Hiragana Lessons

Hiragana Lessons

So you are new to Hiragana? It isn't that hard to learn. If you study 15-30 minutes a day for 2 or 3 weeks you can learn all of the Hiragana! In fact you can begin to read REAL Japanese the first day! If you are new to Hiragana please read through the introduction here on this page before starting the chapters. If you need a book to learn with please take a look at the selection of books related to Hiragana and Katakana at our store.

Find a Japanese Tutor Search WyzAnt to find a japanese tutor near you. Your first hour of tutoring comes with a satisfaction guarantee so you can start lessons with confidence!


SUGGESTIONS: Tackle 2 or 3 hiragana a day (or as many as you feel comfortable with); Be sure to write each one down many times; Look for hiragana you have studied elsewhere while you study and try to recognize the ones you've already learned. This helps build your memory.

You may want to hear all hiragana pronounced before beginning.

Click on the chapter title or green button in any box below to jump directly to that chapter.

And to finish up, a few closing pointers to cover the loose ends and bring it all together.

We also have some Hiragana Quizzes (Your browser needs to be able to see Japanese)
Quiz #1 (the 46 characters covered in chapters 1 - 10)
Quiz #2 (the "combo" characters covered in chapter 11)

Hiragana Randomizer Flash Cards (Only works with IE)

Practice Hiragana by Typing Romaji

An Introduction:

Let's learn the first of the three Japanese 'alphabets.' (they aren't really alphabets) Three?!! You mean there's more!?! Yes, but before you run for the aspirin, know that hiragana is perhaps the most useful and it can be mastered (to a slow, but readable degree) in less than 2 weeks! Hiragana's sister is Katakana. Once you learn Hiragana, you will notice how similar Katakana is. The third is kanji - characters originally from China. But more on that later...

Here is a comment from a very nice guy:
I learned how to read and write hiragana almost exclusively through this site, and I think it's a great learning tool. I did one lesson a day, and wrote each character several times until I had it memorized. Then I re-wrote all of the characters I had learned so far, up to that point. It was fairly easy and fun. I found the mnemonics a great help. It really didn't seem to matter what they said ("Look ma, a dragonfly!), just the process of reading them helped me to remember. Thank you very much for your hard work on this site, and for making it available to everyone on the Internet. Good job.

-- Tom

About Hiragana:

Today all three 'alphabets' are used together. As a rule, most words (of Chinese or Japanese origin) are written with kanji + hiragana. And foreign loan words and names are written with katakana.

About the Sounds:

Most sounds in Japanese are found also in English. Unlike in English, the 'letters' in Japanese only have one sound each, with three exceptions that will be mentioned later on. Please click on the sound files to get a feel for the sounds. The most important to master are the vowels (the first row). The sounds are all found in English. Please repeat the sounds many times. If you spend a few moments looking at the chart, you should be able to see a clear pattern (each column has the same vowel sound and each row has the same consonant sound.) There are only a few that deviate from that pattern (in red) - But we will get to that later.

These are all the basic hiragana letters. The rest are simply combinations of two hiragana. (For Example: to make the 'sha' sound - add (shi) + や(ya) = しゃ(sha) - Notice how the second letter is smaller; but we will look at this later.)

We will look at about 5 'letters' per page. Do one a day and in no time you will be reading real Japanese!

Some good advice from Amanda - a thejapanesepage.com member:

When I was first learning to make the "r" sound one tip that helped was to keep "l" in mind, but widen the tongue.

With a traditional English "l" the tongue is narrowed right behind the two front teeth. If you pay close attention to widening your tongue while you are first learning the sound what you get sounds more like the Japanese "r". There may be a slight over-correction at first, but once you stop focusing on it entirely it will make the sound more natural and the practice makes it easier to master.

I thought sharing this would be of help to others who are learning on their own.

It was sort of funny when I first read that tip because after repeating the r's over and over and over, I was really aware of how my tongue moved to make other sounds. It's weird, but when you pay attention to the sounds you make you almost start to wonder if you're doing it right. Kind of like saying one word several times- it stops sounding like that word even though you haven't changed what you are saying!



I really like the update you just did to all these lessons. Its much better being able to hear the sound without downloading the audio file, overall, great job.

Keep up the great work, love the site.

clay's picture

Thanks! It was quite a bit of work, but I'm glad I did it.

Love the guides on this site. Very helpful - never thought I would actually ever read Japanese words, but these guides you made are very helpful! Thanks.

Good to see that you pay attention to comments made by your users, great site and thanks again.

clay's picture

Thanks! I appreciate it. :)

Killander's picture

man I love this site! I spend hours almost everyday

Love this site. It has the easiest layout and navigation.
I find what really helps in assisting me to lean hirigana is to have it as a wallpaper on everything from my phone to my pc as well as creating my own hirigana wallpaper. That way I not only get to practice writing it but I am having fun doing it as well. I am exposed to it all the time when it is used that way. Plus it's good when you are practising and you need to take a peek at it to make sure you have the right character ;)

naina ames's picture

i learn from the beginner...it is very difficult but
i will try my best!!!!GANBATTE!!!

Thanks fore this helpful introductions to the Japanese characters :)

I'm Right now moving to katakana and wont leave the quiz test until i wont make a single mistake!!

Thanks again!

kasukehanayori's picture

haha!! souka wakatta ne. ganbatte minna!!

um my computer wont let me hear the sounds can someone help me i just started

phreadom's picture

Does it normally play other sounds?

The sounds are just links to .wav files, and should play in whichever media player is associated with them. If you have Quicktime installed, it should play it in that right in the browser, or if you're on Windows and have Windows Media Player, I think it should use that etc.

When you click, nothing at all happens? No sound, no screen change, no download option, etc?

Amazing work guys I am from Egypt and I have always wanted to go to Japan and I am very interested in Japanese history, Thank you for all your dedication and hard work to make this fabulous site.I wish I could support you some how

phreadom's picture

Thank you SiGMA-san! :)

If you would like to support TJP somehow, you can either donate a small amount through paypal, or simply shop at TheJapanShop.com to purchase learning materials etc. Both directly help support TJP and keep it available to everyone!


That link shows many past and current supporters and shows you both ways you can help support TJP.

Also, simply being a part of TJP and learning along with everyone makes TJP a better place.


Hello friends, I am Pankaj from India. i dont know why my heart says me to learn Japanese..but now i am here and hope all the friends here will help me to do this...and in future possibly i ll visit Japan at least once.
Thank you all...and thanks to people for making this place..

I can't view the fonts right in the quizzes. They're just a bunch of question marks. I'm running on OS X 10.6 and I have the languages installed and enabled but I just can't view it right. :(

phreadom's picture

Ah, thank you for pointing that out. I'd fixed the katakana quizzes a few months back, and hadn't noticed these old hiragana quizzes linked from the bottom of this page. I'll try to get them fixed up for you and comment back when I have them done.

Sorry for the trouble. :)

phreadom's picture

The kana should show up correctly now. :)

The javascript is still a little broken... at least for me here in Firefox... so I'll have to have a look at that yet, but that's a little more complex a fix than just fixing the encoding. :)

Please let us know if you find any other problems like this! Thanks!

the katakana is not working!what should i do?? :(

phreadom's picture

Have you read the getting started guide?


If that doesn't answer your question, let me know. :)

i think im going to love this site. im excited to learn. im so fond of japanese anime and shows and even songs. i really would like to learn the language.thanks in advance.

i cant belive it i cant belive it i cant belive it i cant belive it i cant belive it i cant belive it .... A BIG THANK YOU!

this is SOOOO COOL!


Thanks alot for your awesome work, my second day studying yet I'm starting to get it!

I've got a question though! Is it really important to get those lovely looking curves on the hiragana?
No matter how much I try I can't get it, can only make it if I write it really big!
(Think and hope you understand what I'm talking about:)

Thanks ahead and keep the good work up, will donate as soon as I can afford it!

Greetings from Sweden!

phreadom's picture

You might want to post some examples of your handwriting on the forum to get some feedback on spots you might want to work on to improve your skills. :)


If you can take a picture of your handwriting and post it there, I'm sure you'll get some helpful feedback. :)

While I'm at it I'll give you a second question that I've been thinking about!

In some words in Japanese there're some other letters, like x, n, b alone. If I'm going to write Sweden (suuxe-den) should I ignore "Den" and write 'su-hiragana, u-hiragana, then just an X? and then e-hiragana. Since I can't find those letters here.

Not sure how to explain it better with english words but I think and hope you get the point!

One love, Yaizon.

To answer your question, firstly there's only one single consonant in Japanese and that's ん/ン(n). When you write Sweden you have to use one of the additional katakana which were introduced much later than the original combinations used in native Japanese words. In Japanese Sweden is called suweeden and it's written as スウェーデン, to write this you can simply write suwe-den but it's also possible to write suuxe-den, but I prefer the former since it's much more straightforward :)

In the Japanese IME used on the Windows operating systems what x does is that it converts the following kana to a small kana, but this is only possible with the single vowels, tsu and ya/yu/yo. For example xe becomes ぇ and xya becomes ゃ. The letter l works in a similar fashion.

I don't know if this is the question you asked but I hoped it helped a little at least :)

Don't worry it's good enough!

Just got really confused when I checked out a English to Japanese translator and couldn't find a few letters. :)

Thanks alot!

jag kan prata svenska, but english is MUCH MUCH better


Hi, just wanted to say what an amazing website this is, and that it is incredible how easy and fun it makes learning Japanese, i am eternally grateful, thank you for a great site

One thing that i was wondering, is just that on the Quiz for the combination characters, if it is possible to enlarge it, because it is very hard to tell the difference between a ten-ten and a circle, but it is just a small matter, and does not make this site any worse at all.


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