Kodansha's Hiragana Workbook

A Step-by-Step Approach to Basic Japanese Writing

  • Anne Matsumoto Stewart
  • Illustrations by Noriko Murotani
Kodansha's Hiragana Workbook

Size: 265×190 mm, 410 g
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 112
46 illustrations, 105 pull-out flash cards, free audio download
ISBN10: 1-56836-441-5
ISBN13: 978-1-56836-441-4
Release date: Sept. 7, 2012

List price: $14.95

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Kodansha's Hiragana Workbook is an all-new, streamlined workbook designed for beginner-level students who want to learn hiragana, the most basic Japanese script, as efficiently as possible.

  • Stroke-order diagrams for each character
  • Ample space to practice writing
  • 105 pull-out flashcards
  • Free downloadable audio for more than 330 words presented in the book
  • Review pages in every lesson
  • Illustrations for all the basic characters

What is hiragana? Hiragana, along with katakana, is a syllabary, or a set of symbols for writing syllables—the basic building blocks of the Japanese language. Japanese also uses kanji, or Chinese characters, so that any Japanese text usually contains all three writing systems.

Hiragana is used for a number of purposes, but the most significant for learners is that it is the script used to phonetically spell words of Japanese or Chinese origin—that is, roughly 90% of the words in the Japanese lexicon. Ordinarily, most words are written in kanji, or—in the case of adjectives and verbs—in a combination of kanji and hiragana. But any kanji, no matter how difficult, can also be written in hiragana. What this means is that learners who have mastered hiragana will be prepared to read kanji, so long as the characters are accompanied by furigana—a kind of pronunciation aid written in hiragana.

Most Japanese dictionaries nowadays use hiragana rather than romanized Japanese, and some designed especially for learners also use kanji with furigana.

What will this book do for me?
Hiragana is the first hurdle for any student wishing to read Japanese. With Kodansha's Hiragana Workbook, you'll learn how to correctly read and write all the hiragana characters, step by step. At the same time, you'll also learn more than 330 useful words and expressions. With the free audio files downloadable from kodansha-intl.com, you'll get a feel for how Japanese actually sounds, and be able to tell the difference between similar-sounding words. Finally, with the knowledge of hiragana you gain from this book, you'll be able to begin using a real Japanese dictionary.


About the Author

Anne Matsumoto Stewart is a professional Japanese language instructor with more than 25 years of experience. She has taught at all levels, from kindergarten through university. After earning an M.A. in linguistics from the University of Hawaii, Honolulu, she went on to pursue further graduate studies in Japanese pedagogy at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. She then went to Cornell University, where she earned another M.A., in Japanese literature. She is the author of All About Katakana and Kodansha's Katakana Workbook (both from Kodansha International), and the coauthor of several volumes of the Total Japanese series (Waseda University). She is a member of both the Association of Teachers of Japanese and the National Council of Japanese Language Teachers, and currently teaches and resides in Seattle.