Learning to read Japanese may seem like a daunting task but it needn't to be! When children first start to read, they learn "Hiragana" first.
Hiragana is the basic Japanese phonetic script. It represents every sound in the Japanese language and, theoretically at least, you can write everything in Hiragana.
Here is some visual aid to help you learn how to pronounce Hiragana!
An antenna is on top of the roof. あ as in "antenna."
There are two eels. い as in "eels."
Ooo! This is heavy. う as in "Ooo!"
I have to exercise. え as in "exercise."
A golf ball is on the green. お as in "on."
A kite is flying in the sky. か as in "kite."
I have a key. き as in "key."
Here comes a cuckoo bird. く as in "cuckoo."
There's a keg of beer. け as in "keg."
A core of an apple is hard to eat. こ as in "core."
I love sake! さ as in "sake."
/si/ (pronounced as /shi/)
She has a ponytail. し as in "she."
Sooey, sooey! す as in "sooey."
This is Senor Lopez. せ as in "senor."
Zig-zag sewing. そ as in "sewing."
"t" and "a" make ta. た as in "ta."
/ti/ (pronounced as /chi/)
She is a cheerleader. ち as in "cheerleader."
/tu/ (pronounced as /tsu/)
Tsunami is a tidal wave. つ as in "tsunami."
The dog has a wagging tail. て as in "tail."
Ouch! A nail is in my toe. と as in "toe."
A nun is kneeling in front of a cross. な as in "nun."
I have a needle and thread. に as in "needle."
Noodles and chopsticks. ぬ as in "noodles."
I caught a big fish in the net. ね as in "net."
This means NO! の as in "No."
I live in a house. は as in "house."
He is on the wall. ひ as in "he."
I climbed Mt. Fuji. ふ as in "Fuji."
There is a haystack. へ as in "haystack."
A house becomes a home with a satellite. ほ as in "home."
Mama loves music. ま as in "mama."
Who is 21? Me! み as in "me."
Moo-moo more milk? む as in "moo."
Chopsticks and noodles without mess. め as in "mess."
The more worms, the more fish. も as in "more."
I am sailing on a yacht. や as in "yacht."
Make a U-turn as quickly as you can! ゆ as in "U-turn."
Yoga is hard! よ as in "yoga."
I love steamy ramen noodles. ら as in "ramen."
I'll give you a ribbon. り as in "ribbon."
Look at my loop! る as in "loop."
Let's race! れ as in "race."
I'm a roper! ろ as in "roper."
Wow! A magic wand! わ as in "wand."
/wo/ (pronounced as /o/)
Whoa! A cheerleader is on my toe! を as in "whoa."
/nn/ (pronounced like /ng/)
This is in the end. ん as in "end."