If you’re new to this series, check out my previous posts under the “Japanese from Scratch” category.
In this lesson, we will learn how to read and write the remaining Hiragana characters.
Sounds to watch for
The /r/ sound is notoriously difficult for English speakers. It is a hard sound between “r” and “l”. You want to make sure that you flick your tongue against the roof of your mouth, similar to how Spanish speakers roll their r’s.
The last few sounds don’t really follow the convention that we’re used to. There is no “yi”, “ye”, “wi”, “wu”, or “we” sounds.* And while 「を」 technically is a “wo” sound, it sounds exactly the same as “o” （お） in practice. As you’ll later learn, 「を」 is only used for grammatical purposes and not as part of regular words. Therefore, it will not show up in the reading practice below.
Finally, as the only consonant-only sound, 「ん」 is an curious anomaly. It comes after another sound to add a “n” or “m” consonant sound. I find that if you always pronounce it as “n”, nobody really notices the difference.
Here’s a list of other vocab you should read over for some simple reading practice. Once again, don’t worry about memorizing the definitions.
- そら – sky
- やま – mountain
- しろ – white
- ゆき – snow
- よる – night
- りす – squirrel
- おふろ – bath
- わたし – me, myself, I
- さん – three
- よん – four
- ふとん – futon
- ゆめ – dream
- みらい – future
- むり – impossible
- みる – to see
- れんこん – lotus root (used in Japanese cooking)
Congratulations, you’ve learned all of Hiragana! We’re almost done with all the sounds in Japanese. Review the complete Hiragana chart here.
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*Classical Japanese does have “wi” （ゐ） and “we” （ゑ） but they are no longer used.