Help:IPA for Japanese

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The charts below show the way in which the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) represents Japanese language and Okinawan pronunciations in Wikipedia articles. Sounds occurring only as allophones are included for narrow transcription.

See Japanese phonology for a more thorough discussion of the sounds of Japanese.

Examples in the charts are Japanese words transliterated according to the Hepburn romanization system.

IPA Hiragana example Japanese example English approximation
b しょ, き basho, kibun bog
ç と, ひょ hito, hyō hue, humor, h with a j sound
ɕ た, しょ shita, shō sheep
d うも, dōmo, dōdō doctor
z[1] っと, zutto, zenzen zen
dz くし, つ dukushi, tsuduku cards


ぶん, jibun, jojo jeep
ɸ じ, fuji, fūfu like p with lips closed incompletely or making an f sound with only lips
ɡ っこう, ごご gakkō, gogo gape
h ん, ほほ hon, hoho hone
j くしゃ, ゆゆしい yakusha, yuyushii yak
k[2] る, けっき kuru, kekkyoku skate
m かん, せぱい, もんも mikan, sempai, monmon much
n っとう, き nattō , kinen not
ɴ いき, にほ fun’iki, nihon roughly like long but pronounced very far back in the throat
ɲ わ, こんにゃ niwa, konnyaku canyon
ŋ ご, なきょく, ringo, nankyoku, ga pink
p[2] ン, たんぽぽ pan, tanpopo span
ɽ~ɺ[3] く, そ  roku, sora the [ɽ] is close to /t/ in auto, better, or buddy in American English,
or between lock and Scottish rock ([l] and [ɾ]). It is a flapped D to an L sound, instead of rolling the tongue [ɺ] .
s る, さっそ suru, sassō sue
t[2] べる, とって taberu, totte stop
ts なみ, つつ tsunami, tsutsumu cats
かい, ちち chikai, chichi itchy
w[4] さび, wasabi, wo roughly like was, but lips are opened wider (compressed)
ʔ atsu'! (or as found in Ryukyu languages) uh-oh! (glottal stop); Hebrew א
IPA Hiragana example Japanese example English approximation
a aru father
e き, eki met
i iru meet
, yoshi, shita like meet, but voiceless
o に, oni owe
ɯ[5] なぎ unagi roughly like food but with lips opened wider (compressed)
ɯ̥[5] , きやき desu, sukiyaki roughly like food but with lips opened wider (compressed) and voiceless

IPA Japanese example English approximation
ː long vowel:
double consonant:
unnecessary (compare innovation)
[6] tone drops:
kaꜜki (oyster), kakiꜜ (fence)
̃ nasal vowel:
vin blanc
. mo.e,, sai.kin, zas.shi


  1. The fricative [z] tends to be used between vowels, and the affricate [dz] in pausa, though some speakers use [z] everywhere. Before /i/, this is palatalized to [], or less often [ʑ] and is usually represented phonemically as /z/. Some dialects maintain a distinction (see yotsugana).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 /p/, /t/, /k/ are unaspirated, as in Austronesian and Romance languages, or as in English spy, sty, sky
  3. The Japanese r varies between a postalveolar flap [ɽ] and an alveolar lateral flap [ɺ].
  4. The Japanese w is not equivalent to a typical IPA [w] since it is pronounced with lip compression, rather than rounding.
  5. 5.0 5.1 There is no simple symbol in the IPA for Japanese u, which is neither rounded [u] nor unrounded [ɯ] but is compressed [ɯᵝ]. The labial spreading diacritic is an extended IPA character.
  6. The position of this downstep, which does not occur in all words, varies between dialects and is frequently not indicated. The downstep is a drop in pitch; the word rises in pitch before the . When occurs after the final syllable of a word, any attached grammatical particles will have low tone.