Reading, Writing, and Memorizing Hiragana

“I have a memory like an elephant. In fact, elephants often consult me.” - Noel Coward

This is the first chapter that really takes advantage of your head-organ. Although TextFugu tries to keep straight-up memorization to a minimum, hiragana is one of those things that you are in fact going to have to memorize (sorry!). I will, however, guide you along step by step so that you can be as efficient as possible at learning how to read and write hiragana. What I’m basically saying is that it could be a whole lot worse. Remember how long it took you to learn to read your own native language back when you were a kid? Well, hopefully hiragana will only take you a few weeks (versus a few years). You’re smarter now, since (I’m guessing) you aren’t a kid.

So now that you know the pronunciation of hiragana and how that works (as well as the pronunciation of 90% of the entire Japanese language), it’s time to look at turning those sounds into usable symbols, which you can read and write. This chapter is going to be all about helping you learn hiragana through a combination of lessons, TextFugu resources, and outside (free) resources as well. We’ll also continue to practice your pronunciation as we learn how to read and write, that way you’ll continue to get better at that too. If you just follow along and do what’s suggested in this chapter, you should come out the other end with a fairly good understanding of hiragana. You won’t be perfect (that’s definitely not expected), but you’ll be able to read and write hiragana well enough that you can start using your new knowledge in the real world (as well as in future TextFugu lessons, which use hiragana in them as well).

To start, I want to take a look at some Japanese words you already know. This way you’re not putting too many abstract things together. By using something you know in a lesson with things you don’t know, you’re suddenly giving your brain something to latch on to, which means you’ll be able to memorize things a lot more effectively.

And our first word is…?

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