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It is most definitely an exception. The actual phonetic realisation of that series goes like this: は [ha] ひ [çi] ふ [ɸɯ~hɯ] へ [he] ほ [ho] In Middle Japanese they all were pronounced with [ɸ], which you can see in European transcriptions of names from the 1500s and 1600s - the Portuguese wrote e.g. <Faxecura> for a name that in Modern Japanese ...


Why not use the International Phonetic Alphabet? According to that they would be /kɑ/ for か and /kɛ/ or /ke/ for け.


The recordings for the words you linked were made at different times. They are not different for phonological reasons, but simply because they were made separately -- in other words, they are interchangeable, and there is no distinctive feature that you are missing out on. Test it out on a native speaker and see if they can correctly and consistently ...

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