9 Japanese Writing Exercises for Creative Language Practice

Writing is one of the most important skills you can learn in Japanese.

It involves creating your own sentences with all the Japanese words and grammar you’ve learned so far.

So how can you practice your writing skills in a way that’s fun, stimulating and rewarding?

The best answer I’ve found so far is doing unique Japanese writing exercises, especially if you do so in a journal specifically for that purpose.

Read on for my nine favorite Japanese writing practice activities!


1. The New Character Challenge

Chances are that you have a reasonably concrete study schedule set in place by now. (If not, start here!) That means you should be learning new characters—or at least seeing them pop up in your study materials—quite frequently.

What better way is there to reinforce your character studies than to practice using them?

Try keeping a record of this week’s (or this month’s) new characters. These could be hiragana, katakana or kanji, depending on your current level.

Then, use each new character at least once, in context, in your Japanese notebook or journal. The more you use them, the better!

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2. The Daily Journal Entry Challenge

Write a journal entry every day for a week.

This could be about anything. Something you did that day, something you learned in Japanese class, something you want to do in the future, a conversation you had with a friend… the possibilities are endless!

Even if things are pretty routine and dull during the week, keep track of what you do, think, feel, see or even dream.

Then, knuckle down and write seven entries in seven days. Try writing at the same time every day to get into the habit of doing it.

If you’re feeling up to an extra challenge, try to keep this going for an additional week, for a whole month or indefinitely.

3. The Character Count Challenge

Set yourself a character minimum for your journal entry for that day.

Decide how many characters you’re going to write. This will vary depending on your current Japanese skill level and your quantity of available time.

Start with 100 (yes! It’s supposed to be a challenge). If you plan on writing in mostly hiragana and katakana, increase your character count a little. One kanji character is sometimes equal to two or even three kana letters.

Then, increase your character minimum the next time to 200, then 250, then 300… You get the picture. You’ll get to know your own limits as you go.

4. The Show and Tell Challenge

This challenge is extremely difficult for some—particularly anyone who would say they’re shy or a perfectionist. You’ve got to show your journal (or at least an entry or two) to your Japanese friends for proofreading and checking.

Try not to be shy! Find a native or fluent Japanese speaker who would be willing to read your writing. Their feedback will help you figure out and improve on any mistakes you’ve made.

Not only will your reader point you in the right direction with things you’re struggling with, but they’ll most likely be very impressed with your effort and praise you on your strengths, too!

If you don’t have any Japanese friends or acquaintances, you can check out some online platforms where you’ll likely find some people who would be more than happy to check for you.

You can also use italki to find a Japanese tutor and ask them to go through your writing and offer constructive criticism.

5. The Letter Challenge

Maybe you’re all on board to try the above challenges, but there’s one little problem—you have no clue what to write!

If that’s the case, this challenge (and the next ones) will help give you more guidance and spark your creativity.

In the letter challenge, the idea is to try writing a heartfelt letter in Japanese to one of your friends (or family members, if applicable). This could be a great way to practice using Japanese honorifics.

You can also practice writing formal letters (perhaps to practice for applying to Japanese-speaking jobs) and using keigo, the most polite form of Japanese.

Or, you can simply write a casual letter to a friend who can speak Japanese. It’ll be motivating knowing that they’ll be able to read it when you’re done.

6. The Review Challenge

Think about a recent book, manga, movie or anime you’ve watched recently, then write about what you thought of it.

If you choose to write about something from your home country, bear in mind your review might be one of just a few in Japanese—perhaps even the very first!

Do you write a personal blog? Reviews are great blogging content. You might end up with a huge Japanese following!

Need more things to review? Treat yourself to a one-time Kawaii Box, or sign up for a monthly subscription. You’ll get ten adorable Japanese items in each box, ranging from yummy little snacks to toys and pencil cases, which gives you ample things to write about.

This Japanese writing exercise will give you the chance to practice descriptive adjectives. You should aim to use a good number of these in your writing—try setting a personal goal before you start.

7. The Recipe Challenge

It’s always nice when your Japanese studies can link you with delicious food.

So, choose your favorite dish—it’s totally fine to pick one native to your own country. Now, in your Japanese notebook, describe the flavors and ingredients of the dish. Talk about any customs surrounding it or seasonal consumption, if applicable.

Write out a recipe for how to prepare your dish in Japanese. It can be as complicated or as simple as you like, depending on the dish and your language level.

This is a great way to practice using imperatives and the ~てください / ~でください form.

8. The Diary Challenge

This is a good challenge to combine with the daily writing challenge in #2. Write a simple diary entry of your day or an event you recently went to. 

The diary challenge is especially good if you’re an intermediate level learner and you’re doing something exciting that week that you can write about, such as going on vacation.

However, there’s no problem with choosing a fairly normal event (going to school, work, etc.). Those are things you probably talk about often, anyway, which means you’ll get good practice with useful vocabulary and common grammar points.

In fact, this is a great way to get grammar practice or review in: You can practice tenses, adjectives, prepositions and anything else you learned recently.

9. The Memory Challenge

Up for a chance to test yourself?

Open two blank pages of your notebook, preferably side by side. On the left page, write a journal entry by yourself, with no assistance—no using a dictionary and no asking for help. If you’re writing kanji, don’t check the shape or stroke order!

When you’ve finished, check it yourself or with a friend. Then, on the right-hand page, rewrite it neatly with any corrections. Essentially, the left page is your “draft” piece, and the right page is your “final” piece.

In this format, it will be easier to see where there’s room for improvement. Beyond meaning and usage, pay special attention to any mistakes you’ve made in the shape or size of the characters.

This exercise will get you used to writing from memory and will also improve your writing confidence. If you do this practice more than once (which you should!), you’ll eventually be able to see a clear line of your progress.

Why Use a Journal for Japanese Writing Exercises?

First of all, the best way to improve your writing is by writing. A lot.

Keeping a journal gives you a designated place to store your writing. You don’t have to hunt for spare paper or take up precious space in your actual learning notebook.

Any notebook can be a writing journal, but a high quality one with lots of pages will work especially well. I recommend buying something you’d be proud to show off to people, so you can get native speaker feedback on your work.

Having a specific notebook can also help you get into the habit of doing Japanese writing exercises every day. Practicing your writing often will improve your writing speed, as well as your grammar and vocabulary, too.

What’s more, a writing journal is a wonderful tool for tracking language learning progress. By keeping a notebook and writing in it consistently, you’ll be able to actually see improvement in your writing skills as time goes on.

Eventually, your journal will also become a resource for you to reference. Have you forgotten some old kanji? Do you need to brush up on a certain grammar concept? No worries. You just have to flip back and have a look at previous entries.

So, once you have your ideal notebook, you should:

  • Decide how much time you’re going to dedicate to journal-writing. Start with 30 minutes a week, and expand on it later.
  • Decide on a topic, or a certain type of writing. Use any or all of the ideas above for guidance!
  • Keep it simple at the beginning. Use grammar and vocabulary you know well—perhaps fill the first page with a self-introduction. Build up your confidence.
  • Keep at it! Practice using hiragana and katakana, then work yourself up to kanji. Start covering more complex topics as well.

Whatever you do, just keep writing!

How to Practice Japanese Handwriting

Writing in a physical journal, as suggested, is a great way to improve your Japanese handwriting.

It can especially help you learn kanji and stroke order, if you’re at that level, but you can also use kanji apps to get more guided practice in.

You can do further Japanese writing exercises right on your device (using your finger, mouse or digital pen) with the guided lessons on Kakimashou. You can also use a physical resource such as this writing practice book, which includes how-to information and grid sheets for you to practice hiragana, katakana and kanji.

Even if you don’t want to use something so specific, just writing in your notebook often will help you refine your Japanese handwriting abilities. You can check over previous entries for places you can improve, or have your native reviewer give you some feedback and tips.

Either way, you’ll have a deeper understanding of the characters and you’ll remember them better when you need them in other situations.


So what are you waiting for?

Try out the above nine challenges to really bring your Japanese writing practice to its best possible level—but remember that you can make them your own as well. Allow yourself to be inspired.

Have fun, and good luck!

And One More Thing...

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