46 Basic Hiragana Letters

Let’s begin learning Hiragana!

At the beginning, I will show you how to read Hiragana letters. In the later session, I will show you how to memorize them easily and quickly.

Here is the list. You can see Roman alphabets in the table. It’s called Romaji, which offers you a hint of how to pronounce the letters. But don’t rely on them too much. I will explain the reason later.

You can download the Booklet “Hiragana Katakana Charts”.


Let’s read Hiragana together. Please listen to the audio and repeat afterwards.

At the first row, you can see “あ、い、う、え、お”. They are our vowels.

At the second row. “か、き、く、け、こ”.

At the third, “さ、し、す、せ、そ”.

The pronunciation of 2nd letter, “し” is a bit tricky. Romaji is “shi” but it’s different from English “sh” sound. That’s the reason not to rely on Romaji too much.

To pronounce “し”, make your tongue close to the roof of the mouth near the front teeth (this place is called alveolar) and breathe out. Don’t make your lips tense and round. Please show us your smile!

At the fourth, “た、ち、つ、て、と”.

Many learners find it difficult to pronounce “ち” and “つ”.

To pronounce “ち”, first say “し”. You make your tongue close to the roof of the mouth near the front teeth and breathe out. Then, let your tongue tap the place. You can pronounce “ち”.

To pronounce “つ”, first say “す” for a few seconds. You can feel your tongue is close to the back of the tooth. Second, say “t”. Your tongue tap the same place. Then, say “t” and then immediately say “す”. The tip of the tongue tap and go back to keep a short distance. Now you can pronounce “つ”

Please listen carefully and practice again and again!

At the fifth, “な、に、ぬ、ね、の”. The sound of this row is a nasal.

At the sixth, “は、ひ、ふ、へ、ほ”.

“ふ” is different from English “f” sound. Don’t bite your lower lip! Imagine you blow a candle. That is “ふ” sound.

At the seventh, “ま、み、む、め、も”.

At the eighth, “や、ゆ、よ”.

You can see the blank cells in this row. Long time ago, we had some sounds there but we don’t use them anymore.

You will finish soon! At the ninth, “ら、り、る、れ、ろ”.

In Romaji, “r” is used in this row but it confuses learners. For example, if you are Italian, your r sound is a rolled r. It is very different from Japanese “らりるれろ” sounds.

Actually, Japanese “らりるれろ” sounds are similar to English “l” sound.

Say English “l” sound. You can feel your tongue touch behind the upper tooth and airstream comes out from the sides of your tongue. Then make the tip of the tongue tap at the same place. That is the sound of “らりるれろ”

At the last two row, “わ、を、ん”. Again, there are some cells for the sounds which are already disappeared.


Read each letter. After reading, listen to the audio and check the answer.

あさ (morning)

くつ (shoes)

さかな (fish)

とり (bird)

なまえ (name)

ほん (book)

みせ (shop)

やさい (vegetable)


You have learned all the basic Hiragana letters!

Hiragana Learning Course contents

8 Reasons why you should learn Hiragana

46 basic Hitagana Letters (this post)

More Hiragana Letters – Dakuon and Handakuon

More+ Hiragana Letters – Yōon

Some More Hiragana Letters – Long Vowels and Small “っ”

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