Introduction to Japanese Writing: Hiragana Group 4: T (たちつてと)

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

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

  • た [TA]
  • ち [CHI]
  • つ [TSU]
  • て [TE]
  • と [TO]

As with し [SHI] from the last group, there are some slight irregularities in this group in order to make it clearer to English speakers how to pronounce the characters properly.  While ち and つ can appear as TI and TU in materials aimed at Japanese readers, typically they are written as shown above so that readers understand that ち should be pronounced CHI (like in “cheese”) and つ should be pronounced as TSU (like in “tsunami”, with a distinct T sound at the beginning).

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.

  • たつ [ta tsu] dragon
  • てつ [te tsu] iron
  • とき [to ki] time
  • ち [chi] blood

Sometimes you will see a small tsu つ in the middle of a word (e.g. きって postage stamp).  This is known as a sokuon (促音そくおん).  When you see this you stop for just a moment before pronouncing the next syllable.  This is often written in romaji as a doubled consonant.  For example:

  • きって [ki t te] postage stamp
  • さっき [sa k ki] earlier


When you’re ready, click here to move on to Group 5: N!

Published by

Paul Baptist

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