Main Page
Beginner's Course


Press this button if you have spotted any mistakes.

Hiragana Lesson 3: さしすせそ and ざじずぜぞ

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Japanesepod101

Illustration and voice by Shou Yukiya Bookmark and Share

Subscribe to our newsletter now.
 
Hiragana Romaji Mnemonics

sa

za

People have their hair cut in a hair salon. This hiragana is usually written as in handwriting. Imagine that the upper part is a pair of scissors and the lower part is hair.

shi

zi/ji

  1. She has long hair.
  2. Turn it 90 degree clockwise. It'll look like letter C.

Strictly speaking, the pronunciation of this Hiragana does not exist in English. Read the explanation below.

su

zu

  1. It looks like the tie of a suit.
  2. Imagine that it is a fancy straw with a loop. It is the sound you make when taking a sip.

se

ze

There are two seven's hidden in this Hiragana, though inverted horizontally and vertically.

so

zo

It looks like a soft can that is crushed.

About Hiragana し

The Hiragana し is the only Hiragana with the consonant "sh". And despite the spelling, the pronunciation of this Hiragana is a little bit different from English "sh".

I have copied two diagrams from Wikipedia to show you the different between Japanese "sh" and English "sh".

English sh English "sh", or [∫] in IPA

Japanese shJapanese "sh", or [] in IPA

As you can see, the main different is the position of the tongue. If you want to know the details, you may read this article on postalveolar consonant. But I need to warn you that the wordings are a little bit too technical. And it is not easy to tell the different between two pronunciations by just reading.

Fortunately, the real English "sh" does not exist in Japanese. So even if you pronounce all Japanese "sh" as English "sh", there will be no misunderstanding whatsoever. My suggestion is that if you are not after perfect accent (It's NOT easy!), then just use English "sh".

Two ways to write さ

There are two ways to write さ.

1. The lowest part is linked to the rest of the kana, as shown in most computer fonts

2. The lowest part is not linked to the rest of the kana, as shown in the image below

How to write:

Hiragana sa

Hiragana shi

Hiragana su

Hiragana se

Hiragana so

The stroke order illustrations are made by D.328, used under CCSA3.0.