Learning The Koto

I’ve wanted to learn to play the koto for years. I think it’ss such a beautiful sounding instrument. I already take lessons for violin so learning to play the koto was just a matter of saving and time. I began taking lessons in the fall of 2018 and took a break to focus on school but I’m looking at starting again soon since school is almost done for the year. Learning about the instrument was a lot of fun and it’s definitely a challenging instrument.

 

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My Amazing Koto!

 

I purchased my own koto through Chords Canada. Their customer service was great and purchasing was easy.

When learning to play the koto there will be kanji you need to know in order to read more traditional music. The music goes by string number so the sheet music uses kanji 1-10 plus three unique kanji for strings 11, 12 and 13.

 

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First page of my music book for the koto.

 

Don’t be overwhelmed by the music, once you learn how to read it it’s much less complicated than it seems. When I get back into playing regularly I’ll try to post a video!

For anyone that wants to give it a try, go for it! You only live once and I recommend learning to play. It truly is so beautiful sounding.

 

 

The Basics

When learning Japanese it’s often recommended to start learning Hiragana and Katakana to start out. Kanji comes later but these are the basics to getting you started with reading and writing. Romaji is simply romanization (or English writing) of Japanese characters. Personally, I wouldn’t become dependant on romaji, you will see it used at times in Japan and it is helpful to know but if your goal is to learn Japanese you’ll want to avoid becoming dependant on it.

Below I’ll post the Hiragana and Katana character charts but you can easily find them just about anywhere online and in books.

Hiragana

hiragana-chart

 

Katakana

tofugu-katakana-chart-download

Remember that the “R” row doesn’t sound like the English “R” nor does it sound exactly like the English “L” which some will suggest it does. It sounds more like a combination of both letters. A tip was given to me by a native Japanese speaker: Make both the “R” and “L” sounds and pay close attention to how your tongue sits in your mouth when you make the sounds then try positioning your tongue in between those spaces to make a combination sound. It’s tricky since it’s not a natural movement for many but with enough practice, you will get it in no time.

In terms of Kanji, we are talking thousands of characters. Don’t be discouraged though most places like schools, books, the JLPT have recommended Kanji to learn. There may be a lot but if you dedicate enough time and patience, learning them won’t seem so hard. Everyone has a different opinion on how to learn Kanji but mainly I suggest whatever works best for you personally.

So there you have it a simple introduction to the beginnings of the Japanese language.

Good luck!