Although nominally containing 50 characters, the grid is not completely filled, and, further, there is an extra character added outside the grid at the end: with 5 gaps and 1 extra character, the current number of distinct kana in a syllabic chart in modern Japanese is therefore 46. Some of these gaps have always existed as gaps in sound: there was no yi or wu in
The gojūon contains all the basic kana, but it does not include:
The gojūon order is the prevalent system for
In an unusual set of events, although it uses Sanskrit organization (grid, with order of consonants and vowels), it also uses the Chinese order of writing (in columns, right-to-left).
The order of consonants and vowels, and the grid layout, originates in Sanskrit
The Sanskrit was written left-to-right, with vowels changing in rows, not columns; writing the grid vertically follows
There are three ways in which the grid does not exactly accord with Sanskrit ordering of Modern Japanese; that is because the grid is based on
What is now s/さ was previously pronounced [ts], hence its location corresponding to Sanskrit /t͡ʃ/; in Sanskrit /s/ appears towards the end of the list.
Kana starting with h (e.g. は), b (e.g. ば) and p (e.g. ぱ) are placed where p/b are in Sanskrit (in Sanskrit, h is at the end) and the diacritics do not follow the usual pattern: p/b (as in Sanskrit) is the usual unvoiced/voiced pattern, and [h] has different articulation. This is because /h/ was previously [p], and pronouncing /h/ as [h] is recent.
(More detail at
Syllable-final n (
The earliest example of a gojūon-style layout dates from a manuscript known as Kujakukyō Ongi (孔雀経音義) dated c. 1004–1028. In contrast, the earliest example of the alternative
Today the gojūon system forms the basis of