It gets bloody useful once you realise that there are a bunch of other words which could read like かく (or various declinations of the verb). Using the kanji means that you can spot at a glance what verb is being used.|
There are a bunch of words which have kanji, but which are generally written in hiragana - they're mostly ones which are either incredibly common and which are unusual-sounding enough that you won't mistake them for another word.
I'm gradually getting my head around the way that skim-reading in Japanese works - whereas we've got a subconscious ability to take in a paragraph of text and pick out general patterns from the word shapes, then home in on the key nouns, Japanese skim-reading seems to largely be a subconscious ability to look at a chunk of text and only digest the kanji shapes. This gets really, really useful when you're reading through big texts, or trying to find specific bits in an article (or whatever) that you've already read!
I started off being frustrated with kanji for the same reason as you ("why am I drawing 16 strokes when I could draw two?!"), but within six months I found reading text entirely in hiragana utterly frustrating and slow. Give it time, you'll learn to love the pain
Shinji 5,902 posts
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