Free Japanese Lessons - Learn to speak the Japanese language online for free!
The Japanese Friend Exchange - Find friends, penpals, language exchange, or even romance
The place to find Japanese friends, penpals, language exchange, relationships, or even romance!
300,000+ Japanese members looking for language exchange partners or more!
Find a local Japanese tutor today!

Learn Japanese with JapanesePod101.com
Free Japanese Lessons - Learn to speak the Japanese language online for free!
Learn Japanese with Free Japanese Lessons - Learn to speak the Japanese language online for free! Deutsch-Italiano-Português-Español

FreeJapaneseLessons.com

Lesson 1


The Japanese Alphabet

Members



Main

Names in
Japanese


Lesson 1

Lesson 2

Lesson 3

Lesson 4

Lesson 5

Lesson 6

Lesson 7

Lesson 8

Lesson 9

Lesson 10

More!



Software

Books

Culture

For LDS
Missionaries


Hotels
in Japan


Links

FAQ

Register for our Members Area and get audio for Hiragana - The Japanese Alphabet Want audio on this lesson? Register for our Members Area and get audio for Hiragana - The Japanese Alphabet. It's FREE!

Hiragana - ひらがな

The first step to learning the Japanese language is to learn the alphabet. Or, at least, to learn the sounds that exist in the language. There are absolutely no "tones" in Japanese like in many other asian languages and there are only 2 exceptions within the alphabet which will be explained later. The Japanese alphabet does not contain letters but, instead, contains characters and, technically, they are not alphabets but character sets. The characters in the chart below are called Hiragana. Hiragana is the main alphabet or character set for Japanese. Japanese also consists of two other character sets - Kanji (Chinese characters), which we will get into later, and another alphabet/character set, Katakana, which is mainly used for foreign words. Katakana will be covered in Lesson 2. Don't wait to move on until you have all Hiragana characters memorized - learn them as you continue to go through the other lessons.

There are 5 vowels in Japanese. (a), pronounced "ahh", (i), pronounced like "e" in "eat", (u), pronounced like "oo" in "soon", (e), pronounced like "e" in "elk", and (o), pronounced "oh". All Hiragana characters end with one of these vowels, with the exception of (n). The only "consonant" that does not resemble that of English is the Japanese "r". It is slightly "rolled" as if it were a combination of a "d", "r", and "l".


a

i

u

e

o

ka

ki

ku

ke

ko

ga

gi

gu

ge

go

sa

shi

su

se

so

za

ji

zu

ze

zo

ta

chi

tsu

te

to

da

ji

zu

de

do

na

ni

nu

ne

no

ha

hi

fu

he

ho

ba

bi

bu

be

bo

pa

pi

pu

pe

po

ma

mi

mu

me

mo

ya

yu

yo

ra

ri

ru

re

ro

wa

wo

n/m

Combinations

きゃ
kya
きゅ
kyu
きょ
kyo
ぎゃ
gya
ぎゅ
gyu
ぎょ
gyo
しゃ
sha
しゅ
shu
しょ
sho
じゃ
ja
じゅ
ju
じょ
jo
ちゃ
cha
ちゅ
chu
ちょ
cho
にゃ
nya
にゅ
nyu
にょ
nyo
ひゃ
hya
ひゅ
hyu
ひょ
hyo
びゃ
bya
びゅ
byu
びょ
byo
ぴゃ
pya
ぴゅ
pyu
ぴょ
pyo
みゃ
mya
みゅ
myu
みょ
myo
りゃ
rya
りゅ
ryu
りょ
ryo

Here is a Printable Hiragana Chart (PDF - get Adobe Acrobat Reader).

Exceptions:
1. The Hiragana は (ha) is pronounced "wa" when it immediately follows the topic of the sentence. This character is usually only pronounced "ha" when it is part of a word.
2. The Hiragana へ (he) is pronounced "e" when it immediately follows a place or direction. Both of these are very simple to detect.

Click here if you'd like to know why these two exceptions exist.

Note: You probably noticed in the chart above that there are 2 characters pronounced "zu" and 2 characters pronounced "ji". The characters づ (zu) and ぢ (ji) are very rarely used. づ (zu) only occurs when there is a つ (tsu) in front of it like in つづく (tsuzuku - to continue) or when a Kanji (Chinese character) that has a reading which starts with つ (tsu) is paired at the end with another character changing the つ (tsu) to a づ (zu). The same applies for the Hiragana ぢ (ji). Since they are used so rarely I wouldn't worry about them too much. I will let you know whenever we come upon a word in which they are used.

Some people wonder why "yi", "ye", "wi", "wu", and "we" are missing. There aren't characters for "yi", "ye", or "wu". There is a ゐ (wi) and a ゑ (we) but these were deemed obsolete in 1946 and were replaced by い (i) and え (e) respectively.


For more help on the subject of Kana (Hiragana and Katakana)...

Learn to speak Japanese like a pro!
Top Software for Learning Japanese

Japanese Cell Phone Rental & World Cell Phone


Learn how to sing and play Japanese songs
Information about hotels in Japan
Real Japanese Girls of the Japanese Friend Exchange

© Copyright 2004-2014 Hauck and Associates, LLC