Hiragana ひらがな is one of three writing systems used in Japan, along with kanji (Chinese characters) and katakana. Hiragana are Japanese phonetic characters that represent syllables. They are often used to write native Japanese words, politeness suffixes, grammatical particles and phonetic expressions.
The origin of hiragana dates back to the Heian period in Japan (794-1185). At the time, the women of the imperial court used Chinese characters to write their vernacular, but these characters were difficult to read for people who were not fluent in the Chinese language. This is how hiragana was created to enable everyone to read and write in Japanese.
Hiragana consists of 46 characters, each representing a Japanese syllable. The characters are derived from simplified kanji, which have been reduced to their simplest form and transformed to represent sounds rather than ideas. Hiragana are usually written in small sizes and are often used in combination with kanji to write Japanese words.
Hiragana is also used to write okurigana, which are hiragana characters that follow kanji and indicate the pronunciation of a word. Okurigana are particularly useful for differentiating between the different meanings of a kanji depending on the context in which it is used.
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We have broken down the hiragana syllabary into several lessons so that you can learn to read and write each character.
Practice each learned hiragana with flashcards, memory games and word-reading exercises.
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