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Katakana Page 01

Oni's picture

So you want to learn Katakana? Great! You will soon notice how similar it is with Hiragana. However there are some important differences. Although you don't have to learn Hiragana before doing this page, I recommend it if you are not living in Japan. Hiragana is used much more in writing. But Katakana is used when writing foreign loanwords and in advertizing. Therefore, Katakana is very useful for the foreigner IN Japan.

Download our FREE Katakana Flashcards and Practice Writing Pad

Each Lesson will tackle 5 characters. If you haven't studied Hiragana yet, I would recommend starting with it.

Today's lesson will teach you the vowel sounds in Japanese.  These are the SAME SOUNDS as the Hiragana vowels.

Basically, like Spanish, there are 5 vowel sounds.  a, i, u, e, o.  

- a    - as in fAther, Ah
it looks like a capital A leaning over (doing exercises)

- i    - as in fEEt
It looks like a lowercase i with a hat on instead of a dot

- u    - as in fOOd
It looks like a mouth about to eat fOOd

- e    - as in eh? or hAte
It looks like a capital I but it is really an Eh sound

- o    - knOw  
It looks like someone kicking something "OH OH!"

These are the first 5 letters in katakana.  Write them out 10 times a day and soon you will get it.  To aid memorization, make silly associations to go with them. You can use the above mnemonics or you can make your own!



Did you write the above katakana 10 times? Did you sound them out as well? Well, do it again! And then take the following test & Javascript quiz (see link below)...


How do you read these Katakana characters? What English words are they?

エア ____________    This means ____________
アイ ____________    This means ____________
イア _____________   This means _____________
オア _____________    This means ______________ (think of a row boat)

Click here to check your answers

Perhaps you can recognize these 5 in just one day of practice.  








エア     ea This means AIR
アイ  ai This means EYE
イア    ia This means EAR
オア   oa   This means OAR

Think you have it all down pat?
Click here to take the Quiz

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DarkAge's picture


For [u] fOOd was mentioned. I would like to add onto that. To me it looks like someone drOOling (for food). Stroke 1 is the drool, Stroke 2 is the eyes and Stroke 3 is the mouth.

Hope this helps ;)

heeeyyerrrrykah's picture

Another mnemonic

For ウ [u], it can also be a baby's tOOth, because stroke 1 could be...well we can just remember that, stroke 2 can be the tooth, and stroke 3 can be the rest of the mouth. Hope this works too :)

sivvyx01's picture


Could someone please offer me advice on what to learn, and in what sequence - e.g Should I learn Hiragana first, then Katakana, then Kanji?

I am a little confused about which I should focus on and in what order.
Thanks in advance!

phreadom's picture

Pretty much in that order,

Pretty much in that order, yes. :)


Our "getting started" guide has a section that specifically answers that question and gives you some pointers. :)

You might also check out http://thejapanesepage.com/grammar.htm while you're learning the kana. :)

If you have more questions please ask. :D



OMG!! i got all the answers right on the test!!!!!!!!

Awesome site

I am an arabic person and this is my favorite site for learning the japanese langauge,i know,this is not an arabic site :P

modern_trauma's picture

Javascript quiz

N.. I don't know if it's just my browser but the characters at the Javascript quiz appear different.

Like: �G�A(air)

phreadom's picture

They should be "fixed"

They should be "fixed" now.

All the pages are now encoded as utf-8 with the proper headers set, but didn't really do anything beyond that. They're offered "as is" for now.

(I should just follow up on the way the hiragana quizzes are done and integrate the katakana quizzes into the new layout and get rid of those old files. It's been added to my TODO list.)


phreadom's picture

Sorry about that... I know

Sorry about that... I know the problem, I just hadn't fixed it yet. In fact when I fixed the same problem on the old kanji pages, which are far more extensive, I totally forgot to check the hiragana and katakana pages specifically because they're outdated and I thought generally not in use. But since they're still linked to here and there on the site and on search engines, I should at least make them usable in the meantime. :P It's just a matter of updating a bit of code on each page to properly set the character set.

As a matter of fact, you can actually make the pages work manually right now by choosing the "Japanese - Shift-JIS" encoding for the page manually. (I know you can do this in IE, Firefox, Google Chrome, etc)

Give that a try, and if you have trouble figuring that out let me know which browser you're using and I can walk you through it, or just give me a bit and I'll fix the pages so that they won't require that workaround. :)

Sorry for the trouble. (I also updated the code for the comments while I was at it so that your signature image works a bit better. ;)


don't understand

how do you translate to english i think i might be missing something

phreadom's picture

You just pronounce it and

You just pronounce it and guess which English word it represents. They should be phonetically about the same. You're not so much translating it as simply guessing which same-sounding English word they're spelling with katakana.

Click the "check your answers" button below the questions to see the answers, and it should make perfect sense.

Let me know if you still have trouble with it. :)


Jeison Tonpuson's picture

a tip on the mnemonics

i dont know if this would help, but イ also looks like two chopsticks that you EAAAt with.

[Jathon Jet]

flash programs to use for quiz

I found a few really cool flash programs to use for studying. At one site, you can choose from each section of hiragana, katakana or a mixture of both and match romaji sounds to them. I've found it helpful to study the quiz after learning the characters on this site. Check out realkana.com here.
Another site I've been using has a flash game where you can choose from matching hiragana to romaji, katakana to romaji, or hiragana to katakana! Click here to go to easyjapanese.org and play!


awesome-ness!!! I've been looking everywhere for these :D thanks!

I can't see the katakana

I can't see the katakana characters.
They are covered up by the "Gallery" and "Friends direct login" on the right of the page.

phreadom's picture

Sorry about that...

Sorry about that...

They should all be correctly sized now not to overlap the side (at 1024x768 and up).

Please let me know if you notice any other pages with this problem. :)



dianepanopio's picture

the quiz below katakana lesson chapter one

um...shouldn't the "ai" mean "love" in English and not "eye"...???...

- diane-chan^^

phreadom's picture

That's a fair question. :)

That's a fair question. :) But here the point of the exercise is to learn how katakana is used to spell foreign words. So アイ is just a phonetic "spelling" of 'eye' using katakana. If they'd wanted to write "love" in Japanese, they'd use hiragana instead; あい. (or the kanji 愛)

Basically hiragana and katakana are used for actual written Japanese, with katakana only being used for sound effects, foreign words, emphasis (like we might use italic or bold text) etc.

Hopefully I've explained it well enough. :)



ahh Thankyou so much for fixing this! :)

Keep up the great work with the site!

No Audio Sound

I trying to play the audio file for Katakana but I keep getting the

Windows Media Player cannot play the file. The Player might not support the file type or might not support the codec that was used to compress the file.

Does anyone know how I can get it to play. I have Windows Media Player. Any help much apprec.


clay's picture

I just added a built-in

I just added a built-in player at the top. That should play in your browser without needing a separate player.

TheJapanShop.com- Japanese language learning materials
Checkout our iPhone apps: TheJapanesePage.com/iPhone

Aw... There aren't those

Aw... There aren't those flash test here... sniffle... those were really good...

one day, you asked me to choose between you and my life, i chose my life, and you went away.
But what you didn't know, is that my life is you

clay's picture

If you mean the JavaScript

If you mean the JavaScript quiz, click where it says, "Click here to take the quiz" at the bottom section.

TheJapanShop.com- Japanese language learning materials
Checkout our iPhone apps: TheJapanesePage.com/iPhone

yeah but they are not the

yeah but they are not the same as the ones for hiragana. Those were really efficient. Thanks.

one day, you asked me to choose between you and my life, i chose my life, and you went away.
But what you didn't know, is that my life is you

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