Japanese 101

Japanese has both short and long vowels and the distinction is often important. In romanized Japanese, long vowels are marked with a macron, so that ō represents "long O".


Hiragana characters (ひらがな)

a        i         u          e          o
あ       い         う          え         お
a        i         u          e          o
k        か        き          く          け        こ
ka       ki        ku         ke         ko
s        さ         し         す          せ        そ
sa       shi       su         se         so
t        た         ち         つ         て         と
ta       chi       tsu        te         to
n        な         に          ぬ         ね        の
na       ni        nu         ne         no
h        は        ひ         ふ          へ         ほ
ha       hi        fu         he         ho
m        ま        み         む          め         も
ma       mi        mu         me         mo
y        や                    ゆ                    よ
ya                 yu                    yo
r        ら         り         る          れ         ろ
ra       ri        ru         re         ro
w        わ                                          を
wa                                       (w)o
ん                                                        
n                                                          
g        が         ぎ          ぐ          げ        ご
ga       gi        gu         ge         go
z        ざ         じ          ず          ぜ        ぞ
za       ji         zu        ze         zo
d        だ          ぢ        づ         で        ど
da       ji         zu        de         do
b        ば          び        ぶ         べ        ぼ
ba       bi         bu         be         bo
p        ぱ         ぴ         ぷ         ぺ        ぽ
pa       pi         pu         pe         po
ky       きゃ                  きゅ                 きょ
kya                kyu                    kyo
sh       しゃ                  しゅ                しょ
sha                shu                   sho
ch       ちゃ                  ちゅ                ちょ
cha                chu                   cho
hy       ひゃ                  ひゅ                ひょ
hya                hyu                   hyo
gy       ぎゃ                  ぎゅ                ぎょ
gya                gyu                    gyo
j        じゃ                  じゅ                じょ
ja                  ju                    jo
by       びゃ                  びゅ                びょ
bya                byu                    byo


a あ/ア                                                           
like 'a' in "father"


i い/イ                                                            
like 'i' in "machine"
u う/ウ 
like 'oo' in "hoop"
e え/エ 
like 'e' in "set"
o お/オ 
like 'o' in "rope"


n ん/ン 
short 'n' at the end of a syllable, pronounced as 'm' before 'b', 'p' or 'm'.


Note that "u" is often weak at the end of syllables. In particular, the common endings -desu and -masu are usually pronounced as "des'" and "mas'" respectively.

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