こんにちにゃあ～！Welcome to Kiki+Koko: Let’s NihonGO!! Online! Serving you fresh and hot cups of Japanese language learning brews since 2019. We’re Kiki+Koko, your language baristas and your guides to Japanese language and culture! Perhaps you’ve just completed the first 15 lessonsーfor which we congratulate you wholeheartedly!!ーor perhaps you’ve just opened the doors to a whole new world! If you’re looking to become fluent or at least proficient in Japanese, learning to read is the most important first step. Whether you’re going to eventually join a physical (or accredited online university’s) classroom, or you just want to be able to properly pronounce and learn new Japanese vocabulary with ease, reading is simply essential. Whilst romaji has its uses, it’s important to at least give hiragana a go. But, maybe you’re a long-time student, visitor, or friend of this site, and you can recite this spiel from memory. And for those people, maybe you’re thinking, ‘We’ve learnt gojuuon, we’ve learnt dakuten and handkuten… What could possibly be left?’ And, that, friends, is what we’re teaching you this time! We told you not to fret in 「ぱぴぷぺぽ」as there would be more on the way, and so as was foretold by 「拗音とは？｜What is youon?」。Yes, diligent ones, there is more for you to learn, but it shouldn’t feel TOO unfamiliar, as these blends should be a familiar sight.
Oh yes, that aroma is circulating through the air. It’s a familiar scent from a familiar flavour mixed with just a dash of another which oddly mutes a bit of the previous. What are we talking of, exactly? Well, for this topic, covering three new characters and their uses to prepare you for this session. Simply jumping into this without some knowledge of what these blends are is like pouring tea first then milk in front of a milk-first-then-tea person or vice versa. Otherwise meaning, not so difficult, but could be easier if you’d been prepared beforehand. So whilst we normally explain these concepts within the first hiragana lesson of a new chapter, this was one that was quite thorough, and would be best to read through as a lesson of its own before getting a taste of the good stuff.
Even though these lessons are built atop one of one another, helping you climb to the next one, each step being more difficult to skip if you want a smooth journey upwards, but we can’t assume everyone reading this has been here before! Like we said, learning to read is an important factor to learning any language, really. But, perhaps newcomers would enjoy a bit more motivation, knowing whether or not reading is just one big plastic hassle. And, more so, maybe you don’t know what a hiragana even is~! No worries! We’re here to catch you up to speed as we’ve written a quick article just for you called: How Do You Write in Japanese? | Japanese Writing System Demystified . In it, you’ll learn the basics of the Japanese writing system. It’s not too terribly in depth so that someone passing through can get the gist of it without spending hours trying to wrap their head around it. And, before delving into something like these blends, you’ll certainly need to know the previous character list so you won’t get confused. This list is called the 五十音順, gojuuon jun, and these blends are based on some of those characters as well as the tiny versions of others. And, if you’re still not convinced it’s not one big plastic hassle, we’ve outlined the importance of knowing how to read Japanese in another manageable article. Again, even if you just plan to speak and aren’t worried about all that book learnin’ and readin’ stuff, you may end up being surprised and change your mind after giving it a read. And, of course, one should still be familiar with romanisation spelling, which we explain in the linked article, but it’s just important not to rely on it. You can, however, rely on us to assist you with these concepts and more during each lesson! We’ll take you by the digital hand and lead you down the journey towards your Japanese learning goals! The first step can be taken right here: Let’s Read HIRAGANA!! | with Kiki+Koko &QUIZBO™.
Though the second round of lessons listed are of the large version of 「やゆよ」ーnot the small version we’ll be using today, which is 「ゃゅょ」ーit’s important to go back and keep these fresh in your mind. Though it can be helpful when it comes to stroke order when characters are utilised in different ways, it can become a bit muddied when it comes to differentiating them, especially in some fonts where the small characters may not be extremely tiny. So, just be sure to use this as an opportunity to be sure you’re comfortable with the initial characters before moving onto these new blends. And, here to help us introduce you to these new blends, we should probably welcome back your computer friend and ours, QUIZBO™くん！(The ™ is silent)
If you remember from previous instalments, 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? ……..bytes? ………sound bites….? …..Yeah, we’ll be holding off on our stand-up careers. ) 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!! きゃきゅきょ!!
We’re going to show you the character(s), 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, 「きゃ」 is transliterated as「kya」which sounds like 「kyah」
Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko:
The most important thing to learn this lesson is that this is not pronounced ‘KEE-YAH’, it’s simply ‘KYAH’, one syllable. This is very important to get accustomed to, and we understand it can be difficult. That’s why we have this helpful hint! When you see a tiny ヤ行, y-row, character next to a character ending in the い vowel, ignore the い vowel and only pronounce the consonant. So, even though it’s 「き」, it becomes the「K」sound when it’s next to tiny ゃ、ゅ、or ょ.
In romaji, 「きゅ」 is transliterated as 「kyu」which sounds sort of like the saying the letter「Q」.
Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko:
This is a useful way to think of these 拗音, youon！Notice, when you say 「Q」, there’s no gap between the 「K」sound and the 「yu」sound. Be sure to ‘mind the gap’ when you’re attempting to say these blends, properly blending them together into one syllable without saying the vowel in the middle.
In romaji, 「きょ」 is transliterated as 「kyo」which sounds sort of like「kyoh」.
Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko:
This is another sound that can be difficult for many English speakers to break the habit of pronouncing as two syllables rather than the correct single syllable. That’s why we made an article explaining why ‘Tokyo’ is a myth, being two syllables in English instead of three– 「Tou-kyou」. So, in pronouncing this and practising this word, you can practise pronouncing these blends as one smooth syllable.
And, that’s 「きゃきゅきょ」!! Though there were only a few, there’s certainly much to practise. Even if you feel confident in these characters alone, it’s important to practise them as blends in order to properly differentiate. Though, if you’ve read the 拗音, youon, lesson, then you’ll know you’ll only have to worry about differentiating between a few characters, so it shouldn’t get as confusing as it could. And, either way, we know if you’ve made it this far, or even if it’s taking you a bit longer than you planned to get to this point, you’ll be able to do this! We’re committed to making sure we give you all of the chances you need to succeed, and we know with a bit of time and effort, with an oversized mug full of patience and positive attitude, you’ll reach your goals! Just keep up the positivity, accept and understand the challenges, and give it your best! We’ll be there every step of the way as we move forward on this Japanese language learning journey. Just never forget to appreciate each step and celebrate every milestone.
We want to continue to ensure your steps to success in your Japanese language learning goals, whether you want to just learn a bit for fun or become fluent. You can ensure the continuation of the creation of new and even better content by leaving a TIP in the TIP♡JAR to keep it going, or for long term contributions in increments, you can join our Patreon where our gracious host, Indigo East, usually posts behind-the-scenes, sneak-peeks, exclusive content, and more. And, we join in as well! Again, if you’d like to support our survival and the creation of more content to be made available to as many people as possible, you can also share the content! You can easily share via Twitter and Pinterest where you can retweet and repin respectively without even having to type! Gestures like that go a long way, and we appreciate it.
Thank you for joining us! We hope that you continue with us on this adventure, and we appreciate that you’ve chosen us to assist you on your Japanese learning journey.