The kanji are very confusing to me. Not quite sure how to read them phonetically. Of course ' I am just getting familiar with katakana and hiragana. Is there a way to decipher kanji into hiragana? Or at least recognize the phonetics?

  • 1
    Could you show what research effort you've put into answering this question yourself? – Darius Jahandarie Mar 31 '14 at 19:30

Starting from zero I'm afraid there isn't, however once you have learned a couple dozen you'll start to notice phonetic elements that some characters have in common.

For example:

  • All the following are pronounced ドウ because they contain 同: 同、胴、銅、洞
  • All the following are pronounced チュウ because they contain 中: 中、仲、忠
  • All the following are pronounced チョウ because they contain 丁: 丁、町、庁

The reliability of these groupings is not necessarily universal. There are some characters which are used as phonetic elements within other characters, but have a different base reading themselves:

  • 予 is pronounced ヨ, but when serving as a phonetic marker it usually is pronounced ジョ: 序、抒、舒

There are also others that are false friends (a group exists, but apparent members fall outside of it), or where the same element can be used to mark two different sounds depending on the character.

Another thing to remember about this is that it'll usually point you to just one reading of a kanji character—not necessarily the most common one, and always an on-reading. For kun-readings and other on-readings, your best bet is to learn words that use them and practice using them while they're fresh in your mind. If you approach kanji unafraid, you'll find they stick in your passive memory (e.g. recall) relatively easily over time.

| improve this answer | |

Even though there are some similarities and some rules that might help you to remember kanji (as pointed out by Kaji), they are not systematic. The way the on-reading has come to its present form from Chinese means that there are really no overall rules.

See what works well for you but for me trying to remember any possible rules of kanji pronunciation was less important than remembering pronunciation itself. There's enough to learn.

As for kun-readings, they don't follow any rules at all as the kanji were just adopted to existing native Japanese words based on meaning mostly.

You need to establish the method of learning that will work best for you. For me, the best thing that worked was just a lot of practice. I found furigana to get in the way after a while - I was reading kana too much without looking at kanji. I tried to find sources without it to practice. I also try to read all the kanji in my head when learning by reading - it helps to memorise them.

| improve this answer | |

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.