Learn Hiragana to Travel in Japan

Travel in Japan demands an understanding of hiragana. While katakana adds meaning to words, hiragana remains strictly phonetic.

Hiragana characters can also be modified with “dakuten” and “handakuten” markers to change their sounds; for instance, adding a dakuten marker changes it from ka to ga.

Start by memorizing the 46 basic hiragana syllables. When practicing them in a singsong tone, this will help reinforce them more easily in your memory.

Basic Vowels

Are You Traveling To Japan? Learning some basic Japanese phrases can be beneficial before embarking on any travel plans or taking lessons in Japan. Doing this can give an idea of how the language sounds before making any plans or signing up for lessons.

Hiragana are characters used to write Japanese. Each symbol in hiragana represents a specific sound within their language, making up 46 gojuon that form its core structure; adding diacritics increases this number to 81 sounds.

There are various strategies for memorizing hiragana characters, but one effective method is to sit down and write them repeatedly until they become second nature. Repeating out loud also works.

Some hiragana letters resemble English alphabet symbols, yet have subtle distinctions. One such difference is the letter te, which looks similar to forcing your smile for group photos. Another distinctive trait of these hiragana characters is their marking called dakuten (), making it hard for any mistaken identification as the letter G.

Other distinct differences lie with vowels, which are extended by adding small y, yu or yo at the end to change pronunciation and double consonants that follow; these extensions can also double consonant length, often used for loanwords and onomatopoeias. With some notable exceptions for sentence particles such as ha, wo and he plus some arbitrary spelling rules hiragana is generally written exactly how it sounds in modern Japanese language.

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Basic Consonants

As you learn hiragana, incorporate these five vowel sounds a (ah), i (ee), u (oo), and e (eh) along with consonant sounds like k, s, t, n, h, m, y and r into your vocabulary as much as possible to produce most of its 46 characters or sounds. However, diacritics expand its repertoire from 46 to 81 characters or sounds so as you do so try and incorporate these additional characters or sounds into your vocabulary as soon as possible.

First is a small “y”, “yu”, and “yo”, which can be added after the character “j” to produce an effect similar to letter W followed by V, making it easy for students to remember it as they say “yooh!” in Japanese hiragana characters.

Additional sounds that can give consonants new sounds include d, tsu and dzu, which can be added after consonants like k, s, t and n to create different tones and sounds; in particular tsu sounds like a broken “T”, while dzu is spoken more forcefully than usual.

Dakuten and handakuten characters, which are variations on basic hiragana characters that add new sounds to letters they’re attached to. One such variation is called dzu, which looks much like a double quotation mark and changes consonants by making vocal cords vibrate more than usual during consonants.

Basic Phrases

Learn the vowels a-i-u-e-o first to become proficient at pronouncing any word written in hiragana. Every other column contains one of these five vowel sounds plus consonants; therefore, it’s crucial that this first row be perfected before moving on.

Combination kana can be more challenging to learn, but they still can be learned using mnemonic devices. For instance, remembering that mosquitos suck blood may help with remembering this combination kana.

Combination kana are used to form compound words as well as adapt the sound of one word to fit with the pronunciation of another word. For instance, “nihondiyuu,” which translates as “throughout Japan,” would normally be written out using vu (pronounced the same as its kanji counterpart), yet in hiragana this would always be written nihon t y ku since rendaku pronunciation dictates words are written according to how they sound when spoken aloud rather than letters themselves.

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There are plenty of fantastic hiragana learning resources out there. Check out free apps Anki or Memrise to practice, and be sure to download Anki’s Japanese Support Add-On (for better practice!). With some hard work, you should be able to read all basic hiragana in just hours!

Basic Expressions

Hiragana contains 46 characters that represent key sounds or syllables. When presented in a chart format, they usually show vowels first before consonants and so on; then these columns or rows are divided up further by vowel columns known as Gojuon or Vowel Columns.

Each letter represents one sound, or mora. Vowels such as a, e, i and o are typically pronounced as ah, eh, ie and oh; other letters combine consonants with vowels such as ka, ki, ku, ke and ko to make sounds that represent those sounds.

Hiragana can also represent other sounds accurately, including fricative consonants such as affricates or fricatives, glide palatalization, or occasionally even glottal stops. A small “tsu tsu” mark appears before such consonants to indicate affrication/frication/fricativeization/palatualization and may be added before preceding consonants to show this feature.

Hiragana can also be transformed to represent foreign words or articulate onomatopoeia or other special sounds, while Katakana was designed to help readers pronounce words written in Kanji characters more easily; however, its usage is less prevalent; usually only seen on Japanese television shows with English subtitles and may even add emphasis or clarity to native words or phrases; it may be difficult for those only familiar with Hiragana to understand!

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