Basic 2 : Hiragana

"Heartfelt and warm, simple and easy, but sometimes childish"

[ Outline ]

Hiragana
is one type of letter of Japanese and it is the foundation for our written language. It is the first form of writing that we Japanese begin to learn when we are children. Every Kanji can be rewritten in Hiragana, and it is common for illustrated books for little children to be written only in Hiragana.
きょうはゆうじんのあーてぃすとにたとぅをほってもらった。かれとはこうこうせいからのつきあいできごころがしれている。どんなずあんがいいかそうだんしてみたところ、むしをたくさんかいてみるのはどうかとすすめてきた。さすがいいあいであをだしてくる。
(My friend who is an artist gave me a tattoo today. We have been friends since we were high school students, so we are quite familiar with each other. I asked his advice about what kind of a design would be nice and he recommended a whole branch of bugs. It was a great idea as I had expected.)
Like in this case, we can write every sentence using no Kanji and only Hiragana and still be able to communicate with others. However it can sometimes confuse us since it is relatively difficult to find any breaks in the sentence. Also, there are many words that have the same pronunciation but have very different meanings. This also becomes difficult to recognize when written only in Hiragana. Writing only in Hiragana is often very rarely used in daily situations except for some stuff that is only for little children.(I have never seen it used in any other cases before).
今日は友人のアーティストにタトゥを彫ってもらった。彼とは高校生からの付き合いで気心が知れている。どんな図案がいいか相談してみたところ、虫をたくさん描いてみるのはどうかと薦めてきた。流石いいアイデアを出してくる。
When written like this, we can read the sentences rhythmically by using a combination of Hiragana and Kanji. We can now understand the outline instantly because every Kanji has a specific meaning. We will no longer be confused by words that have the same pronunciation, because we can see each different word.
As
mentioned above, Hiragana can give off a sense of plainess and simplicity. This is especially useful for children who are just learning to read, and the elderly who may have trouble seeing each specific Kanji. So a pamphlet for information on welfare or children's books may intentionally be written only in Hiragana. Because of this, if you have a letter or sentence written only in Hiragana, it can give a childish impression (this is true except in cases were a proper noun is written in Hiragana originally). So if you don't intend to have something written for a child, a combination of Hiragana and Kanji is a much better design for a tattoo for an adult.
Additionally, words of foreign origin are generally written in Katakana, and an abbreviation is simply written using the letters of the alphabet. (If you don't do this, it is NOT entirely incorrect as we can still read it, but it is still a little weird to see.) So you should use Hiragana only for expressions and native Japanese words. If you want to use some proper noun in your country for a tattoo, please refer to the article on Katakana.
An example : I will never consider that " DMC " is " Devil May Cry ".
Fluent : " DMC "は " デビルメイクライ " とは認めない。
Weird : " ディーエムシー " は " でびるめいくらい " とは認めない。

[ The Modern Hiragana ]

The modern Hiragana, which was officially anounced and enacted by the Japanese government in 1946, has 46characters. It is further organized into sections of voiced consonants and contracted sounds.

The Purple in this Hiragana list is not official writing. These are used in special cases or when we try to describe an English name more precisely in respect to the culture. Sometimes people choose to use them because they want a name to look or sound a certain way. This is the case with the Heroine, " ちぃ " in Chobits by Clamp. The authors wanted to emphasize an aspect of the character by using this specific type of Hiragana. ちい and ちぃ are almost the same pronunciation, but the latter is more cute and charming, which is what the authors wanted to emphasize. It can be quite difficult to use properly, but if you do, you will get an even more unique expression on your body when used as a tattoo.

46 characters
A Vowel
-
a

i

u

e

o
k
ka

ki

ku

ke

ko
s
sa

si(shi)

su

se

so
t
ta

ti(chi)

tu(tsu)

te

to
n
na

ni

nu

ne

no
h
ha

hi

hu(fu)

he

ho
m
ma

mi

mu

me

mo
y
ya
-
yu
-
yo
r
ra

ri

ru

re

ro
w
wa
---
wo(o)
-
n
----
A Voiced Consonant
 
g
ga

gi

gu

ge

go
z
za

zi(ji)

zu

ze

zo
d
da

di(ji)

du(zu)

de

do
b
ba

bi

bu

be

bo
p
pa

pi

pu

pe

po
fふぁ
fa
ふぃ
fi

hu
ふぇ
fe
ふぉ
fo
 
A Contracted Sound

a

i

u

e

o
きゃ
kya
きぃ
Kii
きゅ
kyu
きぇ
kie
きょ
kyo
しゃ
sya(sha)
しぃ
shii
しゅ
syu(shu)
しぇ
shie
しょ
syo(shu)
ちゃ
tya(cha)
ちぃ
chii
ちゅ
tyu(chu)
ちぇ
chie
ちょ
tyo(cho)
にゃ
nya
にぃ
nii
にゅ
nyu
にぇ
nie
にょ
nyo
ひゃ
hya
ひぃ
hii
ひゅ
hyu
ひぇ
hie
ひょ
hyo
みゃ
mya
みぃ
mii
みゅ
myu
みぇ
mie
みょ
myo
---
 
--
りゃ
rya
りぃ
rii
りゅ
ryu
りぇ
rie
りょ
ryo
---
 
--
---
 
--
A Voiced Consonant of
a Contracted Sound
ぎゃ
gya
ぎぃ
gii
ぎゅ
gyu
ぎぇ
gie
ぎょ
gyo
じゃ
zya(ja)
じぃ
zii
じゅ
zyu(ju)
じぇ
zie
じょ
zyo(jo)
ぢゃ
dya(ja)
ぢぃ
dii
ぢゅ
dyu(ju)
ぢぇ
die
ぢょ
dyo(jo)
びゃ
bya
びぃ
bii
びゅ
byu
びぇ
bie
びょ
byo
ぴゃ
pya
ぴぃ
pii
ぴゅ
pyu
ぴぇ
pie
ぴょ
pyo
ふゃ
fya
ひぃ
hii
ふゅ
fyu
ひぇ
hie
ふょ
fyo

[ Notes ]

- A long vowel in words of FOREIGN origin is used " ー ", but only in Katakana.
An example : Sea Food
Fluent : シーフード
Weird : しーふーど
- A double consonant is used "っ(little つ)".
にっかぽっかをはいたらぽっかぽか
nikka pokka wo haitara pokka poka.
- Only a contracted sound is NOT used in a word and a sentence.
An example : Blue
Correct : あお
Incorrect : ぁぉ
- In some design of an advertisement, an art, a product, these rule could be ignored to catch people's attention.
An example : Sea Food
Fluent : シーフード
Weird : しーふーど
Special : しぃふぅど
Weird : しいふうど
- Use of long vowels in Japanese words.
あ after a word in a line : おかあさん (o ka - sa n) = A Mother
い after a word in i line : おじいさん (o ji - sa n) = A Grandfather
う after a word in u line : ふうふ (fu - fu) = A Married couple
え after a word in e line : ねえさん (ne - sa n) = A Sister
う after a word in o line : おとうさん (o to - sa n) = A Father
- Japanese use " 「」 " as quotation marks. However, I think it is uncommon to use in a tattoo.
コジプロの小島秀夫が言ってたよ。「ライジングの情報はもうちょっと待ってね」って。
Hideo Kojima of Kojima production said, "Sorry for no information on RIZING, Hold on a while longer".

[ the Original Hiragana ]

This chapter is very important but very difficult. so you can skip it.

In ancient times, we Japanese talked each other in native Japanese, but we had no letter, did not have any way to record words. In 400 - 500, by diplomatic relations to China, we Japanese learned Kanji. After that, the learned classes was trying to begin to express our native speaking words to writing letters by borrowing a pronunciation of Kanji. This challenge succeeded, it is called 萬葉假名(Man yo gana | 万葉仮名).

Man yo gana, which is the origin of Hiragana, is consisted in Kanaji, not Hiragana yet. They fit a Kanji that have the SAME pronunciation in a Japanese native pronunciation to each it one by one with totally ignoring the meaning of the Kanji. We can guess that people at that time must be careful in this process to fit as exactly as possible they can, therefore, we can investigate every Japanese native pronunciation at that time by a pronunciation of Kanji that they fit.

This list is the Original Hiragana that was build in about 800, the previous term of Heian era, and is generaly used in People at that time.

50 characters
A Vowel
a
a

i

u

e

o
k
ka

ki

ku

ke

ko
s
sa

si(shi)

su

se

so
t
ta

ti(chi)

tu(tsu)

te

to
n
na

ni

nu

ne

no
h
ha

hi

hu(fu)

he

ho
m
ma

mi

mu

me

mo
y
ya

yi(i)

yu

ye(e)

yo
r
ra

ri

ru

re

ro
w
wa

wi(i)

(u)

we(e)

wo(o)
-
n
----

[ The Origin of Hiragana ]

Even though there are many Japanese who don't even know this, every Hiragana was actually transformed from Kanji. It wasn't until 1400 years ago that our ancestors invented and began using Hiragana. Before that time, they could only express our native grammar and speech by borrowing the sounds of Kanji (while ignoring each individual meaning). We call it "万葉仮名 (Ma n yo u gana)". At that time, people used several Kanji for one pronunciation. ( 安 , 阿 , 愛 , 亞 , 惡 , everyone is " a ") . After that, people continued to make more and more progress with writing Japanese and after a long time, the basis of Hiragana was finally born.

There might be no significant reason for having this knowledge about the language, but you never know, it could somehow affect the design for a tattoo that you may want. It looks very different from today's standards, but this style just might be more appealing to some people.

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a



i



u



e



o
k


ka



ki



ku



ke



ko
s


sa



si(shi)



su



se



so
t


ta



ti(chi)



tu(tsu)



te



to
n


na



ni



nu



ne



no
h


ha



hi



hu(fu)



he



ho
m


ma



mi



mu



me



mo
y


ya
-


yu
-


yo
r


ra



ri



ru



re



ro
w


wa



wi(i)
-


we(e)



wo(o)
-


n
----

If you came to Japan 1400 years ago, the Japanese at that time would write names like this.
Michael Amott = ma i ke ru a motto (mo little-tsu to)
= 末以計留 安毛津止
Mary Lyn Rajskub = me a ri i ri n ra i su ka bu
= 女安利以 利无 良以寸加不

I am also
Orii Souan, a Japanese Painter. You can see samples of Japanese calligraphy on my paintings at my another site www.oriisouan.com . I hope you can get some good idea for your tattoo.