Introduction to Japanese Writing: Hiragana Group 12: Handakuten (ぱぴぷぺぽ)

Did you miss our introduction to Hiragana?  If so, you can go back and read it here.

The consonant for this column is P, so all five members of this group will be P followed by one of the five vowels, in order.

  • ぱ [PA]
  • ぴ [PI]
  • ぷ [PU]
  • ぺ [PE]
  • ぽ [PO]

As you may have noticed, this column is just like the H column, except that all of the characters have a small circle in the top-right corner.  This little circle is known as a Handakuten (半濁点はんだくてん), and to summarize it briefly it changes the consonant of the kana to which it is attached to P.  It can only be attached to the kana in the H column.1

How to Write

For reference, here is a quick review of the general rules for stroke order:

  • All characters should fill a square of about the same size
  • Top to bottom, left to right
  • Horizontal strokes before vertical strokes that intersect them

Vocabulary Practice

The following words can be written using only the characters we have covered so far.  Once you’ve practiced reading them a couple of times, try writing them on a piece of paper without looking and see how well you do.

  • ぱちんこ [pa chi n ko] pachinko (sometimes referred to as Japanese pinball)
  • ぴったり [pi t ta ri] perfectly, precisely
  • おとこっぽい [o to ko p po i] boyish
  • きっぷ [ki p pu] ticket (e.g. for a train)
  • ぺこぺこ [pe ko pe ko] very hungry


When you’re ready, click here to move on to our final group!

  1. Although, as with the dakuten, it can be seen unofficially being added to other characters for effect.

Published by

Paul Baptist

Japanese linguist, web developer, bassist, teacher, and long-time anime fan.