Japanese writing system Hiragana and Katakana

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Japanese writing system

The Japanese language has 4 types of writing systems below.


mainly works grammatically also it can be used as alternatives for Kanji.


mainly used for from foreign language.


has some stem every character and in many cases, Kanji plus Hiragana or multiple Kanji are combined to make meaning.


mainly used for indicating how to pronounce for English speakers.

Basic Hiragana and Katakana

The first topic you should learn is Japanese alphabets Hiragana and Katakana. They are both Kana systems. Japanese sentence of about 70% is composed by Kana, so you can speak 70% of Japanese without understanding that meaning.

Kana pronunciation is very easy because there is a one-to-one correspondence between Kana characters and sounds, except for part of them.

The list below indicates the basic Hiragana(red) and Katakana(blue) characters and their pronunciation. The Kana characters’ names are the same as their pronunciations.

For example, すし is pronounced sushi. As you know it’s popular Japanese food.
The character name of す is “su” and it is always pronounced “su” in words too. In the same way, し is “shi” and pronounced “shi” in words too.
In English, the character name of “A” is called “ei”, but in words, it changes to various pronunciations depending on the combination with the alphabet before and after. However, the Japanese language is not so.

I recommend memorizing Hiragana and Katakana at the same time.

Hiragana and Katakana – combined version –

There are combined Kana characters with other symbols or small Kana.

The name of the type of character is not important. You don’t have to remember the name of the type, just remember each character’s sound.

Dakuon and Handakuon

だくおん(Dakuon) is voiced sound. A symbol like double quotes(゛) is added on the right upside of Kana character. For example, た + ゛= だ.

はんだくおん(Handakuon) is half dullness. A small circle(゜) is added on the right upside of Kana character. For example, は + ゜ = ぱ.

For example, パンダ is Panda. Its pronunciation is similar to English.

Yoon and Sokuon

ようおん(Yoon) is the Kana Characters added small Kana ゃ, ゅ or ょ on the right side.

そくおん(Sokuon) is clogged sound っ like staccato.

For example, ピカチュウ is Pikachu. (Poke-mon character)

Dakuon or Handakuon + Yoon

For example, ギャラドス is Gyarados. (Poke-mon character)