In Spanish, you can use the "Ha, Heh, Hee, Ho" method for learning Spanish vowels.

For example, A in Spanish sounds like the 'a' in Ha!

E in Spanish sounds like the 'e' in Heh!

I in Spanish sounds like the 'ee' in Hee!

O in Spanish sounds like the 'o' in Ho!

and then U is like the OO in food.

Does this apply to Japanese vowels as well? I have listened to Japanese vowels and they sound identical. But I thought I should double check, so I don't learn them wrongly.

  • え ('e') sounds more like 'ey' from 'hey', to me. (Disclaimer: Not a native speaker.)
    – Cat
    Mar 10, 2015 at 19:21
  • No, they aren't identical, but you'll get in the ballpark at least.
    – user1478
    Mar 10, 2015 at 23:06
  • Most notably, unlike the Spanish <u> the Japanese <u> vowel is unrounded.
    – jogloran
    Mar 11, 2015 at 3:21
  • [u] is still rounded in most western Japan dialects.
    – user4092
    Mar 11, 2015 at 7:28

1 Answer 1


Unless you put stress on them, it works as well. (You may find "U" a little different in New Tokyo dialect, which is a virtual standard, but that's beyond the category of Standard Japanese.) If you put stress on a vowel, it's prolonged and includes pitch shift, which is taken as sequence of two sounds to ears of a Japanese speaker.

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