こんにちにゃあ～！Welcome to Kiki+Koko: Let’s NihonGO!! Online! now in blog form with more of your daily dose of learning! We’re Kiki and Koko, your guides to Japanese language and culture. One of the most important skills in learning a language is learning how to read. That’s where we swoop in and assist you with one of the essentials!
You’re definitely going to want to give this one a closer read, today, as there are a few characters that we’ll need to explain beyond simple pronunciation– two are related to grammar and another simply has a pronunciation not used in English. But, we’ll make sure to prepare you for what you need to know so far! Once you get in the swing of it, it won’t seem so difficult. And, even if it does, you have as much time as you like to get comfortable with it.
If you’ve been here since あ, we truly have to congratulate you on how far you’ve progressed already! Out of the 五十音順, gojuuon jun, あ through の make up 25 of them!! And, out of the less-than-50 characters, that is quite the accomplishment! Don’t forget to continue to go back and revise, looking over previous lessons to make sure you keep these in the forefront of your mind, ingraining them into your long-term memory.
And no worries, we’ll have vocabulary for you to use to practise with again, but we just really want to encourage you to go back and take a look at the other lessons to make sure that you feel confident so far. We’re not saying that you have to revise/study right now per se, but this might be a good time to think about it since we have some more to talk about this lesson that’s a bit more in-depth than the usual reading lesson.
And on top of that, this is definitely a longer lesson than usual with a lot more notes. Now, if you’re ready, it’s time to tackle the next five hiragana in the gojuuon jun. If you’re not sure what hiragana is, then be sure to take a look at this article to see how the Japanese writing system works.
But, without further ado, we’ll need to enlist the help of our computer friend, QUIZBO™くん！(The ™ is silent) This is a portable version, QUIZBO™ Mini, who lives here on the site. He’ll be here to help sound out these hiragana for you. You can click the sound ‘bytes’ as many times as you’d like, QUIZBO™ won’t mind. ( Get it, bytes? … Computer? …We’ll stick to teaching Japanese. ) Afterwards, you’ll be able to take a quiz with QUIZBO™ to help you review them or test your knowledge! Are you ready!?
Let’s NihonGO!! はひふへほ!!
We’re going to show you the character, then you you can click the play button to hear QUIZBO™ sound it out for you. But, as a better visualisation of each sound, we also have the romanised pronunciation of each character so you have something in English to which you can compare it.
In romaji, 「は」 is transliterated as「ha」which sounds like 「hahh」which sounds sort of like the ho in 「hot」
Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko:
But, wait, this isn’t a stroke order lesson… Why is there a helpful hints section? you may be wondering. Well! There’s a few of these that need more than just a simple explanation. We’ll go into further detail, but you might remember in この魔法的な「です」とは？｜What is this magical 「desu」? that we mention sentence structure and how は actually has more than one pronunciation. Well! It’s come full circle. When は is used as a topic marker in a sentence, it’s pronounced wa instead of ha. Even in greetings like こんにちは which we mention in Hello, Goodbye!| Japanese Greetings #1A || Kiki+Koko: Let’s NihonGO!! Essentials how it’s also spelt as は,but is pronounced as wa.
So, you may be wondering when we mentioned in our articles about reading how Japanese was very straightforward, and honestly, when you compare the alphabets used across the world to Japanese, the argument still holds true. It may seem strange at first, but it becomes a lot easier to recognise in the contexts in which it’s used… The context and placement make it much easier to recognise. But, for all intents and purposes, when you look at the character alone, は is ha.
In romaji, 「ひ」 is transliterated as 「hi」which sounds sort of like the hea in「heat」
In romaji, 「ふ」 is transliterated as 「fu」and 「hu」which sounds sort of like the
Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko:
Not so fast! You’ll notice that 「ふ」is all alone here in what seems to be the H column. Though, it’s mostly transliterated as 「fu」—however, the consonant isn’t the same as what most English speakers would ever be used to. This isn’t 「fu」and it isn’t quite 「hu」… It’s something in between. The 「fff」sound is NOT created by blowing air through the front teeth whilst pressed against the bottom lip like is the norm in English. This 「fff」sound is created with the air passing between the top and bottom lip. So, whilst 「hhh」in English is created in the middle of the mouth, this is when you try to create an H and an F sound at the front of your mouth between your lips without whistling… If it becomes too difficult to grasp at first, lean towards the 「hu」pronunciation and you’ll be able to sharpen it from there. It’s a very unique sound to Japanese that won’t completely bar you from speaking it, but if you want to sound your very best, definitely work on this one. We know you can do it~!
In romaji, 「へ」 is transliterated as 「he」which sounds like 「hay」
Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko:
We’re back at it again with another particle. For all intents and purposes,「へ」 is 「he」, however there will come a time, a time in the future where you will use this as a directional marker, which we’ll explain when we cross that bridge. But, at that point, you’ll know not to emphasise the 「hhh」sound. It’s more like 「e」when used this way. Otherwise, again, 「へ」 is 「he」…. No worries, just focus on the initial reading and the grammar will come later. You’ve got this~! We believe in you!!
In romaji, 「ほ」 is transliterated as 「ho」which sounds like 「hohh」
And, wowie zowie, you’ve got it, friends. That’s how you read 「はひふへほ」!! There were quite a few helpful hints in there especially in comparison to past reading sections. But, no worries! If you’ve gotten this far with reading, this is just another opportunity to stretch your mind and progress further towards your goals of reading Japanese. It’s something that’s very much within your grasp even if it’s a little more difficult for you, as well. It’s just another opportunity to grow and learn! You already know more than you did before just by reading this article, and we’re proud of you for getting this far.
Remember! There’s no rush when it comes to learning to read. Having a set deadline is always lovely, but there will always be more goals to reach when it comes to learning a language, so you may as well just enjoy the journey. However long it takes, the detours you make, the twists and turns, we hope to help you through all of them! And, we thank you for letting us be a part of that journey, assisting you along the way.
We hope this was/will be helpful for you on your Japanese learning journey!
Until next time, thank you for visiting! And have a wonderful day!