Hiragana
ひらがな

1. Hiragana Chart

Memorize the reading of all 46 hiragana characters as quickly as you can so you do not have to rely on the romanized version of Japanese.

You read the chart from top left (「あ」) to right. The characters in the first line are vowel characters (a, i, u, e, o) , and from the second line on, they are the combination of the vowel and a consonant as you can see in 「か」(consonant 'k' plus the vowel 'a').

 

 

2. Hiragana Pronunciation

Pay special attention to 「ら、り、る、れ、ろ」pronunciation. These are different from English 'ra, ri, ru, re, ro'. In Japanese, there is no lip rounding for 「ら、り、る、れ、ろ」sounds.

 

hiragana
 
pronunciation
a

 

i

u

e

o

ka

ki

ku

ke

ko

sa

shi

su

se

so

ta

chi

tsu

te

to

na

ni

nu

ne

no

ha

* when used as a topic particle, it is pronounced as 'wa'.

hi

hu

he

* when used as a directional particle, it is pronounced as 'e'.

ho

ma

mi

mu

me

mo

ya

yu

yo

ra

ri

ru

re

ro

wa

o

* used only as an object particle.

n

 

3. Writing of the Characters

1) General Rules of Stroke Orders

Both kana (hiragana and katakana) and Kanji have the same general rules of stroke orders.

a. Write from top to bottom, and left to right

top line first
left line first

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

b. Horizontal before vertical

When horizontal and vertical lines cross, horizontal lines are usually written before vertical lines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

c. Character-spanning strokes last

Vertical line that pass through other strokes are written after the strokes passed through are written.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice writing Hiragana

When you write Japanese characters, pay special attention to:

a. length of each the line
b. small hooks
c. how the lines curve
d. angles of lines
e. space between lines

If you cannot see the stoke order movie clips below, go to this page.

 

 

4. Hiragana with Diacritical Marks

You can create 23 additional sounds by adding diacritical marks. With short parallel lines, the unvoiced consonants [k], [s], [t], and [h] become voiced consonants [g], [z], [d], and [b] respectively. Additionally, by adding a small circle to [h], the sound changes to [p].

5. Transcribing Contracted Sounds

When small 「や」「ゆ」「よ」are added to the letters in the 「い」column except for 「い」, it transcribe contracted sounds. Contracted sounds are single syllable.

 

6. Transcribing Double Consonants

By using small 「っ」, you can transcribe double consonants.

き  gakki   semester; term
て  kitte   postage stamp
し   zasshi  magazine
とり tottori  Tottori Prefecture (one of Japan's 43 prefectures)

Double consonant 'n' is transcribe with 「ん」.

ない  a n na i  guide

にん sa n ni n    three people

 

7. Other Rules

1) Long Vowels

[aa] - add 「あ」to the 「あ」step hiragana:おかあさん(o ka a sa n) 'mother' (someone else's, not your own)

[ii] - add 「い」to the 「い」step hiragana:おにいさん(o ni i sa n)  'older brother' (someone else's, not your own)

[uu] - add 「う」to the 「う」step hiragana:くうき(ku u ki)'air'

[ee] - add 「え」to the 「え」step hiragana:おねえさん(o ne e sa n)  'older sister' (someone else's, not your own)

[oo] - add「う」to the 「お」step hiragana:ほりつ(ho o ri tsu) 'law'

* However, there are words that 「お」is added instead of 「う」.

きい(o o ki i)
(to o )  'ten' in Japanese numeral
さか(o o sa ka)  Osaka Prefecture
り(ko o ri)  'ice'
り(to o ri) 'street'

 

2) Vowels to be Dropped

When vowel [i] and [u] are placed between voiceless consonants ([k], [s], [t], [p], [h]) or at the end of the sentence proceeded by voiceless consonants, they are sometimes omitted.

すきやきです。 su ki ya ki de su  → s ki ya ki de s (It is 'sukiyaki', the beef dish.)

 

 


Copyright (c) 2017, Ishida, All Rights Reserved