Learn Japanese Writing With the Mirai Kana Chart iPad App

Total Score:  29

Japanese handwriting is expressive and beautiful.  Each letter is a small work of art. With the Mirai Kana Chart – Learn the Japanese Hiragana & Katakana Writing System app, you can practice each letter and learn to write in two different language styles.  Hiragana is used when you need to spell out a word, rather than use a kanji or symbol.  Each symbol represents a sound (or mora).  Katakana is used to spell out foreign, technical or scientific words. It is frequently used to spell out the names of Japanese companies.  The app is easy to follow, and I found it quite relaxing to practice the letters.  You can add energy to the process by testing yourself with flashcards. 

Price Rating = 5      Free.

  Ease of Use Rating = 5     It is easy to move back and forth between the two language styles and between the options – chart, flashcards or audio.

  Readability Rating = 5      The font is a good size and is displayed even larger when selected.

 Will You Use It Rating = 5     This certainly comes down to personal preference, but if you are interested in learning written Japanese language you will likely find this app enjoyable when you set aside time to devote to learning, as well as when you just have a few minutes and want to practice one letter.

 Downsides Rating =  – 0   I have not discovered any downsides.  It only presents in landscape, but that allows for nice display of all the possible icons.  iTunes indicates that it comes in multiple languages (English, Dutch, French, German, Italian and Traditional Chinese), but I didn’t see the setting to change this. I will check with the developer about this.

  Consumer Review Rating = 4   This app was just introduced this week and does not have sufficient reviews to give it an iTunes ranking.  I have found nothing that detracts from the app, and will give it a four-star rating – which is what I expect it to have eventually.  Perhaps it will be rated even higher.

 Why Do You Need This App Rating = 5    Studies show that learning a new language helps your brain grown and stay healthy.

How does it work? 

  1. The app opens to the Hiragana Chart mode.  Here are your options. 1)  Two Languages; 2) Either language as a chart; 3) Either language with flashcards; Or, either language with audio.
  2. After selecting a language, you can begin learning.  When you tap an individual letter or sound in the chart mode, you open a screen that shows the symbol in ten different fonts.  They vary from ones that represent standard fonts like Gothic to ones that mimic brush or pen strokes.
  3. You select the font you want and tap the pencil icon on the right side of your screen.  The next screen has a 1/4 page size letter on the left side that continuously draws the letter to show you how to write it.  Most of the page is filled with a box to allow you to practice writing the characters.  If you don’t like your effort, you can tap the trash can on the right to erase your efforts.  (I’m getting pretty good at “MA”).  You can also switch to another letter by tapping the forward or backward arrows at the bottom of the screen.
  4. While in the individual letter mode, you can return to the main screen by tapping the arrow near the top.
  5. Back at the main screen, you can switch to flashcards to check your recognition of each letter.
  6. Another option is to tap the audio button.  In this mode, you can choose individual letters to hear the sounds. You can tap two or three symbols quickly to hear words.
  7. You can also change the screen from Light to Dark by toggling the buttons at the top right.  I preferred the light, but let me know what you think.
  8. Remember, you can do all of these steps for both Hiragana and Katakana.

This is a full-featured app that is both educational and relaxing.  I find the process of creating the letters in the exact same form to be almost like meditating. Try it and let me know what you think.

Devices:  This app can be designed for the iPad.  It requires iOS 6.1 or later.  App developed by Mirai LLP.

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