Best Way to Learn Japanese Alphabets

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The Japanese alphabet is a wonderful place to start if you’re thinking about learning Japanese. Learning a language with three different writing systems is difficult enough as it is. That is indeed frightening!   But you really can actually learn Japanese quickly; it’s not as difficult as you would assume. Here are some of the best advice and techniques for learning the basic foundations of letters in Japanese. The fundamental Japanese alphabet isn’t as tough to learn as you may imagine, despite the fact that Japanese letters might be challenging to read and write.

Why Learn Japanese Alphabets?

It takes a lot of courage to learn the Japanese language. It begins with the Japanese writing system, which forms the basis of its aesthetic. The writing system is the most challenging yet enjoyable aspect of learning the language, making it the highlight. Therefore, if you’re learning Japanese as a foreign language, you must first know and understand the core of its system, the Japanese alphabet.

You must first study the Japanese writing systems if you want to grasp the language better. Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji are the three interconnected scripts that make up the Japanese writing system.

How many letters are there in Japanese Alphabet?

The Japanese language is written in two scripts: Hiragana and Katakana, which represent the individual syllables. Both of them have a certain amount of symbols—46 characters—in common. Hiragana represents Japanese words and grammatical components, whereas Katakana represents words of foreign descent. The Japanese, on the other hand, began using the Chinese characters known as Kanji in the ninth century. These characters stand in for language and meaning. Based on and descended from Kanji were Hiragana and Katakana.

Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji are the three sets of letters that make up the Japanese alphabet writing system, making them essential to learning the language.

How does the Japanese alphabet works?

There are two alphabets of Japanese: Hiragana (curvy like English cursive) and Katakana (angular like English print). Kanji, the third type of writing, isn’t truly an alphabet or syllabary. It stands for whole words instead. These three types of writing collectively make up the complete Japanese language.

Hiragana

Since it serves as the basis for the written Japanese language, Hiragana is the most fundamental of the three sets of the Japanese language alphabet. Children and anyone learning a new language are taught this first set of characters as they begin their studies. 

A set of 46 characters make up the Japanese alphabet hiragana. Each of these letters has a phonetic syllabary that represents a specific sound. Hiragana, in contrast to Kanji, has characters that are more rounded in shape and does not require as many curves to write. Hiragana has three purposes in Japanese writing: it may be used to modify the meaning of verbs, adverbs, or adjectives, as well as, most crucially, to replace native Japanese words that Katakana or Kanji don’t represent.

Katakana

The following set of Japanese characters to learn after understanding Hiragana is Katakana. Most terms in Katakana are borrowed from other languages. It performs similar tasks to italics in emphasizing specific words. In Japanese writing, Katakana has two purposes: it is used to transcribe foreign names and loanwords from other languages and occasionally to emphasize scientific phrases, much like italicizing words in English.

Kanji

The first thing you should be aware of is that, in contrast to Katakana and Hiragana, Kanji aren’t always just a collection of letters that you string together to create sounds and words. A kanji can represent a single word.

Japanese Kanji alphabet are symbols that represent a whole word or concept. Over the course of several centuries, several of them have been adapted from Chinese characters at various periods. The majority of Kanji characters are made by combining various elements. This makes it simpler to communicate some difficult-to-explain topics that are difficult to portray using only graphics. Each Kanji character denotes a particular word and has a unique meaning.

Japanese alphabet Chart and its Pronunciation

Japanese Alphabet: Hiragana

  KstnhmYrw 
aあ (a)か (ka)さ (sa)た (ta)な (na)は (ha)ま (ma)や (ya)ら (ra)わ (wa)ん (n)
iい (i)き (ki)し (shi)ち (chi)に (ni)ひ (hi)み (mi) り (ri)  
uう (u)く (ku)す (su)つ (tsu)ぬ (nu)ふ (fu)む (mu)ゆ (yu)る (ru)  
eえ (e)け (ke)せ (se)て (te)ね (ne)へ (he)め (me) れ (re)  
oお (o)こ (ko)そ (so)と (to)の (no)ほ (ho)も (mo)よ (yo)ろ (ro)を (wo) 
  kstnhmYrw 

Japanese Alphabet: Katakana

 ksTnhmYrW
aア (a)カ (ka)サ (sa)タ (ta)ナ (na)ハ (ha)マ (ma)ヤ (ya)ラ (ra)ワ (wa)ン (n)
iイ (i)キ (ki)シ (shi)チ (chi)ニ (ni)ヒ (hi)ミ (mi)リ (ri)
uウ (u)ク (ku)ス (su)ツ (tsu)ヌ (nu)フ (fu)ム (mu)ユ (yu)ル (ru)
eエ (e)ケ (ke)セ (se)テ (te)ネ (ne)ヘ (he)メ (me)レ (re)
oオ (o)コ (ko)ソ (so)ト (to)ノ (no)ホ (ho)モ (mo)ヨ (yo)ロ (ro)ヲ (wo)

Japanese Alphabet: Kanji

KanjiEnglish MeaningOnyomiKunyomiJLPT N5 Vocab with Kanji
Oneichi, itsuhito(tsu), hito一人 (one person, alone)
Twonifuta(tsu), futa二人 (two people, pair)
Threesanmit(tsu), mi三日 (3rd day of the month)
Fourshiyo(tsu), yo, yon四日 (4th day of the month)
Fivegoitsu(tsu), itsu五日 (5th day of the month)
Sixrokumut(tsu), mu六日 (6th day of the month)
Sevenshichinana(tsu), nana七日 (7th day of the month)
Eighthachiyat(tsu), ya八日 (8th day of the month)
Ninekyuu, kukokono(tsu), kokono九日 (9th day of the month)
Tenjuu, jitou, to十日 (10th day of the month)
Hundredhyaku百万円 (1 million Yen)
Thousandsenchi千万円 (10 million Yen)
Ten thousandman, ban万年筆 (fountain pen)
Yen, circle, and roundenmaru(i)円い (round)
Day, sunnichi, jitsuhi, ka明日 (tomorrow)
Weekshuu毎週 (every week)
Month, moongetsu, gatsutsuki月曜日 (Monday)
Yearnentoshi今年 (this year), 去年 (last year)
Time, hourjitoki時計 (clock, watch)
Time frame, span of timekan, kenaida時間 (time, hours)
Minute, part, to understand, to dividebun, bu, funwa(karu)三十分 (thirty minutes), 自分 (oneself)
Noongo午前 (morning, A.M.)
Beforezenmae名前 (name)
After, later, behindgo, kouato午後 (afternoon, P.M.)
Nowkon, kinima今晩 (this evening), 今朝 (this morning)
Before, ahead, futuresensaki先週 (last week), 先生 (teacher, master)
To comeraiku(ru)来月 (next month), 来る (to come)
Half, middlehannaka(ba)半分 (half)
Every, eachmai毎日(every day)
What, which, how manykanan, nani何曜日 (what day of the week)

How long does learning the Japanese alphabet take?

The good news is that learning the Japanese alphabet does not take very long at all if you are interested in finding out how to learn it quickly.

In general, it takes most individuals around two weeks to master the phonology of the alphabet. Again, the Japanese alphabet that is easiest to learn is Hiragana.

It will take another week or two to master another Japanese alphabet, such as Katakana. However, it will take a lot of time overall, but less time than if you were to study each alphabet independently if you can learn more than one Japanese alphabet at once.

Tips for learning the Japanese alphabet fast

Practicing as frequently as possible is the most effective way to learn the Japanese alphabet. Of course, memorizing facts by heart is also beneficial.

Here are some pointers to help you learn the Japanese a to z alphabet in order now that you are aware of the distinctions between Japanese Hiragana and Katakana.

1. Study Hiragana and Katakana simultaneously. Each sound has two characters, so studying them all at once makes sense.

2. Practice writing the characters in groups like you would in elementary school with uppercase and lowercase letters.

3. Make use of flashcards. Making them provides you a chance to practice writing, and using them aids with alphabet memorization.

4. Pay attention to the stroke sequence while writing Japanese characters; it makes a great difference. Make sure you follow the order correctly by using a workbook or guide.

FAQs

  1. Which Japanese alphabet is the most often used?

Hiragana is the standard, most widely used style of Japanese writing. It is the first type of Japanese writing that children learn, and it may be used alone or in combination with Kanji to construct words.

  1. What are the Japanese alphabets called?

Three primary scripts are used to write modern Japanese: Hiragana and Katakana, two phonetic alphabets (syllables), as well as Kanji, which are Chinese ideographic symbols. There are thousands of Kanji characters, whereas Hiragana and Katakana each have 46.

  1. How ancient is the Japanese writing system?

The greatest significant change in the language’s history occurred from the sixth to ninth century A.D. when Chinese characters were adapted. By the 12th century, the syllabic writing systems, “hiragana” and “katakana,” had been developed from “kanji,” giving the Japanese new liberty in the way they could write their own language.

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