Learning Hiragana

A Kanji Memories site.

The order below is based on the traditional Japanese "Gojūon" (fifty sounds on a 5 x 10 grid). See also our Learning Katakana site.

Hiragana Sound Sample Words Translation (other meanings possible)
aあと
あめ
ato - behind, after
ame - rain
iいろ
いし
iro - colour/color
ishi - stone
uうみ
うた
umi - sea
uta - song
eえき
えさ
eki - station
esa - feed, bait
oおおきい
おかね
ookii - big
okane - money
kaかさ
かわ
kasa - umbrella
kawa - river
kiきれい
きた
kirei - beautiful
kita - north
kuくるま
くも
kuruma - car
kumo - cloud
keけさ
けいかく
kesa - this morning
keikaku - plan
koここ
こむ
koko - here
komu - to be crowded
saさかな
さとう
sakana - fish
satou - sugar
shiしお
しま
shio - salt
shima - island
suすし
すき
sushi - sushi
suki - liked
seせんせい
せかい
sensei - teacher
sekai - world
soそら
そと
sora - sky
soto - outside
taたね
たいよう
tane - seed
taiyou - sun
chiちち
ちかてつ
chichi - father
chikatetsu - subway
tsuつき
つみき
tsuki - moon
tsumiki - building blocks
teてつ
てんき
tetsu - iron
tenki - weather
toとけい
とり
tokei - clock/watch
tori - bird
naなつ
なみ
natsu - summer
nami - wave
niにわ
にほん
niwa - garden
nihon - Japan
nuぬの
ぬれる
nuno - cloth
nureru - to get wet
neねこ
ねた
neko - cat
neta - subject matter
noのり
のき
nori - seaweed
noki - eaves
ha
or 'wa' when particle
はな
はし
hana - flower
hashi - bridge
hiひと
ひまわり
hito - person
himawari - sunflower
fuふね
ふゆ
fune - boat
fuyu - winter
heへや
へた
heya - room
heta - unskilled
hoほし
ほん
hoshi - star
hon - book
maまめ
まつり
mame - beans
matsuri - festival
miみみ
みかん
mimi - ear
mikan - mandarin orange
muむし
むら
mushi - insect
mura - village
meめし
めいし
meshi - cooked rice
meishi - business card
moもも
もり
momo - peach
mori - forest
yaやま
やさい
yama - mountain
yasai - vegetable
yuゆめ
ゆき
yume - dream
yuki - snow
yoよる
ようふく
yoru - night
youfuku - western clothing
raらく
らせん
raku - comfort
rasen - spiral
riりく
りれき
riku - land
rireki - career
ruるす
るい
rusu - absence
rui - category
reれきし
れい
rekishi - history
rei - example
roろうか
ろく
rouka - corridor
roku - six
wa
see also は 'ha'
わたし
わかめ
watashi - I, me
wakame - seaweed
wi(obsolete)now represented by い
we(obsolete)now represented by え
wonow used as 'object marker' particle
nねん
ほん
nen - year
hon - book


Table 2. Dakuten and Handakuten

Dakuten are like quotation marks. This mark is placed at the top right corner of certain Hiragana and Katakana characters. It alters the unvoiced consonants to voiced consonants. For example, it changes "か" (ka) to "が" (ga).

Handakuten are small circles as used for temperature degrees. This mark is used specifically with the 'h' row of Hiragana and Katakana to produce a 'p' sound. For example, it changes "は" (ha) to "ぱ" (pa).

Unmodified Modified Sample Words Translation (other meanings possible)
か kaが gaがくせい
がいこく
gakusei - student
gaikoku - foreign country
き kiぎ giぎんこう
ぎり
ginkou - bank
giri - duty, obligation
く kuぐ guぐんたい
ぐらい
guntai - army
gurai - about, approximately
け keげ geげんき
げんかん
genki - health, energy
genkan - entrance
こ koご goごはん
ごみ
gohan - meal, cooked rice
gomi - garbage
さ saざ zaざんねん
ざぶとん
zannen - unfortunate
zabuton - floor cushion
し shiじ jiじかん
じしん
jikan - time
jishin - earthquake
す suず zuずいひつ
ずつう
zuihitsu - essays
zutsuu - headache
せ seぜ zeぜいたく
ぜいきん
zeitaku - luxury
zeikin - tax
そ soぞ zoぞう
ぞうきん
zou - elephant
zoukin - cleaning cloth
た taだ daだいこん
だんせい
daikon - radish
dansei - man
ち chiぢ ji
but see じ
usually only appears in compound words or certain dialects
つ tsuづ zu, du, dzu
spelling varies
see also ず
つづく
づけ
tsuzuku - to continue
zuke - marinated
as noted, Romaji spelling varies
て teで deでんわ
でんき
denwa - telephone
denki - electricity
と toど doどうろ
どくしん
douro - road
dokushin - unmarried
は haば baばら
ばけもの
bara - rose
bakemono - goblin, monster
ひ hiび biびれい
びん
birei - beautiful
bin - bottle
ふ fuぶ buぶんか
ぶた
bunka - culture
buta - pig
へ heべ beべに
べんとう
beni - crimson
bentou - lunch box
ほ hoぼ boぼんさい
ぼうし
bonsai - bonsai
boushi - hat
は haぱ paぱちんこ
ぱちぱち
pachinko - gambling game
pachipachi - clapping sound
ひ hiぴ piぴかぴか
ぴりぴり
pikapika - sparkling
piripiri - tingling
ふ fuぷ puぷんぷん
ぷかぷか
punpun - smell strongly
pukapuka - puffing
へ heぺ peぺこぺこ
ぺらぺら
pekopeko - hungry
perapera - fluently
ほ hoぽ poぽかぽか
ぽんぽん
pokapoka - nice and warm
ponpon - tummy, pompom


Table 3. Youon (拗音 'twisted' sounds, palatalised sounds)

The small "ゃ" (ya), "ゅ" (yu) and "ょ" (yo) and are used to create contracted sounds known as "yōon." These small characters can be combined with characters like "ki", "shi", "hi" etc to produce new sounds. Some combinations are rarely used or Katakana are usually used instead where needed.

Unmodified Modified Sample Words Translation (other meanings possible)
き kiきゃ kyaきゃくkyaku - guest
き kiきゅ kyuきゅうりkyuuri - cucumber
き kiきょ kyoきょうかいkyoukai - church
し shiしゃ shaしゃしんshashin - photograph
し shiしゅ shuしゅくだいshukudai - homework
し shiしょ shoしょうぼうshoubou - firefighting
ち chiちゃ chaちゃわんchawan - tea bowl
ち chiちゅ chuちゅういchuui - caution, attention
ち chiちょ choちょうさchousa - investigation
に niにゃ nyaにゃんこnyanko - kitty, cat (colloquial)
に niにゅ nyuにゅうがくnyuugaku - school entrance
に niにょ nyoにょうぼうnyoubou - one's own wife
ひ hiひゃ hyaひゃくhyaku - hundred
ひ hiひゅ hyuひゅうがHyuuga - city
ひ hiひょ hyoひょうhyou - leopard
み miみゃ myaみゃくmyaku - pulse, vein
み miみゅ myurarely usedrarely used
み miみょ myoみょうじmyouji - surname
り riりゃ ryaりゃくryaku - abbreviation
り riりゅ ryuりゅうこうryuukou - trend, fashion
り riりょ ryoりょうりryouri - cooking, cuisine
ぎ giぎゃ gyaぎゃくgyaku - reverse, opposite
ぎ giぎゅ gyuぎゅうにくgyuuniku - beef
ぎ giぎょ gyoぎょうざgyouza - dumpling
じ jiじゃ jaじゃがいもjagaimo - potato
じ jiじゅ juじゅうどうjuudou - judo
じ jiじょ joじょうだんjoudan - joke
ぢ jiぢゃ jararely usedrarely used
ぢ jiぢゅ jurarely usedrarely used
ぢ jiぢょ jorarely usedrarely used
び biびゃ byaびゃくしんbyakushin - cypress
び biびゅ byuびゅうびゅうbyuubyuu - sound of strong wind
び biびょ byoびょういんbyouin - hospital
ぴ piぴゃ pyararely usedrarely used
ぴ piぴゅ pyurarely usedrarely used
ぴ piぴょ pyoぴょんぴょんpyonpyon - hopping, bouncing


Table 4. Doubled consonants

The small tsu っ is used to indicate a doubled consonant in the middle of a word. It's not pronounced as its own syllable but instead creates a brief pause before the following consonant.

Example: がっこう gakkou (school)
まって matte (te-form of to wait)