Learning Hiragana

June 27, 2018

There was a time where I could speak Russian. I also had the ability to read Cyrillic script, while also being able to write it in cursive. All of which I learned to do from a Russian professor in 2011. But once I completed the course, I abandoned the language. Within the last year, I regained interest. Solely because I thought my first international trip was to be to Moscow, Russia. Unfortunately, the trip was scrapped after an incident in Saint Petersburg and so was my interest in the language.

With an intent to return to Japan this fall to visit Osaka and Kyoto, I’ve begun to study Japanese. I’m nearly a month into the first Japanese From Zero! book, which covers Hiragana. If I complete the book, I’ll be able to move onto Katakana. Although I’d say my progress isn’t fast, I’m amazed at how much I’ve learned within the first month. I can count to over 10,000, properly introduce myself, properly come and go from a house, create sentences and ask questions.

I also learned Japanese pronunciation, which is incredibly important. It is an eye opener to see how words can change depending upon how they are pronounced. For example, I would say, “kyuu sai,” for nine years old. Notice that there are two u’s, or rather two vowels, next to each other. This means that the sound needs to be lengthened. If I were to pronounce it as, “kusai”, the meaning changes to smelly.

The only difficult part about proceeding with this language is that I don’t have anyone personally to practice with at the time. I rely on the course recordings online, the information provided in the book and the occasional lesson on Duolingo. But I am excited to push forward and see how much progress I can make by the fall. The overall goal by that point is to know enough Hiragana where I do not have to speak English in Japan. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to consider myself fluent.