Can some one please tell me why there is co much Chinese kanji in the Japanese writing. Example Kyoto is spelled with the Han character from China. WTF??? I'm just starting out and I'm in Hiragana and thought I would check my characters for Kyoto against it. Then I had to research why I couldn't recognize the hiragana. This is just one of the multiple words I have come across like this.

Seriously, I need a quick history lesson as to why this is. From my understanding Nippon and China are sworn enemies. Why would they use the language?

October 23, 2017


The English writing system comes from the Romans, and yet English-speaking countries were "sworn enemies" against Italy in World War II. I don't think anyone seriously suggested abandoning the English writing system because of political differences with Italians. At some point, the writing system just became as much ours as theirs.

The same is true of "Chinese" characters in Japanese. Japanese has been using those characters for over 1000 years. They are as much Japanese characters as they are Chinese.

I don't remember where I heard this, but a loose definition of Kanji is, "Chinese-styled Japanese." (

I believe it was Korean ambassadors who brought over the Chinese writings as a gift to the Japanese emperor (maybe around 700AD or CE). As I understand it, the Japanese didn't really have a writing system at that point...

A quick wikipedia search would probably clarify but I'm at work waiting on an appointment...

Kan was a dynasty in China of 400 years span from about 200 B.C. and was then a world superpower. Ji means "character". Without studying history you can imagine about the cultural and technological influences of a superpower to its surrounding areas. It is the same for Greek and Roman culture as to Europe.

(Note: Kan 漢 is pronounced as Han in Chinese so search for Han Dynasty if you are interested to know more. Myths linked with Japan actually started before the Han Dynasty.)

Thank you everyone. This question has perplexed me for some time and now I know. I love the internet.

The very first people in Japan came from China. Then, Japan people changed most of the characters into a different look and changed almost all of the meanings and the way you pronounce it. But then hundreds of years later, Japan wanted to take over China and then they became enemies. But now we live in peace so ya I have answered your question.

Learn Japanese in just 5 minutes a day. For free.