The Japanese Writing System
A Brief History
The Japanese writing system can be traced back to around the 4th century, when the written Chinese language was introduced to Japan.
Initially, this was not used for writing Japanese: to be a literate Japanese was evidenced by the ability to read and write in classical Chinese.
The Three Systems Of Writing
Written Japanese combines three distinct styles of characters or symbols: kanji, hiragana and katakana. A fourth style, romaji has also been developed, which uses the roman alphabet.