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Lesson Transcript

Hi everyone! I’m Michelle Yamamoto.
Welcome back to The Ultimate Japanese Pronunciation Guide.
In this lesson, you'll master perfect pronunciation of the 5 Japanese vowels.
There are 5 vowels in Japanese, and their pronunciation doesn't change.
The first vowel is...
Open your mouth a little, relax the tongue and say "ah."
Repeat after me.
The next vowel is...
Open the mouth, bring the lips up slightly, and raise the tongue – and say い. Here's a tip: it's like the "ee" in "meet", but shorter. い – raise your tongue almost to the roof of your mouth.
Repeat after me.
The next vowel is...
う [ɯ]
Purse the lips as if you are going to whistle or say the word "who". Like this う. Try it. Release a short "u" sound.
The lips are more relaxed for the Japanese "u" sound than the English "u." Compare Japanese "u" with English "u".
Repeat after me.
The next vowel is...
Open the mouth, raise the lips up from their natural relaxed position – as if you are about to start smiling – and release the sound, saying "eh".
Repeat after me.
The final vowel is...
Think of the perfect circle of an orange. Round the lips, as if you are surprised, and release a round Japanese "oh".
Repeat after me.
Congratulations! You've learned the 5 Japanese vowels. There are many Japanese words made up of vowels alone. Let's practice. Repeat after me!
あお "blue", あ・お、あお
あお
いえ "house"、い・え、いえ
いえ
うえ "up" う・え、うえ
うえ
Japanese vowels may seem simple, but mastering them is a crucial first step. Almost every syllable from here is formed on the basis of these vowels. Try practicing each one in a mirror.
Perfect these sounds, because in the next lesson, you'll master the first set of consonants.
Was seeing the pronunciation illustrations helpful? Please comment and share your thoughts.
See you in the next Ultimate Japanese Pronunciation Guide lesson!

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JapanesePod101.com
Friday at 6:30 pm
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Do you find any of the Japanese vowel difficult to pronounce?

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JapanesePod101.com
April 15th, 2019 at 8:56 pm
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Hi Daniel,


Thank you for your positive feedback!


Let us know if you have any questions.


Sincerely,

Cristiane (クリスチアネ)

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Daniel
April 13th, 2019 at 5:31 am
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Illustrations where helpful yes

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JapanesePod101.com
April 3rd, 2019 at 8:46 pm
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Hi Nathan,


Thank you for taking your time to leave us a comment.


In case of any questions, please feel free to contact us.


Sincerely,

Cristiane (クリスチアネ)

Team JapanesePod101.com

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Nathan
March 31st, 2019 at 6:08 pm
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Seeing the visuals were helpful but moreso when Michelle described facial expressions like a surprise face or orange shaped 'o' were actually sometimes more helpful then trying to figure out correct tongue placement or lip shape.

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JapanesePod101.com
March 29th, 2019 at 11:14 pm
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Hi Alrens,


Thank you for your positive feedback!


Let us know if you have any questions.


Sincerely,

Cristiane (クリスチアネ)

Team JapanesePod101.com

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Alrens
March 26th, 2019 at 2:04 pm
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Seeing the visuals were helpful

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JapanesePod101.com
December 2nd, 2018 at 4:14 pm
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Hi Roman,


Great to hear that you're enjoying our website!


We hope to see you often here!


Sincerely,

Cristiane (クリスチアネ)

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Roman
December 2nd, 2018 at 1:30 am
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I really like like this side :) really helpfull :) TY

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JapanesePod101.com
October 22nd, 2018 at 11:00 pm
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Hi Hank Johnson,


Thank you very much for posting a comment.

Yes, Japanese vowel sounds are very similar to Spanish.


Thanks for studying Japanese with us!


Sincerely,

Miki H

Team JapanesePod101.com

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Hank Johnson
October 11th, 2018 at 4:58 pm
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vowels in Japanese feel very similar to the ones in Spanish. Would I be correct in using Spanish pronunciations for them?