Even though there is a katakana character ヷ, most of the time when I see something that is transcribed into Japanese as /va/, it is in the form ヴァ (say, for example, in the title of the anime series 革命機ヴァルヴレイヴ). Similarly, the forms ヸ, ヹ, and ヺ seem to be fairly rare too.

I can somewhat understand the rationale for using ヴィ and ヴェ for ヸ and ヹ given that ヰ and ヱ are almost obsolete in the contemporary written standard, but ワ is still a very common sound.

Is there a particular reason why the two-character form seems to be preferred over the single-character form?

  • 4
    I've never seen ヷ, ヸ, ヹ, or ヺ before.
    – user1478
    Commented Oct 18, 2013 at 4:20
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    ^ Me neither... ヰ=ゐ ヱ=ゑ ヲ=を right? (How did you type ヷ, ヸ, ヹ, ヺ...??)
    – user1016
    Commented Oct 18, 2013 at 4:33
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    Wikipedia states that ヷ, ヸ, ヹ, and ヺ were indeed used to represent va, vi, ve, and vo at some point, but these notations never became common. But it does not state why. Commented Oct 18, 2013 at 9:32
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    The title is not accurate in that "va" is NOT normally written ヴァ. It is much more often written バ. There is no V sound in Japanese, so we could not really care less how "va" is transliterated. Both ヴァ and バ are pronounced バ anyway.
    – user4032
    Commented Oct 19, 2013 at 0:24
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    ヷヸヴヹヺ honestly seems so elegant for a "ヷ行" additional line. I wonder why they fell out of use even as V-containing loanwords increased, and the cumbersome notation became mainstream.
    – ithisa
    Commented Oct 19, 2013 at 1:09

1 Answer 1


I will hazard a guess here. If va was written ヷ then the entire v- line would probably have to be written with the w- line for consistency. I think the problem is that except for wa, the members of the w- line are strange. There is no wu. wo is only used for one word and we, wi are not used, meaning people are not as familiar with them.

People may have gotten annoyed by these factors and decided to use ヴ_ because it is more convenient for representing all of the v- sounds.

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