Tag Archives: Japanese

Writing Hiragana – お

2 Dec

“O” OR “お” SAYS “long o sound as in potato”

First, Starting on the upper left, make a medium horizontal line. 


Second, starting a little bit above stroke one, make a vertical line down. Then (WITHOUT PICKING UP YOUR PEN) make a small loop to the left, cross back over the line and make a large curved line to the right.  


Notice that the line and loop are not centered, they are actually a little bit to the left of the character box.  You can see in the picture below that the big curve  (4) actually extends pretty far to the right – past the end of Stroke (1).


The Third stroke belongs in the upper right of the character. Starting on the left, make a very small sloped line downwards. 




  • おもい (Omoi) = Heavy
  • おい (Oi) = Nephew
  • おやつ (Oyatsu) = Snack
  • おちゃ (Ocha) = Green Tea

Writing Hiragana – え

30 Nov

“E” OR “え” SAYS “short e sound as in egg”

The First stroke belongs in the upper middle of the character. Starting on the left, make a very small sloped line downwards. 


Sometimes, you might see this line with a small side-stroke back towards the left. These characters were originally written with a brush, and this was just a small pull sideways that gave it flair. It shouldn’t be too deliberate – more a fast pull than anything.


Second, below the first line and without picking up your pen! Start by making a sloping-upwards line. Then pull your pen down quickly in a slight diagonal. Drag it back up again about 1/2 way. Then pull off into a sloping “s” shape.

Kind of like a slanted “h” with a fancy top and a hooked end


Pay attention to proportions – note that Step 2 ends up close to where Step 1 started. Step 3 pulls off at close to where Step 1 started.  The hook on Step 4 goes below Step 2. 

Eh 7.png

Final Version of This Part: 



  • かえる (Kaeru) = Frog
  • いえ (Ie) = House / Home
  • えんぴつ (Enpitsu) = Pencil

Writing Hiragana – い

26 Nov

“I” OR “い” SAYS “EE”

The first stroke looks a little like a fish hook (but not quite written that way). Make a slightly curved vertical line down, then (without picking up your pen) give it a small up-stroke. These characters were originally written with a brush, and this was just a small pull upwards that gave it flair. It shouldn’t be too deliberate – more a fast pull than anything.


Second, on the right – make a vertical line downwards slightly curved to the left.




  • しかい (Shikai) = Dentist
  • せんせい (Sensei) = Teacher
  • い (i) = Stomach


28 Oct

Japanese has three separate writing systems – Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. Their usage depends largely on the origin of the word. Kanji are the Sino-Japanese words that descend from China and use the simplified Chinese characters. Katakana incorporates many other foreign words, and not just English words! Then Hiragana is the predominant written form for everything else. Hiragana is by far the most common written form, although both Katakana and Kanji will be intermixed in most sentences.  So Hiragana is the first one usually taught to new Japanese students. Thankfully, it is easier to write and remember than the Kanji, having been simplified a lot time ago. So although it might take some time to memorize this many characters, it shouldn’t be too hard to learn!

Hiragana is read phonetically, and most of the letters can be replicated in English. Each “character” represents a sound, with all but one (‘ん’ ‘N’) including a vowel sound. There are 71 separate sounds but only 46 characters in total – one single consonant, five vowels, and forty combination sounds. 


  1. ( ゛) = Dakuten, put on the top right of the character. Shows that a character is changing from unvoiced (き is ki) to voiced (ぎ is gi) 
  2. は (ha) is said as (wa) when it comes by itself or is after the topic of the sentence. For example, watashi wa (I am) is spelled 私は.
  3. The characters や (ya), よ (yo), and ゆ (yu) can be added to a character that ends in the (i) sound. If so, the (i) is silent. For example, if ぎ (gi) is added to や (ya), it will be pronounced as ぎや (gya).

  4. Doubled vowels (as in おにいさん | oni’isan | big brother) are demonstrated by adding an extra vowel. に (Ni) is lengthened by adding the extra い (i) to form ni’i.  For the doubled vowel (o), either う or お might be added – it depends on the word.

  5. Doubled consonants (as in にっぽん | Nippon) are created by adding a ‘small’ (Tsu) or っ right before the consonant. It is actually smaller in size than the character Tsu (つっ – see the difference).  You don’t actually pronounce the small Tsu. For example, in Japanese, ‘begging’ would be written ‘beっging.’

  6. The only exception are the doubled -n characters (na, ni, no, nu, ne). They are doubled by adding ん (an extra n) before the n.

  7. On the other hand っ (‘small tsu) can also be added at the end of a word to suggest stronger emotions. Rather like a !.  However, when they do that, it seems to often suggest stronger emotions that are not quite strong enough for a (!).  For example, if I’m talking to a child, “you’re so silly っ” might be used versus “you’re such an idiot!” to someone who just caused a lot of trouble by doing something stupid. In that case, it is also no pronounced.

  8. If the vowels (i) and (u) are in between (k), (s), (t), (p), (h) or if the come after one of those at the end of a sentence, then the (i) or (u) may be silent.  For example, ですね (desu ne) is often said (des ne). 
  9. If へ (he) comes after a location, the (h) is silent and it says (e).

  10. The Japanese (r) is similar to that of China and Korea. Put your tongue in the (L) position but say (R).  If you listen, it comes out a little differently from the English (r) sound. 


あ (a) え (e) い (i) お (o) う (u)
だ (da) で (de) ぢ (ji) ど (do) づ (zu)
た (ta) て (te) ち (chi) と (to) つ (tsu)
が (ga) げ (ge) ぎ (gi) ご (go) ぐ (gu)
は (ha) へ (he) ひ (hi) ほ (ho) ふ (fu)
ば (ba) べ (be) び (bi) ぼ (bo) ぶ (bu)
ぱ (pa) ぺ (pe) ぴ (pi) ぽ (po) ぺ (pu)
か (ka) け (ke) き (ki) こ (ko) く (ku)
ま (ma) め (me) み (mi) も (mo) む (mu)
ん (n)
な (na) ね (ne) に (ni) の (no) ぬ (nu)
ら (ra) れ (re) り (ri) ろ (ro) る (ru)
さ (sa) せ (se) し (shi) そ (so) す (su)
ざ (za) ぜ (ze) じ (ji) ぞ (zo) ず (zu)
わ (wa) を (wo)
や (ya) よ (yo) ゆ (yu)


 Note the lack of a (y) in the sh-, ch-, and j- combos.

びゃ (bya) びょ (byo) びゅ (byu)
ぴゃ (pya) ぴょ (pyo) ぴゅ (pyu)
ひゃ (hya) ひょ (hyo) ひゅ (hyu)
ぎゃ (gya) ぎょ (gyo) ぎゅ (gyu)
きゃ (kya) きょ (kyo) きゅ (kyu)
にゃ (nya) にょ (nyo) にゅ (nyu)
みゃ (mya) みょ (myo) みゅ (myu)
りゃ (rya) りょ (ryo) りゅ (ryu)
しゃ (sha) しょ (sho) しゅ (shu)
じゃ (ja) じょ (jo) じゅ (ju)
ちゃ (cha) ちょ (cho) ちゅ (chu)

“Wake from death and return to life”

26 Oct


~ Japanese Proverb

“In the worst of a desperate moment, you can rise up suddenly again.”

Sino-Japanese Numbers

25 Oct

The following includes the Sino-Japanese Numbers used in Japanese for many number-related issues. In appearance, they are the same as those used in Mandarin Chinese, in fact that is where the characters were borrowed from (Sino – meaning “Chinese”). Thus, the numbers are in fact a part of the Kanji writing system.  

While Sino-Japanese numbers are more common according to my Japanese friends, the traditional Japanese numbers are still occasionally used and it is good to memorize the numbers 1-10 in traditional form as well. 

Also notice that the number 4 (shi) can sound like a bad word in Japanese (shi sounds like ‘death’), so it is replaced with the traditional number “yon”. And number 7 (nana) can also be replaced with the traditional number “shichi” depending on the usage.


Number Name Kanji
1 ichi
2 ni
3 san
4 shi/yon*
5 go
6 roku
7 shichi/nana*
8 hachi
9 kyū
100 hyaku*/ichi hyaku
1000 sen/issen*
10,000 man / ichiman
100,000,000 oku
1,000,000,000,000 chō


Although my examples below use spacing to help you see the numbers laid out more easily, the Japanese will often just combine the numbers into one long string. For example, my Japanese friends would write 2109  as nisenhyakukyū if they wrote it out in Romaji. 

**Please notice that the numbers 300 (sanbyaku), 600 (roppyaku), and 800 (happyaku) are different from the usual formula of Number + Hyaku. Not sure why, my Japanese teacher didn’t explain 🙂 I just know that this is true.

Number Name Kanji
1 ichi
2 ni
3 san
4 shi/yon*
5 go
6 roku
7 shichi/nana*
8 hachi
9 kyū
11 jūichi 十一
12 jūni 十二
13 jūsan 十三
20 nijū 二十
30 sanjū 三十
40 yonjū 四十
50 gojū 五十
60 rokujū 六十
70 nanajū 七十
80 hachijū 八十
90 kyūjū 九十
100 hyaku*/ichi hyaku
200 nihyaku 二百
300 sanByaku *note the change 三百
600 roPPyaku *note the change 六百
800 haPPyaku *note the change 八百
1000 sen/issen*
10,000 man / ichiman
100,000 jūman 十万
1,000,000 hyakuman 百万
10,000,000 senman 千万
100,000,000 oku
1,000,000,000 jūoku 十億
10,000,000,000 hyaku oku 百億
100,000,000,000 senoku 千億
1,000,000,000,000 chō

***Please notice that while in English, we count in 1,000s — the Japanese (and Chinese) count in 10,000s.  So in English, we learn one thousand (1,000), ten thousand (10,000), one hundred thousand (100,000), one million (1,000,000), and ten million (10,000,000). But in Japanese, they learn sen (1,000), man (10,000), jūman (100,000), and hyakuman (1,000,000), senman (10,000,000).  Notice that jū(man), hyaku(man), and sen(man)  are all  multiples of 10,000 (Japanese) instead of 1,000 (English).   

Number English Japanese
10 ten jū (ten)
100 one hundred hyaku (hundred)
1000 one thousand sen (thousand)
1,0000 ten-thousand man (ten-thousand)
10,0000 one-hundred thousand jūman (ten man or ten ten-thousands)
100,0000 one million hyakuman (one-hundred man)
1000,0000 ten million senman (one-thousand man)
1,0000,0000 one-hundred million oku (one oku)
10,0000,0000 one billion jūoku (ten oku)

Because of this, you can often see them mark numbers as 1,0000 with the comma after the ten-thousands.  For example 1,0000 instead of 10,000.


Here are examples of every number through ten million (follow same pattern if going farther)

Number Name Kanji
21 nijū ichi 二十一
32 sanjū ni 三十二
43 yonjū san 四十三
54 gojū yon 五十四
65 rokujū go 六十五
76 nanajū roku 七十六
87 hachijū nana 八十七
98 kyūjū hachi 九十八
109 hyaku kyū 百九
219 nihyaku jūkyū 二百十九
329 sanByaku nijū kyū *note the change 三百二十九
439 yonhyaku sanjū kyū 四百三十九
549 gohyaku yonjū kyū 五百四十九
659 roPPyaku gojū kyū *note the change 六百五十九
769 nanahyaku rokujū kyū 七百六十九
879 haPPyaku nanajū kyū *note the change 八百七十九
989 kyūhyaku hachijū kyū 九百八十九
2001 nisen ichi 二千一
3010 sansen jū 三千十
4100 yonsen hyaku 四千百
5210 gosen nihyaku jū 五千二百十
6222 rokusen nihyaku nijū ni 六千二百二十二
20,003 niman san 二万三
30,033 sanman sanjū san 三万三十三
40,333 yonman sanbyaku sanjū san 四万三百三十三
53,333 goman sansen sanbyaku sanjū san 五万三千三百三十三
140,000 jūyonman 十四万
400,000 yonjūman 四十万
654,321 rokujūgo man yonsen sanbyaku nijū ichi 六十五万四千三百二十一
7,654,321 nanahyaku rokujūgo man yonsen sanbyaku nijū ichi 七百六十五万四千三百二十一
87,654,321 hachisen nanahyaku rokujūgo man yonsen sanbyaku nijū ichi 八千七百六十五万四千三百二十一

Japanese Cosplay Song and Dance

8 Sep

Music I Love ~ Love Yourself

9 Nov

Japanese: One Stroke Dragon

10 Sep

Pro Heavy Metal Guitar Player + Adorable Little Girl = Awesome!

21 May

%d bloggers like this: