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Hiragana characters

Hiragana characters at a Japanese sweets shop in Asakusa of TokyoHiragana characters at a Japanese sweets shop in Asakusa of Tokyo

Hiragana is the basic character set for Japanese.

Even if you write Japanese sentences only in Hiragana, you can convey your messages completely.

In common Japanese sentences, stem of verb and adjective, and many of nouns are replaced to Kanji character as possible.
And, the other parts are written in Hiragana.

Of course, it doesn’t mean that Kanji is more important than Hiragana.

Hiragana is the base of Japanese grammar and Kanji is the character that we can catch the meaning of the word visually in a moment.

There is no Japanese sentence without Hiragana.

When you travel around Japan, you see many words of only Kanji.
They are almost the words of noun.

Because Hiragana is most important character set, it is taught in the first grade in elementary school in Japan.

After that, the students learn a lot of Kanji characters in sequence during elementary school and junior high school.

They write a composition in only Hiragana at first, then they come to be able to write a composition with many Kanji characters when they graduate the junior high school.

Know that Hiragana is the character set which is the base of Japanese.

Table of Hiragana

The following tables include all Hiragana characters.

As you can see, all Hiragana characters correspond to Japanese syllable.
All Japanese words and sentenses consist of only the syllables.
(Please read the page of Pronunciation of Japanese language.
The orange-colored and green-colored parts are the syllables that the pronunciation has been changed for a long time.)

Seion Group
a
i
u
e
o
ka
ki
ku
ke
ko
kya
きゃ
kyu
きゅ
kyo
きょ
sa
shi
su
se
so
sha
しゃ
shu
しゅ
sho
しょ
ta
chi
tsu
te
to
cha
ちゃ
chu
ちゅ
cho
ちょ
na
ni
nu
ne
no
nya
にゃ
nyu
にゅ
nyo
にょ
ha
hi
fu
he
ho
hya
ひゃ
hyu
ひゅ
hyo
ひょ
ma
mi
mu
me
mo
mya
みゃ
myu
みゅ
myo
みょ
ya
yu
yo
ra
ri
ru
re
ro
rya
りゃ
ryu
りゅ
ryo
りょ
wa
o
n
Dakuon Group
ga
gi
gu
ge
go
gya
ぎゃ
gyu
ぎゅ
gyo
ぎょ
za
ji
zu
ze
zo
ja
じゃ
ju
じゅ
jo
じょ
da
ji
zu
de
do
ja
ぢゃ
ju
ぢゅ
jo
ぢょ
ba
bi
bu
be
bo
bya
びゃ
byu
びゅ
byo
びょ
pa
pi
pu
pe
po
pya
ぴゃ
pyu
ぴゅ
pyo
ぴょ

Ancient Japanese people used Kanji characters imported from China to write Japanese sentence.
For each Japanese syllable, a Kanji character with similar Chinese sound was selected.

Because it takes a lot of trouble to write Kanji character, the characters gradually became cursive style to speed up the writing.

As the centuries roll by, the characters were simplified, then they became Hiragana.

Details of Hiragana

A sign of Shin-Osaka station of ShinkansenA sign of Shin-Osaka station of Shinkansen

The languages using alphabet have upper-case and lower-case letters.
But Hiragana doesn't have such different letter set.

Instead, there are a few small characters for special function.

The syllable of “consonant + Y + vowel” is written as “character of ‘I’ column + small character of ‘Y’ row”, as above.

And, small “tsu” character is used as the sign of pause sound.

For example,...
Hokkaidou = ほっかいどう
Sapporo = さっぽろ

Each character in Dakuon group is made by adding two dots like double acute to the corresponding character in Seion group.

Only “H” row is unusual.

Phonetically, there is not voiced “H” consonant.
But “B” consonant corresponds to the voiced “H” in Japanese.
And original unvoiced consonant “P” is made by adding a sign of small circle to the character with “H” consonant.

The relation between Seion and Dakuon often appears at the time of inflection or combination of words.
But the rule is not so regular.
Therefore, you should worry about that.

Long vowel is often changed to an easy and smooth long vowel in conversation.
Especially, the original syllables of the long vowels of "E" and "O" are mainly "EI" and "OU".

For example,...
Tokyo = Tôkyô = Toukyou = とうきょう
Kyoto = Kyôto = Kyouto = きょうと

Japanese punctuation

As an additional explanation, I write about Japanese punctuation.

In Japanese, it has some punctuation marks.
The function is the same as English ones.
But the form is a little different.

Japanese comma is a short line to the lower right.
And Japanese period is a small circle.
Quotation mark is a right-angled line.

Question mark and exclamation mark are the marks from English, but they are used in the same way.

For example,...
[ENG] We will soon make a brief stop at "Kyoto". (Announcement in Shikansen train)
[JPN] Mamonaku, "Kyôto" ni tomarimasu. =
まもなく、「京都」に停まります。

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