Japanese has a unique written language that can be intimidating for those unaccustomed to it. For those looking to learn, the first step is understanding the Japanese alphabet. 

If you are searching for an easy way to learn the Japanese alphabet from A to Z, look no further! 

This article will provide you with a comprehensive overview of the Japanese alphabet and how each letter is transliterated into English.

Japanese Alphabet Hiragana
Japanese Alphabet Hiragana
3 Japanese Alphabet

How many alphabets in the Japanese language?

If you are interested in learning the Japanese alphabet, you may be surprised to discover that there is more than one type of alphabet used in the language. 

  1. Hiragana 
  2. Katakana
  3. Kanji

In fact, there are two main alphabets used to write Japanese, known as hiragana and katakana.

Additionally, there is a third writing system called kanji which consists of characters derived from Chinese characters.

How many letters are in the Japanese Hiragana alphabet?

The Japanese language is known for its unique characters and symbols, which can be difficult to learn.

One of the most popular components of the Japanese language is the Hiragana alphabet. So how many letters are in the Japanese Hiragana alphabet? The answer is 46!

The Hiragana alphabet consists of a total of 46 characters, each representing a different sound. It’s important to note that these characters represent both consonants and vowels. 

Each character also has a distinct stroke order, meaning it must be written in a specific way according to certain rules. They are usually written in one continuous stroke without lifting your pen or pencil from paper. 

In addition, some hiragana characters have two forms – one for beginning sounds and one for ending sounds – making them even more complex than they seem at first glance.

How many letters there are in the Katakana Alphabet?

In total, there are 48 characters which make up the modern Katakana syllabary. These symbols were adapted from Chinese characters, but have since evolved into their own unique forms. 

Each character represents a single syllable or sound, with each character being made up of two parts: A consonant followed by vowels. Some experts are of the opinion that the number of letters in this too is 46.

How many letters are in the Japanese kanji alphabet?

The Japanese kanji alphabet is one of the most complex writing systems in the world. It consists of thousands of different characters, each with its own meaning and pronunciation. But how many letters are there in total? 

Kanji is made up of two parts: Chinese borrowings (on’yomi) and native Japanese words (kun’yomi). There are over 50,000 Chinese characters that have been adopted into the language and used by Japanese speakers since ancient times. 

These represent a significant portion of the total number of kanji letters, but they are not all used regularly in modern writing. 

The official list compiled by the Japanese Ministry of Education contains 2,136 “regularly used” kanji characters. This list is known as Jōyō Kanji and it serves as a guideline for which characters should be taught to students studying kanji.

Hiragana Japanese Alphabet 

In Japanese alphabet (Hiragana) – There are five vowels in 46 alphabets and the remaining 41 are consonants which are as follows. 

In modern Japanese language there are 46 original Hiragana letters. Hiragana chart contains 46 alphabets and also called gojūon.

There are some modified forms as dakuon(20), handakuon(5), yōon(36), 1 sokuon and 6 additional extra letters.

Hiragana Japanese Alphabet A to Z

Vowels (5)

  1. あ (a)    
  2. い (i)    
  3. う (u)    
  4. え (e) 
  5. お (o) 

K – line (5)

  1. か (ka)    
  2. き (ki)    
  3. く(ku)    
  4. け (ke) 
  5. こ (ko) 

S – line (5)

  1. さ (sa)    
  2. し (shi)    
  3. す (su   
  4. せ (se)    
  5. そ(so) 

T – line (5)

  1. た (ta)    
  2. ち (chi)    
  3. つ (tsu) 
  4. て (te)    
  5. と(to) 

N – line (6)

  1. ん (n)    
  2. な (na)    
  3. に (ni)    
  4. ぬ (nu)    
  5. ね (ne)    
  6. の(no) 

H – line (5)   

  1. は (ha)    
  2. ひ (hi)    
  3. ふ (fu)    
  4. へ (he)    
  5. ほ (ho) 

M – line (5)   

  1. ま (ma)    
  2. み (mi)    
  3. む (mu)    
  4. め(me) 
  5. も(mo) 

Y – line (3)   

  1. や (ya)         
  2. ゆ (yu)      
  3. よ (yo) 

R – line (5)   

  1. ら(ra)    
  2. り(ri)    
  3. る(ru)    
  4. れ (re)    
  5. ろ (ro) 

W – line (2)   

  1. わ (wa)               
  2. を (wo) 

Total = Vowels (5) + K – line (5) + S – line (5) + T – line (5) + N – line (6) + H – line (5) + M – line (5) + Y – line (3) + R – line (5) + W – line (2) = 46.

Katakana Japanese Alphabet In English

The total number of letters in Katakana is 46 but their sounds are 50.イ, ウ and エ have 2 more than one sound, イ and エ have 3 sounds. While ウ has two sounds. ン does not have any sound.

1 a
2 e
3 o
4 ka
5 ki
6 ku
7 ke
8 ko
9 sa
10 shi
11 su
12 se
13 so
14 ta
15 chi
16 tsu
17 te
18 to
19 na
20 ni
21 nu
22 ne
23 no
24 ha
25 hi
26 fu
27 he
28 ho
29 ma
30 mi
31 mu
32 me
33 mo
34 ya
35 yu
36 yo
37 ra
38 ri
39 ru
40 re
41 ro
42 wa
43 i
44 u
45 o
46 n

The five vowels of the Katakana Japanese alphabet is ア[a], イ[i], ウ[u], エ[e] and オ[o]. These vowels give the Japanese language its unique sound, making it distinct from other languages.

The five vowels are used to form words by combining them with consonants, which make up the rest of the alphabet. For example, a combination of ‘ka’, ‘shi’ and ‘tsu’ forms the word ‘kashitsu’, meaning ‘becoming’. 

Out of 46, the remaining 41 letters are consonants. That is, you can say that there are a total of 41 consonants in the Japanese language.

Conclusion Point

Japanese has 2 “main alphabets” called hiragana & katakana. If we writing together are called kana. 

The third form of Japanese alphabet called kanji. Kanji alphabet like whole words, that’s why not considered proper alphabets.


Learning the basics can help learners to get started on their path to mastering the language.

In order to help demystify this complex subject, this article will answer some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) related to Japanese alphabets.

Question – How many consonants are there in the Japanese language?

Answer – The number of consonants in both Hiragana and Katakana is 41 and the number of characters is also 46 in both.

Question – How many vowels are there in the Japanese language?

Answer – The number of characters in both Hiragana and Katakana is also 46 in both. Not only this, both have only 5 vowels.

Question – What are the similarities and differences between the Japanese alphabet Hiragana and Katakana?

Answer – The number of characters in both Hiragana and Katakana is the same. Both have 5 vowels and 41 consonants. Talking about oddities, it is different from pronunciation to handwriting

Is the Japanese Kanji alphabet used today?

Answer – The Japanese Kanji alphabet, also known as Kanji characters, is an ideographic writing system which has been used in Japan for centuries. It is based on Chinese characters and represents the spoken language of Japan. 

Despite its complex structure, the Kanji alphabet is still employed in modern day Japan as a primary writing system. The majority of written communication in Japan currently relies on a combination of Kanji characters and two types of phonetic scripts—hiragana and katakana.

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