15 Interesting Facts About the Japanese Language 日本語の特徴

Amazing Japanese

Japanese is a fascinating language for a Westerner, made up of multiple ideograms, many homophones and a grammar far very different from other languages. Discover many curiosities that will charm lovers of Japan!

3 / There are four alphabets in Japanese. First, there were the Chinese characters or kanji, which were introduced between 4th and the 6th century via Korea. Hiragana is used to write particular grammatical particles and verb endings, and katakana is used for foreign words. Finally, romaji, or the Roman alphabet, is also used in Japan.

Kanji dictionary

Kanji Dictionary


6 / Reading proper names differs from reading common names! Indeed, in addition to the reading on-yomi and kun-yomi there is a so-called nanori reading exclusive to proper names, and which may (or not) influence the reading of the name. So if the surname Takahashi 高橋 is pronounced " taka-hashi ", that is to say the kun-yomi reading of kanji, the feminine first name Nozomi 希 uses the nanori reading! A maze in which even the Japanese can get lost!

7 / Japanese has a large number of common words with Chinese. This is due to the influence that Chinese culture had on Japan. 

Japanese calligraphy

The "first calligraphy of the year" ceremony


11 / The figures in Japanese are followed by a counter specific to the type of object being counted. So if we refer to 2 books, we write 二冊ni-satsu or "two books" while when if we mention 2 cars, we write 二 台ni-dai or "two machines".

12 / Numbers in Japanese also have an on-yomi reading and a kun-yomi reading. The first is the most used, to count most objects or living things. The Japanese reading is applied to the number of days or if there is no specific counter.

Kanji numbers 1 to 10

Kanji numbers 1 to 10


Latest Articles

Meanings and uses of the Japanese phrase "so desu ne"

Desu ne meaning: Understanding the versatile Japanese phrase

The Japanese phrase "desu ne" is commonly encountered by learners of the language, but its various meanings and uses can be confusing at first.

Famille japonaise

Japanese surnames

In Japan, there are more than 100 000 different family names! This is much more than in China and Korea, even though they are Japan's neighbors.

Interior of a Japanese train with the driver

The words to know to take the train in Japan

As an essential means of transport, the train will take you to the four corners of Japan safely, quickly, and punctually... as long as you choose your route carefully.

See All (33)