Hiragana (平仮名, ひらがな) is the basic Japanese phonetic script. Its is one component of the Japanese writing system along with Katakana and Kanji. Kana(仮名) are syllabic Japanese scripts, including Hiragana and Katakana. Hiragana literally means “simple” kana (simple as contrasted with kanji). Katakana literally means “fragmentary” kana (as they are derived from more complex kanji).
Hiragana and Katakana are both KANA systems. Hiragana represents every sound in the Japanese language. With a few exceptions, each sound is represented by a Single Character. Therefore, you can theoretically write everything in hiragana. However, since Japanese writing has no concept of spaces between words, this will create a nearly indecipherable text. This is the reason why learning Kanji is a core part of Learning Japanese language.
Learning Hiragana creates a foundation for the rest of your Japanese Learning. By learning hiragana, you master all the sounds of Japanese language. It also opens doors to a vast resource of Japanese learning textbooks, blogs and websites. Hence, Hiragana is rightfully the very first step in learning Japanese.
Most of the people spend weeks and months learning hiragana. That’s way long! You should be able to learn every kana there is in a couple of days, or a week at max! This has been made possible due to innovative mnemonics that greatly reduce time and effort put into learning kana. Actually you can start recognizing hiragana after just a few hours of going through the resources that I am about to list on this post.
1. Hiragana Chart
Here is a table taken from the website: nihongoichiban.com. The table shows Hiragana with similar sounding English consonant-vowel pronunciations. Click on the Hiragana to learn how to write and pronounce it. Clicking the hiragana will redirect you to the main website.
|あ (a)||い (i)||う (u)||え (e)||お (o)|
|な (na)||に (ni)||ぬ (nu)||ね (ne)||の (no)|
|ま (ma)||み (mi)||む (mu)||め (me)||も (mo)|
|や (ya)||ゆ (yu)||よ (yo)|
|ら (ra)||り (ri)||る (ru)||れ (re)||ろ (ro)|
|わ (wa)||を (wo/o)|
2. Hiragana mnemonics
As I mentioned earlier, there are mnemonics to learning kana that have been very effective tools for speedy and accurate memorization and recall that you can just download in pdf format by Clicking here.
3. Hiragana Writing Practice
There are exercises for you to go through if you want to practice writing hiragana once you have learnt the correct stroke order. To begin, download the hiragana renshuu chart. If you have a printer, print it out. If not, well you can always learn digitally!
4. Hiragana Learning through videos
One of the best ways to learn Hiragana, I believe is going through this youtube video by Japanesepod101.com. This video teaches Hiragana through extremely effective mnemonics, audio-visual cues and well paced teaching style. It teaches right from the basics of Japanese writing systems to stroke orders of kana and example vocabulary. And it teaches you everything in 1 HOUR! Go learn hiragana before joining our Kanji course!
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Till then download Hiragana-Katakana chart/1五十音図.