Dan the Computer Man

Your Computer's Best Friend
In-home computer repair in the San Antonio area

Japanese Katakana & Hiragana

  Hiragana     Katakana
・ あいうえお  ・ アイウエオ
K かきくけこ  K カキクケコ
S さしすせそ  S サシスセソ
T たちつてと  T タチツテト
N なにぬねの  N ナニヌネノ
H はひふへほ  H ハヒフヘホ
M まみむめも  M マミムメモ
Y や ゆ よ  Y ヤ ユ ヨ
R らりるれろ  R ラリルレロ
W わゐ ゑを  W ワヰ ヱヲ
N ん      N ン

Voiced Consonants
G がぎぐげご  G ガギグゲゴ
Z ざじずぜぞ  Z ザジズゼゾ
D だぢづでど  D ダヂヅデド
B ばびぶべぼ  B バビブベボ
P ぱぴぷぺぽ  P パピプペポ
Just combine the consonant on the left with the vowel on the top; find か "ka", の "no", and ゆ "yu" for practice.


Spoken Japanese is better represented by written Japanese than by Roman letters. The following syllables can be romanized in a variety of ways.
シ・ジ Si/Shi・Zi/Ji
チ・ヂ Ti/Chi・Di/Ji/Dzi
ツ・ヅ Tu/Tsu・Du/Dzu/Zu
フ   Hu/Fu

ヰ、ヱ、ヲ are used very rarely in modern Japanese. One would see ウィ rather than ヰ. However, hiragana を is one of the most common grammatical particles.

Katakana vs. Hiragana vs. Kanji vs. Romaji
Romaji means Roman letters, just like the ones used in English. They appear in Japanese text along with true Japanese writing systems. (From "Roma" [Rome] + JI, character)
Kanji means Chinese characters (From Chinese Hangxi, "Chinese" + "Character")
Katakana is used generally for foreign (non-Japanese) or fictional words and names. For this reason, I recommend beginning with katakana to learn Japanese - you will understand much of what you encounter because most katakana words come from English.
Hiragana is used for Japanese words. Mostly it fills in the gaps by acting as the changable or conjugatable part of verbs, and as grammatical particles. (e.g. を indicates the direct object.)

Representation of Vowels
The "length" of a vowel refers to the length of time it is pronounced. In Japanese, each syllable is pronounced for roughly the same amount of time, and so when two consecutive vowels appear together, they are pronounced for a longer time.
In katakana, this is usually represented by writing a line after the first vowel. For example, コンピューター uses two lengthened vowels.
In hiragana, the vowel is usually written a second time. Exceptions include the vowel O; usually this is written おう、as in とうきょう。

ン Syllabic Nasal "N"
The only syllable to not end in a vowel. Romanized either as M or N, depending on the following consonant. (Usually "M" before bilabial B, M, & P; but "N" before non-bilabial consonants.)

ッ Small Tsu (Glottal Stop or Syllabic Stop)
Occurs before consonants (especially stops, e.g. K, G, T, D, B, P) to indicate a glottal stop or a "paused" syllable. Same as in between English "Uh-oh" and between the K's in "bookkeeping".

Small Letters
(These combine with others to make one syllable)
 ャ ュ ョ

Palatalized consonants
(This also applies for voiced consonants, e.g. ギャ)
K キャ キュ キョ
S シャ シュ ショ
T チャ チュ チョ
N ニャ ニュ ニョ
H ヒャ ヒュ ヒョ
M ミャ ミュ ミョ
R リャ リュ リョ

Extended vowel ー

Modern Variants
These are not used for native Japanese words, but have been created in modern times for representing foreign words. A few examples:
D ディ デュ
F ファ フィ フェ フォ フャ フュ フョ
V ヴァ ヴィ ヴ ヴェ ヴォ (ヴ is Vu)
エヴァンゲリオン (A popular TV show)