Katakana カタカナ

Katakana was developed in the early Heian Period from parts of man'yōgana characters as a form of shorthand. For example, ka カ comes from the left side of ka 加 "increase".

Katakana are characterized by short, straight strokes and angular corners, and are the simplest of the Japanese scripts.

In modern Japanese, katakana are most often used for transcription of words from foreign languages (called gairaigo). For example, "television" is written " テレビ (terebi)". Similarly, katakana is usually used for country names, foreign places, and personal names. For example, America is written アメリカ .

Katakana are also used for onomatopoeia, words used to represent sounds. For example, ピンポン(pinpon), the "ding-dong" sound of a doorbell, would usually be written in katakana. Also, katakana is used for words the writer wishes to emphasize.

Technical and scientific terms, such as the names of animal and plant species and minerals, are also commonly written in katakana. Katakana are also often, but not always, used for transcription of Japanese company names. For example Suzuki is written スズキ, and Toyota is written トヨタ.

Katakana Chart




Katakana Practice Sheets

Katakana with two dots.

Katakana with a small circle