I’m vaguely aware there’s something like 3 alphabets kanji, hiragana, and katakana. I also read that katakana is used for foreign words, but for some words there is a way to use all 3 alphabets. I guess im more so wondering what would be the appropriate use for each, so F.E, mint. I found a kanji and katakana but also maybe hiragana way. 造幣局 ミント みんと
Katakana is easy to knock out: this is almost exclusively used for foreign words. This indicates that the word is not native to Japanese and is not intended to mean anything that may be similar to an existing Japanese word. However, there are some exceptions where katakana is used to write native words to look “cooler”. “Ramen” is often seen written as ラーメン on shop fronts, for example. The other exception is when foreign words become more normal to use compared to the native word. Milk is “Gyūnyū”, but ミルク”miruku” is a common alternative.
So why have kanji and hiragana?
Hiragana is a way to literally spell out words. The problem is that there isn’t a way to specifically distinguish what the word means visually and requires context to figure out. For example, take ふじさん “Fujisan”. It this Mr Fuji, or Mount Fuji? In contrast, writing it out with kanji (ふじ山) makes it clear that it is referring to the mountain (山). If you see さくら (“sakura”) – is this referring to the cherry blossom or the girl’s name, which in turn changes which syllable to emphasise? (SA-ku-ra vs sa-KU-ra)
Your example is a classic case of ambiguity. What “mint” are you referring to? A company might call their ice cream flavour ミント, borrowing from the foreign “mint”. But 造幣局 is not something you put in your mouth. That’s the mint used to manufacture coinage. In contrast, みんと doesn’t mean anything in Japanese, as it isn’t a Japanese word.
And that’s an ambiguity that English has that kanji does away with (similarly with Chinese). The problem with kanji is that it requires memorisation of lots of unique characters. Otherwise you literally cannot read the text.
Hence Japanese combines three different writing systems. One for foreign words. One to spell out every word at a basic level for anyone to access, and one for clarity.