We examined the relationship between morphological awareness and word reading skills in syllabic Hiragana and morphographic Kanji. Participants were 127 Grade 1 Japanese-speaking children who were followed until Grade 2. The results showed that Grade 1 morphological awareness was uniquely and comparably associated with word reading skills in both Hiragana and Kanji in Grade 1 after controlling for nonverbal and verbal cognitive abilities, phonological awareness, and rapid automatized naming. The effect of Grade 1 morphological awareness on Grade 2 Kanji word recognition was slightly stronger (∆R2 = .10) than the effect on Grade 2 Hiragana reading fluency (∆R2 = .03). The findings suggest that morphological awareness plays an important role in early word reading skills across the two scripts, and with reading skill development it may become more important for mastering morphographic Kanji characters.