Japanese Genkouyoushi and Essay Tips

It’s a type of paper used in all manuscripts of writing in Japanese. Vertical writing usually starts from right to left and top to bottom. Horizontal writing starts from left to right and top to bottom. Here are some tips for you.

Vertical Writing

  1. Title: write the title in the 1st line. The 1st word starts from the 4th square. If the title starts with numbers, write them in Kanji.
  2. Name: writer’s name is on the 2nd line. Last name comes before the first name. Leave 1 square between the last and first name. Leave 1 square below the first name as well.
  3. The First Sentence of the Essay or Paragraph: starts from the 3rd line in the 2nd square. Each new paragraph starts from the 2nd square.
  4. Punctuation Marks: usually occupy their own squares. Exception: when they will occur at the top of next line, we write them at the bottom right quarter next to the last word of the current line.
  5. Small Characters: each occupies 1 square and we place it on the top right quarter of the square.
  6. The Subheading (if applicable): has 1 empty line before and after. It starts from the 3rd square of a new line. If there are no subheadings, just start the next paragraph in a new line after the previous one.
  7. Elongation Mark: when writing from top to bottom, the elongation mark should also be written from top to bottom in the middle of the square.
  8. Writing Numbers: use kanji instead of Arabic number. One number occupies 1 square.

Horizontal Writing

  1. All the rules (1-8) in vertical writing would normally apply to horizontal writing.
  2. Small characters occupy in the bottom left quarter of 1 square.
  3. When writing conversation script, we use the Japanese quotation mark.

Essay Tips

  • Always aim to write about 90% of the words required. Between 90-100% is great. Below 80% will not give you good marks.
  • Always write Kanji if you can. Too many Hiragana will not help you get good marks.
  • Be consistent. Stick to whichever the form you choose to use for sentences throughout the essay. To include all what you wanted to write about without exceeding the word limits, we recommend to use the plain form. The plain form also gives the friendly feeling to readers.
  • Avoid using slang or colloquial words/ expression in the formal essay writing.
  • Avoid repeating the same words or the same content too often.
  • Avoid writing a sentence that is longer than 2 lines of the Genkouyoushi.
  • Ensure the logic of the sentence flows.
  • Ensure there are no typos or writing errors. e.g., You are thinking of 1 word but you wrote it differently.
  • If you need to write in pencil, please make sure you choose the proper one for clarity of reading and ease of writing.

‘H’ indicates the hardness. e.g., 3H is harder than H.

‘B’ indicates the blackness. e.g., 3B is softer than B.

‘F’ indicates that you sharpen the pencil to a fine point.

Japanese Language Learning Tips – Proper Use of "-San"

In this Japanese language learning tips article, I will explain the proper use of “-San” in Japanese. “-San” is frequently misused by beginning learners of Japanese, but there is a simple rule you can follow that will ensure you get it right every time.

When to Use the “-San” Form of Address in Japanese

“-San,” as in Tanaka-san or Smith-san, is a form of Japanese address that just about everyone is familiar with, whether or not they are a learner of the language. “-San” is used to address someone in a polite, somewhat formal manner. 

Just as in English we would address someone we don’t know that well or someone with a somewhat higher status than us as “Mr.” or Ms.,” in Japanese we would use “-San” in much the same way, with one important difference: in Japan, there is a much greater emphasis on formality and politeness, so unless the person you are communicating with is a very close friend or intimate, you should ALWAYS use the “-San” form of address.

In the West, where we tend to be much more informal, we may initially address a person we have just met as “Mr.” or “Ms.” and then after a few minutes take the liberty of addressing that person by their first name. In Japan, this is a big no-no. Never eliminate the “-san” form of address when speaking to a Japanese person unless specifically invited to do so by that person. 

The Most Important Rule on Using “-San” in Japanese

In addition to the above advice, there is one essential rule you must follow regarding the use of “-San” in Japanese. When introducing or referring to yourself, NEVER call yourself “XX-San.” So if your name is Mary and you’re introducing yourself in Japanese, or even to a Japanese person speaking English, you must never say “I’m Mary-San.” In Japanese, you simply never refer to yourself using “-San.” 

Similarly, and this becomes a bit more complicated, you never address members of your own group using “-San” when speaking to persons outside of your own group. For example, when interacting with a business client or counterpart from another company using “-San,” you would never address yourself or someone from your own company as “XXX-San!” 

Forms of address in Japanese are actually quite complex and there is much more to the story, so I’ll go into more depth in another article. For now, just remember this basic advice on the use of “-San” and you’ll be assured of impressing your Japanese counterparts as a well-informed and well-mannered gaijin!