Cheers! 「かんぱい(乾杯)!」Kanpai!

Today, I am talking about Japanese history.  But, I am neither a historian nor professor, so I share what I have learned from my history classes with you.  According to them, Japanese people already had a culture 16,500 years ago.  They used stone knives and created decorated vases.

But I’m sure nobody wants to know such an old history.  So, I will make a long story short.
Japan has been influenced by Chinese culture.  In ancient history, China was the most important country in Asia.  Maybe today, too.  China developed earlier than other regions and one of the oldest civilizations in the world.
China invented compass, gun power, paper, and printing technology, and its culture has had enormous impact on other Asian countries. For example, Japan followed Chinese ways such as writing, infrastructure of cities, a religion, government systems, and many other customs. 
I personally think one of the greatest influence by China is the writing system, “漢字 (=かんじ)” “Kan – ji”.  “Kan-ji” means Chinese characters as the letters explains themselves.
You may know this.  Japanese use three writing systems:
(1)「ひらがな」 “Hi – ra – ga – na”,
(2)「カタカナ」”Ka – ta – ka – na”, and
(3)「漢字 = かんじ」”Kan – ji”. 
We use a combination of those three types of characters. The first two are similar and based on the sound like alphabets. Both kana (hiragana & katakana) are the same set of sounds and are consist of 46 letters; hiragana is used for native Japanese words; katakana is used for words for non-Japanese words.
Chinese orthography became assimilated into Japanese writing around the 5 or 6th century. I don’t know exactly how many Chinese characters Japanese usually use.  But it is said that Japanese standard Kanji (Kanji = Chinese characters) are around 2000 letters, and at school, students learn about 1000 Chinese characters. 
So, it seems that I know 1000 letters at least, but I have never counted how many letters I can write and read.  
Anyway, an interesting about Kanji is that some countries share the same letters and same (or similar) pronunciation.
For example, the word of “乾杯”  is used in China, Korea, and Japan as far as I know.  In Japanese, the word “乾杯(= かんぱい)” is read as  “Kan- pai”.  The meaning is “Cheers!” in English.
“Kan-pai” sounds so similar to that of Chinese and Korean.   I met people from China and Korea in California and learned that we use the same word and very close pronunciation.
「漢字(かんじ)」”Kan-ji”  is phonographic writing.  All of them are based on their own meanings.  I think this is great because people get an idea at a glance of letters. 
We have covered 「漢字」& 「乾杯」today so far, so I want to share those meanings with you.


★ 漢字(かんじ)”Kan-ji”
The first letter 「漢」means “the Chinese people or Chinese language”.  It is also a name of one dynasty in ancient China.
The second letter「字」means “a word”.
Therefore, the meaning of  「漢字」 is Chinese character(s).  By the way, Japanese don’t distinguish between plural and singular nouns.
★ 乾杯(かんぱい) “Kan-pai”
The first letter 「乾」 means “dry”.
The second letter 「杯」 means “a cup”, “a glass”, or “alcholic drink”.
Therefore, the literal meaning of  「乾杯」 is “to drink up”.  But its true meaning is “Cheers!” in English.  It is interesting, isn’t it? 
You will see this word「漢字」[kan-ji] ”Chinese Characters”  in this app many times in future, so please learn this word.   Also, practice 「乾杯」 [kan-pai] ”Cheers.”
You can listen to my pronunciation by tapping a microphone image. 
I think 「乾杯(かんぱい)kan-pai」”Cheers.”  is useful if you have a party with Asian people. Lol
It seems that it is pronounced “Gan-bei” in China.

Thanks for reading!


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