Codex Gamicus
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Basic Information

Japanese (日本語|Nihongo?) is the national language of Japan.

Writing System[]

Today, the Japanese writing system is made up of three groups of characters.

  • Kanji: Chinese characters that have been adopted for Japanese usage. These characters were the original form of written language, and have been in usage since the 5th century BC. Today, about 2000-3000 kanji are commonly used in Japan.
    • Furigana is a Japanese reading aid, which consists of smaller kana or syllabic characters, printed next to kanji or other characters to indicate their pronunciation.
  • Hiragana: Hiragana is a phonetic character set, which evolved from the simplification of Chinese characters. Today, hiragana is made up of 46 characters, each of which corresponds to a different syllable used in the Japanese language (there are 2 obsolete hiragana no longer in use). It is used to write particles, suffixes for verbs and adjectives, and other miscellaneous native words that either have no modern kanji equivalent or where the use of kanji would be too formal.
  • Katakana: Like hiragana, katakana is a phonetic character set. It is generally used to write onomatopoeia, transcribe foreign words into Japanese writing, and write words that are borrowed from other languages. For example, the Japanese word for television is テレビ (romanized as "terebi").