Man draws "Hardest kanji"

Originally published at:


Given how sloppy my English handwriting is, I have to wonder if there is such a thing as sloppy penmanship for a logographic.

For example, I typed all of my homework from 7th grade on (once I had a word processor). Not because it was faster, but because no one could read my writing.


from my cursory knowledge of how japanese writing works, there’s definitely sloppy handwriting which is why all the characters (not just kanji but also the much less complicated hiragana and katakana) have strict stroke orders and directions and there’s no learning the writing without also learning the stroke order, which helps the legibility (or at least makes guessing easier).

plus, all these huge kanji are mostly just made up of a lot of simpler radicals. I’m just guessing here but having one illegible radical is probably like having one illegible word in a longer sentence.


Cool story. How’s the doctoring coming along?

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I took Japanese in college. My Japanese was slightly more legible than my English which was probably due to the language being foreign to me. I had to think a lot more when writing (what character comes next? Oh yes, that one) and it slowed my hand down. I was, however, quite relieved when our instructor let us type our essays instead of write them by hand.


The term we used in high school was “self-encrypting”.

I remember when a bunch of my friends stole the Dungeons and Dragons notebook of the Dungeon Master only to be thoroughly disappointed when all the notes were apparently encrypted with some sort of non-English glyphs. Their reaction was “How paranoid do you have to be to write your notes in code?”

It was then pointed out that it was neither in code nor, as it turned out, paranoia.


I remember in 10th grade someone calling me a kiss ass for typing my homework. I just held up my in class notebook and asked him if he could read any of that. It was a look of confusion and WTH is that all in one. My response was, “Exactly.”

Engineering, but yeah my mom who was a nurse would comment that she hadn’t seen many doctors with a worse signature.
I told my wife very early on that teaching the kids to write was all on her. She agreed and so far so good.


You mean like Antipericatametaanaparcircumvolutiorectumgustpoops of the Coprofied?

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yes, penmanship is extremely important in all logographic languages: the difference between bird and horse is just two strokes, a single small tick is the difference between water and eternity, etc. However, if someone gets it wrong, there’s still the rest of the sentence to give context, so most people will still “get it” even if something is wrong. Just like alphabet languages, there are a few common errors that everyone does all the time.
There are extra tricks with Japanese names: multiple ways to write a character, but they have the same pronunciation and same (basic) meaning. It’s an endless source of conversation (along with blood type and local ramen strains).


It looks like it’s probably the name of a shinto god of some sort. Just based on what NJStar says the highest stroke kanji are. Indeed “okami” (god) looks like a much simplified version of the top part:


I can relate to this. I got an Apple II in elementary school, and shortly thereafter convinced my teachers to let me type assignments on it. I basically stopped handwriting from that point on in my life and 40-or-so years later my penmanship would best be described as “pile of sticks that fell down the stairs”.


Look at Running Style Chinese calligraphy. I’m sure there are similar schools for Japanese calligraphy, but I’ve never studied Japanese to even the tiny extent that I’ve studied Chinese.

Keep in mind that (as the article I linked says) there are still a lot of rules governing what you can and cannot do. Also, this is obviously not intended for everyday use.


One question: What pen is this?


Looks a bit like the taoist talisman writing…


What about taito:


Is laying out all simple radicals hard to do? I have very sloppy handwriting, but linear algebra was a particular difficult subject for me because a crooked 5x5 matrix is difficult to decipher. I suspect that crookedness also fed into my handwriting.

The stroke order is taught, and very important to calligraphy since the brush strokes need to be specific for the character. In general the stroke order is easy to remember in everyday writing: left to right, and top to bottom and after a while it just becomes kind of second nature even if you don’t really know the character. Most normal handwriting is done using shortcuts anyway since it’s faster.


Now do it with a paintbrush the size of a mop like they do in movies about old-timey Japan!

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Some of that looks like Vulcan calligraphy…