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Hiragana Lesson 9: や ゆ よ わ

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Illustration and voice by Shou Yukiya
Voice by Yukiha Saki
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Hiragana Romaji Mnemonics

The sail of a yacht.


A unicycle.

A man doing Yoga.

You won and got the fish.
, and look similar. So the logic of their mnemonics should be similar too.

Photo of unicycle is taken by Andrew Dressel, used under CCAS3.

Some missing members.

First of all, I need to tell you that やゆよ and わ actually belong to two groups. I put them together here just to make it more convenient for me to make a lesson.

As you may have noticed, " yi " and " ye " are missing in the list. Well, we shouldn't use the word "missing". They actually do not exist in the Japanese language. So there are no Hiragana for these two sounds.

On the other hand, the わ group originally had 4 members. They are わ, ゐ, ゑ and を, representing the wa, wi, we and wo sounds respectively. Nowadays, however, only わ and を remain. ゐ and ゑ have disappeared in modern Japanese. And を is pronounced as "o" instead of "wo". So わ has become the only "valid" member of the "w" group. (を, despite the change of pronunciation, actually still belongs to the same group. We will talk about this Hiragana in Extra lesson 6.) That's why I group わ together with やゆよ instead of separating this lesson into two. Otherwise, わ will be very lonely.

やゆよ in Youon

Besides being used to "spell" out Japanese words, やゆよ, in smaller size, are also used for writing Youon, meaning Japanese diphthong with a "y" sound. Examples are しゃ, きゅ, ちゅ, etc. The pronunciation of the English letter "Q" is an example of Youon.

Youon is used very frequently in modern Japanese, especially for words with Chinese origin.

How to write:

hiragana ya

hiragana yu

hiragana yo

hiragana wa

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