Let’s make some words using hiragana!

Just memorizing hiragana can be difficult, so let’s try to make some words using hiragana.
Learning words with some examples will help you remember better.

Hiragana EN click to enlarge

There are some really short Japanese words. One of the vowels, e is え (painting or picture). Keep in mind that nouns that are singular or plural might not always expressed in Japanese words. き could be one tree or many trees depending on the context.

Romaji Hiragana Meaning
k + i = ki tree
t + e = te hand
m + e = me eye

Let’s move on to words with two characters. The following words have Japanese pitch accent on the second hiragana. It means in the word うえ, you would say “u” with low pitch accent (L) and “e” with high pitch accent (H).

Romaji Hiragana Meaning
u + e = ue up
shi + ta = shita down
hi + to = hito person
tsu + ki = tsuki moon
ya + ma = yama mountain
ka + wa = kawa river
i + su = isu chair
ka + o = kao face
ku + chi = kuchi mouth
mi + mi = mimi ear
a + shi = ashi feet
a + me = ame candy

The following words have Japanese pitch accent on the first hiragana. For the example, in the word えき, you would say “e” with high pitch accent (H) and “ki” with low pitch accent (L).

Romaji Hiragana Meaning
ko + e = koe voice
e + ki = eki station
i + ma = ima now
na + ka =naka inside
so + to = soto outside
a + sa = asa morning
yo + ru = yoru night
ne + ko = neko cat
ku + mo = kumo cloud
a + me = ame め⁺⁺ rain
ka + sa = kasa umbrella
chi + zu = chizu map

& ⁺⁺ Those two words mean something totally different depending on the accent. .

【Challenge Question】
What are the hiragana for these kanji? Please answer only 1 question per user so that many of you can participate.
下 人 今 月 山 耳 足 手 中 外 目 上 口 木 川 雨 

・Post finder: Language guides to help with learning Japanese

If you have any questions or useful info for other users, please leave your comments.

October 4, 2017


耳 = みみ = mimi

ありがとぅございました HelpfulDuo This is very helpful, I would like to mention I think the wrong part of ame is bolded for candy though, shouldn't the me part be highlighted?

I enjoy getting to see some of the pitch accents for these words though, it is not something I often am able to find online.

October 4, 2017

Thank you for the report. Ame (candy) is fixed!

October 4, 2017

今 = いま ima now (is how i remember it)

October 5, 2017

雨 = あめ = ame = rain

I like this one because it looks like a window and it's raining outside.

October 6, 2017

Yes, it comes from the image of rain, but without a window:) Check this website:

October 18, 2017

Thanks a lot HelpfulDuo! I really like this duolingo japanese course. I started as an absolut beginner and I finished the tree today.

川 = かわ = kawa = river

October 6, 2017

足 = あし = foot By the way, when will the course be coming out?

October 5, 2017

I just learned the two kane in the last 2 weeks... now kanji and grammar ;)

October 14, 2017

Good job!! Now the hardest part... Although the first 100-200 kanji will also go pretty smoothly...

October 14, 2017


January 15, 2018

Is 中 なか ( naka)?

October 4, 2017

That is correct

October 11, 2017

人 is じん (jin)

Thanks again HelpfulDuo!

October 4, 2017

Or hito.

October 5, 2017

木 = き = tree . The kanji appears like a tree

October 11, 2017

нэг хоёр гурван дөрвөн дөрвөн зургаан долоон найман есөн арван là Mông cổ

October 12, 2017

Also looks like 'Big' in chinese

January 15, 2018

Hanzi and Kanji are very similar.

March 15, 2018

外 = そと = soto = outside

Is this correct?

October 11, 2017

Correct :)

October 18, 2017

今 = いま = ima

October 17, 2017

Moshimoshi- Hello. This is very helpful. Going to tell all my Japanese leaning friends. Bai - Bye

January 15, 2018

山 = やま? mountain

March 26, 2018

Is there an online source that has the list of words that change meaning depending on the accented syllable? Are these the only words that change meaning, or are there tons more?

October 4, 2017

ima (H-L) =now, ima (L-H) =living room

sake (H-L) =salmon, sake (no accent) =drinking sake

nihon (H-L) =two stick of, nihon (L-H-L) =Japan

hashi (H-L) =chopsticks, hashi (L-H) =bridge, hashi (no accent) =edge

kaki (H-L) =oyster, kaki (L-H) =fence, kaki (no accent) =persimmon

If you start looking at the dialects, there're many more I'm sure. Haven't found good online sources yet. Anyone? Any suggestions?

October 5, 2017

Thanks. All of this is very interesting. I'm learning Japanese from duolingo and memrise, with no prior knowledge and I had no clue about this. I've never seen anyone mention it. Years ago when I was trying to decide whether to study Chinese or Japanese first, usually the discussion was about politeness levels or about all the tons of measure words. But I've never seen this mentioned.

I had not planned to learn Japanese any time soon, but got hooked in after trying this course. It helps that I have some knowledge of Chinese. Not keen on learning new readings for characters or learning more measure words, but so far it hasn't been too bad.

October 5, 2017

ki is き everywhere I've seen it so far, but in your photo with all the letters the bottom part of ki is separated, why? Is that a font choice or did ki change over time?

October 5, 2017

Difference between Handwriting and Typing. They are both correct.

October 5, 2017

Yes, when handwriting, the bottom part of 'ki' is separated.

October 5, 2017

when will the course come out?? I've been waiting for so long!!!

October 6, 2017

The course is out, haven't you noticed people with the Japanese flag on their comments? If you have a phone, download the app and start it. We aren't sure when staff will write the code for doing the exercises teaching the characters on the web.

October 8, 2017

Does the pitch accent exist in the audio of the Japanese course?

October 17, 2017

I believe that the answer is yes, but maybe there are some errors because this is still in beta.

October 18, 2017

Thanks for your guides! Just one remark: あめ meaning depends on the context (or Kanji) not on the accent.

October 19, 2017

For Tokyo standard, accent is clearly define rain and candy if you hear the words. Once they are written it's obvious with Kanji. Kansai accent is a different story.

October 20, 2017

Great list, I only wish it was longer.
Learning simple 1, 2 or even 3 symbol words can really help beginners like me both learn the symbols and start building a Japanese vocabulary.

October 24, 2017

I am VERY new to Japanese, and that stuff and I'm a bit confused, is there "the" "is" "they" "where" "when" etc, those words, do they exist in the Japanese language? Because I can't find anything in hiragana, :P but my sentences I make aren't making sense without those words, so hehe, I'm trying :)

February 4, 2018

How do you say up in Japanese? I thought it was appu?

June 4, 2018

HelpfulDuo can i ask how do you put japanese letters together to make a word. Its hard to see it in my perspective, can you help me w/ it.

July 12, 2018

山=やま This is very cool and useful! Thank you!

November 26, 2018

Fun fact, "Kumo" : 「雲」means "cloud" in Japanese only when written in the appropriate Kanji... However, in Katakana (or Hiragana rarely), it can mean "spider"!!! Since you can't figure out Kanji when speaking (lol), it can lead to problems. xD

Imagine that your friend asks about the things that you like and you reply with...

「KUMO! KUMO が大好きです。彼らはとても愛らしでかわいいです。私はいつもそれらの上に乗りたいました!」

"KUMO! KUMO ga daisuki desu. Karera wa totemo airashi de kawaii desu. Watashi wa itsumo sorera no ue ni noritai mashita!"

Your friend slooooly moves away...

So remember to make the context clear, especially when you start the conversation about clouds (unless you are talking to someone who loves bugs/insects/nopes.) xD

December 18, 2018

Cool, thanks!|1

April 6, 2019

Cool, thanks!

April 6, 2019
Learn Japanese in just 5 minutes a day. For free.