Nihon-shiki Romanization
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Nihon-shiki Romanization

Nihon-shiki, or Nippon-shiki R?maji (Japanese: ?, "Japan-style," romanized as Nihon-siki or Nippon-siki in Nippon-shiki itself), is a romanization system for transliterating the Japanese language into the Latin alphabet. In discussion about romaji, it is abbreviated as Nihon-shiki or Nippon-shiki. Among the major romanization systems for Japanese, it is the most regular one and has a one-to-one relation to the kana writing system.


It was invented by physicist Aikitsu Tanakadate ( ) in 1885,[1] with the intention to replace the Hepburn system of romanization.[2] Tanakadate's intention was to replace the traditional kanji and kana system of writing Japanese completely by a romanized system, which he felt would make it easier for Japan to compete with Western countries. Since the system was intended for Japanese people to use to write their own language, it is much more regular than Hepburn romanization, and unlike Hepburn's system, it makes no effort to make itself easier to pronounce for English speakers.[]

Nippon-shiki was followed by Kunrei-shiki, which was adopted in 1937, after a political debate over whether Nihon-shiki or Hepburn-shiki should be used by the Japanese government.[1] Kunrei is otherwise nearly identical, but it merges syllable pairs di/zi ?/?, du/zu ?/?, dya/zya /, dyu/zyu /, dyo/zyo /, wi/i ?/?, we/e ?/?, kwa/ka /?, and gwa/ga /?; their pronunciations in modern standard Japanese have become identical. For example, the word , rendered kanadukai in Nippon-shiki, is pronounced as kanazukai in modern Japanese, and is romanized as such in Kunrei.

Nippon-shiki is considered the most regular of the romanization systems for the Japanese language because it maintains a strict "one kana, two letters" form. Because it has unique forms corresponding to each of the respective pairs of kana homophones listed above, it is the only formal system of romanization that can allow (almost) lossless ("round trip") mapping, but the standard does not mandate the precise spellings needed to distinguish ô ?/, ou / and oo . (See the hiragana article for more details.)

Nippon-shiki has been established by the International Organization for Standardization in the ISO 3602 strict form. The JSL system, which is intended for use instructing foreign students of Japanese, is also based on Nippon-shiki.

Nipponsiki--ISO 3602 Strict

goj?on y?on
?/? a ?/? i ?/? u ?/? e ?/? o (ya) (yu) (yo)
?/? ka ?/? ki ?/? ku ?/? ke ?/? ko / kya / kyu / kyo
?/? sa ?/? si ?/? su ?/? se ?/? so / sya / syu / syo
?/? ta ?/? ti ?/? tu ?/? te ?/? to / tya / tyu / tyo
?/? na ?/? ni ?/? nu ?/? ne ?/? no / nya / nyu / nyo
?/? ha ?/? hi ?/? hu ?/? he ?/? ho / hya / hyu / hyo
?/? ma ?/? mi ?/? mu ?/? me ?/? mo / mya / myu / myo
?/? ya ?/? yu ?/? yo
?/? ra ?/? ri ?/? ru ?/? re ?/? ro / rya / ryu / ryo
?/? wa ?/? wi ?/? we ?/? wo
?/? n
voiced sounds (dakuten)
?/? ga ?/? gi ?/? gu ?/? ge ?/? go / gya / gyu / gyo
?/? za ?/? zi ?/? zu ?/? ze ?/? zo / zya / zyu / zyo
?/? da ?/? di ?/? du ?/? de ?/? do / dya / dyu / dyo
?/? ba ?/? bi ?/? bu ?/? be ?/? bo / bya / byu / byo
?/? pa ?/? pi ?/? pu ?/? pe ?/? po / pya / pyu / pyo
/ kwa
/ gwa


  • Letters in red are obsolete in modern Japanese.
  • Even when he ? is used as a particle, it is written as he, not e (Kunrei-shiki/Hepburn).
  • Even when ha ? is used as a particle, it is written as ha, not wa.
  • Even when wo ? is used as a particle, it is written as wo, not o.
  • Long vowels are indicated by a circumflex accent: long o is written ô, unlike Hepburn, which uses a macron.
  • Syllabic n ? is written as n before consonants but as n' before vowels and y.
  • Geminate consonants are always marked by doubling the consonant following the sokuon (?).

See also


  • Gottlieb, Nanette. "The R?maji movement in Japan." Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (Third Series). January 2010. Vol. 20, iss. 1. pp. 75-88. Published online on November 30, 2009. Available at Cambridge Journals. doi:10.1017/S1356186309990320.
  • Kent, Allen, Harold Lancour, and Jay Elwood Daily (Executive Editors). Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science Volume 21. CRC Press, April 1, 1978. ISBN 0824720210, ISBN 9780824720216.
  • Nihongo Daihakubutsukan (?), author: Kida, Jun'ichir? ( Kida Jun'ichir?), publisher: Just System (, Jasuto Shisutemu) ISBN 4-88309-046-9 (in Japanese), chapter 6.


  1. ^ a b Gottlieb, p. 78
  2. ^ Kent, et al. "Oriental Literature and Bibliography." p. 155.

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