If you’re interested in Japanese culture and Video Games, you’d do well to check out my new blog Kougeki: Japanese-English Gaming.

The Japanese writing system is split into three parts.  Two of these are syllabaries, and the last is a collection of symbols.  Japanese doesn’t have an ‘alphabet’ so to speak, as it does a ‘syllabary’, or symbols associated with monosyllabic phonemes.  There are two sets of symbols associated with these sounds, one called Hiragana which is used for native words, and one called Katakana which is used for borrowed words or emphasis. The third part is the Kanji or symbols borrowed from the Chinese writing system, that make up all sorts of words.

Together, Hiragana and Katakana make up the ‘kana’.  I decided if I was going to learn how to (at least) read Japanese I’d start with the kana.  That’s what inspired me to buy these cards from amazon (to the left).  I’ve had them for years, that’s why the cover on my set doesn’t match the cover on the cards offered on amazon.  They’re from the same publisher, so I would be highly surprised if they weren’t the same in spirit. The nice thing about these flashcards is that you can use them with others and solo to practice learning your kana.  I learn the best when I’m being quizzed, something about putting the knowledge in a sense of experience, so Maus quizzes (or quizzed) me over and over and over until I learned all the kana.

These are the first videos I’ve made in this manner, and we made these in a public place (Starbucks, shocker) so the sound is wonky.  But, here is the video explaining the cards, and the “K” and “G” sounds of Japanese.  Please pardon my pronunciation, I’m completely self-taught and so I probably do it a bit wrong.

Below is the video of the “K” consonant syllables with a little vocabulary, then followed by the modified voiced “G” consonant syllables with a little vocabulary:

So those are the cards I’m going to be using throughout this tutorial series on the Japanese writing system.  I thought I’d actually put some of the content on the cards in the blog, so to more easily see what’s on the cards I’ve listed below what I went over in the video.  I introduce each syllable, pure and modified, and then the corresponding vocabulary (that’s in the video, the kana cards themselves have MUCH more vocabulary):

か – ka: “kah”

かばん – “kaban” : handbag

かお – “kao” : face

かう – “kau” : to buy, to keep, to raise (animals)

き – ki: “kee”

きっぷ – “kippu” : ticket

きく – “kiku” : to listen, to ask; chrysanthemum

き – “ki” : tree, feeling, spirit

く – ku: “koo”

くに – “kuni” : country

くも – “kumo” : spider, cloud

け – ke: “keh”

けさ – “kesa” : this morning

け – “ke” : hair, fur, wool

こ – ko: “koh”

ここ – “koko” : here

こども – “kodomo” : child, kid

Those are the “pure” unmodified/unvoiced syllables for this series.  The following you’ll notice are attached to “tenten” which indicates that the syllable should be voiced.  So, ka becomes ga, like the difference between “coat” and “goat.”  There’s also a vocabulary word to go with each (and more in the set):

が – ga: “gah”

がまん – “gaman” : patience, perseverance, endurance

ぎ – gi: “gee”

ぎんこう – “ginkou” : bank

ぐ – gu: “goo”

ぎんこう – “ginkou” : bank

げ – ge: “geh”

げんき – “genki” : happiness, energy

ご – go: “goh”

ご – “go” : japanese checkers, go; five

I’ve developed a little quizlet featuring JUST the “k” and “g” sounds for your practice below:

That’s it for now, have fun studying Japanese!

This post is part of a larger list of Japanese Kana tutorials.

photo credit: tokyoform Tokyo 4146 via photopin (license)

Asher Wolfstein

Metaverse Resident

About the Author

A metaverse resident, you can find me on Second Life (kadar.talbot) and other online platforms. I write about my digital life, my musings, and my projects as a programmer, webmaster, artist, and game designer. (exist (be wunk) (use rational imagination) (import artist coder maker furry) (conditional (if (eq you asshole) (me (block you))))

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