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Why is stroke order important when writing Japanese characters?

Why do I need to practice stroke order?

Japanese characters are composed of strokes and each character is intended to be written in a certain order.

It is very important to learn the correct stroke order as this will help you intuitively know how to write new characters and it has a big effect on how readable it ends up looking.

Hiragana Stroke Order

Kanji Stroke Order

Why don’t some of the stroke order diagrams match the displayed Kana or Kanji?

This is because the glyph (shape) of the handwritten form is different from the printed (typed) form. Example: き (ki).

Similarly, this also is the case for Kanji. Example: 冷 (Cool).

Why? Well, this is no different to the English language where some characters are written differently than they are typed or printed.

In English, some letters appear differently. Same in Japanese.
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