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Manyōgana (万葉仮名, まんようがな, lit. “kana of ten thousand leaves (i.e. words)”)

Manyōgana was a pool of Chinese characters used to compensate for grammatical differences between Chinese and Japanese languages, after Chinese characters were introduced to Japan around the 5th century C.E. Manyōgana was applied as grammatical fillings, postfixes, particles, etc. In other words, it was nothing but kanji used purely for phonetic reasons. Around the 12th century there were approximately 1000 kanji ((漢字), かんじ, i.e. “characters of Han China”) in use as manyōgana. Manyōgana was a first step in developing truly unique Japanese calligraphy script – kana (かな). Manyōgana belongs to the wayō (和様, わよう, i.e. “Japanese style”) style of calligraphy.

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Page last modified on November 02, 2011, at 09:51 AM