Introduction to Japanese Writing: Hiragana Group 3: S (さしすせそ)

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

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

  • さ [SA]
  • し [SHI]
  • す [SU]
  • せ [SE]
  • そ [SO]

Of note here is that the second character in this column, し, is pronounced as SHI (like in “sheet”), and typically written this way in Romanized Japanese for this reason.  However, it is not unheard of for it to be written as SI, especially for materials intended for Japanese audiences.

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

With せ [SE], note that even though the second stroke is furthest to the right, it is also the highest stroke remaining after the horizontal stroke has been drawn.

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.

  • すし [su shi] sushi
  • さす [sa su] to point at
  • せい [se i] height
  • そこ [so ko] there (near the listener)


When you’re ready, click here to move on to Group 4: T!

Published by

Paul Baptist

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