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Learn Hiragana


STEP 1: Learn how to read hiragana

Kana Exercise is a program designed to teach how to read
the pronunciation of hiragana through association.
The software is free and you can download it from the following site.
(This software only runs on Windows.)
You don't need to have Nakama textbook to use this program.

Download KanaExercise.zip

Select the "Hiragana" door.

Out of the three choices you see on the page, choose "Presentation."
Select a row of hiragana and click "Begin.”

After presentation, you can choose "flashcard" and "quessing game" for practice.

*Characters お and を are pronounced identically.
を has a particular grammatical function and it is explained in language class.


Hiragana letter recognition game

Gojuon order      Random order


From Katakana to Hiragana

Hiragana cards

You can download ready-to-use hiragana cards for your practice.

Download the entire set


STEP 2: Increase speed of reading

This is a simple trainer to improve recognition speed of hiragana.

Hiragana Trainer

Select "Basic shapes".

1 Select “With audio feedback.”
2. Read the character before you hear audio.


3. Select “Speed exercise.”
4. Choose an interval of 0.9 and read hiragana aloud.

Try shorten your interval! (0.7 is a good goal.)
Native speakers we tested achieved 0.5 second.


STEP 3: Exercise spelling

In this exercise, you will reconstruct the word you
hear by selecting correct hiragana.
You do not need to know meanings of words.

Set 1: あ〜お (a - o) Set 2-1: あ〜こ (a - ko)  Set 2-2: あ〜こ (a - ko)

Set 3: あ〜そ (a - so)  Set 4-1: あ〜と (a - to)  Set 4-2: あ〜と (a - to)

Set 5-1: あ〜の (a - no)  Set 5-2: あ〜の (a - no)  Set 6: あ〜ほ (a - ho)

Set 7: あ〜も (a - mo)  Set 8: あ〜ん (a - n)   Set 9-1: voicing ”

Set 9-2: voicing ”and /p/


STEP 4: Practice writing

When you practice writing Hiragana, pay attention to the following three points:

1. Stroke orders: Click the Hiragana in the table and watch how a character is written. Follow the stroke order.
2. Three stoke types: There are 3 types of strokes, stop, release, and hook.

3. Some characters when typed or printed look different from hand-written shapes. You will practice hand-written shapes here, but be aware when you read printed text.

Hiragana table

You can watch how to write a kana by clicking it.


Download hiragana writing practice grid

Mobile app for writing practice: Kana Bimoji

Kana Bimoji is a mobile app to practice writing Hiragana and Katakana.
It is developed and released from Gloding Inc.
The app is free and available for both Android and iOS.

This app was originally developed for Japanese children.
It has been modified for Japanese language learners.
All directions are in English.

Andoroid version iOS version 


Writing with a finger is not the same as writing with a pen or pencil.
So, a stylus pen is recommended to simulate writing motion with a pen.
Stylus pens are available for purchase at a major computer or stationery store for $5 to $10.

Open Bimoji app and touch "スタート" (start) in blue. Touch the first character "あ."
Characters are arranged vertically from right to left.
* If you want to turn BGM off, click the circle on the left.


In the blank white box, write the character "あ" following the correct stroke order.
The number on the upper left indicates remaining time in seconds to finish writing.


The program rates handwriting in three levels: "残念" (bad), "並" (good), or "美" (great)
by calculating deviations from model.
Touch "新規" (New) in the lower left corner to write again.
The arrow ▶ brings up a next character.
The arrow ◀ brings up a previous character.︎
Touch BACK on the top right corner for the table.


The table shows the current rating on characters a student has practiced.
Getting "美" stamps on all hiragana is a good goal,
but score of 80, 並" (good) is sufficient.


STEP 5: Exercise reading words

You need to know meanings of words to do the following exercises.

Color terms
             Animal names1

Zodiac signs in Chinese/Japanese


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