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Lesson Transcript

Hi everyone! I’m Michelle Yamamoto.
Welcome back to The Ultimate Japanese Pronunciation Guide at JapanesePod101.com.
You've learned 46 basic kana sounds so far. In this lesson, you'll learn 23 additional sounds. The characters are familiar, but they are marked. And this changes the pronunciation.
So, now you can pronounce these hiragana characters, right?
What about these?
When this little mark is added to the kana, it makes a different sound.
The formal term for this in Japanese is "dakuten", but it's usually called "tenten", which means "dot dot".
The tenten makes a sound voiced – let's look at how this works in practice so you can see what I mean!
The first one is...
These "g" sounds are based on the initial k-group か、き、く、け、こ.
When "tenten" is added to each kana, the "k" sound changes to "g". "k" is not voiced, whereas "g" is. Let's hear them again.
Repeat after me.
Let's hear some words.
かぎ, key, か・ぎ、かぎ
かがみ, mirror, か・が・み、 かがみ
ぎ in かぎ and が in かがみ is a nasal sound.
ぎ(nasal "gi")
が (nasal "ga")
When you have a "g" sound such as が or ぎ in the middle of a word or at the end of a word, it's sometimes pronounced with this nasal sound.
Lately, many people, especially young people, don't use this nasal sound anymore.
But, you might hear an announcer say かぎ or かがみ on TV.
ぎ in かぎ is a nasal sound.
ぎ in ぎんこう is not a nasal sound.
Okay, here's another example.
がむ gum、が・む、がむ
かがみ mirror、か・が・み、かがみ
が in かがみ is a nasal sound.
が in がむ is not nasal.
In the past, when you have a "g" sound such as が or ぎ in the middle of a word or at the end of a word, you pronounce it が or ぎ as a nasal sound.
This sound is becoming less common, however, especially among young people. Instead, people will pronounce the consonants with a hard "g" sound.
But, you might still hear a news reporter or anchor say かぎ or かがみ on TV."
Next up is...
"They are based on さ、し、す、せ、そ
"When "tenten" are added, the s-group sounds become a z-group.
The exception is じ. し becomes "ji", not "zi".
Repeat after me.
Next up is
"These are based on た、ち、つ、て、と
"When "tenten" are added, the "t" sound changes to "d".
The exceptions are ぢ and づ.
"ち becomes ぢ (ji), not "di".
つ becomes づ (zu), not "du.""
Repeat after me.
Did you notice that we have already had these same sounds, "ji" and "zu" in another row?
They appeared in the "z" row that we learned before.
"Both pairs of "ji" and "zu" sound exactly the same.
But, when it comes to writing, they have different kana, such as..."
じかん time, じ・か・ん、じかん
はなぢ nose bleed、は・な・ぢ、はなぢ
じ in じかん and ぢin はなぢ are the same sound, but different kana.
ちず map, ち・ず、ちず
きづく notice, き・づ・く、きづく
ず in ちず and づ in きづく are the same sound, but different kana.
We use ぢ and づ in a few words, but じ and ず are more often used in writing.
Next up is...
"They are based on は、ひ、ふ、へ、ほ
"When "tenten" are added, the "h" sound changes to a "b" sound.
Repeat after me.
There is one more set of sounds which is based on は、ひ、ふ、へ、ほ, which is...
This little circle mark is added, and the "h" sound changes to "p".
The little circle mark is formally called "handakuten", but usually called "maru", meaning "circle."
Repeat after me.
Here's a little pronunciation tip for ばびぷべぼ and ぱびぷぺぽ.
In English when you pronounce "b" and "p" sounds, such as "bat" or "put", you breathe out a small puff of air when you pronounce them. "bat" and "put". In standard Japanese pronunciation, however, the air released is significantly less.
So, try holding your hand in front of your mouth and pronounce ばびぶべぼ or ぱびぷぺぽ again! Do you feel any breath on your hand? Make sure that you're not making a puff of breath.
Repeat after me.
You've learned 69 sounds so far! You should be familiar with almost all the Japanese sounds now.
In the next lesson, you'll combine sounds using the や、ゆ、よ that you've already learned in lesson 4. Review these sounds before the next lesson.
And record yourself to perfect your pronunciation!
Have you been practicing in the mirror? Or have you found a better tactic? Share your experience in the comments.
See you in the next Ultimate Japanese Pronunciation Guide lesson!


Please to leave a comment.
😄 😞 😳 😁 😒 😎 😠 😆 😅 😜 😉 😭 😇 😴 😮 😈 ❤️️ 👍

JapanesePod101.com Verified
March 28th, 2014 at 06:30 PM
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Hello Listeners! What do you think about this Lesson, was it helpful for you? 

JapanesePod101.com Verified
April 15th, 2020 at 12:51 PM
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william edwardsさん

Thank you for your comment😄

Try to remember: ka → ga, sa → za, ta → da, ha → ba / pa and these are the only lines that go with dakuten 👍

Please let us know if you have any question :)



Team JapanesePod101.com

william edwards
April 9th, 2020 at 06:21 PM
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te dakuten is going to take some effort to remember for sure, but great vid :D

JapanesePod101.com Verified
October 22nd, 2019 at 05:26 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 17th, 2019 at 10:42 AM
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JapanesePod101.com Verified
September 16th, 2019 at 07:48 AM
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Hi Yan,

Thanks for your comment!

It is said that they are often pronounced as [dz]/[ʤ] for the initial letter or after /ɴ/ sound and pronounced as [z]/[ʒ] after a vowel.

But we normally don't listen that closely.

Thank you for studying with us!


Team JapanesePod101.com

July 31st, 2019 at 10:08 PM
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Hello! Do you touch the roof of a mouth when pronounce “z” sounds? In other words, do you pronounce them as dza, dji, dzu, dze, dzo or za, ji, zu, ze, zo? Thank you!

June 14th, 2018 at 10:34 AM
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I found it useful if before you begin to speak Japanese to review all the sounds at once and then they are fresh in your mind

April 24th, 2018 at 03:30 AM
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i notticed an error... she said `hu` instead of `fu` when explaing the `b` sound

JapanesePod101.com Verified
October 17th, 2016 at 06:36 PM
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Hi Richard,

I'm glad to hear that it now makes sense.

Thank you,


Team JapanesePod101.com

October 10th, 2016 at 02:43 AM
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Thank you for the example of かがみ. I have heard the different pronunciation of が in the Absolute Beginner Series Season 1, but had no idea why. Now it seems like maybe Masato is just older than the others. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: