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I'm having a hard time understanding hand-written Japanese. I don't mean just elaborate calligraphy, but also normal stuff. Also writing natural looking Japanese is a problem.

Although I could ask someone about a concrete Kanji, I'd like to improve my ability to be able to deal with it. Apparently, it's an issue for most learners of Japanese. Maybe the Chinese don't have this problem, since they build from a different base.

Are there resources where I could maybe read the hand-written parallel to the typed version? I don't need just individual Kanji, but full texts, notes, faxes (seem to be quite common still in Japan still).

  • This is probably more of a meta question. – droooze Oct 31 '18 at 23:10
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    Agree that it's more of a meta question, but a good basic starting alternative is to install "handwriting" fonts onto your machine and use them to write out sentences and note the differences and similarities to each other between the "handwritten" style and the "typed" style – psosuna Oct 31 '18 at 23:32
  • I would say practicing writing yourself is the best way to go. If you write a lot by hand, and you do it correctly (proper stroke order), you will eventually figure out the patterns and recognize them in other writing too. – deceze Oct 31 '18 at 23:47
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    Maybe you can check these fonts out? – Tommy Nov 12 '18 at 4:57
  • @Tommy: yes, nice tip, that helps. – Pierre B Nov 15 '18 at 1:48
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Your actual language ability plays an important part in text recognition. Also, there is no satisfactory substitute apart from actually reading lots of handwritten notes and gaining experience.

Without knowing what your comprehension level is at, I suggest downloading some fonts and tweaking your web browser or pasting text in a word processor to the different font.

Recognising handwriting is part of a bigger skill of accommodating for shape variations in kanji. For minimum comprehension skills, stick to Japanese-only shapes:

Beginner:

Intermediate:

Google can point you to some places where you can find similar fonts to the above for free, but they have strict usage terms so I won't link them directly here.


If these are too standard, or you've reached a skill cap, you can try for fonts designed for outside of the Japanese region. Most modern East Asian fonts will include kana regardless of language, so you should be fine. Note that Chinese/Taiwanese, Japanese, and Korean handwriting habits are actually shared to a very large degree, despite national policies encouraging writing and printing in their different respective "standard" ways, so there is no harm in widening your tolerance of kanji shapes.

Using the following are not recommended for beginners, if you're still grasping the basics of kanji.

Intermediate:

  • Korean and Chinese printed standards (e.g. from Google Noto Fonts)

    enter image description here

    Noto Serif CJK KR

    The Korean standard is very useful for higher levels of kanji recognition, as it unifies some of the component shape inconsistencies in Jōyō kanji, and is also a step towards reading pre-War materials in kyūjitai.

  • Imitation Song (宋朝体・仿宋体)

    enter image description here

    文悅古體仿宋

    This is a commonly used Chinese printed shape standard which looks somewhat like stiff handwriting.

  • Hard-tipped pen fonts

    enter image description here

    方正硬筆楷書

Advanced:

  • @drooze What is the name of the hard-tipped pen font that you mention and show above? – kandyman Nov 1 '18 at 9:42
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    @kandyman it is called 方正硬筆楷書, by a notable foundry 方正. It’s not useful for Japanese unfortunately, as I don’t think it supports kana (and therefore unlikely to support Shinjitai). There should be Japanese equivalents, but I’m not familiar enough with Japanese typography to know them. – droooze Nov 1 '18 at 11:35

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