Hiragana ひらがな

Hiragana developed from man'yōgana, Chinese characters used for their pronunciations, a practice which started in the 5th century. The forms of the hiragana originate from the cursive script style of Chinese calligraphy.

Hiragana are used for words for which there are no kanji, including particles such as kara から "from," and suffixes such as ~san さん "Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms." Hiragana are also used in words for which the kanji form is not known to the writer or readers, or is too formal for the writing purpose. Verb and adjective inflections, as, for example, BE MA SHI TA (べました) in tabemashita (食べました? "ate"), are written in hiragana. In this case, part of the root is also written in hiragana. Hiragana are also used to give the pronunciation of kanji in a reading aid called furigana. The article Japanese writing system discusses in detail when the various systems of writing are used.

Hiragana Chart




Hiragana Practice Sheets

Hiragana with two dots.

Hiragana with a small circle