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Hiragana/Katakana table, and Hiragana/Katakana-Kanji origin table [free download!]

Updated: Jun 8

Hiragana/Katakana table, and Hiragana/Katakana-Kanji origin table [free download!]

Hello. This is Rakurakumom (author name: Misuzu Oba). I work in writing activities and support parenting in Japan.

I have launched an English version of my website that provides study materials and support tools for people interested in Japan, Japanese culture, and learning the Japanese language. These resources are also useful for children whose native language is not Japanese and for those with learning disabilities studying in Japan. The website covers various subjects such as study techniques, homework assistance, and tools to support school life.

This time, I've created a "Hiragana Table" and "Katakana Table" with the alphabet Furigana (pronunciation keys), in addition to a "Hiragana/Katakana-Kanji origin Table."

These are designed in a convenient postcard size for portability, but you can adjust the size to your preference for individual use and convenience on a tablet or smartphone.

Now, let me explain each of them.

■Hiragana/Katakana table

It is organized in 50 sound characters with color-coded indexes. Hiragana and Katakana are phonograms, and each letter has one pronunciation. (Kanji has multiple readings for one character.)

It is a regular combination of the vowel "a-i-u-e-o" and the consonant "k-s-t-n-h-m-y-r-w", and "n". But some letters are also assigned verbal spellings when pronounced by English speakers.

The fundamental writing system in Japanese involves a combination of Kanji, Hiragana, and Katakana. The distinction between Hiragana and Katakana lies in the fact that Hiragana is often used for connecting particles, expressing sentence endings, and conveying simple or informal language. On the other hand, Katakana is frequently employed for representing foreign words and expressing new concepts.

Katakana is extremely useful for using foreign words as they are, but, the distinct pronunciation of English by many Japanese individuals, which may sound peculiar to foreigners, is believed to be influenced by Katakana. Within Japanese circles, if someone's English pronunciation is not fluent, it is sometimes mockingly referred to as "Katakana English."

And Japanese has two writing types, ↓vertically and →horizontally. Japanese elementary school Japanese-language textbooks are vertical writing, and the Hiranaga table for Japanese students is also usually presented vertically. Therefore, I have created this chart in a vertical format. Other subjects may use horizontally written textbooks.

This Hiragana/Katakana Table includes not only the basic 50 sounds but also Daku-On(voiced sounds), Handaku-On (semi-voiced sounds), and Yo-On(contracted sounds).

In Japanese, there is a convention to add two small dots or a circle to specific Hiragana or Katakana characters or write certain characters in a smaller size to indicate a different pronunciation, such as changing Ta to Da, Ha to Pa, or combining Hi and Ya to produce Hya.

...When I reflect on it, even my eldest son, a true-born and raised Japanese, was exasperated during his first year of elementary school, saying, "Ah, Japanese is so confusing! 'Pya Pyu Pyo' makes my eyes spin!" 👀, while he was struggling with his homework. So, I've incorporated color coding to make it easier for those encountering Japanese for the first time to grasp the patterns of Daku-On, Handaku-On, and Yo-On.

In recent times, there has been an increase in foreign children attending Japanese elementary and middle schools, and many people from overseas are interested in learning Japanese, influenced by Manga and anime.

To accommodate this, I have added alphabet furigana (pronunciation guides). (Given the mix of vertical and horizontal writing, creating this was quite challenging...😂).

The small characters written alongside the main text, "Furigana," are commonly used in Japan. This is because there are many Kanji characters with challenging readings, even for native Japanese speakers. Particularly for elementary school students with a multitude of yet-to-be-learned Kanji, elderly individuals, and those with disabilities, Furigana serves as a helpful aid for understanding the text.

Furthermore, Furigana is also widely used for the unique and sometimes unconventional readings of Manga dialogue.

■Hiragana/Katakana-Kanji origin table

This chart is designed for advanced learners of Japanese and individuals familiar with Chinese characters. It provides a list of Hiragana and Katakana characters along with the original Chinese characters from which they originated.

The information about the origin of the characters is based on references such as Japanese 6th-grade elementary school textbooks. The characters in gray indicate cases where the original character is not clearly defined.

In Japan, it's commonly known that Hiragana and Katakana originated from Chinese characters during the Heian period (8th to 12th centuries). However, the interesting fact is that they were created differently, so the original Chinese characters from which they were derived are also different (although there are some common characters).

In simpler terms, Hiragana can be described as a casual, somewhat careless script derived from breaking down the original Chinese characters into a cursive style (equivalent to cursive writing in English). On the other hand, katakana involves extracting parts of the original Chinese characters and considerably simplifying and abbreviating them. That's the basic distinction between the two. (*1)

Absolutely, the casual and somewhat careless ingenuity and practical shortcuts are crucial for the development of culture!

[free download!]

Hiragana-with Furigana
Download PDF • 101KB

Download PDF • 70KB

Katakana-with Furigana
Download PDF • 97KB

Download PDF • 64KB

Download PDF • 113KB

Please read my website terms of use for more information.

info: "Rakurakumom's Official Website" is also available in English.

We would be delighted if families with foreign children living in Japan, teachers, and individuals from around the world interested in the Japanese language and culture could find our website useful. We are gradually enhancing and updating the content, with the assistance of automatic translation and the enthusiasm of my son who loves English. Support tools will also be progressively adapted for translation.


🇯🇵 Original post of this article(Switch to 🇯🇵 mode)

(*1) There are various theories. The origin of Katakana remains a mystery, and while it is not adopted in Japanese textbooks, there are even theories suggesting a connection with ancient Hebrew characters. For fans, those who enjoy archaeology and occult mysteries, delving into the origins of Katakana might be a "WAKU-WAKU" exciting venture.


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