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Lesson Transcript

Hi everyone! I’m Michelle Yamamoto.
Welcome back to The Ultimate Japanese Pronunciation Guide at JapanesePod101.com.
In this lesson, you'll master the first of 2 consonant groups.
Each group is broken down into rows, following traditional Japanese practice. The first of these is the k-row.
Can you recognize the "k" sound in き is a little different to the k sound in か、く、け、こ?
When pronouncing か、く、け、こ, raise the tongue to the back of the mouth, block the breath flow completely with the tongue, then release the sound. Try it!
For "き", raise the tongue to the roof of your mouth, release "k" and make a sharp い sound.
Repeat after me.
Next is the "s" row.
Did you notice that "し" is different from the English pronunciation of "si" in "signal"? In Japanese, し is romanized as "s/h/i". So, it's not "si" but, し.
Also, be careful, because it's a little different from the English pronunciation of "sh" in "sheep." Don't round the lips like you do in English.
Repeat after me.
Next is the "t" row.
When you pronounce these three sounds, た、て、と、you can pronounce the "t" sound like an English letter T, but softer
Repeat after me.
The next sound is ち. The first consonant sound is just like the "ch" in "chicken".
"The next sound is つ. Be careful to pronounce it like "tsu" and not "tu" or "stu."
When you say "cats" in English, hear the "ts" sound at the end?"
Repeat after me.
Tighten up the front edge of the tongue, unlike "す". Repeat after me again.
Great! Are you getting the hang of it now?
Next up is the "n" row.
Place the tip of your tongue on your teethridge and pronounce the "n" like in English. Put the front edge of the tongue between the back of the teeth and the teethridge. It's also nasal. You know you're making a nasal sound when you feel your voice vibrating up through your nose.
Repeat after me.
Next is the "h" row.
Let's try these three sounds
Repeat after me.
Don't make the "h" sound too soft, otherwise these syllables will just sound like "あ、え、お".
Let's try again.
Okay, moving on to the next two sounds, ひ and ふ.
These sounds don't exist in English, so practice these the most!
When you say ひ, your tongue position and mouth shape is similar to when you say い. So, try to say い first and say ひ.
Repeat after me.
Let's practice some words now!
ひも string、ひ・も、ひも
Repeat after me.
The next one is ふ. This sound is unique to Japanese.
ふ is like a soft, free-flowing "f" sound. Bring the lips together but don't let the lips or teeth touch. Imagine you're getting ready to blow out a candle, but you're just allowing the air to escape. ふ
Repeat after me.
Let's practice ふ in some words!
ふね ship、ふ・ね、ふね
Repeat after me.
Okay! Let's review some more sounds in words.
Repeat after me.
かさ, umbrella, か・さ、かさ
しお, salt, し・お、しお
つき, moon, つ・き、つき
くち、mouth, く・ち、くち
なつ summer, な・つ、なつ
ほし star, ほ・し、ほし
You heard a lot of sounds in this lesson. Some are similar to English sounds, while others may sound new to you. Keep listening and practicing to tune your ears to the sounds.
You're more than halfway through the consonant groups. In the next lesson, you'll master the remaining consonant groups.
What was the most difficult sound for you to pronounce? Tell us about it in the comments!
See you in the next Ultimate Japanese Pronunciation Guide lesson!


Please to leave a comment.
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Sorry, please keep your comment under 800 characters. Got a complicated question? Try asking your teacher using My Teacher Messenger.

February 28th, 2014 at 6:30 pm
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Do you know any word that contains one of these consonants?

December 5th, 2019 at 10:39 pm
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Hi Sadie,

Thank you for your comment!

It's interesting that in every language there are some hard part to pronounce. 😄

For most Japanese people, it's really hard to pronounce "th", "v", and "r."

I'm sure if you work on "fu (ふ)" more, you'll get a lot better!👍

Please let us know if you have any questions!

Best regards,


Team JapanesePod101.com

December 2nd, 2019 at 8:53 am
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for me it was probaly fu also i cant spell well😅

October 29th, 2019 at 6:25 am
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Hi Mike,

Thank you for your like! We hope you enjoy learning with us! If you ever have any questions, please let us know. 😉

Kind regards,


Team JapanesePod101.com

October 29th, 2019 at 6:24 am
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Hi Justin,

We understand completely your issue and it is not an uncommon one among Japanese learners. Thank you for turning to us with this.

However, please note that we would like to get our students used to both reading and writing Japanese characters as early in their learning process as possible. The earlier you are ""forced"" to learn them, the faster you will reach Japanese fluency! If you are following this lesson but haven't yet checked out our whole series dedicated to absolute beginners who have no knowledge of the Japanese alphabet, I would strongly suggest that you check out that series first. And once you are familiar with reading and writing Japanese, then start gradually building up your vocabulary and grammar skills in Japanese, by for example, starting our Absolute Beginner lesson series. By doing so, you don't need to rely on the romaji script any more and will be developing much faster!

For the time being, until you master Japanese writing and reading, you could of course go on with these materials as well: I would recommend you to follow the Lesson Note's romaji dialogue text while watching the video or listening to the audio.

Hope this helps. Good luck with your learning process and if you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to let us know.

Kind regards,


Team JapanesePod101.com

October 23rd, 2019 at 5:04 am
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i am not retaining any of this at all, the feeling of impossibility heightens

October 13th, 2019 at 11:07 am
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August 10th, 2019 at 10:37 pm
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Hi George,

Thank you for posting.

It seems the video works fine with this lesson.

Could you check if you have a free lifetime account? Those who have the free lifetime account can access only up to lesson 3 for free. If you have a basic or premium membership, please let us know which error message you see on the screen. It’d be great if you could send us an email at contactus@JapanesePod101.com so that we can take a look at the issue closely.


Cristiane (クリスチアネ)

Team JapanesePod101.com

George kiddo
August 2nd, 2019 at 9:53 pm
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I can't watch this video , Sth is wrong with it!

June 17th, 2019 at 8:56 pm
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Hi Miranda,

Thank you for posting.

Keep up studying well and soon you’ll get great results! And in case of any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.


Cristiane (クリスチアネ)

Team JapanesePod101.com

June 14th, 2019 at 9:36 am
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fu is definitly a hard one to master but the explanation about the candles on a birthday cake helped.