The Kana: Learning Hiragana and Katakana

Hi there,

In this article, I will quickly present what learning kana consists in, and what you will have to pay attention to.

First, if you don’t know what kana or romaji are, have a look at my previous articles (The Kana: Hiragana and Katakana, Romaji).

Now, to go straigtht to our subject, learning a kana means essentially learning three things:

  • The shape of the kana which allows to identify it,
  • The sound of the kana, its pronunciation,
  • The way to draw the kana: its stokes and stroke order

Let’s have a look at an example: あ

  • The shape is あ
  • The pronunciation of this kana is [a] (click to hear the pronunciation)
  • It has 3 strokes and the order in which they are written down is:

Learning the shape of the kana and its pronounciation should be your first focus, as without this you will not be able to read Japanese. It isn’t critical if you don’t get the stroke order right at first, but know that stroke order is considered as really important by Japanese people, and it is key if you want to learn calligraphy.

So now the following table will display all these pieces of information together. You can use this page as a reference in the future in case of any uncertainty.

Hiragana:

[a]
[i]
[u]
[e]
[o]
[ka]
[ki]
[ku]
[ke]
[ko]
[sa]
[shi]
[su]
[se]
[so]
[ta]
[chi]
[tsu]
[te]
[to]
[na]
[ni]
[nu]
[ne]
[no]
[ha]
[hi]
[fu]
[he]
[ho]
[ma]
[mi]
[mu]
[me]
[mo]
[ya]
[yu]
[yo]
[ra]
[ri]
[ru]
[re]
[ro]
[wa]
[wo]
[n]

A real christmas tree ^^.
And naturally the same goes for the katakana:

[A]
[I]
[U]
[E]
[O]
[KA]
[KI]
[KU]
[KE]
[KO]
[SA]
[SHI]
[SU]
[SE]
[SO]
[TA]
[CHI]
[TSU]
[TE]
[TO]
[NA]
[NI]
[NU]
[NE]
[NO]
[HA]
[HI]
[FU]
[HE]
[HO]
[MA]
[MI]
[MU]
[ME]
[MO]
[YA]
[YU]
[YO]
[RA]
[RI]
[RU]
[RE]
[RO]
[WA]
[WO]
[N]

I guess now you have the full picture of what it means to learn kana. As I said, this may seem much for some of you, but don’t worry; many people did it before you and there is no reason for you not to able to do it. Progress step by step, day by day, one character at a time, and you will see that in a few weeks or so you will have mastered quite a few of them. Make it at your pace, but be regular and perseverent, this is the key.

Get access to the hiragana and katakana learning lessons at the bottom of the following page:

The Kana: Hiragana and Katakana

Stéphane

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