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1.
Kanji (literally "Chinese characters) are one of the four writing systems used in modern Japanese. The other three (hiragana, katakana, and romaji) are phonetic alphabets, like the ones used in English, Italian, Spanish Greek, Arabic, etc. Kanji, on the other hand, are not phonetic, but convey a meaning, and can often be pronounced in several different ways. The kanji meaning "down" or "below" has about 10 pronunciations. ::eek:: Most kanji, however, have about 2 or 3 pronunciations. Kanji are very useful, considering how many homophones there are in Japanese. Kanji allow the reader to distinguish between two words that have identical pronunciations and completely different meanings (e.g. "Koukou" can mean "high school" or "sexual intercourse." They have the same pronunciation, but are written with different kanji.) About 2,000 kanji are used in everyday Japanese, and yes, they are a hassle to memorize, but there are certain patterns (called radicals) that appear in dozens of kanji, which makes memorization easier. (e.g. The figure that looks "like three horizontal lines on top of a square" is seen in numerous kanji, most of which have meanings that are related to speaking or reading.)
Kanji are coOoOoOol.

They should offer Japanese in more high schools.
by nihongo July 05, 2004
 
2.
A writing system imported from China several centuries ago and still in use today in Japan. Unlike katakana and hiragana, each pictogram does not represent a syllable, but meaning. Two or more kanji can be placed together to form compound words. You can also combine with hiragana.

Books aimed at a younger audience will often have furigana giving the pronunciation for kanji and its compounds.
"I don't know how to pronounce this word because it's written in kanji!"
by Kat January 21, 2004
 
3.
It is, and means, the Chinese characters. This conceptual writing system is believed to be totally archaic by the European linguistic experts who don't have a single idea about the whole thing. Their logic goes as follows, from the most primitive to their Latin:
pictures - hieroglyphs - kanji - syllabary (on the Cyprus island) - Greek - LATIN.
Which is a complete nonsense, to say at least. I will try to explain why KANJI is the best script for certain Asian countries and why it should come to our general knowledge as well.
When a language contains a lot of homophones, which is seen on a regular basis in Japanese and Chinese, putting it simply phonetically will not do for more complex texts. So the text is much more clear with the glyphs. It shall also be taken into consideration that different scripts are optimised for different audiences. Unlike Latin, which was developed for general public and needed to express tongue-twisting sounds, and is therefore good for fast learning (some children learn it in 1 week), the Kanji is targetted to well-educated and subsequently wise people. It is also proved that when one masters Kanji, he can absorb information 2 times faster than when reading Roman letters. But there's more: Unlike Latin letters, one can see interesting coherences in the Kanji's radicals, which allow an experienced reader to understand a new character without exactly remembering it, and, what's more interesting, enrich their mind with understanding how a difficult word can be made of the simpler ones.
Now one piece of information related strictly to the Japanese use of Kanji: They use both traditional and simplified variants of it, which may complicate simultaneous learning of Chinese and Japanese. They also include okurigana suffixes after the word roots to express the tense.
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by Zdenek June 08, 2004
 
4.
One of the four (if you include romaji) Japanese alphabets. Kanji is the most commonly used alphabet but also contains the most characters.
1) Kanji is one of the 4 Japaense alphabets.
2) I wish I understood more Kanji
by Dark Konoko September 10, 2003