Frequently Asked Questions


Why I can't play audio?

Please check if the audio volume is not on mute.

If that's not the case, you may need to install Adobe Flash Player.

Go to Adobe Flash Player Download page and install the program.

If you can't play only specific files, please report us. We will fix it.

Why I can't play animation?

You need Adobe Flash Player, a free application distributed by Adobe Systems.

Go to Adobe Flash Player Download page and install the program.

Why I can't view the PDF files?

You need Adobe Reader, a free application distributed by Adobe Systems.

Go to Adobe Reader Download page and install the program.

I see strange characters and can't read them at all.

Try to change the text encoding property to "unicode".

Page Top

About Learning

Is it possible to master Japanese through online study?

Partly yes. Online study can improve your intellectual understanding and help to memorize characters and words quickly.

This site provides different types of exercise, but you still need to get used to the actual conversation.

Making Japanese friends or having language-exchange partners (teaching each other) would be a great solution.

How long does it take to master Japanese?

Basic conversational skills can be gained quickly - the grammar is simpler than most European languages.

But the writing system is complex. It can take several years to master.

The following are general guidelines;

Beginner Level: 300 hours of study

Intermediate Level: 600 hours of study

Advanced Level: 900 hours of study

See Study Guide page for more details.

Do I still need to go to Japanese language school?

This site cannot be a substitute for Japanese language schools.

For better results, it is recommended to go to school if you can.

Teachers at school can correct your mistakes and can give you appropriate advice. Having classmates would be helpful too.

Page Top

About Characters

How many characters do I have to learn?

In Japanese, three types of characters - Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji are used in a mixed way.

Hiragana has 75 letters (46 basic letters + 29 modified forms).

Katakana has 81 letters (46 basic letters + 35 modified forms).

Kanji has thousands of characters. About 2,000 are commonly used.

Hiragana and Katakana can be mastered in 1-4 weeks each. It would take 1-2 years to master 2,000 Kanji.

See Characters page for more details.

What are the letters with a bar on top (ā ū ē ō)?

These are long vowels (long a u e o) in the Hepburn system of Romanization (transliteration of Japanese sounds in Roman alphabets).

What is 五十音(gojū-on)?

It literally means "50 sounds". Traditionally, basic syllables are organized in a form of a table with 5 columns x 10 rows. This table is called 五十音図(gojū-on zu) / table of 50 sounds.

In general, 46 basic letters of Hiragana and Katakana are called gojū-on.

See Hiragana page for more details.

Page Top

About Writing

Is it necessary to write in correct stroke order?

Yes. It's natural and efficient. You can write the character quickly.

Wrong stroke order often results improper shape of the letter.

Which type of font should I refer for my handwriting practice?

Shapes of letters are different in different fonts.

In Japan, students learn how to write by imitating letters in kyōkashotai font.

The Kyōkashotai font has little decorative elements and is suitable to get familiar with the correct shape of letters.

In this site, original Kyōkashotai font is used on character study pages.

Page Top