- Step 1: Understand kanji Understand that Japanese calligraphy symbols, or kanji, are simply basic representations of everyday objects; essentially, they are pictographs.
- TIP: Remember that, although Japanese kanji and Mandarin Chinese symbols are similar, the translations are often vastly different.
- Step 2: Focus on larger characters Focus on the larger parts of a character rather than smaller strokes or dots -- these carry more meaning.
- Step 3: Look for familiar pictures Look for familiar objects in nature, such as the kanji for "mountain" with three vertical lines, or the kanji for "sun," a box with one horizontal line.
- Step 4: Separate into parts Separate the whole character into parts. This can mean breaking the top and bottom apart or separating multiple characters.
- TIP: Two or more symbols can be smashed together to form a single word -- the kanji for "big" and "school" are combined to form "college."
- Step 5: Take a class or buy a dictionary Take a class and buy a dictionary. A little studying can help you understand more than you think.
- FACT: There are an estimated 1.2 million people of Japanese descent living in the United States.
You Will Need
- Foreign language class
- Japanese-to-English dictionary