Kinda out-of-topic.

I know that old Japanese books are written in Classical Chinese (or Written Chinese), like 日本書紀/Nihon Shoki. As I have known, Chinese people learn Classical Chinese quite well and many of them can understand books written in it.

So, do Japanese people learn or write in it? How well will Japanese people learn? :-)


漢文 (Classical Chinese) is taught in 高校 (at least at most private schools). Thus most Japanese should be vaguely familiar with the ideas of 漢文 (reading characters backwards, inserting particles, etc.), but this is not enough to be able to read 漢文 properly. Still, just by looking at the characters, the Japanese will be able to extract some meaning, of course.


I looked through a recent センター国語 past test (a standard test for college admissions) and there was a 漢文 section. So it appears at least colleges expect this, which suggests it should be somewhat common knowledge.

This wikipedia article says 漢文 counts for 25 percent of the 国語 section.

  • Wow, that is rough! Nobody has to know Shakespeare for university exams in the US. Feb 15 '14 at 23:37

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