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Japanese Garden

Hiragana / Katakana

Memorizing hiragana and katakana is your shortcut to master Japanese fast and easy and get a pronunciation which is understood by Japanese people from day one. DO NOT ignore this advise if you are serious about learning Japanese.

Hiragana is the single most important thing or alphabet to learn, if you want to master Japanese. Hiragana is your shortcut no 1 for mastering Japanese fast and easy

The Japanese writing system

There are no spaces in Japanese

Facts about hiragana?

Why is it so important to learn hiragana?

Fastest way to memorize hiragana

Facts about the Japanese writing system

#Hiragana (#平仮名) is one of three #Japanese #alphabets. Besides hiragana, which is a #phonetic alphabet, Japanese also uses a second phonetic alphabet called #Katakana (#片仮名), which has the exact same syllables as hiragana. Where hiragana has a soft rounded shape, katakana is more stiff, edged, or sharp. Katakana is typically used when writing borrowed or foreign words.


Japanese also uses the #Chinese #characters which is called #kanji (#漢字). Kanji means the #letters which originates from the country "Kan". Kanji is characterized by usually having many strokes and being very complex. Number of strokes ranges from 1 to more than 30 for those most commonly used.

Below example of each alphabet:

Hiragana: あいうえお

Katakana: アイウエオ

Kanji: 安以宇衣於


By the way, hiragana and kanji, is a simplification of a kanji, originally used to indicate the reading of a kanji, making it easier for non-educated people to read a text. So where Chinese characters are used in both China and Japan, hiragana and katakana is only used in Japan.


There are no spaces in Japanese

Japanese sentences do not have spaces, but by changing the alphabet, you will be able to distinguish between the words and know whether it is a noun, a verb or something else. Maybe easiest understood, if I wrote a sentence where the words have been given a color depending on its type.


A sentence with no spaces: Iamadanishmusicianplayingdrums.

A sentence with no spaces but with different colors: IamaDanishmusicianplayingdrums.


Maybe not the best example, but I think the point is easily understood. This writing style, is by the way, the idea behind the company and software naming "Memorizeitall".


Memorizeitall is actually a sentence which says all about what this software and platform is all about. Removing the spaces make it a unique name, but completely unreadable. Coloring some of the letters like "it", make the sentence readable again, and so the company name and logo was born.


Changing the color by type of words, has the same effect as putting in a space between words. This is the exact same principle in Japanese, where changing alphabet let you distinguish between words and make the sentence readable.


Facts about hiragana

Hiragana has a base of 50 letters. There are a few combinations and special characters like ゜or ゛, or letters written with a smaller size, which changes the sound of a hiragana and thus increases the number of syllables. Total number of syllables is around 107, if you count syllables like ひゃ ひゅ ひょ きゃ じょ which is basically a combination of two of the 50 hiragana, creating a syllable that cannot be written with one hiragana only.


If you want to know more about hiragana, please have a look at Wikipedia at the below link:

Why is Hiragana so important to master

So, you may ask yourself, why it is so important for you to memorize hiragana.


Well, it is very simple.


If you want to kickstart your Japanese language study, hiragana is where you should focus all your energy the first week or two. Hiragana is your absolute #no1 #shortcut to mastering Japanese pronunciation and absolute no 1 shortcut to make your spoken Japanese understood from day one.


Memorizing hiragana will save you from A LOT of struggle during your next steps of learning Japanese, as well as it will make your Japanese pronunciation more or less perfect. At least guaranteed your Japanese will be understandable, compared to those who try to shortcut and mark the pronunciation with Latin letters.


I cannot stress the importance of memorizing hiragana from the very beginning enough.


All Japanese language can be written with hiragana. Hiragana covers all pronunciations. The good thing about Japanese is that the hiragana is ALWAYS pronounced the same way. Memorize hiragana, and you will never be in doubt how to pronounce a word.


This differs from our Latin alphabet, which can be pronounced in a variety of ways, depending on the spelling, depending on language or regional differences. If you get the pronunciation right from the beginning, it will make it sooo much easier for you going forward with your Japanese study.


Funny thing is that most students do not focus on memorizing hiragana. They write down the pronunciation with Latin letters above, or beneath the hiragana, katakana or kanji, which is a habit you should avoid for all costs, unless you don't mind ending up with a pronunciation which without doubt give you an obvious foreigner #pronunciation. Using Latin letters, will make sure Japanese knows you are not native speaker. Using hiragana only, will make your pronunciation so good that Japanese doubt whether you might be native or not...


At some point, if you want to be understood by Japanese, you will need to correct wrongly learned Japanese pronunciation. This is a huge task, which you probably won't be able to finalize. So do your self a favor. Memorize hiragana and also katakana using a few weeks at the beginning of your study.


You have one of two options. Either learn hiragana and its pronunciation from the very beginning and get the right pronunciation from the beginning or ignore the advice, use Latin letters to transcribe the hiragana, and end up never really being able to pronounce Japanese right. It should be a very easy choice. Spend 1 or 2 weeks focusing on mastering hiragana. When you have mastered it, ALWAYS use hiragana if you cannot read a kanji. NEVER go back to use Latin letters to transcribe it and your pronunciation will be perfect! This advice come with a 99% guarantee.

Fastest way to memorize hiragana

So how do you memorize hiragana?


There are a number of ways. Absolute best way is to sit down and write the hiragana again and again for those 1 or 2 weeks. Writing things make the memorizing much more efficient. Start by writing single hiragana, until you feel comfortable. Then you could go on writing simple words like あさ、ひる、よる、すき、あひる、くるま and so on, and keep pronouncing it inside your head.


You should do the same with Katakana. It's also the same 50 letters, so it should be easy for you.


Just FYI, it is considered an embarrassment if you do not master hiragana and katakana. These two alphabets are considered an absolute minimum of people who wants to learn Japanese. Even school kids in 1st grade, are mastering them. So, these are absolute minimum.


I often see foreigners who have lived in Japan for many years, who claim they speak and write Japanese but still don't master katakana. Avoid this by memorize it as the first thing.


Memorizeitall cannot help you with the actual handwriting (we do plan to develop a handwriting recognition feature at some time in the future). But what Memorizeitall does really well, is the follow up of what you have memorized. Memorizeitall will speed up your memorizing.


When you have spent some time writing the hiragana, startup your Memorizeitall hiragana content and memorize it 4 to 5 times a day and be surprised how much you will actually memorize in a week. Use the "repeat function" to focus on those hiragana you have difficulties with and see an even more efficient learning curve. I am sure, when you have first started memorizing using Memorizeitall, you would like to continue, since you will feel excited that you actually have memorized so much, so fast.


Below is a video where you can see how the memorizing of hiragana using Memorizeitall works.

If you really want to make a shortcut memorizing hiragana fast, you could start with Memorizeitall from the beginning, rather than writing the hiragana by hand. I am absolutely sure; this will let you memorize hiragana very fast as well.


However, we do recommend writing in hand. If you are serious about learning Japanese, you will need to be able to write the hiragana at some point anyway. Why not get it done from the very beginning.

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