For those who aren’t already aware, Kanji is one of the three alphabets used here in Japan, along with hiragana ひらがな, and katakana カタカナ. Kanji are sometimes referred to as “Chinese Characters”, as they are borrowed straight out of written Chinese, though their pronunciation, and sometimes their meaning are very different.
So where do flowers = snow? Japan, that’s where.
Remember when The-artist-who-was-formerly-known-as-but-is-now-more-commonly-and-recently-legally-known-again-as-Prince changed his name to that weird symbol? Remember when people were completely flummoxed about how to pronounce it; confused by the very meaning of it? Yeah, that’s what Kanji is like.
Say the person’s name is Yukiko. There’s about a dozen ways to spell this in Kanji, all pronounced the same way, but in order to type the name, you are required to input some sort of bizarre pronunciation on the keyboard which you would never use in speech. It’s honestly worse than you could imagine. Kind of like a couple deciding to name their child Josephine, but instead writing Stalin-q-fine, and saying that “Stalin” should be pronounced Joe, because they have the same meaning, “fine” should be pronounced “feen”, and the “q” should be pronounced as “ah” because they kinda look similar. “Aren’t we clever?!”
You know how you hate those kids whose parents thought they were being clever, and named their kid Christina, with a “K” and 2 “Y”s? Yeah, it’s kind of like that, only 2000 times worse! The Japanese require you to know about 2000 kanji to be considered literate, to read the paper and so on. However, if you actually want to remember the name of the person you talked with earlier in the day, you need to know, by my estimates, about 8 billion of the little fuckers!
Thankfully every now and then my Kanji Dictionary throws me a bone, as if to say “yes, I understand your frustration, and I’m pretty sure that this combination of random short lines in a tiny box could mean nothing other than this unintelligible glyph, WHICH by the way has no connection to how the name is pronounced.” This somewhat makes up for the times when I draw in two parallel lines, but the dictionary decides for me that this couldn’t possibly be right, and places a right angle into one of them for good measure.
Take this other wonderful example. This woman’s name is Yukiko, pronounced You-key-koh, if you read it English, right? Now if you saw this the Kanji for it and spoke Japanese, you’d probably think it was Ayako, and in most cases you’d probably be right. Except that you’re WRONG! Yukiko’s name has NO RELATION TO WHAT THE KANJI ACTUALLY MEANS. This makes even less sense than the previous (and still wildly outrageous) Stalin-q-fine example. This is like me writing my name is Baphomet, and saying that it’s still pronounced IAN!
As a usability nut, this smacks of stupidity. Unfortunately, being in their country of origin it would be rather difficult to lead any sort of rebellion. I’d like to learn the language, but that’s going to be rather difficult, as truly understanding kanji is like turning my back on science to pick up Alchemy, where black is white, gold comes from lead, and I can squeeze blood from a stone.