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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. For a guide to adding IPA characters to resource articles, see {{IPA-ja}}, {{IPAc-ja}} and Resource: Manual of Style/Pronunciation § Entering IPA characters.

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

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

IPA Example English approximation
Kana Romanization
b ?, , basho, kabin, v?jon bug
b? by?ki beauty
ç ??, hito, hy? hue
? ??, shita, issh? sheep
d ?, d?mo, d?d? doctor
dz[1] ?, , zutto, zenzen, kizzu[2] cards
d?[1] ?, , jibun, jojo, ejji[2] jeep
? ?? fuji roughly like phew!
?[3] ?, , gakk?, ringo, gink? goat
?? kigy? argue
h ??, hon, haha hat
j ?, yakusha, yuzu yacht
k ??, kuru, hakki skate
k? , ky?kai, kekkyoku skew
m ?, , mikan, senpai, monmon much
m? ? myaku mute
n ?, natt?, kantan not
? ??, , niwa, konnyaku, kinch? canyon
?[3] ???, ringo, nankyoku pink
? ? nihon roughly like long
p ??, pan, tanpopo span
p? ?? happy? spew
? ??, roku, sora American better
ry?ri American party
s ??, suru, sass? soup
t ?, taberu, totte stop
t? ?, chikai, ketchaku[2] itchy
ts ?, tsunami, ittsui[2] cats
?[4] ? wasabi roughly like was
[5] ??, , fun'iki, denwa, anshin sin
z[1] ??, aza, tsuzuku zoo
?[1] ??, mijikai, jojo vision
? ?! atsu'! uh-oh
IPA Example English approximation
Kana Romanization
a ?? aru father
e ?? eki bet
i ?? iru meet
i?[6] ?? shita whispered meet
o ?? oni story
?[7] ? unagi shoot, but unrounded
[6] ? sukiyaki same as above, but whispered
IPA Description Example English approximation
: Long vowel hy?mei, ojiisan re-equalize
? Pitch drop[8]
. Syllabification nin'i [?i.i] higher


  1. ^ a b c d Voiced fricatives [z, ?] are generally pronounced as affricates [dz, d?] in word-initial positions and after the moraic nasal /N/ ( before [dz] and before [d?]) or the sokuon /Q/ (spelled ?, only in loanwords). Actual realizations of these sounds vary (see Yotsugana).
  2. ^ a b c d When an affricate consonant is geminated, only the closure component of it is repeated: [kiddz?], [edd?i], [itts?i], [kett?ak?].
  3. ^ a b A declining number of speakers pronounce word-medial as (Vance 2008:214), but /?/ is always represented by [?] in this system.
  4. ^ [?], romanized w, is the consonant equivalent of the vowel [?], which is pronounced with varying degrees of rounding, depending on dialect.
  5. ^ The syllable-final n (moraic nasal) is pronounced as some kind of nasalized vowel before a vowel, semivowel ([j, ?]) or fricative ([?, s, ?, ç, h]). [] is a conventional notation undefined for the exact place of articulation (Vance 2008:97).
  6. ^ a b Close vowels [i, ?] become voiceless [i?, ] when short and surrounded by voiceless consonants within a word. When the second consonant is [?], [ç] or [h], or when both consonants are fricatives (including the second component of an affricate), devoicing is much less likely to occur (Fujimoto 2015), so vowels in such environments are not transcribed as voiceless (nor are word-final or non-close vowels, whose devoicing is also less consistent). Where close vowels that would be devoiced according to the above rules occur in succession, however, usually whichever is accented or, if neither is, the second remains voiced (Fujimoto 2015:189), so transcribe them accordingly: [ki?k?mo, tski]. These rules may be overridden by citing a reliable source that marks devoicing, such as NHK (2016) or Kindaichi & Akinaga (2014), if the word being transcribed appears in it.
  7. ^ [?], romanized u, exhibits varying degrees of rounding depending on dialect. In Tokyo dialect, it is either unrounded or compressed , meaning the sides of the lips are held together without horizontal protrusion, unlike protruded .
  8. ^ A pitch drop may occur only once per word and does not occur in all words. The mora before a pitch drop has a high pitch. When it occurs at the end of a word, the following grammatical particle has a low pitch.


  • Fujimoto, Masako (2015). "Vowel devoicing". In Kubozono, Haruo (ed.). Handbook of Japanese Phonetics and Phonology. Berlin: De Gruyter. pp. 167-214. doi:10.1515/9781614511984.167. ISBN 978-1-61451-252-3.
  • Kindaichi, Haruhiko; Akinaga, Kazue, eds. (2014). ? (in Japanese) (2nd ed.). Tokyo: Sanseido. ISBN 978-4-385-13672-1.
  • NHK Broadcasting Culture Research Institute, ed. (2016). NHK? (in Japanese). Tokyo: NHK Publishing. ISBN 978-4-14-011345-5.
  • Vance, Timothy J. (2008). The Sounds of Japanese. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-5216-1754-3.

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