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Hiragana (Kanji: 平仮名 - Hiragana: ひらがな) is one of the two phonetic kana (the other being Katakana) used in modern Japanese reading and writing.

Hiragana Chart

Consonant a i u e o
あ - a い - i う - u え - e お - o
k か - ka き - ki く - ku け - ke こ - ko
s さ - sa し - shi* す - su せ - se そ - so
t た - ta ち - chi* つ - tsu* て - te と - to
n な - na に - ni ぬ - nu ね - ne の - no
h は - ha* ひ - hi ふ - fu* へ - he ほ - ho
m ま - ma み - mi む - mu め - me も - mo
y や - ya ゆ - yu よ - yo
r ら - ra り - ri る - ru れ - re ろ - ro
w わ - wa を - wo/o*
n ん - n*
  • *denotes that it corresponds to one of the following notes:
    • し is pronounced "shi" and is Romanized as "shi".
    • ち is pronounced "chi" and is Romanized as "chi".
    • つ is pronounced "tsu" (as in tsunami) and is Romanized as "tsu".
    • は has both the pronunciation of わ (wa) and は (ha) in certain cases. When used as the topic marker particle, it is pronounced as "wa", otherwise "ha".
    • ふ is pronounced as "fu" and is Romanized as "fu".
    • を is usually pronounced "o" rather than "wo" ("wo" is usually heard more often in singing rather than regular speech), but is more frequently Romanized as "wo" to distinguish between the vowel "お" which is Romanized as "o".
    • ん is the only true "consonant" in Japanese. It never starts a word. For example, 飲物 (Hiragana: のみもの, nomimono: drink, beverage) would never be written as んおみもんお (n o mi mo n o).

Harder Pronuncations

The k, s, t, and h have harder pronunciations which result in different consonants. Harder pronunciations in writing are shown by adding two dots to the top right of the character (except in the case for "P", where a small circle is added instead). The following is an explanation of the transformation of the softer to harder pronunciations:

  • K -> G, so か (ka) -> が (ga).
    • List of G: が (ga) ぎ (gi) ぐ (gu) げ (ge) ご (go)
  • S -> Z, so さ (sa) -> ざ (za)
    • List of Z: ざ (za) じ (ji**) ず (zu) ぜ (ze) そ (zo)
  • T -> D, so た (ta) -> だ (da)
    • List of T: た (za) ち (chi**) づ (dzu**) で (de) ど (do)
  • H -> B, so は (ha) -> ば (ba)
    • List of B: ば (ba) び (bi) ぶ (bu) べ (be) ぼ (bo)
  • H -> P, so は (ha) -> ぱ (pa)
    • List of P: ぱ (pa) ぴ (pi) ぷ (pu) ぺ (pe) ぽ (po)

Vowel Pronuncation

Japanese vowel pronunciation is very different from its English counterpart. English has different pronunciations for the same vowel, whereas Japanese has one definite pronunciation for each one:

  • あ (a) is pronounced "a" as in "staff".
  • い (i) is pronounced "i" as in the ee in "feel".
  • う (u) is pronounced "u" as in the oo in "food".
  • え (e) is pronounced "e" as in the e in "net".
  • お (o) is pronounced "o" as in the o in "open".
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