Getting more serious about learning Japanese and starting over with the syllabaries. In Katakana, "u" is written in three strokes. Is there a reason why strokes two and three can't be combined? Maybe it's my Western prejudice, but it makes more sense to me to draw the first stroke, and then come up on the left, then across and down, rather than lifting the pen after coming down twice in a row.

I'm willing to bet there's a historical reason, or something related to using a brush vs a pen.

  • I don’t think Latin character stroke order is that different from Japanese or Chinese - there are no upwards strokes in the alphabet either, at least for print writing. encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/…
    – dROOOze
    Apr 18, 2022 at 2:12

1 Answer 1


Short answer: Both Hiragana and Katakana come from kanji, and kanji and its stroke order originated in China. So the stroke order for kana mimics that of the kanji. You could make the same argument for ワ, but that's not how its kanji origin works.

For reference, here are the origins:

  • 2
    One additional detail is that, as a general rule, there are very few upward strokes at all in any kanji forms. The few that I can think of are isolated single strokes, such as the last and bottom stroke in 氵, the three-stroke radical version of 水. Feb 18, 2022 at 23:53
  • 1
    Also the second stroke in 以. I've always found this kanji very outlandish for some reason.
    – jarmanso7
    Apr 18, 2022 at 2:36

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