Katakana is one part of the Japanese writing system along with Hiragana, Kanji and Romaji (the latin representation of hiragana and katakana).

Katakana and Hiragana are both kana system, where each character generally represents a Japanese syllable. Words that are written in kana can be pronounced phonetically.

Katakana is used for transcription of foreign-language words into Japanese and the writing of loan words (gairaigo), to represent onomatopoeia, technical terms and for emphasis.

We have a list of common loan words that you can review and quiz yourself upon. Learning of loan words can really rapidly increase your vocabulary as they are generally familiar to english language speakers.

Katakana soundboard

Click on any of katakana characters in the following table to hear it's pronounciation. To see how to write katakana there is a section below.

a i u e o n
ka ki ku ke ko キャkya キュkyu キョkyo
sa shi su se so シャsha シュshu ショsho
ta chi tsu te to チャcha チュchu チョcho
na ni nu ne no ニャnya ニュnyu ニョnyo
ha hi fu he ho ヒャhya ヒュhyu ヒョhyo
ma mi mu me mo ミャmya ミュmyu ミョmyo
ra ri ru re ro リャrya リュryu リョryo
wa wi we wo

Katakana has two diacritics which modify the hiragana to produce a new character and pronunciation - the dakuten ( ゙ ) and handakuten ( ゚ ). Click on any of the hiragana characters in the following table to hear it's pronounciation.

ga gi gu ge go ギャgya ギュgyu ギョgyo
za ji zu ze zo ジャja ジュju ジョjo
da ji zu de do ヂャja ヂュju ヂョjo
ba bi bu be bo ビャbya ビュbyu ビョbyo
pa pi pu pe po ピャpya ピュpyu ピョpyo
How to write Katakana

Click on any of the katakana characters in the following table to see an animation of how to write the character in the correct stroke order.