The charts below show the way in which the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) represents Japanese language and Okinawan pronunciations in Wikipedia articles. Sounds occurring only as allophones are included for narrow transcription.

See Japanese phonology for a more thorough discussion of the sounds of Japanese.

Examples in the charts are Japanese words transliterated according to the Hepburn romanization system.

IPA Japanese example English approximation
b basho bog
ç hito hue
ɕ shita, shugo sheep
d dōmo dome
dz, z[1] zutto rods, zen
jibun, gojū jeep
ɸ fugu Like fish, but without the lips closing
ɡ gakusei gape
h hon hone
j yakusha yak
k[2] kuru skate
m mikan much
n nattō not
ɴ nihon like long, but further back
ŋ ringo, rinku finger, pink
p[2] pan span
ɽ[3] roku close to /t/ in auto in American English,
or between lock and Scottish rock ([l] and [ɾ]).
s suru sue
t[2] taberu stop
ts tsunami cats
chikai, kinchō itchy
[4] wasabi was
ʔ (in Ryukyu languages) uh-oh!
IPA Japanese example English approximation
a aru roughly like father
e eki roughly like met
i iru need
yoshi, shita (almost silent)
o oniisan roughly like sore
[5] unagi roughly like foot
u͍̥[5] desu, sukiyaki (almost silent)

IPA Japanese example English approximation
ː long vowel:
double consonant:
big gram (compare big ram)
[6] tone drops:
kaꜜki (oyster), kakiꜜ (fence)
̃ nasal vowel:
vin blanc
. mo.e,, sai.kin


  1. The fricative [z] tends to be used between vowels, and the affricate [dz] in pausa, though some speakers use [z] everywhere. Before /i/, this is palatalized to []. This is usually represented phonemically as /z/. Some dialects maintain a distinction (see yotsugana).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 /p/, /t/, /k/ are unaspirated, as in Austronesian and Romance languages, or as in English spy, sty, sky.
  3. The Japanese r varies between a postalveolar flap [ɽ] and an alveolar lateral flap [ɺ].
  4. The Japanese w is not equivalent to a typical IPA [w] since it is pronounced with lip compression rather than rounding. The labial spreading diacritic is an extended IPA character.
  5. 5.0 5.1 There is no simple symbol in the IPA for Japanese u, which is neither rounded [u] nor unrounded [ɯ], but compressed [ɯ͡β̞]. The labial spreading diacritic is an extended IPA character.
  6. The position of this downstep, which does not occur in all words, varies between dialects, and frequently is not indicated. The downstep is a drop in pitch; the word rises in pitch before the . When occurs after the final syllable of a word, any attached grammatical particles will have low tone.

ਫਰਮਾ:IPA keys horizontal