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  • Writer's pictureAkiko Murakami

Japanese love to adapt new ideas and things from abroad and "Japanize" them

If you carefully look at the products, foods in Japan, you can see many things are not originally from Japan. There are many things introduced to Japan from overseas, and over time, uniquely developed into a "Japanized" forms and now become very popular for daily uses.

⚫️Some examples:

Deep fried curry bun, usually called "curry pan (カレーパン)":

Both "curry" and "bread" are foods from abroad, but no, now this has become a very popular Japanese food, made and sold at any bakery.

"Gyoza (餃子)", "Ramen(拉麺)" were originally from China、but the styles and the tastes were developed in Japan, and now they have become many people's favorite Japanese foods.

Another obvious example is, many types of cars produced by many worldly famous Japanese car brands; "TOYOTA", "HONDA", "SUZUKI", "NISSAN", etc. etc.

From the ancient times, Japanese people have been very curious about new things, culture and manners, brought from abroad, and eager to adapt them for the betterment of their lives. (as much as possible).

Adaptation the Chinese characters, or Kanji, were said to be date back to the 6 century. It was the time, when Japan was gradually united, civilized. ..under the authority of the Emperor. During the time, there were many Chinese and Korean immigrants who could read and write texts in Chinese (Kanji ) working as the Japanese government officials.

Later, in the 9th century, Japanese developed two original alphabets, basically the simplified forms of Kanji, called "Hiragana" and "Katakana".


Today, any Japanese books, online contents, whatsoever are all written with the combination of the following 3 letters.

Kanji 漢字 (ex.桜) =adapted Chinese characters, mainly used to write nouns or names of objects.

For the daily use,

have a formal, strong, sophisticated nuance.

Hiragana: ひらがな(ex.さくら)= the cursive form of Japanese syllabarywriting. It is derived from the shape of Chinesecharacters. It first appeared in the Heian period, 9the century. During the time, Hiragana was used by high -class ladies. Hiragana texts look rather feminine, gentle and human compared to Kanji.

→ first letter is kanji 「安」→ simplified into Hiragana「あ (a)」

Hiragana has developed from kanji

Katakana: カタカナ(ex.サクラ)= the angular form of Japanese syllabary writing. It first appeared in the Heian period and is now used for writing foreign words. Katakana texts look rather un-human.



Just to give you the nuance difference of each characters:

Let me show you the written sentence of

" My name is Akiko" in 3 different forms.

Normal way: (combination o the 3)


All in Hiragana:


All in Katakana:


All in alphabet:

Watashi no namae wa Murakami Akiko desu.

Thus, when the calligraphers make their works, (logo-designs, etc. )they can choose from the 3 letters and alphabet according to the image they wish to make.

Here is the example of hand copied book of "The tale of Genji", written by Murasaki Shikibu in the 9th century. Unlike all in Chinese characters, with Hiragana, has a rather personal, gentle flow, don't they ?

personal notes,




haiku or waka (classical Japanese poems)


were written like this, using ink and brush until the modern days.



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