 of them. Each Kanji has various readings, and these readings change according to the word or how it matches with other Kanji. This is the reason why the Japanese language looks intimidating. But, there is nothing to worry about, as Japanese people too struggle with Kanji. 

All in all, a whole sentence is made using Kanji. It also represents characters along with words. One must learn Kanji slowly and steadily as it is a bit tricky to learn at the beginner level. 

What are the Japanese alphabet and their letters?

There are 46 basic characters in addition to sounds and characters. Each alphabet symbol forms one syllable made of the 21 Romaji, phonetically as well as it is always read in the same way. 

In the Japanese language, the alphabet is known as ‘syllabary’ or ‘syllabic script’. Here, each letter denotes an entire syllable like in English.

For example – the individual letters ‘r’ or ‘k’ are represented as a whole sound like ‘ra’ or ‘ki’ respectively.

‘Kana’ is the two Japanese alphabets ‘Hiragana’ (English cursive) and ‘Katakana’ (English print), both together. The third alphabet that is ‘Kanji’ is not a syllabary, it is the writing system that represents an entire word.

What is the difference between the Japanese alphabet and its English counterpart?

Romaji is the English counterpart of the Japanese alphabet. If put in easy words, Romaji are the Japanese alphabet which is written in English letters. Let us get to the basic understanding of the Japanese alphabet, according to Romaji, as to how many letters are there. The Japanese alphabets in English are 21 letters in total. They are as follows- 

Vowel – a,e, i, o, and u

Consonants – k, g, s, z, j, t, d, n, h, f, b, p, m, y, r, and w

Also, the combined letter – ‘ch’ should be noted down. Here, in Japanese the letter ‘c’ is never used as an independent letter.

The Japanese alphabets have different phonic sounds compared to English phonics, which makes learning easy for English speakers. This is because there are fewer sounds used as compared to English. However, if we are talking about phonics sounds which are difficult for English speakers, we should consider the letter ‘r’. Here, the letter ‘r’ is pronounced as a sound made between the letter ‘l’ and ‘r’, like a soft Spanish ‘r’.

Which is the most common Japanese alphabet?

The Japanese language comprises three writing systems – Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. The most commonly used Japanese alphabet is Hiragana. Children in Japan learn Hiragana as one of the first alphabets. They then follow Kanji in grade school. However, one says that using only ‘Hiragana’ can be a bit juvenile. 

How to learn the Japanese language fast?

When learning the Japanese language, one must begin with the Hiragana, followed by Katakana. After learning the basics, one can learn Kanji at a steady pace. Once, you learn the basic Japanese alphabet, practice it. One must regularly practice reading, writing, and speaking Japanese with the help of –

– Flashcards

– Making learning groups

– Interacting with native speakers

Also, enrolling oneself at a language institute can be of great help. Henry Harvin’s Japanese Language course fits rightly where one can learn the language in one go.

The Henry Harvin Japanese language course is based on the ‘JF’ standard for Japanese Language Education which makes it easy to learn Japanese. The course covers the 4 writing systems – Hiragana, Katakana, Kanji, and Ramaji along with the 5 levels N5, N4, N3, N2, and N1. The institute is best known for its experienced trainers. With a 9-in-1 course and two-way live online interactive sessions, Henry Harvin provides you with the best learning experience.

Henry Harvin Japanese Language Course Fees

Henry Harvin also provides these courses

German Language CourseKorean Language Course,   Spanish Language Course

Cities in India where Henry Harvin’s Japanese language Course is Provided:

DelhiMumbaiKolkataHyderabadGurgaonOnlinePune, BangaloreJaipur, ChennaiKanpur 


One can say that learning the Japanese language is an art because of its beautiful and unique script. The Japanese alphabet, though looks daunting at first, if learned correctly can make you fluent in Japanese. One can learn the first two writing systems – Hiragana and Katakana easily. However, the third one – Kanji, although difficult is easy to learn, but in a slow and steady manner. Henry Harvin’s Japanese Language course provides all these systems online. The course promises to guide you in becoming fluent in Japanese.

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Q1. What are the Japanese alphabets?

A1. The Japanese alphabet can be divided into 3 writing systems – Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. There is one additional system called Ramaji where you learn Japanese using the Roman (English) alphabet.

Q2. Are there any eligibility criteria to learn Japanese?

A2. No. There is no age restriction and anyone can learn Japanese.

Q3. What are the career benefits of learning the Japanese language?

A3. There are numerous opportunities for learning Japanese. One can benefit in the travel and tourism sectors, industrial sector, as well as in embassies and diplomatic businesses as a language expert.

Q4. What are the benefits of Henry Harvins’ Japanese Language course?

A4. Henry Harvin’s course provides you with the most unique experience in learning Japanese. With the added advantage of experienced trainers, the learning comes along with internship as well as 100% placement assistance. One receives a certification in the Japanese Language after completion from the institute which is government-recognized. 

Q5. What are the fees and duration of the course?

A5. The course program is of total 580 hours at the cost of Rs. 128500 total course fees. The fees can be paid at an EMI of Rs. 14278 per month.

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