One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A system of writing in use in Japan in the 8th cent., in which Chinese characters were used to represent Japanese sounds.
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in Manners & Customs of Japanese. From Japanese man'yōgana from man'yō- (from Man'yōshū, the name of an 8th-cent. anthology of Japanese poetry from man ten thousand, a myriad + -yō leaf + -shū collection, e.g. of poems; all from Middle Chinese) + -gana, combining form of kana.
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