Should You Learn How to Write Kanji?

Is it actually necessary to be able to write Kanji? You’ve probably started learning Japanese and have only now realised that this means that you also have to study more than 2000 kanji characters. I know what that feels like, I’ve been there… So, is there a way to somehow study Japanese without actually learning how to write the kanji characters? Should you learn how to write kanji? Well, that’s what I’m going to show you in this article.

What Is Kanji

If you’ve found this article, you probably already know what kanji is. But you should still read this, as it’ll become important later on.

In Japanese, there are three writing systems (four if you include romaji): Hiragana, Katakana and the over 2000 Chinese characters, called Kanji.

If you want to communicate with Japanese people, it is essential to be able to read kanji. Depending on the circumstances knowing how to write kanji is important too.

But I’ll say it again: you must know how to read Kanji to become good at Japanese. There’s no way around it.

Should You Learn How to Write Kanji?

Okay, it’s clear that you should know how to read kanji.

But do you actually need to know how to write them?

Well, in theory no, but as I’ll explain in a bit, learning how to write kanji is a vital part in learning how to read kanji.

So, you should definitely learn how kanji are written out by hand.

I know, you might have seen videos on YouTube showing that even Japanese people don’t know how to write kanji characters.

However, I must tell you that the words that were tested in that video are rather rare ones, which makes it clear why people couldn’t remember how to write them. In reality, Japanese people know how to write most kanji. 

But that’s not why you should learn how to write kanji.

Learning how to write kanji out by hand serves a completely different purpose.

Why You Must Learn How to Write Kanji

If you want to live and work in Japan, you should definitely learn how to write kanji, as you’ll often find yourself in situations where that is necessary.

But what if you don’t live in Japan or just want to have fun talking to Japanese friends or watching Japanese Netflix?

Should you still learn how to write kanji out by hand?

Yes, you should!

That’s because even if you’re never going to write out a kanji character by hand, you still have to know how to read them.

And how do you think you’re going to learn more than 2000 characters without actually writing them down?

Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but there’s simply no way to learn all Kanji without writing them out by hand.

But I do have some good news!

There’s a method that lets you learn all 2000 kanji characters in just three months!

With this method, you do have to write out every single character multiple times, but trust me, this will help you a lot when it comes to remembering them. Writing the characters out by hand somehow makes it a lot easier to recall them.

This is especially true for characters that look very similar. I find that learning the stroke order has helped me differentiate such similar-looking kanji a lot.

Therefore, I highly recommend you learn how to write kanji characters, as this will help you with reading them.

What to Do Once You've Learned All Kanji

I have made it clear now, that there’s no way around studying how to write kanji.

But what should you do once you’ve finished RTK? Because if you don’t keep on writing out characters you’ll someday forget how to write them.

This is actually what is happening to many Japanese people at the moment.

In a world where you can type Kanji characters without actually knowing the stroke order, many Japanese people find themselves forgetting how to write out characters by hand.

Related: How do the Japanese type?

So, what should you do?

To answer this question I have made a nice flow chart:

Thanks for Reading

Thank you for reading this article about “should you learn how to write kanji?”. If you want to get more content like this, subscribe to my newsletter.

In the meantime you can read some of my older posts!

Featured image from: Marco Zuppone on Unsplash

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