Hiragana Overview

Hiragana is one of the three writing systems used in Japanese. 

The word hiragana literally means "ordinary" or "simple" kana. It is the most elementary of the writing systems and is the first one taught to children.

Think of hiragana as the Japanese alphabet. All sentences can be written entirely in hiragana, because all of the sounds used in Japanese have a matching hiragana character.

Hiragana developed from Chinese characters, as shown below. Hiragana were originally called onnade or 'women's hand' as were used mainly by women - men wrote in kanji and katakana. By the 10th century, hiragana were used by everybody. The word hiragana means "oridinary syllabic script".