Hiragana: A Visual Introduction


Author/Creator ORCID





Digital Arts

Citation of Original Publication


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Hiragana is the basic and most fundamental of three Japanese writing systems—hiragana, katakana, and kanji. Hiragana is used in all forms of written communication in combination with the other two systems, or by itself for young readers and beginners. There is a corresponding katakana for each hiragana. Katakana is used primarily for foreign words. Hiragana is also used to clarify pronunciation of kanji. Kanji consists of approximately 4000 characters that are usually modified or nuanced by hiragana. Hiragana is made up of 46 phonetic letters (kana). Each of the kana is a complete syllable with its own sound, and has a set order and direction for writing strokes, which often differ from Western convention. The capstone project is an illustrated book to introduce all 46 kana. In this visual introduction, the audience—both children and adults—will meet each of the 46 kana that have been created with various elements—objects, animals, and items of Japanese culture and heritage—that start with the same sound. For example, あ [a] is made of items such as あり (ari, ants) and あめ (ame, candy). With charming, playful, and stylized illustrations, this book offers a unique, fun way of learning Japanese kana.