Travel in Japan – Hiragana

travel in japanese hiragana

Hiragana is a system of symbols representing whole syllables that forms the core of Japanese.

One of the first hiragana characters you must learn is ka (), as this symbol looks just like a mosquito! Next comes (), known as a dakuten marker and used to change voiceless consonants into voiced consonants!

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Once you’ve learned to read gojuon columns, the next step in learning Japanese reading will be learning the combination kana. This is your gateway into reading Japanese!

Use my worksheet to practice filling in each box with the romaji for these characters, which should take only a few attempts before becoming second nature.

Follow that up by memorizing another set of hiragana called “k-column.” This grouping combines previous two columns with the K sound, such as Ka, Ku, Ki Ya yo. Since these will most likely appear during your travels it’s wise to familiarize yourself with them beforehand.

As part of your preparations for visiting Japan, here is the first set of phrases you should learn: greetings and goodbyes. Konnichiwa is an easy way to greet people all throughout your day if you’re meeting someone for the first time; using sayounara means saying farewell forever or you might just see them again soon, such as leaving a restaurant after eating too long or when leaving hotel rooms after long dinners.


Knowledge of Japanese Hiragana will enable you to greet and communicate with locals during your travels in Japan, as well as assist with navigation through cities and towns you visit. There are countless resources available for learning these basic phrases – Easy Japanese is an ideal starting point!


On the right, there is a chart listing all of the basic characters for pronunciation and translation into romaji (phonetic transcription). Each character represents one sound; additional sounds can be indicated with diacritics or combination symbols.

To change kana ending in i to vowels, a small tsu is added at the end. For your travel convenience, bring along either a phrasebook or translator app for use during your journey!

Not knowing the number system will only cause confusion during your stay in Japan! Knowing this system will save time, hassle, and money on future orders of food or bills! Knowing your numbers will also save time in communicating with locals!


As most tourists in major tourist areas speak English, knowing some basic phrases will come in handy for asking directions and making friends!

Learning sa (s) should be your next hiragana lesson, which resembles the fork used with a taco. As one of few non-standard rows in Japanese script, remembering this character and keeping up with them will allow you to read and write correctly in Japanese.

Recall this letter by pronouncing its sound the same as “oh” in English; find a resource with handwritten versions of kana so you can see and pronounce how they should be written (see links below).

The fourth hiragana character to learn is Te (t). This looks like an old-fashioned telescope, making it easy for beginners to keep up with other rows. Remembering and keeping pace with it will allow you to read and write Japanese more fluently and efficiently. It follows an identical pattern.


The next set is known as “T-column.” It resembles an H and an a, with ha being its pronunciation. Additionally, this set was the first kana to use small y (yu or yo), changing an i vowel sound into a glide sound.

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The fifth kana, te (te), can be more challenging to recall. You should visualize a toe with a splinter or nail in it; when doing that, the character should come flooding back. Furthermore, it’s used for representing numbers one through ten which makes travel in Japan easier.

Have you mastered all five hiragana? Learning them is definitely worth taking the time and effort, as they will enable you to read signs and menus more efficiently. For even greater progress with Japanese, consider also learning katakana which works similarly but differently – ideal when writing English loanwords or names that don’t contain Kanji characters such as Loanwords or Names as well as children’s books and beginner materials!


With your newly formed mnemonics in hand, commit this list of letters to memory. They represent the basic symbols used in hiragana (with some additional sounds) and should be straightforward due to being related to the “k-column.”

Understanding this point is particularly crucial, since in Japanese the “n” sound can be represented by H plus A; so easily confused with laughter!

To better distinguish between ‘n’ sounds and the ‘ha’ sounds, treat ‘n’ as its own syllable. For instance, to differentiate ‘konnichi wa’ from its variant “ko-nni-chi-wa,” read it as:

Though you likely won’t require this knowledge if traveling through major cities and tourist-heavy areas, having it on hand might come in handy just in case something unexpected comes up! Plus, this gives you the opportunity to practice pronouncing “a” and ‘e” correctly – you’ll thank yourself when asking for directions in future!

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