The two Japanese syllabaries – Hiragana and katakana, together, are known as the kanas. In English, we also use two different systems to write our sounds – lower-case and upper-case:
A Japanese learning the roman alphabet will initially find it difficult to tell apart some characters:
わ, れ, ね
け, せ, サ
ウ, ワ, フ, ス, ヌ
ソ, ン, ノ
は, ほ, ま
ク, ケ, タ
Remembering particular characters is more difficult than recognizing them; hence, the following charts are for when we are already familiar with the characters, and no longer need a header in English to remind us of their sounds. The second chart is helpful to get the characters’ proportions right, if we are interested in writing them.
Here are a two templates of kanji character paper to practice writing in the traditional Japanese style, i.e., vertically, from the right column to the left one.
This chart is interactive; click on a character to see its stroke order. Sometimes there is a marker for the beginning of a stroke in the middle of a continuous stroke, e.g., な, ふ, む, ゆ; this means that we can write the character with either the continuos stroke, or breaking it and starting a new stroke at the marker. We will tend to find continuous strokes in computer fonts, while handwritten characters tend to split the stroke.