Difference Between Chinese Writing and Japanese Writing (With Table)

“Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things, but learning another way to think about things.”, this is a quote by a famous American journalist Flora Lewis. In today’s world, learning new things is necessary since it changes and upgrades so fast. Chinese Writing and Japanese Writing is one of the most complicated writing systems to be studied, but as Flora said, it’s about learning about things.

An individual might struggle to differentiate between these pieces of writing as not only the way of how they are inscribed looks the same but once, a person gets ahold any of the two, they will see the difference clearly. Not only the meaning of the words are different, the grammar, vowels, and other means of writing that complete the writing is different as well.

Chinese Writing vs Japanese Writing 

The difference between Chinese Writing and Japanese Writing is that both of these languages use a different set of characters for writing them. Chinese Writing uses Chinese characters, while Japanese Writing uses three sets of characters to write. These are Kanji, Hiragana, and Katakana. Kanji is the one that Japanese writing takes from Chinese Writing.

Chinese Writing is a logosyllabic writing system. The writing uses Chinese Characters, known as Hanzi, to inscribe. It is one of the oldest writing languages, the first examples being dated to 1192 BC. During the 20th century, Chinese Writing was divided into two forms: Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese.

Japanese Writing is made up of mostly of three different types of scripts: Kanji, Hiragana, and Katakana. The language is one of the complicated writing today since it uses not one but three scripts, and in that, Kanji script consists of a large number of characters. Both Hiragana and Katakana have 46 characters each.

Comparison Table Between Chinese Writing and Japanese Writing

Parameters of ComparisonChinese Writing Japanese Writing
SystemsChinese characters- HanziKanji, Hiragana and Katakana
Language family Sino-Tibetan Japonic or the Japanese-Ryukyuan
Consonants Twenty-five Eighteen
 Vowels  Ten vowelsFive vowels
Way of writing It starts from the right side then go to the left side.It starts from the right side then go downward.

What is Chinese Writing?

Chinese Writing is one of the earliest forms of writing. It is one of the earliest languages to be founded that is used to date, though now new modifications have been added. The letters of the language are based on images. The writing entirely consists of Hanzi that have come up from images.

As stated earlier, Chinese Writing is divided into two forms that are Traditional Chinese, which still is used in an active form as a language in countries like Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. The other form, Simplified Chinese Writing, is used in countries like Malaysia, Singapore, and mainland China. Now, the new modern way of Chinese Writing is used, which is called Mandarin.

There are other types of Chinese as well, like Cantonese and Hokkien, and though they are no that popular but can be and are still used as well. The set of Chinese characters consists of thousands of words, and even though it is a group of characters, it only has five vowels.

What is Japanese Writing?

Japanese Writing is a system of writing that uses Kanji, Hiragana, and Kana. All these forms are logograms, meaning signs that represent characters. Hiragana is a set of syllabary characters. Katakana is an angular script that has been derived from the Kana writing system. The main writing system has been inspired by Chinese Writing.

Japanese Writing may look the same as Chinese Writing, but the words are pronounced entirely differently. Between the three systems that the language uses to write, Hiranaga is supposed to be the easiest of the three. And the set Katakana is used for new and foreign words.

Kanji is the set of characters that Japanese Writing has borrowed from Chinese Writing. The way of writing Japanese characters in writing is to start from the right side of the page and then go down. The letters are wider and have space between them in comparison to Chinese Writing.

Main Differences Between Chinese Writing and Japanese Writing 

  1. Chinese Writing has ten vowels in its language, while Japanese Writing has only five in comparison.
  2. Hiragana is the set of syllabary characters that are used in Japanese Writing. One can identify the piece of writing if they find hiragana in it since they are wider than in comparison to Chinese Writing.
  3. Words in Chinese Writing can end on any letter of the language, like English. And on comparison, Words in Japanese Writing can only end on the letter ‘n’ or any vowel.
  4. Japanese Writing has more number of systems within the language that it uses. Three to be precise: Hiragana, Katakana & Kanji. While Chinese Writing has only one system of language that it follows, and that is Chinese characters itself.
  5. The words in Chinese Writing are short, while Japanese Writing is multisyllabic. These are those types of words that have more than usually have three syllables in a single word.


Both languages are different in different aspects. One could not be fluent in another if they have knowledge of either of the languages, whether it be Chinese Writing or Japanese Writing. And they are not only different in Writing, but the way that is spoken is quite different as well.

Chinese Writing and Japanese Writing may look similar to a person who doesn’t know either of the languages. The reason being that they use Hanji (In Chinese) and Kanji (In Japanese). But if the person gets a little information about the characters, they would be able to distinguish between the writing of the two languages.


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0166223684801988
  2. https://books.google.co.in/books?id=WDw4gBaPjZgC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Chinese+writing+vs+Japanese+writing&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi￾jfmHy8fwAhVBOSsKHaCHD54Q6AEwAHoECAMQAw#v=onepage&q=Chinese%20writing%20vs%20Japanese%20writing&f=false2
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