Hiragana – DONE!!

I posted back on April 11th about learning Japanese and starting with Hiragana. The following day I went to a Japanese conversational lesson and I had no freaking clue what was going on. The sensei spoke very little English and the other students were Chinese and were reading Kanji. After class, the sensei suggested in a very straightforward way – Learn Hiragana before you come back. That made me smile because she said something that sounds kind of rude while having a very polite tone. The class is weekly so hell yeah I’ll learn Hiragana before next time! So I went home and started learning.

I studied about 2 hours every day and learned almost everything in a week. The next class was way easier to understand and I wrote about half in English, half in Hiragana and it was pretty sweet to be able to read Japanese. It’s like reading some cryptic language… and I feel cool… and now I totally sound like a foreigner by saying that. But it’s all good because now I can read things like “udon” and “karaage” and that’s a step in the right direction in my book. Some books that helped me out are Pict-o-Graphix and Let’s learn Hiragana.

The next week I focused on kya, gya, and characters like that, so it took about 2 weeks to learn everything. Am I a pro? No. I’m pretty slow when reading words and sometimes I have to think about what the character is but it’s a start! I decided to stop studying and dedicate time to work and our wedding that’s coming up. I still look at my flashcards I made every day and have read things every day so it’s still staying fresh, I’m just not studying every day. That should change on June 1st through!


24 thoughts on “Hiragana – DONE!!

  1. Congrats on learning hiragana! Just keep using it in every way you can and it gets easier and easier. I need to take my own advice with katakana – I often forget that.

  2. Nice blog you got going. I myself used to live in Japan and came back. Currently I am keeping an eye on what I eat as convini food can get a little fattening. I was wondering if you know where can I find the fiber information on convini food.

  3. Congratulations! You should be able to learn all the Katakana and Hiragana characters in a week. You are already in Japan, so I think your brains will be forced to develop new skills faster. The professionals are really strict with this rule, because they will not translate. And if they do, you would hardly understand. lol!

    I learned other languages too, but German, French and Italian are all written in alphapets, with a few special characters. So it was very stressful to learn japanese at the beginning.
    First we have to learn the 3 system of writing, including Kanji. Before we can even start building vocabulary and learning grammar.
    I had fun, but I stopped after 1 week of learning Katakana and Hiragana.
    Anyway, we´ll wait for your updates on your learning the language!!!

  4. I started learning Japanese intensively (well, lessons twice a week)about 3 mths ago because we are moving to Japan in June. I had learned Hiragana years ago during a previous attempt and I have to say that knowing Hiragana from the start is a HUGE help with pronunciation. Even though I’m still fairly slow reading it I find that I can be more sure of pronunciation than with romaji which sometimes leads me astray. I also feel as though it helps me to grasp it better on a more subtle level, because I’m not “translating” my own alphabet into theirs I’m simply reading Japanese – if that makes any sense.

    There is such a thing as too much though – I finally determined to learn katakana last week and did so in the three days between lessons. I woke up at 2 am the morning of my next lesson and got up to get a wash cloth to clean off the katakana I totally believed was all over my bedroom walls!!

  5. Killer Porkchop – Thanks for checking out the site! Welcome back to Japan. Conbini food tastes okay but it’s cheap and fatty I’m sure. I have no idea where to find fiber information.

    Vincent – Japanese grammar likes to do a flip flop swip swap and conveniently drop a few words here and there that you’re supposed to assume exist. Being in the country while learning the language is really nice. Let me know if you start to tackle grammar and vocab.

    Nomadic Matt – No. I’m too tall.

    Dani – Moving to Japan in June? Whoa cool! Do you know where? I agree that knowing Hiragana helps with pronunciation. And now I understand why certain English words sound strange (like McDonalds)… there’s no “Dah” for example. It takes some time to learn the Romanji form (like oo and aa) and I think it’s okay if you’re going to visit for a week. And I can’t believe you learned Katakana in just three days! Good job. Thanks for sharing your crazy side effects from lack of sleep and extreme concentration, I’ll make sure to space my studying out, lol!

  6. oh yeah…you’re learning really quickly… i dont know HOW long it took me to learn all that…even now..if i had REALLY buckled down and studied hard..i would be SO much farther than i am right now…but i think i do well enough…so i am content where i’m at… LOL keep it up!

  7. I have no experience learning Japanese, but having learned another alphabet, you’ll soon recognize the characters and sounds without thinking. I remember when I first got here I thought I’d never be able to read subtitles on TV because they go so quickly. Now I can read most of them (even if I don’t know all of the words) and sometimes I even find mistakes in the subtitles!


  8. Hey! Yes moving to Japan is very exciting and a FABULOUS motivation for learning the language as fast as poss! We will be living in Nagoya – we are off for a week’s house hunting on the 18th of this month! We have a couple of days to ourselves in Nagoya around the house appointments and my husband’s meetings at his company I can’t wait!!

  9. Keep up the studies, man! Before you know it, you’ll be reading so many kanji characters that Japanese people will think you’re a bit of a weird foreigner and will find you less interesting than when you were just an innocent little gaijin. Haha.

    Ok, I’m not that cynical…

  10. jyankee – Studying hard seems like the only option. That’s some solid advice.

    Brandon – Thanks!

    Dani – Sounds exciting! I think learning hiragana and katakana before trying to learn a lot of vocabulary is a good idea. I plan on studying vocabulary using the characters instead of Romaji.

    billywest – LOL! Sweeeeeeeeet…

  11. Congrats on the hirigana, now it’s time for some katakana! Perhaps by the next time I leave a comment, you can read my katakana name 😛

    You’ll find that quite a few things are easier to understand in Japan when you can read hirigana and katakana. That said, it will also increase your desire to learn some kanji, since most of the signs and advertisements are a combination of all three character sets.


  12. Congrats, Steve 🙂

    Now that you learned it and know it, what tips would you give to someone who’s trying to learn Japanese? What would be the best way to learn how to speak, write, etc?

    Thanks 😀

  13. Jason – It took me about a week to learn Katakana. Now I can read tons of stuff! I still have a hard time with Katakana ソ and ン.

    Emily – My advice is to learn Hiragana first, Katakana second, and then study some vocabulary words in Hiragana and Katakana. Then study 2 hours a day using “Japanese for Busy people” if you can stay motivated, and (or) find a local school that offers classes. In my area I found one that’s free and ran by volunteers but there’s a professional school that offers classes for $15 and hour. The best tool I used “Kana Pict-o-Graphix” by Michael Rowley (Brandon recommended it). I should make an updated post about this!

  14. Hey Steve!
    My Husband and I are interested in moving to Japan hopefully sooner rather than later. So we have just started learning japanese…and I’m just wondering how fluent we need to be before we move? Is it necessary to know how to read it before we move or is speaking it well sufficient as long as we learn to read it later on? I’m also not sure how much time to alot for actually getting there as far as securing our work visas after we have secured employment..any thoughts?
    We just really would like to make this dream a reality and could us all the advice we can get!
    Look forward to hearing from you!

  15. Olivia – AWESOME! Live the dream! I think speaking is more important in the beginning. Reading and writing Katakana and Hiragana is nice so you can read things like menus, and it’s easier when taking Japanese classes here. As for the time, I’m not sure what you mean exactly. If you’re thinking about the flight, it’s a 24 flight or something like that. If you’re wondering about getting ready and then heading over, well that took me 2 months. I sold everything, took care of things, then headed over. 2 days after I arrived I was settled in. Good luck!

  16. Hey Steve! Thanks for the advice! We aren’t sure how long it takes to get a visa. We can’t apply until we have employers to sponsor the work visa but we’re not sure how long it takes to actually get one. We were planning on allotting about two months for everything so hopefully that will work…we’ll see:) I guess it depends on how well we can learn the language!
    I’ll let u know what happens.

  17. For the people that are thinking of learning hiragana or katakana, it honestly shouldn’t take more than 5 hours to learn either from scratch. What I did last year was pick 5, quiz yourself until you know them, then add 5 new ones, and repeat. And I recommend doing that process in one sitting, and don’t get too caught up in the stroke order, yet.

  18. I agree with Dustin’s comment, it really shouldn’t take too long to learn both. His method works really well, that’s what I essentially did. Just keep on adding them.

    But to be honest, katakana is way more useful in terms of being out in the town. I’ve noticed more signs, more advertisements etc. that use katakana more than hiragana. Hiragana, from what I’ve noticed is used for like words from Japanese origin that don’t get written in kanji. “Arigato Gozaimasu” comes into mind, but there are plenty of others.

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