Lesson 1: あ い う え お
How to Read
あ, い, う, え and お are the first five letters of Hiragana alphabet and are placed in the first row of the Table of 50 sounds [五十音図 gojūon-zu ].
You basically read as written in Roman alphabet [ローマ字 rōmaji ]. But the way you usually read may be different from the sound of Japanese.
Try to imitate the pronunciation of native speakers.
|、||読点 tōten||same as English comma|
|。||句点 kuten||same as English period|
|「||かぎ括弧 kagikakko||same as English quotation mark (beginning)|
|」||かぎ括弧 kagikakko||same as English quotation mark (end)|
|？||疑問符 gimonfu||same as English question mark|
|！||感嘆符 kantanfu||same as English exclamation mark|
You can assume that these marks have almost the same functions as English marks.
You don't have to read out these marks.
[ 、] and [ 。] as a group are called 句読点 kutōten (punctuation marks).
Quotation marks [「 ] (beginning) and [ 」] (end) have different shapes.
Japanese language has five short vowels [短母音 tan-boin ] and five long vowels [長母音 chō-boin ].
あ, い, う, え and お are the five short vowels.
Long vowels ああ, いい, うう, ええ and おお are indicated by an additional short vowel letter.
A horizontal bar is also used (e.g. あー, いー, うー, えー, おー). This is not the official way but is used quite often in casual expressions.
In Rōmaji, long vowels ああ [ ā ], うう [ ū ], ええ [ ē ] and おお [ ō ] are indicated by a horizontal bar on top. いい [ ii ] is double " i ".
How to Do
- Hiragana will be shown.
- Read out the letter when it becomes red color.
- You are good enough if you can read correctly the last 10 questions.
This program is a video file. There is no function to check your answer.
How to Write
Look closely how lines are crossed.
Line 2 is slightly curved.
Start Line 3 at the right place.
|Not so good||Bad||[me]|
Lines are parallel and are tilted.
Lines are very slightly curved.
Line 1 is a little longer.
|A little extension of the end of Line 1 is naturally drawn when you write quickly. You don't have to draw it intentionally.|
|Not so good||Bad||[ri]|
The whole shape is vertically long.
Tilt Line 1 properly.
Look closely how Line 2 is curved.
|Not so good||Bad||[ra]|
Tilt Line 1 properly.
Line 2 ends at near the bottom (not going up).
|Not so good||Bad|
The vertical part of Line 2 is not on the center (shifted towards left).
Place Line 3 on the right position.
|Not so good||Bad||[mu]|
It is important to write in correct stroke order. It is natural and efficient.
Wrong stroke order often results improper shape of the character.
The tilt angle of lines should be correct. Do not write in Italic.
Nowadays, there aren't so much opportunities for handwriting. But the writing practice improves your character recognition ability.
We recommend to do some handwriting practice. You can download and print the writing practice sheet (pdf) at Hiragana Writing Practice page.
How to Do
- Have a pan and a paper.
- Listen to audio and write it down in Hiragana.
- You are good enough if you can write correctly the last 10 questions.
Blank Writing Pactice Sheet also can be used.
How to Type
This section introduces keystrokes to input Hiragana letters by English keyboard.
For example, you can input [ あ ] by pressing [ a ] key if your computer is capable of typing the Japanese characters.
Most keystrokes are the same as Rōmaji spelling.
Keystroke for [ ー ] (long vowel holizontal bar) is [ - ] (hyphen).
You can download or print-out Keystroke Chart for reference.
Japanese Text Input
You can input Japanese characters on your computer by changing the language setting or installing additional applications.
Read Japanese Text Input page for details.
In this course, specially developed original font is used to present the standard shape of Hiragana letters.
This type of font is called Kyōkashotai (textbook style) and is ideal for character study.
Here, commonly used fonts are introduced so that you can get used to different style of letters.
Just take a look and observe the difference.
Please note that the shape of these sample fonts can be inappropriate for handwriting. Be sure to refer the standard shape when you do the writing practice.
How to Do
- Hiragana letters will be shown.
- Answer the keystrokes to input them.
- You are good enough if you can answer correctly the last 10 questions.
Type your answer in Roman alphabet on the text box below the video screen.
For more practical training, you can type the answer in Hiragana (if your computer is ready for the Japanese text input).