Kana samples

Anime posters

A lot of animes are named with only kanas, which offers a good practice opportunity; read the name and then click on the link to see the poster; in many cases, the English name of the anime is very different from the Japanese one, though. Also, many posters have interesting fonts; reading the name from the poster is itself a challenge.

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Onomatopoeias

Japanese has hundreds of onomatopoeias, and people use them all the time! They come in three flavors. Like English, we have descriptions for sounds of living beings, like dogs and cats, or people snoring; and for sounds of nature, like wind, or thunder. Unlike English, there is a third class that describes feelings and emotions, like ‘blushing’ or ‘sparkling’ [nihongomaster.com, Japanese101, samuraimeetups].

Onomatopoeias are always written in kanas, sometimes in hiragana, sometimes in katakana. Some of the most common ones are:

sounds from animals and people

In English, dogs and cats go ‘woof’ and ‘meow’, while in Japanese they go ‘wan’ and ‘nyaa’. These are so common that kids call dogs ‘wan-chan’, and cats ‘nyan-ko’.


English
dog barking
cat meowing


romaji
wan-wan
nyaa-nyaa


hiragana
わんわん
にゃあにゃあ


katakana
ワンワン
ニャーニャー




haa! nyan-ko da!
haa! It’s a kitty cat!


sounds from nature

The most popular sound effect of all romantic mangas has to be ‘doki-doki’, the sound of a heart pounding; it shows up often in romantic encounters, and during suspense scenes. ‘pon’ is very much like the English sound effect ‘tap’; a small drum goes ‘pon-pon’, tapping someone on the shoulder is ‘pon’, and so on.


English
heart beating
tap-tap


romaji
doki-doki
pon-pon


hiragana
どきどき
ぽんぽん


katakana
ドキドキ
ポンポン


Feelings

‘kira-kira’ is ‘to twinkle’, so ‘twinkle-twinkle little star’ in Japanese is ‘kira-kira boshi’.
We also might be familiar with ‘pika-pika’, which means ‘to shine’, because it is the sound that Pikachu makes in the Pokemon anime.


English
to twinkle
to shine


romaji
kira-kira
pika-pika


hiragana
きらきら
ぴかぴか


katakana
キラキラ
ピカピカ