Friday, November 20, 2009

Beginning Japanese: Lesson One

Many years ago, I used to teach beginning Japanese to my colleagues during our lunch break. I’m not a language teacher, but I wrote one simple instruction for you as below.

Write the first five hiragana letters. Practice 10 times.
1. あいうえお   あ a  い i う u え e  おo

Write the second five hiragana as follows. Practice 10 times.
2. かきくけこ   かka  きki  くku  けke  こko

Have you practiced 10 times each? If not, go back to item 1 and start again. You cannot cheat my lesson. But you can ask me questions. I’ll answer when I can. So when you feel comfortable with あいうえお and かきくけこ, you can read the following. Okay? Now read it. Go ahead.
3. けいこ

Did you figure it out? Good.

Now you’ve learned how to write my name in Japanese. You gained the important concept of Japanese beats. You pronounce each beat evenly. けいこ。It takes three beats. Since you’ve learned 10 hiragana, you can also read a Japanese haiku written in hiragana only. Haiku is the beats of 5-7-5.


Above translation:
a-ka-i-ka-ki-ku-u (akai=red, kaki= persimmon, kuu=eat )

Haiku is formal, so the above haiku is called senryu. Kuu for “eat” is used by men, not by women. But I just wanted you to see how we can play with Japanese words. In my next blog, I’ll talk more about beats.

The above photo is a heron in the river near my place. He or she just caught a fish and ate it. I saw it. I also took the photo below to show you the color of the soil here. The sign says "Watch Your Foot" because of the roots of Cherry trees.


jiturajgor said...

Thank you Keiko for Japanese lesson and for two beautiful pics.

keiko amano said...


Thank you for your visit.

Rebb said...

Keiko, Thank you for the lesson and pictures. Cranes are so graceful.

I wrote each character ten times. It's challenging to get the lines just right. After a while, I get into the groove of loosing my grip and let the strokes flow more natural. Remembering the characters without looking is another matter :)

Dorraine said...

Enjoyed the lesson. You're a good teacher! Loved the pictures as well.:)

keiko amano said...


Wonderful! Now you're a student of Japanese. You made a gigantic step to unknown territory. You're brave.

Here is helpful hints to all of you:

Below sites show the order of writing each hiragana. Don’t worry about a combination of hiraganas to form a word yet.

あいうえお (hit next button to see another hiragana starting from あ)

かきくけこ (hit next button to see another hiragana starting fromき)

I also found good introduction of all hiragana as below.

You don't have to memorize them, but it's there in case you're interested. I hope you enjoy it.

keiko amano said...


I'm glad you saw this blog. In case you want to learn more, you can visit the links which I posted in my previous comment to Rebb.

This is exciting. Now I can teach using many excellent learning documents on Web.

Rebb said...

Keiko, Thank you for the links. It is helpful to see how to write the characters, as well has hearing how they sound. And I really love the introduction to all of the Hiragana. It's really quite complex.