Writing Kanas for Fast Learning

A very often overlooked study technique, especially when someone is just getting started with Hiragana and Katakana, is taking the time to just write! With our overabundance of technology, it’s so easy to just use some flashcard app to drill these characters into memory.

However, I have found that it’s far faster and effective to get yourself writing the kanas as soon as you start learning. This can be kind of intimidating for many people though - these characters look so hard! And Kanji?! How am I going to figure all of that out?

The ancient Japanese solution? stroke ordering.

Understanding Stroke Order

The first aspect of writing anything in Japanese is to be aware of the importance of stroke order. If you’ve ever tried to dicipher sloppy English handwriting, you know that sometimes you have to rely on certain parts of how a letter is written to get an idea what it’s supposed to be. With as complex as Japanese characters can be, this is even more important.

Basically, stroke order helps guarantee that, if your letter isn’t perfect, people can still understand what you were trying to write.

Katakana and Hiragana writing guides

I’ve generated PDFs from http://kanji.genkigeek.com for you for all the hiragana and katakana characters:

Please print these out and try writing each character at least 10 times. To help re-enforce what each character means, repeat aloud the sound that character represents while you write it.

Anki Writing Practice Drill Deck

Below is a writing practice deck that you can use for studying either Hiragana or Katakana. The answer side provides you both readings, a sound byte, and in many cases an image of the stroke order. To use, grab yourself a piece of paper (grid paper is perfect for writing practice!), and fire you your Anki deck. Now, instead of trying to picture the answer in your head, write it down. How close did you get?

What is Anki? A fantastic (and free for desktop computers) Flashcard app: http://ankisrs.net/

Special thanks to the original deck, submitted to the Anki community: Anki kana practice deck