This study examined Japanese children's understanding of two Japanese notational systems: hiragana and kanji. In three experiments, 126 3- to 6-year-olds were asked to name words written in hiragana or kanji as they appeared with different pictures. Consistent with Bialystok (Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 2000, Vol. 76, pp. 173-189), 3- and 4-year-olds' identification of written words varied according to the picture with which they appeared, and older children named the words with different pictures more accurately. The 4-year-olds who could read words written in hiragana but could not read words written in kanji named both hiragana words and kanji words with different pictures more accurately than those who could not read hiragana and kanji words. The interrelationship between the symbol-sound relationships and the symbol-referent relationships of notational systems is discussed.