I am left handed.

A stroke from left to right is, depending on the writing utensil, inconvenient to impractical, since, instead of pulling the tip across the paper, I push, which doesn't work as well.

This isn't such a big issue with modern ballpoint pens, but especially with things like fountain pens, left-to-right strokes can result in scratching, jumping and ultimately, slow and ugly handwriting.

As a result, when writing Latin letters, I tend to write them my own way (as opposed to what I have learned in elementary school), intuitively minimizing left-to-right strokes.

With Japanese handwriting, for good reason, there is a much bigger emphasis on correct stroke order and direction, especially with kanji.

My question is, would it be a problem to reverse all left-to-right strokes in handwriting? How is this handled in Japanese schools? If anybody here is left-handed, what is your approach?

  • 2
    I don't know about Japan, but in China, my grandparents wanted to "correct" my left-handedness because it was unhandy for writing.
    – Shurim
    Commented Dec 6, 2020 at 23:07
  • 1
    @Shurim That kind of thing has happened in many countries and cultures throughout history and is still a point of debate (although on a relatively small scale) in America too.
    – By137
    Commented Dec 7, 2020 at 5:24
  • @Shurim Back when my parents were in school, that used to be normal here in Germany too.
    – user40476
    Commented Dec 7, 2020 at 21:22

2 Answers 2


The short answer is "Don't do this". I have seen many left-handed people, but no one reverses the stroke direction like you suggested.

Kanji have long been written with brushes, and the small nuances of each stroke (like hane, tome, harai) are still considered important. You can read about this in this article. For example, 口 (kuchi) must be written with three strokes like this, and almost all native speakers strictly follow this. A clever kindergartener may think it should be easier to write this character with one stroke, but they will eventually learn that's out of the question as they practice writing kanji with a brush at elementary school. They are taught to write kanji exactly the same way regardless of their handedness.

(By the way, according to my parents, they actually "corrected" my left-handedness when I was two or three. It was important to my parents. I believe few people do this in today's Japan, though.)

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    @Garbaz, to expand upon naruto's answer, I'd like to point out the "why" -- if you use different stroke orders, your character proportions will be different, and this will make it more difficult for others to read your handwriting. Commented Dec 8, 2020 at 3:42

I am left-handed, and I write everything with the same stroke direction as right-handers with no issues. In vertical writing, because the columns run right-to-left, I even find being left-handed slightly advantageous.

I do not live in Japan though, so I cannot answer how it's handled in schools there.

I do not think fountain pens are widely used in Japan or China. I wonder if fountain pens are appropriate at all for Kanji or even kana.

Japanese 'brush pens' (筆ペン) seems much better for kanji/kana, and perhaps you should try them. Since the brush pen point is flexible, no scratching or jumping will ever happen.

Raise your hand slightly when writing to avoid touching wet ink in the paper, and try to keep the pen perpendicular to the horizontal plane.

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