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Japanese, A Beautifully Complex Writing System

As a Japanese person living in Europe, I’m sometimes asked: “Japanese is a difficult language, isn’t it?” Those asking are often surprised when my answer is a simple: “No, actually, it’s not.”
While it is true (at least to many Westerners) that Japanese is an exotic language, when compared to learning other European languages, it may seem harder because it has no relation to their own language. But from my own experiences of learning English and German (and also from seeing some European friends learning Japanese), I can say with confidence that learning spoken Japanese is, in fact, not so difficult. The grammar is in many ways simpler than most European languages. Take for example the fact that we don’t have cases, grammatical genders, nor articles. However, reading and writing in Japanese is… well, not so simple.

A typical page layout of a Japanese paperback novel

traditional calligraphy is always done vertically

With its organic flow, characters are often connected and have different heights and widths

A typical newspaper layout

Tokyo Metro map with more typography in differing directions.

Letters from my friends

Soseki Natsume's “Sanshiro”

Kotobuki Shiriagari's