Lesson 1: あ い う え お

Reading

How to Read

あ い う え お

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.

Marks

Marks Sample
Mark Name Function
 、 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.

Vowels

Short Vowels

あ い う え お

Long Vowels

ああ いい うう ええ おお

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, い, う, え and お are indicated by an additional short vowel letter.

A horizontal bar is also used (e.g. あ, い, う, え, お). 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 ".

Quiz

Reading Quiz A Reading Quiz B

How to Do

  1. Hiragana will be shown.
  2. Read out the letter when it becomes red color.
  3. 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.

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Writing

How to Write

Hiragana a Hiragana a - line 1 Hiragana a - line 2 Hiragana a - line 3

Look closely how lines are crossed.

Line 2 is slightly curved.

Start Line 3 at the right place.

Hiragana a Hiragana a - line 1 Hiragana a - line 2 Hiragana a - line 3 Hiragana a Hiragana a - line 1 Hiragana a - line 2 Hiragana a - line 3
Not so good Bad [me]
Hiragana i Hiragana i - line 1 Hiragana i - line 2

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.
Hiragana a Hiragana a - line 1 Hiragana a - line 2 Hiragana a - line 3 Hiragana a Hiragana a - line 1 Hiragana a - line 2 Hiragana a - line 3
Not so good Bad [ri]
Hiragana u Hiragana u - line 1 Hiragana u - line 2

The whole shape is vertically long.

Tilt Line 1 properly.

Look closely how Line 2 is curved.

Hiragana a Hiragana a - line 1 Hiragana a - line 2 Hiragana a - line 3 Hiragana a Hiragana a - line 1 Hiragana a - line 2 Hiragana a - line 3
Not so good Bad [ra]
Hiragana e Hiragana e - line 1 Hiragana e - line 2

Tilt Line 1 properly.

Line 2 ends at near the bottom (not going up).

Hiragana a Hiragana a - line 1 Hiragana a - line 2 Hiragana a - line 3 Hiragana a Hiragana a - line 1 Hiragana a - line 2 Hiragana a - line 3
Not so good Bad
Hiragana o Hiragana o - line 1 Hiragana o - line 2 Hiragana o - line 3

The vertical part of Line 2 is not on the center (shifted towards left).

Place Line 3 on the right position.

Hiragana a Hiragana a - line 1 Hiragana a - line 2 Hiragana a - line 3 Hiragana a Hiragana a - line 1 Hiragana a - line 2 Hiragana a - line 3
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.

Writing Practice

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.

Quiz

Writing Quiz A Writing Quiz B

How to Do

  1. Have a pan and a paper.
  2. Listen to audio and write it down in Hiragana.
  3. You are good enough if you can write correctly the last 10 questions.

Blank Writing Pactice Sheet also can be used.

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Typing

How to Type

Hiragana
Keystrokes a i u e o -
Marks 「   」
Keystrokes comma period quotation quotation question exclamation

This section introduces keystrokes to input Hiragana letters by English keyboard.

For example, you can input [] by pressing [ a ] key if your computer is capable of typing the Japanese characters.

Most keystrokes are the same as Rōmaji spelling.

Keystroke for [] (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.

Sample Fonts

Standard Shape

a i u e o

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.

Sample Fonts

a a a a a

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.

Quiz

Typing Quiz A Typing Quiz B

How to Do

  1. Hiragana letters will be shown.
  2. Answer the keystrokes to input them.
  3. 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).

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Related Topics

YouTube

Voice Actors

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Karaoke Song Album Dream Fighter - Perfume

Dream Fighter
by Perfume

Learn Japanese by singing!

Music video of the song

Lyrics in Rōmaji & Hiragana

Word by word translation