Unless you’re from a country such as China that already uses Asian characters similar to that of Japanese kanji, the chances are many people will look at you’re writing and think “cute”. Why will they think it’s cute? Probably because the mistakes you made are similar to that a small child would make. This is the same for every language – that’s why I’ve put together this list of 10 tips on how to write Japanese well!
(1) No spaces!
Japanese does not use a space in between words or even at the end of the sentence – so don’t try to put them in!
わたし は 外国人 です。 ＞わたしは外国人です。
(2) Use Kanji!
I know it’s hard, but if you don’t use kanji, you’re going to give anyone reading your work a headache.
(3) Don’t use incredibly difficult kanji!
Just because a word has kanji, it doesn’t mean that it is often used or that you should use it. Not even Japanese people can read the kanji for some very simple words since they are not used.
何卒 ＞ どうぞ
(4) Write it all the same size!
It may take some practice, but Japanese characters should all take up roughly the same space. That means kanji such as 難 and 鬱 should take up almost the same space as い and 、(comma).
(5) Balance your kanji!
The best way to write kanji in a balanced way is to practice on squared paper e.g. 2mm squares and draw one kanji/hiragana in every 4 squares (per 8 mm).
(6) Write in the correct form!
Just like when speaking there are different levels of politeness, when you write there are, too. である is for writing essays, informal is for your friends, and keigo is for business and people you don’t know well.
です ＞ である
(7) Cut corners when taking notes.
If you’re taking notes or writing something primarily for your own eyes, you’re allowed to cut a few corners when writing kanji. If you write every kanji completely perfectly each and every time – you’re writing will be so perfect it will actually look childish!
(8) Write them in the right order!
It’s often possible to tell if you wrote a kanji in the right order. If you mess it up, some people may notice. It’s easy to forget the correct order and fall into bad habits, so don’t let your guard down! Pretty much all kanji start from the top and work there way down.
(9) Keep in mind how similar some kanji and hiragana are!
Unlike fonts, when it comes to handwriting it can be pretty easy to mistake a couple of similar kanji. That’s why you need to make sure both you and someone else can actually differentiate them.
One, if not the most important way to get your Japanese writing skills up is to practice. However, don’t make the mistake of rewriting the same kanji a hundred times over. When you practice writing kanji, you should practice writing it from memory. I usually write about 10-20 words in hiragana or in English and try to write them all one after the other. If you can’t remember, have a little peak and try to write again. Repeat until you can write them all from memory!
So, that’s it. 10 tips on how to write Japanese well. If you’re looking for tips on how to do Japanese calligraphy well… then I’m afraid that’s a whole other story!