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TYJ Hiragana for w + vowels

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This article is in the series Teach Yourself Japanese
2.10. Hiragana for w + vowels

w + vowels:







HiraganaRomanizationPronunciationDescription
wa[ wa ] ListenJapanese "w" + Japanese "a".
Japanese "w" sounds like English "w" but is slightly softer. Unlike English "w", you don't have to round your lips.
i[ i ] Listen This is the hiragana for "i".
u[ ɯ ] ListenThis is the hiragana for "u".
e[ e ] ListenThis is the hiragana for "e".
o[ o ] ListenThis is the hiragana for "o".

Note that there are no hiragana for "wi", "wu", "we", or "wo".

w + vowels (ancient Japanese):







HiraganaRomanizationPronunciationDescription
wa[ wa ] ListenJapanese "w" + Japanese "a".
i[ i ] Listen This hiragana is not used in modern Japanese.* It shares the same phoneme with い. Its pronunciation was "wi", but "w" has been lost.
u[ ɯ ] ListenThis is the hiragana for "u".
e[ e ] ListenThis hiragana is not used in modern Japanese.* It shares the same phoneme with え. Its pronunciation was "we", but "w" has been lost.
o[ o ] ListenThere is a single-kana postposition with this kana in modern Japanese. Other than that, this kana is not used in modern Japanese. It shares the same phoneme with お.
Its pronunciation was "wo", but "w" has been lost. The Romanization is "o", but some people use "wo" instead.

* Since the kana ゐ and ゑ are not used in modern Japanese, you don't have to memorise them. I show them just for your interest.

Hiragana examples:





Hiragana:へいわ
Pitch:L H H
Romanization:he i wa
Meaning:peace (noun)


For your interest: Japan has had a relatively peaceful history, even though World War II was disastrous. Japan had a policy of さこく "sakoku" (self-isolation) from 1639 to 1858, and Japan hadn't experienced war for more than 200 years. The Constitution of Japan, which was established after the World War II, denies the nation's rights of war.






Hiragana:じわれ
Pitch:L H H
Romanization:ji wa re
Meaning:earthquake chasm (noun)


For your interest: Most earthquakes are caused by the pressure between plates, which are parts of the earth's surface moving slowly to different directions. There are a dozen plates on the earth, and four plates are in conflict around Japan; they are Eurasian Plate, Pacific Plate, North American Plate, and Philippine Sea Plate. That's why Japan is a nest of earthquakes.






Hiragana:わさ び
Pitch:H L L
Romanization:wa sa bi
Meaning:Japanese horseradish (noun)


For your interest: Japanese horseradish (wasabi) is a spice which has a similar taste to mustard and used for sushi.






Hiragana:わらう
Pitch:L H H
Romanization:wa ra u
Meaning:laugh (verb)


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Takasugi
My name is TAKASUGI Shinji. TAKASUGI is my family name, and Shinji is my given name; a family name is placed before a given name in Japan, as in other Asian nations. My family name is capitalized to avoid misunderstanding.

I have been living in Yokohama since I was born. Yokohama is the second largest city in Japan, which is just 30 kilometers away from the biggest city Tôkyô. It takes 30 minutes to go by train from home to Shibuya, which is the hottest town now in Tôkyô.

I work as a display engineer.

One of my hobbies is creating things with computers; creating programs, computer graphics and web pages is the thing I spent a lot of time doing. I am also interested in a wide range of sciences, and linguistics is my favorite. I like English and I like using it, but my focus is mainly on Japanese, which is my native language. I'm proud of knowing the language, and the difference between English and Japanese has been fascinating me. I have been thinking whether I can introduce it to people outside of Japan. My attempt of introducing Japanese with some Java applets has had more than 1 million visitors.

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