FoxxFireArt (Level 25)

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Welcome to the First Lesson - Japanese Writing

The system of Japanese Writing is called "Kana".
There are three basic writing systems of the Japanese Language. They are known as Hiragana Katakana, and Kanji.
  • Hiragana (平仮名 / ひらがな) is the main form of Japanese syllabaries.
  • Katakana (片仮名 / かたかな) is a form of Japanese syllabaries that is more often used for foreign words.
  • Kanji (漢字 / かんじ) are a collection of Chinese characters that are used in the modern Japanese writing system.
These can all be written in what is called "Romaji". This is a practice of changing Japanese kana into the Latin alphabet. An example would be with the word for "Dog".
"Dog" in Japapaese is "いぬ", a combination of "い" ( i ) & "ぬ' (nu). As romaji, it appears as "inu".

As I will be covering these lessons in the future. I will be explaining the English word, the Romanji pronunciations, and showing you the kana. It's best we get these characters out of the way so we can move on to more complicated steps or words and sentences.
The thing to remember about Hiragana and Katakana is that these characters do not always necessarily make up words. Much in the same way a single letter doesn't always make a word. The best way I can think of to explain these characters is that each one represents a syllable when talking about words.
  • Get a notebook and practice these characters over and over again, one at a time. It's the same thing for how we learn to write letters in school. Repetition is the key.

One of the main rules to learning to write Japanese is that your strokes are normally organized to start from left to right and top to bottom. 

Base Vowels

The base vowel syllables are the most important part to cover. Unlike the English language, these will always be pronounced the same way. I'm going to try and do my best to explain these phonetically since I am writing this tutorial. This part seems complicated, but gets far easier after this is done. All the other characters after the vowels will be pronounced with the normal sound, but with the vowel sound at the end.
The great thing about this system is that if you hear a word or name pronounced in Japanese. It's not too difficult to know how it's spelled in Hiragana or Katakana.
(In the graphs. You will see how to write each of the characters. The red dot marks where you are to begin your strokes.)
A - あ 
Phonetically the letter "A" in English is pronounced alone as if you were saying as "aye".
In Japanese, the pronunciation would phonetically sound closer to saying "ah".
I - い 
The letter "I" in English is pronounced alone as if you were saying the word "eye".
In Japanese, the pronunciation would phonetically sound closer to saying  the letter "e"
E - え
The "E" in Japanese phonetically sound closer to saying "eh", (as in "hey")
U - う 

The letter "U" in English is pronounced alone as if you were saying the word "you".
In Japanese, the pronunciation is similar, but without the y-sound. Phonetically it would be "ou"
O - お
The letter "O" in English and Japanese are pronounced the same. Phonetically as if you were saying "oh".

Base K

All of these characters are pronounced with the K (kay) sound, but end with the proper Japanese vowel sound.

Base S

Base T

The Base T has a familiar character that actually has a character you should be familiar with and it's one of the rare characters that that actually has a silent letter. It's the "tsu". You are sure to of seen this one in the word "Tsunami". It's pronounced much in the same way of the Base S "su".
Next Lesson: Hiragana - Characters Base N / H / M / Y 
Back to Lesson Guide: HERE

-Kristoffer Remmell ( FoxxFireArt) is a freelance graphic artist, writer, and over all mystery geek.-
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