What Is Hiragana?

Hiragana is one of four writing systems used in Japanese (the others being katakana, kanji, and rōmaji).

It is the most elementary of the four, and is the first one taught to children.

Hiragana consists of 71 single and 36 double characters.

Think of hiragana as the Japanese alphabet. All Japanese sentences can be written entirely in hiragana, since 100% of the sounds used in Japanese have a matching hiragana character.

Each hiragana character is pronounced only one way, and with few exceptions, there are no two characters with the same pronunciation.

Exceptions include お/を (both pronounced ‘o’), じ/ぢ (‘ji’), and ず/づ (‘zu’).

Historically they sounded different, but they are indistinguishable in modern Japanese.