Japanese Alphabet (Characters)

Japanese Alphabet

If you're trying to learn the Japanese Alphabet you will find some useful resources including a course about some Japanese characters, pronunciation, and sound of all letters... to help you with your Japanese grammar. Try to concentrate on the lesson and memorize the sounds. Also don't forget to check the rest of our other lessons listed on Learn Japanese. Enjoy the rest of the lesson!

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Japanese Characters

Learning the Japanese characters is very important because without it, you will not be able to say words properly or read them even if you know how to write those words. The better you pronounce a letter in a word, the more understood you will be in speaking the Japanese language.

Below is a table showing the some Japanese characters and how they're pronounced in English, and finally examples of how those letters would sound if you place them in a word. Please note that the Japanese characters are more than what you see below, this is just an introduction.

Japanese AlphabetEnglish SoundPronunciation Example

aas in acute

ias in ink

ooas in tool

eas in elephant

oas in Omega

haas in Hanukkah

hias in history

fuas in Fuji

heas in help

hoas in home

kkaas in Hanukkah

kias in kiss

koas in cook

keas in kept

koas in Korea

maas in machine

mias in ministry

muas in moon

meas in melody

moas in Monaco

saas in sauna

shias in ship

suas in Sumatra

seas in Senegal

soas in Somalia

yaas in yard

yuas in you

yoas in yoga

taas in taught

chias in chin

tsuas in tsunami

teas in telephone

toas in Toshiba

raas in Sahara

rias in ring

ruas in ruby

reas in rest

roas in Romania

naas in knot

nias in knit

nuas in nuke

neas in nest

noas in Norway

waas in Washington

wias in Wii (no longer used)

nas in ton

weas in west (no longer used)

woas in wolf

Hiragana with Diacritical Marks

There are 23 additional sounds by adding diacritical marks- such as が for か and ぱ for は . With a pair of short strokes, the unvoiced consonant k, s, t, and h become voiced consonants g, z, d, and b. The consonant h changes to p with the addition of a tiny circle.

Double Consonants – っ such as もっと

Double consonants such as "kk", "ss", "tt" or "pp" are pronounced with a slight pause between the first and second sounds, for example "cut" "pet" and "kit".

Contracted Sounds

Small ゃ, ゅ and ょ follows after letters in the second column and are used to transcribe contracted sounds. This is supposed to be a single syllable. Example: きゃ(kya), みゃ(mya), ぴょ(pyo)

Japanese "R" Pronunciation: Japanese "r" sounds are between English "l" and "r" sounds.

Japanese Pronunciation

You saw how a letter is written and might be pronounced, but there is nothing better than hearing the sound of the letters in a video or audio. Below you will be able to hear how the letters above are pronounced, just press the play button:

Japanese Pronunciation

This is just an introduction to some Japanese characters. Once you're done with Japanese alphabet, you might want to check the rest of our Japanese lessons here: Learn Japanese. Don't forget to bookmark this page.


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