Guide to Japanese Pronunciation
Japanese is not a tonal language like Chinese or Thai, and is comparatively easy to pronounce.
Japanese Pronunciation Vowels
Japanese has both short and long vowels and the distinction is often important. In romanized Japanese, long vowels are marked with a macron, so that ō represents "long O".
- a あ/ア
- like 'a' in "father"
- i い/イ
- like 'i' in "machine"
- u う/ウ
- like 'oo' in "hoop"
- e え/エ
- like 'e' in "set"
- o お/オ
- like 'o' in "rope"
- n ん/ン
- short 'n' at the end of a syllable, pronounced as 'm' before 'b', 'p' or 'm'.
Note that "u" is often weak at the end of syllables. In particular, the common endings -desu and -masu are pronounced as "des'" and "mas'" respectively.
Japanese Pronunciation Consonants
- k かきくけこ
- like 'k' in "king"
- like 'g' in "go"
- like 's' in "sit"
- like 'z' in "haze"
- like 't' in "top"
- like 'd' in "dog"
- like 'n' in "nice"
- like 'h' in "help"
- like 'p' in "pig"
- like 'b' in "bed"
- like 'm' in "mother"
- like 'y' in "yard"
- like 'r' in "row" (actually a sound between 'l' and 'r', but closer to 'r')
- like 'w' in "wall"
- (t before i) like 'ch' in "touch"
- (s before i) like 'sh' in "sheep"
- (t before u) like 'ts' in "hot soup"
- (h before u) like 'f' in "far"
- (d before i) like 'j' in "jar"
IMPROVE YOUR JAPANESE
The best way to improve your Japanese is to use it regularly. The best way to use your Japanese regularly is to talk to native Japanese who are interested in developing their English skills. This way you improve your language skills, help them with their English and make new friends at the same time.
GoJapanGo Friends is the ideal way to find language partners, both male and female. It is great to have friends in Japan so when you travel there, you can meet them and they can show you around. This way you can experience the real Japan that you would normally miss as a tourist.
(Article based on Wikitravel article by Based on work by Paul N. Richter, Keith K. Higa and Ted O'Neill and Wikitravel user(s) Jpatokal, Cjensen, っ, Sekicho, KagakuyaSan, Nickpest, Nzpcmad, Rai koku and PierreAbbat. Article used under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 1.0.)