You’ll never see these four hiragana on license plates, but maybe not for the reasons you’d expect….
Wait, what? These weren’t in chapter one of Genki….
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Join Bullma, Poolong and Sun Goku on a brand new episode of Dragon Bowl!
“On that day, we ticks received a grim reminder. We lived in fear of the five-foot-tall humans.”
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If you’ve ever wanted to learn Japanese through horribly-drawn manga, then today’s your lucky day!
We’re back and ready to take on the third, and most puzzling, type of Japanese text: katakana.
No, it’s not because the Japanese language hates you.
Language can be a very beautiful thing.
If you’ve ever entertained the notion of studying Japanese, at some point you’ll find yourself faced with the task of learning the language’s intricate writing system. The good news is that as long as you can write the strictly phonetic script sets, hiragana and katakana, and don’t mind everything you write looking like it was written by a first grader, you don’t necessarily have to know kanji.
But whether you go on to become a kanji master or not, most beginners usually start out learning hiragana first. In the past we introduced a number of handy Japanese study resources, but unfortunately we didn’t include anything for basic hiragana writing skills. So today we’d like to make-up for that by introducing this humorous hiragana study chart that has Japanese users on Twitter chuckling and doing some serious self-reflection.
If you’ve ever studied Japanese, you’ll know that the written Japanese language is basically made up of three types of characters: hiragana, the original Japanese phonetic alphabet, katakana, a variation of the same alphabet mainly used to write out foreign names and words (including foreign words that have been imported into the Japanese language) and Chinese characters referred to as kanji.
Now, calligraphy turns these letters into works of art on pieces of paper, but how would you like to be able to wear some Japanese characters as stylish jewelry? Well, that’s exactly what you can do with these beautifully formed earrings crafted by designer and calligrapher Saori Kunihro.
Ariana Grande is a rising star that many are calling a “mini-Mariah Carey.” Launching onto the world stage after an incredibly successful run on the Nickelodeon show, Victorious, she is quickly gaining fans around the world with her solo music career. She has quite the following in Japan too, with her most recent album, My Everything, peaking at #3 on the weekly Oricon Music charts. And while Japan can’t get enough of her songs and her extremely long hair (extensions), there is something else that her Japanese fans are talking about these days: Ariana Grande is learning hiragana.
The characters above should look very familiar to any student of Japanese. Hiragana is the phonetic alphabet that is usually the first writing system you learn. Compared to the much more complex and difficult to remember Chinese characters and the angular katakana alphabet, the loopy hiragana characters have a pleasant round feel that’s often called “cute.”
But which character is the cutest of them all? Japan weighs in.
Written language can be beautiful. From hieroglyphics to devanagari to latin script, single letters can be considered works of art. But in Japan, the syllabic characters, while beautiful on their own, are often used to create images and pictures. For example, in the photo above, うんこ (“unko”, the Japanese word for…how do I put this delicately…”poop”) gradually evolves into a face. While not the most elegant of examples, the practice of transforming hiragana, katakana, and kanji into art work has been around in Japan for longer than you might think.