Learning the kana?


Maybe this is a silly question, but is there any advise on how to learn the kana?  I feel like just starting at it and hoping it sinks in isn't going to work, I need to actually do something to remember it, and "the Z symbol with the middle missing" won't cut it for most of the other symbols.  

I have the Japanese IME installed on Windows, but typing the romaji either I pick the wrong symbols (maybe the kanji when it wants hiragana) or the symbols I'm trying to type don't show up at all.


Hi ajj7060さん!

That is not a silly question at all :) In terms of advice on how to learn kana, I unfortunately can only recommend continual practice using good old-fashioned writing on pen and paper. Start with each line (e.g. the a-line, the ka-line, etc.) and slowly built up until you can write the whole chart by memory.

Try scribbling down a line or the whole chart whenever you are free and you'll have learnt it all in no time!

In terms of Japanese IME, make sure it is on the hiragana setting and once you have written the kana you want (e.g. こんにちは), instead of pressing the space-bar (as you would when typing in English), press enter and then the space-bar, if you want to create a space. Pressing the space-bar scrolls through the different kanji options for the kana you have inputted, while the enter button simply leaves it as it is.

Please don't hesitate to ask if you have anymore questions :)
Hope that helps!



Thanks Crystal.  That's what I thought; I think I'll make up some flash cards.  I did figure out the IME thing for the tests; while both writing part of the tests say "listen then right the kana," the first test seems to always want all hiragana, and the second wants kanji / hiragana.


ajj7060, I have something that might help you out.  It was what I used years ago for learning katakana and hiragana.


This is a simple system that allows you to just drill yourself on all the kana.  You can even choose if you just want katakana or hiragana, and choose which sets you want to learn.  This is perfect for creating your own difficulty settings.

This is perfect for learning to reading and identify the kana, but this system only worked for me 90% of the time, as there were some hiragana and katakana that are extremely similar to one another that I would mix them up.  For example, the hiragana nu ぬ and the hiragana me め。The answer that I found to this was as Crystal suggested is writing down the kana as well as using the "flash card" method.  When writing, it triggers something inside your mind that goes "Wait a second...ぬ has an extra twist at the end while め doesn't..."

Before I found Rocket Japanese and starting writing the Kanji, I would always have this problem.  I would always mix up two different yet very similar Kanji.  
Hopefully this works for you.



I have also gotten mixed up on various Kanji that are similar.  I finally wrote them next to each other and found the small differences. Once I saw those, it was much easier!

Luke san

I’ve managed to memorise the hiragana in about 16 hours (over two days while in work) by doing as crystal said, line by line and building on it each time by writing the vowels then after a few attempts, doing the vowels and the K line, then vowels, K line, then S line etc. 
I too found some characters so similar such as ぬ Nu and めMe so I tried to think of pictures, like Nu is A curly Nu-dle being eaten with chopsticks, and Me isn’t the Nu-dle (I didn’t have a picture in mind for め) I found images helpful to begin with. I don’t have any advice yet for katakana and kanji as I Haven’t got into katakana yet and I’m dreading the kanji, but I’m seeing more and more of both in my lessons so I hope they stick and I start recognising them! :)


Hi Luke, I ended up finding some apps on my phone to basically act like flash cards, they were a big help!


I just saw this, there is a correct stroke order and stroke numbers to hiragana, katakana and kanji. If you can get the books that teach that then it becomes easier to memorise when you put pen to paper and write out lines over and over again. It is much the same as what we did when we learned to write in kindergarten.


For anyone who stumbles on this topic at a later date, a nice little practice book is My First Hiragana Activity Book by Yuko Green. It shows the stroke order, offers a few boxes for practice, and teaches some simple vocabulary. It's intended for children, but serves just as well for an adult beginner. Rocket Languages has plenty of how-to videos in the "writing lessons" area if the printed directions are difficult to follow. The ISBNs for the book are 0486413365 & 9780486413365 and it retails for $5.


I've found several Hiragana flashcard sets online.  This one is my favorite so far:


I think most beginners who want to learn to write hiragana and katakana will find this link useful 
The workbook is in a downloadable format, all you have to do is print the pages off as you require them. Each page has one kana, in each square is a grey outline of the stroke order, you trace over the strokes, the outline gradually fades as you progress through the square until the squares go blank and you  carry on writing yourself. It costs a whole $1.77, the good thing about it is you only print the pages as you need them and if a particular kana is causing you problems, you just print another page and start again, with a standard book you have to try to erase your writing and start again. I've used it and found it very beneficial, when I started formal lessons in Japan my sensei complimented me on my writing as well as some of my Japanese friends so I think it works. As you write the kana try making a little tune in your head just as you did when learning the ABC's. Try humming a,ka, sa, ta followed by the next four on the  a line and see how it goes.

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