Re: Utagawa Hiroshige III ?

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Posted by Jam the House Snail ( on March 26, 2020 at 21:21:08:

In Reply to: Re: Utagawa Hiroshige III ? posted by manuD on March 24, 2020 at 08:31:45:

Actually, these are all kana--but then all kana are, after all, kanji in their origins...

Until simplifications were made in the Meiji era, and still today in calligraphy, you had (have) multiple choices of kana (based on different Kanji with the same reading) for any one sound. You could pick your kana based on the look and rhythm of it in the calligraphy. Edo culture, in short, was very visual--words were to be looked AT, not looked through.

Such variant kana are called hentaigana. Here's a much simplified chart as an introduction:

In fact, there are many more hentaigana than appear here, and many more ways to write them in shorthand brush strokes.

Here's a good read on the history of hentaigana:

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