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What form of Japanese should I learn first?


The Japanese language is a fascinating language that has intrigued many people around the world. With its unique writing system, complex grammar, and rich culture, learning Japanese can be an enriching experience. However, with so many forms of Japanese available, it can be difficult to know where to start. In this comprehensive article, we will explore the different forms of Japanese and help you decide which one is the best for you.

The Different Forms of Japanese

There are three main forms of Japanese: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. Hiragana and Katakana are both syllabic scripts used in Japanese writing, while Kanji is a set of Chinese characters adopted by Japan. Each of these forms has its own unique characteristics that make it important to learn.

Japanese Snack Box


Hiragana is the most basic form of Japanese writing and should be the first form of Japanese you learn. It consists of 46 syllables and is used to write grammatical particles, words with no Kanji equivalent, and words where the Kanji is too complex or obscure. Hiragana is easy to learn as it has a simple stroke order, and once you master it, you can read basic Japanese sentences.


Katakana is also a syllabic script but is used for foreign words and onomatopoeia. It consists of the same 46 syllables as Hiragana but is written in a different style. Katakana is essential to learn as it allows you to read words in English or other languages that have been adapted into Japanese.


Kanji is a set of Chinese characters adopted by Japan and consists of over 50,000 characters. Learning Kanji can be challenging and time-consuming as each character has its own meaning and pronunciation. However, Kanji is essential to learn as it is used in most Japanese text and is crucial for reading newspapers, books, and other written materials.

Choosing the Right Form of Japanese

When deciding which form of Japanese to learn first, it’s important to consider your goals. If you are interested in basic communication or planning to visit Japan, then learning Hiragana should be your top priority. If you plan on reading Japanese text, then learning Kanji is essential. If you want to understand foreign words and onomatopoeia in Japanese, then Katakana should be your focus.

The Importance of Grammar

While learning the different forms of Japanese is important, grammar is also a crucial component of the language. Japanese grammar can be complex and challenging, but it’s essential to master it to communicate effectively. Understanding sentence structure, particles, and verb conjugation is necessary for reading and speaking Japanese.

Speaking and Listening Skills

In addition to writing skills, speaking and listening skills are also important when learning Japanese. Speaking skills help you communicate with others, while listening skills help you understand what others are saying. Practicing speaking and listening skills with a native speaker or through language exchange programs can improve your overall proficiency in the language.

The Role of Culture

Japanese culture is a significant component of the language, and understanding it can enhance your learning experience. Knowing cultural customs, etiquette, and traditions can help you communicate more effectively with native speakers and gain a deeper appreciation for the language.

Resources for Learning Japanese

There are many resources available for learning Japanese, from textbooks and online courses to language exchange programs and immersion programs. It’s important to choose resources that align with your goals and learning style.

Tips for Learning Japanese

Learning Japanese can be challenging, but there are ways to make it easier. Consistent practice, setting achievable goals, and immersing yourself in the language can all help you improve your skills quickly.

The Benefits of Learning Japanese

Learning Japanese can have many benefits, from improving your communication skills to enhancing your cultural awareness. It can also open up new job opportunities and help you connect with people from different parts of the world.


In conclusion, learning Japanese is an enriching experience that requires time, dedication, and patience. Choosing the right form of Japanese to learn first depends on your goals and interests, but mastering Hiragana should be your first priority. With consistent practice and the right resources, you can improve your skills quickly and enjoy the many benefits of learning this fascinating language.

Which Japanese language should I learn first?

Hiragana is the Japanese alphabet and is one of the three writing systems you must learn to read in Japanese. Katakana and kanji are the other two systems, but hiragana is the starting point. Most beginner Japanese resources require knowledge of hiragana, making it a necessary prerequisite.

Should I learn kanji or katakana first?

To learn the Japanese writing system, it is recommended to first learn hiragana, followed by katakana, and finally kanji.

Should I use hiragana or katakana?

Hiragana characters are predominantly used for particles and grammatical elements, such as verb, adjective, and adverb endings, and can also be used for writing certain words when the kanji is complex or uncommon. Katakana characters are generally used for foreign words, technical terms, and onomatopoeia.

Which is easier hiragana or kanji?

Hiragana is a simpler and more functional writing system compared to kanji. It requires fewer strokes to write and is used to represent phonetic sounds rather than complex concepts.

Should I learn katakana or hiragana first?

To start learning Japanese writing, it is recommended to first learn hiragana, followed by katakana and kanji. Hiragana has a more flowing, cursive appearance and is used for writing Japanese words, verb conjugations, and grammar particles. This writing system consists of 46 characters, with each character representing a syllable.

Which Japanese is used the most?

Hiragana is the primary mode of writing in Japanese and is commonly used both independently and in combination with kanji to form words. It is also the first form of writing that Japanese children are taught.

Challenges of Learning Japanese

While learning Japanese can be a rewarding experience, it also comes with its own set of challenges. One of the biggest challenges is the complex writing system, which can take a significant amount of time to master. Additionally, Japanese grammar is different from English grammar, which can be difficult for learners to understand. Another challenge is pronunciation, as Japanese has a unique set of sounds and intonations that can be challenging for non-native speakers.

The Role of Motivation

Motivation plays a crucial role in learning Japanese. Without motivation, it can be easy to become discouraged and give up on the language. Setting clear goals and tracking progress can help maintain motivation. Additionally, finding ways to make learning fun and enjoyable, such as through watching Japanese media or practicing with native speakers, can also help keep motivation high.

Using Technology to Learn Japanese

Technology has made learning Japanese more accessible than ever before. There are numerous apps, online courses, and language learning software available that make it easy to practice Japanese anywhere, anytime. These resources can be particularly useful for learners who don’t have access to traditional language classes or tutors.

Benefits of Immersion Programs

Immersion programs are an excellent way to accelerate language learning. These programs offer learners the opportunity to immerse themselves in the language and culture by living and studying in Japan. Immersion programs typically involve intensive language courses, cultural activities, and opportunities to practice speaking with native speakers. This type of immersive experience can help learners improve their skills quickly and gain a deeper understanding of the language and culture.

The Future of Learning Japanese

As technology continues to advance, the future of learning Japanese is likely to involve even more innovative tools and resources. Virtual reality and artificial intelligence are already being used in language learning, and this trend is likely to continue. Additionally, as Japan continues to be a global economic and cultural leader, the demand for Japanese language skills is likely to increase, making learning Japanese an even more valuable skill for the future.

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