I have been learning Japanese for over a year now, and I have noticed that some people are writing kana differently. For example, I have seen being written just like how it appears now (looks like a rotated U letter) and I have also seen it being written like a question mark (only a bit more curved)!! i

So I was wondering - what are the correct shapes? Or are they all correct and it's just a matter of rightly forming it?


1 Answer 1


The typeface used in textbooks is called 教科書体 (lit. "textbook typeface") and fonts are designed to be copied as closely as possible.

(This is quite different from languages based on the alphabet: there are many different cursive styles taught in schools and textbooks are never typeset in cursive "handwriting" font.)

That said, like you observed there are very slight variations. For う, there is a question of whether the first stroke should have a hook or not, and whether the second stroke should be entirely round or have a dent:

う う う

I would say the first one is more standard for learning handwriting; the second and third ones are shapes used in current 国語 and 算数 textbooks.

Any of these should be considered "correct", but even when aiming for any of these, actual handwriting will look different again.

For reference, here are two charts you can follow:


(from happygolucky.info (PDF))


(From this blog (image link))

Finally, there is a very nice instructional video for learning to write ひらがな (with a calligraphy/brush pen, but it also applies to pens/pencils) that I learned from @snailplane:

hiragana video

  • 1
    Lord I love those videos! So smooth and satisfying. Need to get some of those 筆ペン s.
    – istrasci
    Sep 2, 2016 at 16:03
  • @istrasci Also, you might have a 無印良品 (MUJI) in your neighbourhood if you look close enough, where you might be able to pick up one of these (muji.eu/pages/online.asp?Sec=13&Sub=54&PID=495). Sep 2, 2016 at 17:42
  • I'm sorry, but i'm still a little confused. Any of these should be considered "correct" means that they can be considered not correct somehow? And actual handwriting will look different again means that my handwriting shouldn't be exactly the same as the charts, right?
    – Explisam
    Sep 4, 2016 at 14:00
  • 1
    (1) I meant that any or rather all of these should be considered "correct", the variation being just a matter of style. That said, it is possible that some eccentric people insist that only the first one is correct and the second/third ones are just sloppy. (2) People with handwriting like in the charts are probably only primary teachers. With time and the need of writing faster you will develop your own handwriting, taking you away from the ideal shape of these charts. But starting with a handwriting as close as possible to these charts is probably a good starting point for nice handwriting.
    – Earthliŋ
    Sep 4, 2016 at 17:15

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