ひ 教科書体.svg
LanguagesJapanese and Okinawan
Time period
~800 AD to the present
Parent systems
Sister systems
Katakana, Hentaigana
ISO 15924Hira, 410
Unicode alias

Hiragana (平仮名, ひらがな, Japanese pronunciation: [çiɾaɡana]) is a Japanese syllabary, one component of the Japanese writing system, along with katakana, kanji, and in some cases rōmaji (Latin script). It is a phonetic lettering system. The word hiragana literally means "ordinary" or "simple" kana ("simple" originally as contrasted with kanji).[1][2]

Hiragana and katakana are both kana systems. With one or two minor exceptions, each sound in the Japanese language (strictly, each mora) is represented by one character (or one digraph) in each system. This may be either a vowel such as "a" (hiragana ); a consonant followed by a vowel such as "ka" (); or "n" (), a nasal sonorant which, depending on the context, sounds either like English m, n, or ng ([ŋ]), or like the nasal vowels of French. Because the characters of the kana do not represent single consonants (except in the case of ん "n"), the kana are referred to as syllabaries and not alphabets.[3]

Hiragana is used to write okurigana (kana suffixes following a kanji root, for example to inflect verbs and adjectives), various grammatical and function words including particles, as well as miscellaneous other native words for which there are no kanji or whose kanji form is obscure or too formal for the writing purpose.[4] Words that do have common kanji renditions may also sometimes be written instead in hiragana, according to an individual author's preference, for example to impart an informal feel. Hiragana is also used to write furigana, a reading aid that shows the pronunciation of kanji characters.

There are two main systems of ordering hiragana: the old-fashioned iroha ordering and the more prevalent gojūon ordering.

Writing system

Hiragana characters
a i u e o
Functional marks
and diacritics

The modern hiragana syllabary consists of 46 base characters:

  • 5 singular vowels
  • 40 consonant–vowel unions
  • 1 singular consonant

These are conceived as a 5×10 grid (gojūon, 五十音, "Fifty Sounds"), as illustrated in the adjacent table, read あ (a), い (i), う (u), え (e), お (o), か (ka), き (ki), く (ku), け (ke), こ (ko) and so forth, with the singular consonant ん (n) appended to the end. Of the 50 theoretically possible combinations, yi and wu do not exist in the language, and ye, wi and we are obsolete (or virtually obsolete) in modern Japanese. wo is usually pronounced as a vowel (o) in modern Japanese, and is preserved in only one use, as a particle.

Romanization of the kana does not always strictly follow the consonant-vowel scheme laid out in the table. For example, ち, nominally ti, is very often romanised as chi in an attempt to better represent the actual sound in Japanese.

These basic characters can be modified in various ways. By adding a dakuten marker ( ゛), a voiceless consonant is turned into a voiced consonant: kg, ts/sz, td, hb and ch/shj. For example, か (ka) becomes が (ga). Hiragana beginning with an h can also add a handakuten marker ( ゜) changing the h to a p. For example, は (ha) becomes ぱ (pa).

A small version of the hiragana for ya, yu, or yo (ゃ, ゅ or ょ respectively) may be added to hiragana ending in i. This changes the i vowel sound to a glide (palatalization) to a, u or o. For example, き (ki) plus ゃ (small ya) becomes きゃ (kya). Addition of the small y kana is called yōon.

A small tsu っ, called a sokuon, indicates that the following consonant is geminated (doubled). In Japanese this is an important distinction in pronunciation; for example, compare さか saka "hill" with さっか sakka "author". The sokuon also sometimes appears at the end of utterances, where it denotes a glottal stop, as in いてっ! ([iteʔ] Ouch!). However, it cannot be used to double the na, ni, nu, ne, no syllables' consonants – to double these, the singular n (ん) is added in front of the syllable, as in みんな (minna, "all").

Hiragana usually spells long vowels with the addition of a second vowel kana; for example, おかあさん (o-ka-a-sa-n, "mother"). The chōonpu (long vowel mark) (ー) used in katakana is rarely used with hiragana, for example in the word らーめん, rāmen, but this usage is considered non-standard in Japanese; the Okinawan language uses chōonpu with hiragana. In informal writing, small versions of the five vowel kana are sometimes used to represent trailing off sounds (はぁ haa, ねぇ nee). Standard and voiced iteration marks are written in hiragana as ゝ and ゞ respectively.

Other Languages
Acèh: Hiragana
Afrikaans: Hiragana
العربية: هيراغانا
asturianu: Hiragana
azərbaycanca: Hiraqana
বাংলা: হিরাগানা
Banjar: Hiragana
беларуская: Хірагана
Bikol Central: Hiragana
български: Хирагана
brezhoneg: Hiragana
català: Hiragana
čeština: Hiragana
Cymraeg: Hiragana
dansk: Hiragana
davvisámegiella: Hiragana
Deutsch: Hiragana
eesti: Hiragana
Ελληνικά: Χιραγκάνα
español: Hiragana
Esperanto: Rondaj kanaoj
euskara: Hiragana
فارسی: هیراگانا
français: Hiragana
Gaelg: Hiragana
galego: Hiragana
한국어: 히라가나
հայերեն: Հիրագանա
हिन्दी: हिरागाना
hrvatski: Hiragana
Bahasa Indonesia: Hiragana
íslenska: Hiragana
italiano: Hiragana
עברית: היראגאנה
ქართული: ჰირაგანა
latviešu: Hiragana
Lëtzebuergesch: Hiragana
lietuvių: Hiragana
Lingua Franca Nova: Hiragana
magyar: Hiragana
македонски: Хирагана
Malagasy: Hiragana
Bahasa Melayu: Hiragana
монгол: Хирагана
မြန်မာဘာသာ: ဟိရဂန
Nāhuatl: Hiragana
Nederlands: Hiragana
日本語: 平仮名
norsk: Hiragana
norsk nynorsk: Hiragana
occitan: Hiragana
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਹੀਰਾਗਾਨਾ
polski: Hiragana
português: Hiragana
română: Hiragana
русский: Хирагана
Scots: Hiragana
Simple English: Hiragana
slovenčina: Hiragana
slovenščina: Hiragana
کوردی: ھیراگانا
српски / srpski: Хирагана
Sunda: Hiragana
suomi: Hiragana
Tagalog: Hiragana
Türkçe: Hiragana
українська: Хіраґана
Tiếng Việt: Hiragana
文言: 平假名
Winaray: Hiragana
粵語: 平假名
中文: 平假名